The Price of Abstinence

A much-heralded study in the January issue of the journal Pediatrics has concluded that the premarital “abstinence pledges” so beloved by evangelical Christians are ineffective. Teenagers who sign up for religious programs such as True Love Waits or Silver Ring Thing, in which participants pledge to remain abstinent until marriage, are just as likely to have premarital sex as nonpledgers, and significantly less likely to use contraception when they do. They also contract STDs at the same rates as nonpledgers, have their first sexual encounter at the same average age as nonpledgers, and have the same average number of sexual partners as nonpledgers. In short, in every way that can be measured, these programs are completely useless and may be actively harmful. (Also, note that all the “abstinence pledge” programs are specifically Christian in nature and content – which has led to First Amendment lawsuits when their advocates try to get them taught in public schools.)

However, we do have a contrary view from William McGurn in the Wall Street Journal, which has some fallacies to be dispensed with. McGurn first points out that:

…the only way the study’s author, Janet Elise Rosenbaum of Johns Hopkins University, could reach such results was by comparing teens who take a virginity pledge with a very small subset of other teens: those who are just as religious and conservative as the pledge-takers.

He treats this as if it were a dirty trick, when in fact it’s basic statistics: to eliminate confounding factors from your results, the best method is to compare two populations that are similar in every respect except the variable you want to study. That’s exactly what Rosenbaum’s study (full text online here) did, choosing two groups of teenagers with similar social and religious backgrounds, except that one group took virginity pledges and the other did not. McGurn apparently does not dispute the conclusion that the pledges made no difference in behavior. Nevertheless:

…virginity pledging teens were considerably more conservative in their overall sexual behaviors than teens in general — a fact that many media reports have missed cold.

…Let’s put this another way. The real headline from this study is this: “Religious Teens Differ Little in Sexual Behavior Whether or Not They Take a Pledge.”

McGurn cites no studies in support of this conclusion, and I’d very much like to see his evidence. Needless to say, most of the studies I’m aware of have found precisely the opposite: the most religiously conservative areas of the country have the highest rates of STDs and teen pregnancy, and abstinence-only sex ed does nothing to reduce these problems. A recent article in the New Yorker by Margaret Talbot, Red Sex, Blue Sex, cites a study by the sociologist Mark Regnerus:

Regnerus argues that religion is a good indicator of attitudes toward sex, but a poor one of sexual behavior, and that this gap is especially wide among teen-agers who identify themselves as evangelical.

…On average, white evangelical Protestants make their “sexual début” — to use the festive term of social-science researchers — shortly after turning sixteen… Another key difference in behavior, Regnerus reports, is that evangelical Protestant teen-agers are significantly less likely than other groups to use contraception.

The article goes on to observe that socially conservative, more religious “red” states also have higher teen pregnancy rates, higher rates of STD infection, and higher rates of divorce, the latter probably because of their lower median age of marriage. The abstinence-only programs so popular in those states have done nothing to deter this. In fact, it’s made the problem worse by ensuring that teens who do have sex are ill-equipped to protect themselves. The evidence is clear that comprehensive sex ed programs which teach accurate information about contraception have proven superior every time they’re put to the test. If we expect teenagers to act like adults, we need to treat them like adults.

But abstinence-only programs exact a higher price than this. Consider their impact in Africa, which is still battling a massive AIDS epidemic. In countries like Uganda, abstinence-only programs championed by Christian pastors like Martin Ssempa, who’s a close friend and ally of Rick Warren, have reversed the success of comprehensive sex ed programs, leading to a rise in new HIV infection rates among the rural poor. (Ssempa followed up his success in the abstinence-only campaign by spearheading a political initiative to imprison homosexuals.)

It’s unlikely that religious advocates of abstinence-only programs will be deterred by any of these facts. Pleasing their notion of God matters more to them than the lives or well-being of real people, and so in their minds, as long as we’re teaching the “right” things, the results are beside the point. This makes it all the more important that we in the reality-based community, who value human welfare more highly than obedience to dogma, do not give up the push to ensure that all people have access to accurate information about sex and contraception.

