Why Are So Many Evangelical Christians Pregnant?

When you found out that Sarah Palin‘s underage daughter, Bristol Palin, got knocked up, what was your reaction?

Were you surprised?

Did you want to denounce the mother for her hypocrisy?

Did you want to say “I told you so” to anyone who supported abstinence-only sex education?

Another question: What was your reaction when you saw that the conservatives didn’t seem at all concerned about this?

[Liberals] expected the news to dismay the evangelical voters that John McCain was courting with his choice of Palin. Yet reports from the floor of the Republican Convention, in St. Paul, quoted dozens of delegates who seemed unfazed, or even buoyed, by the news.

Margaret Talbot has an article in the latest New Yorker answering the question of why so many evangelical teenagers become pregnant.

The article points out the cultural divide between the sides:

Social liberals in the country’s “blue states” tend to support sex education and are not particularly troubled by the idea that many teen-agers have sex before marriage, but would regard a teen-age daughter’s pregnancy as devastating news. And the social conservatives in “red states” generally advocate abstinence-only education and denounce sex before marriage, but are relatively unruffled if a teen-ager becomes pregnant, as long as she doesn’t choose to have an abortion.

Also interesting is this excerpt regarding those abstinence pledges the Religious Right keep promoting:

[Sociologists Peter Bearman and Hannah Brückner] have also identified a peculiar dilemma: in some schools, if too many teens pledge, the effort basically collapses. Pledgers apparently gather strength from the sense that they are an embattled minority; once their numbers exceed thirty per cent, and proclaimed chastity becomes the norm, that special identity is lost. With such a fragile formula, it’s hard to imagine how educators can ever get it right: once the self-proclaimed virgin clique hits the thirty-one-per-cent mark, suddenly it’s Sodom and Gomorrah.

The whole notion of guilt-tripping everyone in your faith to remain abstinent until marriage is ridiculous. If people want to choose it for themselves, that’s fine. But to tell young people that sex is evil or horrible or shameful is wrong. Tell them the real consequences. Tell them how to protect themselves from many of those consequences.

Above all, if you create these rules, don’t act like everything is ok when the rules are broken.

We already know what goes on at many Christian summer camps

  • http://thinkerspodium.wordpress.com Bruce

    The whole notion of guilt-tripping everyone in your faith to remain abstinent until marriage is ridiculous.

    I’ve slept with a couple of fundamentalist Christian ladies over the years (outside marriage of course), and although the abstinence drum was drubbed during their upbringing, they didn’t seem at all guilty about it.

    The last time, I asked “isn’t that against your religion?” when propositioned, and she told me off for having stereotypes of Christians.

    While I don’t think the shenanigans were endorsed by their Churches, I find it odd that congregations can have so many members “sinning” outside of marriage, yet not allow homosexuals into their midst. Theologically, even for fundamentalists, aren’t the two sins supposed to be on a par in the eyes of Gawd?

  • aggrazel

    Frankly I didn’t care when I heard Palin’s daughter was pregnant. None of my business and people who think parents can control everything their kids do, don’t have kids.

  • Catherine

    lack of information+making sex out to be forbidden fruit (and therefor even more tempting to teenagers)=bad news.

    It’s only considered okay though, if the girl gets pregnant and decides to go through with the pregnancy. The same folks who are not all that concerned about Bristol Palin’s pregnancy would practically be calling for her to be publicly stoned if they heard that she was pregnant but had opted to have an abortion. At the same time, if the pregnant teen in question was Obama’s or Biden’s daughter, I bet the reaction would be a lot different as well, and used as proof that ‘those godless liberals have no morals’ (not to mention all sorts of racist crap if it was Obama’s daughter).

  • Daniel H.

    Social liberals in the country’s “blue states” tend to support sex education and are not particularly troubled by the idea that many teen-agers have sex before marriage, but would regard a teen-age daughter’s pregnancy as devastating news. And the social conservatives in “red states” generally advocate abstinence-only education and denounce sex before marriage, but are relatively unruffled if a teen-ager becomes pregnant, as long as she doesn’t choose to have an abortion.

    Wow, that really seems like a pretty accurate way to put it.

    It seems to mirror liberal and conservtaive economics: Have fun and don’t work, you’ll get welfare (liberal); if you don’t work, you don’t eat (conservative). The liberal view is all fun/pleasure with no responsibility and kids are a nuisance to be aborted. The conservative view is that sex is too good to throw around like a baseball, with sex comes responsibility, and if it leaves you with a kid, well, that’s one reason sex should be in a family context. But, kids are a blessing anyways.

    Conservatives tend to view sex as part of a package that includes responsibility and potential offspring and implied commitment. Liberals tend to view it as self-gratification which is more valuable than the lives of the children it may produce. If babies need to be aborted so that we can have sex without consequences, so be it.

    And let me add, as a Christian, that Christian parents/teachers who say “sex is bad” are being incredibly foolish and irresponsible, and have the Song of Solomon to reckon with. Sex is God’s (great) idea.

  • http://perkyskeptic.blogspot.com/ The Perky Skeptic

    A good friend of mine once told me the story of losing his virginity at age fifteen to a counselor at his church camp. It made me really sad, because his young little impressionable self really thought this statutory-rapist was his soulmate, and of course she was just a severely f***ed-in-the-head fundy cougar. It really messed him up.

  • Amanda

    I agree with aggrazel on this. Although to be totally honest, a little part of me can’t help but think, “Well that shows them how well the abstinence approach works.” But then I try to remember how hard this situation is for Bristol and how peeved I’d be if I were her and my mother subjected me to the national spotlight in such a time. I feel for her.

    I think the observations in the article about social vs. conservative views about premarital sex and abortion are interesting and generally accurate. But personally as a fairly liberal mom, I hope that I could react a little differently if one of my daughters were in this situation. I mean I wouldn’t want them to feel that I would be so devastated that they couldn’t talk to me about it. I would support them in whatever they chose to do.

  • http://brentcliffe.blogspot.com Alex

    I think the double standard was summed up quite nicely by Bill-O the Clown (Bill O’Reilly for the non-Olbermann fans) as follows:

    In the case of Bristol Palin, it’s a private family matter and don’t anyone dare to say anything negative.

    In the case of Jamie Lynn Spears, it’s obvious that she’s a slut because her parents are bad parents.

    I accept that people can disagree about fundamental issues. But when people can suck and blow the way O’Reilly does, without ever being called on it, then madness ensues because no one can believe both X and (not) X at the same time, which is what the fundies seem to require.

    Once words lose more-or-less standard meanings, communication becomes impossible and force becomes the only alternative.

  • Larry Huffman

    Bruce, you are absolutely correct. While I was devout I would have said that exact thing…homosexuality or adultery (which includes out of wedlock sex) should be viewed as equally ‘bad’ sins. There is not really any statement in the bible to seperate them in terms of how God would see them.

    Of course, they are all afraid of homosexuals, because they are going to infect everyone with gayness, especially their children. They are not afraid of hetro sex…in fact they may have had their own indescretions…so they are not going to throw stones in their glass house.

  • TXatheist

    Not to mention that a red state girl getting pregnant at 19 is no big deal. heck, you’re an old lady culturally at 25 if you ain’t married down here.

  • noodleguy

    Liberals tend to view it as self-gratification which is more valuable than the lives of the children it may produce. If babies need to be aborted so that we can have sex without consequences, so be it.

    lol someone obviously had an abstinence-only education and so has never heard of birth control.

    and it is possible to be liberal and NOT believe in abortion…I find this to be the most offensive part of Daniel’s whole post…Since when is politics so two sided?
    I think I’m your worst nightmare, friend. A classic liberal who is pro-life, pro-gun, and a fiscal conservative. Also: I’m against the war, I’m vehemently pro-gay, I think Sarah Palin is a dimwit and John McCain is little better, and I’m voting for Barack Obama. And I’m for sex-ed AND a passionate atheist.

    Yes we exist, and yes we are the only people who actually stick to the constitution and the founding father’s intentions, mr. daniel.

  • Desert Son

    Daniel H. posted:

    Wow, that really seems like a pretty accurate way to put it.

    It seems to mirror liberal and conservtaive economics: Have fun and don’t work, you’ll get welfare (liberal); if you don’t work, you don’t eat (conservative). The liberal view is all fun/pleasure with no responsibility and kids are a nuisance to be aborted. The conservative view is that sex is too good to throw around like a baseball, with sex comes responsibility, and if it leaves you with a kid, well, that’s one reason sex should be in a family context. But, kids are a blessing anyways.