About Adam Lee

Adam Lee is an atheist writer and speaker living in New York City. His new novel, Broken Ring, is available in paperback and e-book. Read his full bio, or follow him on Twitter.

  • http://www.andrew-turnbull.net/journal Andrew T.

    I’ve long been under the opinion that expecting abstinence “education” to reduce pregnancy and STD rates is akin to expecting drivers who don’t know how to operate a vehicle or respect the highway code to have fewer car wrecks. Sex will happen either way, folks. It’s a fact of life.

  • http://goddesscassandra.blogspot.com Antigone

    Occasionally, I find it incredibly difficult to assume good faith on the part of religious conservatives, and never is this made more abundantly clear than when the subject of sex comes up. I have a moral system that respects both reality and people’s pleasure, and they seem to have a moral system that seems to go out of its way to deny both.

    Sex is pleasurable, and as being’s hardwired to have it, it seems likely that teenagers would want to, and discover ways to, have it. When you deny these facts; and “teach” ignorance, you also fail to teach the responsibility that sex entails. In order to keep up a belief that is contrary to reality (that sex is evil/dirty/wrong and that the vast majority of teenagers aren’t going to want to do it) these groups are demanding STIs, and teenage pregnancy. Furthermore, these lessons are harmful for guys and girls who are struggling to figure out what they’re genuine “yes” and “no” are by stating as fact that “guys want sex, not love” and “girls want love, not sex”.

    Getting back to the original paragraph, it feels hard to assume that religious conservatives actually care about the consequences of sex at all.

  • Leum

    Antigone, if you want to assume good faith on this issue (and I agree, it’s hard), remember that many conservatives want a laws (and education) that reflects ideals, not reality. To them, it’s ideal if teens don’t have sex (due to a variety of largely religious beliefs, though also concerns about STDs, pregnancy, etc), so they want that ideal reflected in the education. The fact that most people will fail isn’t relevant, because they don’t want a utilitarian education, but an ideal one.

    This goes back to a general feeling that utilitarianism is a bad moral system. In this mindset, ethics are duty-based or rule-based (I think the word is deontological), so results aren’t nearly so relevant.

    Alternately (assuming bad faith), it’s because they hate sex and want to get young women pregnant and married as soon as possible. You choose which.

  • http://millennialthoughts.wordpress.com/ ChristineS

    As someone who went through grade and high school getting nothing but religious sex-ed, I wasn’t too surprised by the information in this post (and in the linked article). We started sex ed in third grade, and were told that sex is bad and sinful and horrible, unless it’s between a married man and woman who are trying to have children. Then it’s a wonderful gift from god. No wonder we were all so damn confused.

    More damaging than those attitudes about sex, though, were the attitudes they forced on us about contraception. I’m four years out of high school, long since moved away, and I still mentally wince when people talk about Planned Parenthood. I’m now pro-choice, and pro-contraception, but Planned Parenthood was absolutely demonized by my teachers, and to this day I still have a difficult time getting away from those old habits of thought. We were taught about contraception, but mostly how utterly ineffective it supposedly was in preventing pregnancy and STDs. Really, it all came down to fear. I think my teachers knew they couldn’t convince us not to have sex on religious grounds, so they had to scare us into not doing it.

    So of course when I graduated from high school, several girls had children, a few more were pregnant, and rumors persisted about other girls who’d secretly had abortions. Wonderfully effective system.

  • http://uncyclopedia.org/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    “The article goes on to observe that socially conservative, more religious “red” states also have…higher rates of divorce, the latter probably because of their lower median age of marriage.”
    That and those dirty liberals shack up before marriage. Then, if the relationship doesn’t work out, they break up without ever showing on the married/divorced stats.

    “The evidence is clear that comprehensive sex ed programs which teach accurate information about contraception have proven superior every time they’re put to the test.”
    I’ve had this discussion before on “their” blogs. The logic is that sex-ed that teaches sex-ed is like adults giving a free pass for kids to have sex (also, there’s a consistent parody vision of comprehensive sex-ed as “Here’s some condoms. Go screw.”).
    Also, there’s that so troubling absolutism endemic to a certain brand of theist, the digital black & white world where not teaching about how your body works means that you won’t use it. By the same logic, the death penalty stops crime dead, and gay marriage will mean that you can marry your dog.

    “If we expect teenagers to act like adults, we need to treat them like adults.”
    I see it more as we have to give them the tools to be adult, while trying to minimize the harm from their trip to adulthood.

    “It’s unlikely that religious advocates of abstinence-only programs will be deterred by any of these facts.”
    Ah…I see the problem now. You’re dealing in facts, studies and statistics. “They” are dealing in “bible says”, “God doesn’t like” and “I feel”. You’re using two groups of quite different metrics. You can’t do much about the first two (since every generation reimagines God, they’ll have to do that on their own), but you can hit them in the emotional heart. Then they’ll say that it’s against His will, and you’ll have to start all over again.

    “Pleasing their notion of God matters more to them than the lives or well-being of real people, and so in their minds, as long as we’re teaching the “right” things, the results are beside the point.”
    On the good side, once they change their minds God will be just as supportive of that position as He was of the opposite.

  • http://goddesscassandra.blogspot.com Antigone

    I suppose that good faith is hard to come by because to me; results are important and we don’t have a perfect method of determining if someone is lying. If someone ran into me once and said “whoops, tripped, didn’t mean it” I’d assume that it was an accident and hey, we all make mistakes. But if that person continued with the actions that lead to the tripping in the first place (wearing high heels, running on icy roads, et cetera) I’d start thinking that a) the person doesn’t care that s/he’s running into me b) the person DOES care that s/he’s running into me, but not as much s/he attachment to the thing that’s causing the trip c) s/he’s deliberately tripping into me, or d) s/he’s incredibly dumb.

    I sort of feel the same way about abstinence-only education advocates. They claim they don’t want teenagers to have STIs and pregnancies but then they keep doing things that nearly directly lead to STIs and teen pregnancies. So there’s bad faith: ie a and c where they don’t really care, or they are deliberately trying or good faith: they’re attachment to THEIR OWN religion (not even necessarily the one of every teenager’s out there) is higher than their concern for people’s well-being or they’re too dumb.

    None of those options paint a very flattering picture of abstinence-only advocates. They’re either indifferent, malicious, delusional (and arrogant to boot) or incompetent.

  • Justin

    new HIV infection rates among the rural poor. (Ssempa followed up his success in the abstinence-only campaign by spearheading a political initiative to imprison homosexuals.)

    (bold added by me)

    I’ve heard of Ssempa and his endorsement from Pastor Warren. Scary stuff. It doesn’t matter how many times we tell ourselves that “it can’t happen here” because there are a million Ssempa’s in America.

  • http://thewarfareismental.typepad.com cl

    It’s unlikely that religious advocates of abstinence-only programs will be deterred by any of these facts. Pleasing their notion of God matters more to them than the lives or well-being of real people, and so in their minds, as long as we’re teaching the “right” things, the results are beside the point. This makes it all the more important that we in the reality-based community, who value human welfare more highly than obedience to dogma, do not give up the push to ensure that all people have access to accurate information about sex and contraception.

    There you go painting a large and diverse group with a single brushstroke, again.

  • Alex Weaver
    It’s unlikely that religious advocates of abstinence-only programs will be deterred by any of these facts. Pleasing their notion of God matters more to them than the lives or well-being of real people, and so in their minds, as long as we’re teaching the “right” things, the results are beside the point. This makes it all the more important that we in the reality-based community, who value human welfare more highly than obedience to dogma, do not give up the push to ensure that all people have access to accurate information about sex and contraception.

    There you go painting a large and diverse group with a single brushstroke, again.

    Keeping in mind that he’s talking about advocates of abstinence-only programs, not Christians in general, how exactly do you figure that?

  • http://thewarfareismental.typepad.com cl

    Keeping in mind that he’s talking about advocates of abstinence-only programs, not Christians in general, how exactly do you figure that?

    My bad. I didn’t realize all advocates of abstinence-only programs thought and acted identically.

  • http://goddesscassandra.blogspot.com Antigone

    The “abstinence-only” is a narrow enough stroke to fix them with. They are not functionally different.

    If you point out substantive differences, I’ll retract my statement.

  • Nes

    cl,

    Seriously? For someone who, if I remember correctly, claims that they don’t read the Bible literally, you sure do seem to read posts and comments in such a manner. People are sometimes sloppy or imprecise with language; get over it. I strongly doubt that anyone else read that and thought that Ebon meant that every person in that group thinks those identical thoughts or has those identical motivations.

  • 2-D Man

    cl’s statement:

    My bad. I didn’t realize all advocates of abstinence-only programs thought and acted identically. [emphasis mine]

    Ebonmuse’s statement:

    It’s unlikely that religious advocates of abstinence-only programs…[emphasis mine]

    There are better things you can do with straw than make effigies of people’s statements.

    As a matter of fact, I’m having trouble believing that you are this stupid, cl. I’m tempted to call poe.

  • http://thewarfareismental.typepad.com cl

    Nes,

    I must ask, IYO, how do stereotypes begin?

    People are sometimes sloppy or imprecise with language…

    True, myself included. However, people sometimes let polemics, stereotyping and bias influence their writing, no? So how am I to know whether I’m dealing with sloppy, imprecise language, or polemics, stereotyping and bias? I will not apologize because my commitment to speaking out against such things is burdensome to you or anybody else. If I remember correctly, atheists and skeptics don’t like it when they are painted with broad brushstrokes either, and I would gladly stick up for you if the situation was reversed.

    I strongly doubt that anyone else read that and thought that Ebon meant that every person in that group thinks those identical thoughts or has those identical motivations.

    Then why allow such an implication at all? That’s how stereotypes persist.

    2-D Man,

    Valiant and bold effort, but did it occur to you that my statement you quoted was to Alex Weaver and not Ebonmuse? Alex Weaver did not include the qualifier “religious” in his comment to me, hence its absence in my comment to him. Now I realize that it makes you feel better than me, and that you derive a certain level of joy in insulting me and all, but such was your oversight, not mine.

    As a matter of fact, I’m having trouble believing that you are this stupid, cl.

    Interesting in light of your aforementioned oversight, and while I don’t think you’re stupid, 2-D Man, it actually gave me quite a hearty chuckle to hear this from someone who posited his self and his father as a valid analogy for a trinity.

    Thanks, after last night’s losing battle with sangria, I needed a good laugh!

  • KShep

    Great post. I’d like to add my observation that much of the followers obsession with everyone else’s sex life derives more from the misogyny endorsed by their holy books than anything else. They don’t like women having control of their own bodies, and no, I’m not talking just about abortion. They are out to make sure no one has access to any form of contraception at all, as all who are regular readers here are surely aware of.

    Think about it: if the anti-sex education forces get their way, we will have a society where girls of any age will be kept in the dark when the subject is sex. When they do try to be responsible, there won’t be any protection available (can’t have pharmacists dispensing birth control if they think it’s icky, you know), and when the inevitable happens (pregnancy or disease), the poor girl will be told she is being ‘punished’ by god for being a ‘slut’ either with the disease or by having to keep and raise the baby.

    And the boys? They’re just being boys, you know.

    Seems to me the abstinence fans are just looking forward to the dark ages.

  • http://goddesscassandra.blogspot.com Antigone

    CL-

    Address me

    KShep-

    You’re not the first to posit that (in fact, I remember a pretty good article on that on Pandagon). Add what you’re talking about and “Purity Balls” and there seems to be a growing pile of evidence.

  • http://thewarfareismental.typepad.com cl

    Antigone,

    Since I wasn’t talking to you in the first place, I honestly didn’t realize you were talking to me. If you wish for people to address you, you should include the pertinent qualifiers.

    The “abstinence-only” is a narrow enough stroke to fix them with. They are not functionally different. If you point out substantive differences, I’ll retract my statement.

    What statement? I didn’t take issue with any statement you made, and your above argument needs clarification.

  • http://cannonballjones.wordpress.com Cannonball Jones

    The ignorance of the abstinence crowd never ceases to me, why do they think they can suddenly erase millions of years of genetic programming with a couple of mealy-mouthed promises? People are going to fornicate. There is no way around it, it’s just gong to happen. Always has done and always will do, it’s the whole reason we’re here. That’s why it’s such a strong urge, without doing it everything is going to come to a grinding halt so we want to do it as much as we can.

    Seems to me you can either tell people how to do it safely or you can abandon them to make some really bad mistakes, the consequences of which might stay with them for the rest of their lives. It’s irresponsible teaching/parenting at its worst and the adults involved in these programmes should be forced to shoulder some of the burden of the inevitable poor results.

  • 2-D Man

    For someone who claims to be hung over, you sure move quickly with that goalpost strapped to your back, cl.

  • Mathew Wilder

    Seems to me you can either tell people how to do it safely or you can abandon them to make some really bad mistakes, the consequences of which might stay with them for the rest of their lives. It’s irresponsible teaching/parenting at its worst and the adults involved in these programmes should be forced to shoulder some of the burden of the inevitable poor results.

    They’re just mimicking the parenting skills attributed to our supposed Father in heaven.

  • http://thewarfareismental.typepad.com cl

    2-D Man,

    So tell me, was my statement in response to Alex Weaver or Ebonmuse? Again, I can’t help it if in your desire to chastise me, you made a simple oversight.

  • KShep

    Cannonball:

    and the adults involved in these programmes should be forced to shoulder some of the burden of the inevitable poor results.

    One of these days, a rape victim from a tiny community is going to try to to fill a prescription for a morning-after pill, get turned away by her local xtian pharmacist, and subsequently sue the clown for support.

    I can’t wait to see how it goes. Don’t think it’ll get far, but a man can dream.

  • Alex Weaver

    My bad. I didn’t realize all advocates of abstinence-only programs thought and acted identically.

    They generally make the same excuses for their policy positions and subscribe to the same overall ideological views. They support the same policy position on sex education (that, after all, defines the group we’re talking about). These ideological views also tend to be dogmatic, conformist, and in many cases wannabe-totalitarian. What evidence would you care to supply for a substantial debate or diversity of opinion on this topic among people who generally support abstinence-only?

    Valiant and bold effort, but did it occur to you that my statement you quoted was to Alex Weaver and not Ebonmuse? Alex Weaver did not include the qualifier “religious” in his comment to me, hence its absence in my comment to him.

    Can you point to a single non-religious advocate of abstinence-only sex-ed?

  • http://thewarfareismental.typepad.com cl

    Alex Weaver,

    Can you point to a single non-religious advocate of abstinence-only sex-ed?

    Thanks, but I’ll have to pass – not for lack of valid response, either. I just wouldn’t want anyone to think the debate was going nowhere and close the thread. Feel free to hit me on my blog if you really wish to continue.

    Antigone,

    The same offer extends to you.

  • Tom

    I’m amused by those who proclaim that one should save sex until marriage but simultaneously denounce it as a dirty, horrible, degrading thing, which is pretty much the standard religious position the world over. Let me get this straight: you want me to save up this dirty, horrible, degrading thing just to do to the person I marry and thus love and care the most about? Am I the only one getting very mixed messages here?

  • Nes

    cl,

    So how am I to know whether I’m dealing with sloppy, imprecise language, or polemics, stereotyping and bias?

    Instead of barreling in and just accusing someone of painting with a broad brush, you could ask them to clarify or provide them with evidence that they’re wrong?

    In any case, I would like to see some comments that discuss the actual substance of the post, not yet another 90-page-long argument on obscure minutiae, name calling, and accusations (both sides seem to be guilty of these things). It’s tiring and, IMO, a huge waste of time.

  • http://thewarfareismental.typepad.com cl

    Nes,

    Instead of barreling in and just accusing someone of painting with a broad brush, you could ask them to clarify or provide them with evidence that they’re wrong?

    Thanks, but again, I’ll have to pass. No sense debating only to have it shut down once Ebonmuse deems the conversation unfruitful. Come on over to my turf if you really want answers to your points. Just post your question to any existing thread and I’ll be glad to get down. If not, then I guess you’re not that serious.

  • Paul S

    Thanks, but again, I’ll have to pass. No sense debating only to have it shut down once Ebonmuse deems the conversation unfruitful.

    Aren’t you putting the cart in front of the horse? I haven’t even seen a comment by Ebonmuse in response to anyone’s post, much less comment on the unfruitful nature of the conversation so far.

  • http://thewarfareismental.typepad.com cl

    I’ve stated two times my clear disinterest in pursuing argument in this thread. This makes three:

    Paul S,

    I’ll concede that charges of the genetic fallacy on my behalf would stand. However, several times, including three within five minutes yesterday, Ebonmuse has closed a thread for varying subjective opinions of his own. IMO, such typically happens when the questions get too tough – for just one not minor example, when I ask for strict definitions of a faith healing in a pertinent thread so I can present potential evidence of said healing.

    Now, regarding this thread, I don’t want to get into it here – period. I spoke my two cents’ which were that Ebon painted a large group with a single stroke, again. Come over to my blog and we can argue ’til the sun comes up about whatever you wish, and although few typically accept, the offer extends to anyone. IMO, common ground is often reached by allowing both sides to exhaust themselves.

  • http://nothingtodotoday.blogspot.com PolicyVandal

    Don’t follow cl to his blog, he probably just wants traffic. Why he thinks anyone he regularly patronises and annoys here would want to read his site is beyond my fathoming. If he wants to continue the debate, he can do so here. If not, then I guess he’s just not that serious.

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.info cl

    Hey PolicyVandal,

    Don’t follow cl to his blog…

    Go ahead, tell others what to do, just like a Fundie. I could care less about traffic, of course, except when skateboarding and bicycling. And unlike you, Paul S (and several others from DA) actually did come by and have had some very positive things to say. Paul S and I are currently making good progress in the discussion about biblical inerrancy that Ebonmuse closed for whatever reason (which of course is his right).

    Nice attempt to belittle me though – just reinforces a prevalent stereotype I’d think you’d wish to dissolve. Incidentally, congratulations. See you at your blog where I’m sure you’ll have more equally lame sentiments.

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.info cl

    PolicyVandal,

    Incidentally, congratulations. See you at your blog where I’m sure you’ll have more equally lame sentiments.

    I’ll have to retract. I see you don’t even have a legitimate post to criticize, which is interesting. Why would someone with only a test post link to their blog, unless, maybe… to get traffic? At any rate, I’ll check back, you can rest assured.

  • http://uncyclopedia.org/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    Does everybody but me have a blog now? Am I the only person left on Earth with nothing of interest to say…or, at least, nothing that I think others would find interesting? Have I become the Omega Man to your cloaked hordes of disco zombies?

  • MS Quixote

    Um, that would be Moega man, with his own mosignal that no one’s left to activate when the disco zombies hordes overrun the city. DISCO IS NOT DEAD!!!

  • http://uncyclopedia.org/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    “Moega”? Momega rolls off the tongue more easily.

  • MS Quixote

    You must have a shorter tongue than I :)

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/daylightatheism Ebonmuse

    For the record, an administrative note.

    I close down threads when they meet at least one of three conditions:

    1. The discussion has become repetitive, with the same points being raised repeatedly and no new ground being covered; or
    2. The discussion is breaking down into personal attacks; or
    3. The discussion has wandered far afield from the original post topic.

    All the threads I closed the other day were at this point or, in some cases, well beyond it; and I think I can safely say that no one participating in any of them was denied the opportunity to express their point of view.

    One further note, and without naming any names: I greatly dislike people whining about administrative decisions in other, unrelated threads. The point of closing threads is so that unfruitful discussions can die peacefully, and I take a jaundiced view of people trying to restart those debates in other threads. If you take issue with a moderation decision, contact me by e-mail.

  • Alex Weaver

    cl, as a source of perspective, I’d like to invite you to my former internet community (I didn’t leave; it left me). Go see what irrational, arbitrary, overbearing, poorly-explained, partial, and hypocritical administration actually looks like.

    Back on topic.

    Think about it: if the anti-sex education forces get their way, we will have a society where girls of any age will be kept in the dark when the subject is sex. When they do try to be responsible, there won’t be any protection available (can’t have pharmacists dispensing birth control if they think it’s icky, you know), and when the inevitable happens (pregnancy or disease), the poor girl will be told she is being ‘punished’ by god for being a ‘slut’ either with the disease or by having to keep and raise the baby.

    And the boys? They’re just being boys, you know.

    I don’t seem to be having much luck clapping a coherent expression together, but I think viewing sex as something that’s fundamentally exploitive is a major underlying motivation for this kind of attitude. I notice this in the contrast between (me being alienated by) other fathers joking about wanting to put their (prospectively teenaged) daughters under armed guard, and my actual feelings about my own daughter’s prospective future sex life – I want her to be responsible and intelligent about it, but A) I want her to have the happiness of a mature, pleasurable, intimate relationship or relationships and B) with her condition (mild autism) it’ll be a relief, if not a surprise, if she’s able to actually have a relationship like that.

    I’ll expand on this tomorrow.

  • staceyjw

    “why do they think they can suddenly erase millions of years of genetic programming with a couple of mealy-mouthed promises”

    Did you forget that the religious people that push abstainance only sex ed don’t believe that humans were GENETICALLY PROGRAMMED FOR MILLIONS OF YEARS. They think that we’ve been here 5000yrs, and that god put us here. If you can deny the reality of evolution, thinking teens wont have sex if you dont tell them about is only a small leap.

  • KShep

    I close down threads when they meet at least one of three conditions……./snip

    And don’t think for a minute that those of us who have been hanging around here for a while haven’t noticed that closing threads had been a pretty rare occurrence until recently!

    Alex:

    I’ll expand on this tomorrow.

    Looking forward to it. I think I know what you’re getting at, but I’ll wait.

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.info cl

    KShep,

    Plenty I could say, but gotta respect the man.

  • http://www.thinkatheist.com/profile/Johnny Johnny

    Just thought I’d chime in with an extreme example of abstinence-only that I witnessed. The private church school (Seventh-Day-Adventist) in the town I grew up in was so anti-sex that they did not even teach the scientific basics of reproduction in science class. Parents were instructed to provided talks with their own children about abstinence-only.

    My junior year of high school (I went to public school, just to be clear), there were four girls at the church school that were pregnant. This is from a student body of 40, and only grades 1-10. I only knew about it because one of the girls was a friend-of-a-friend and I talked to her once at a social event. She had been staying with friends because her parents had kicked her out of the house. While discussing some of her hardships with a small group of us, she professed “I don’t even know how this could happen, its not like I married!” A little further prodding and we found out her parents had implied [aka: taught] that she ‘could not’ get not get pregnant until she was married. She didn’t even know that sex would get her pregnant.

    Now this is an extreme example, that is really a result of a very sheltered upbringing, and a pseudo-abstinence-only (that’s really closer to ‘no-sex-ed’). But I think it illustrates some of the pitfalls of abstinence-only programs. Kids that are taught abstinence-only, abstinence-only, abstinence-only, don’t know about or understand all the risks, side effects, and result. Thus I believe abstinence-only programs only set kids up for failure.

  • Alex Weaver

    Thus I believe abstinence-only programs only set kids up for failure.

    And I believe that this proposition is so thoroughly and emphatically supported by all available evidence that the only intellectually honest conclusions are either A) that the advocates of abstinence-only are so mentally incompetent as to require institutionalization, or B) “that’s the point.”

    That expansion’s going to be a while, but I intend to write a full-scale blog post on it. I’ll link when I’m done.

  • http://uncyclopedia.org/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    Alex Weaver “And I believe that this proposition is so thoroughly and emphatically supported by all available evidence…”
    You’re using evidence? Don’t you know that evidence leads to shade of grey, humanism, and pragmatic, imperfect, harm-reducing programs?! If you avoid “facts”, you too can come up with perfect solutions that don’t work in the real world.