    Wow, that seems like a really pretty oversimplified way to put it. Listen, I know some friends who are thinking about having their house painted; you wield a pretty broad brush. Can you quote a rate and I’ll get back to you if they’re interested?

    No kings,

    Robert

  • Daniel H.

    lol someone obviously had an abstinence-only education and so has never heard of birth control.

    Notice “tend”.

    and it is possible to be liberal and NOT believe in abortion…I find this to be the most offensive part of Daniel’s whole post…Since when is politics so two sided?
    I think I’m your worst nightmare, friend. A classic liberal who is pro-life, pro-gun, and a fiscal conservative.

    I’m speaking broadly and about “tendencies”. I am very libertarian myself. I’m not voting for McCain or Obama.

    Also: I’m against the war,

    Me too.

    Yes we exist, and yes we are the only people who actually stick to the constitution and the founding father’s intentions, mr. daniel.

    McCain and Obama are both outside the Constitution, I’d say, which is one reason I’m not voting for either.

    Wow, that seems like a really pretty oversimplified way to put it.

    That is one problem with blog comments in general, heh.

  • Polly

    I think the conservative reaction to Palin’s daughter is about right. Too bad, conservative white America wouldn’t have treated a black/Latina family with the same respect and compassion.

    riffing off noodleguy’s post:

    I am pro-life(in ethics), a gun owner (and I couldn’t care less about the 2nd amendment,I’m holding onto my guns either way), and I HATE HATE HATE McPalin and I think Obama is a warmonger who will likely kill just as many brown people around the world as his Republican counterparts. I won’t even mention the damage to our treasury because the moral argument against war ought to be enough. I am pro-gay marriage, pro legalized drugs, pro trust busting, and I hate large concentrations of power which includes multi-national corporations. I’m pro FAIR-trade and very much against so-called “free” trade. I favor green initiatives so long as they aren’t simply misguided and animal welfare above economics. Taxes ought to be far more progressive and we should turn on its head, the regressiveness of the payroll tax. Capital gains – wealth accumulations by parasitism – ought to be taxed at a relatively higher rate wrt income tax, not a lower one. Ideally, we should encourage actually providing goods and services over “creating a market” for securities.

    I’m neither fiscally conservative nor a spend spend spend conservative. I think we should do whatever works. To hell with ideology – both socialist and free-market fundamentalism. Here’s the big secret: ALL THE BEST ECONOMIES, INCLUDING THIS ONE, ARE MIXED. It’s the job of a democracy and government to figure out the best mix.

    I’ll Just come right out and say it: I’m voting for Ralph Nader. Obama may be a slightly lesser evil, but evil of any grade is not going to cut it for me. Democracies get the leadership they deserve. If enough people want McCain-Palin, then let ‘em screw the USA. I can always apply for citizenship elsewhere, maybe in beautiful Suomi.

  • BornAgainHeathen

    When you found out that Sarah Palin’s underage daughter, Bristol Palin, got knocked up, what was your reaction?

    Hmmm…my reaction was somewhat along the lines of, “wow, okay maybe all this Republican talk about ‘respecting the family’s privacy’ will finally stuff some sense into all those anti-choicers.”

    Were you surprised?

    Suprised that a teen had sex? No…That sex can sometimes lead to babies? No…Suprised that the media was talking about it? Yes…Suprised that some people think that an abstinence only sex ed reduces teen pregnancy rates? Yes

    Did you want to denounce the mother for her hypocrisy?

    No, but let me explain. I think Sarah Palin is a HUGE hypocrit, but her hypocricy is so vast that this incident didn’t even blip on my hypocricy radar. Now, if she had been caught on film taking Bristol to an abortion clinic, then that would for sure = hypocricy.

    Did you want to say “I told you so” to anyone who supported abstinence-only sex education?

    I wanted to, yeah, but I couldn’t do it. Yes, Sarah Palin supports “abstinence only” sex ed and would certainly value abstinence until marriage, and her personal values would no doubt affect the morals and values that she’s been trying to teach her kids. However, do we know that Bristol Palin received an abstinence only type sex ed in her school? If she did, then let me know and I’ll totally change my opinion on this.

  • noodleguy

    That is one problem with blog comments in general, heh.

    haha, yeah understood. I think everyone ends up looking like an idealouge (including myself, with disturbing frequency) on these websites because one or two paragraphs is really not long enough to explain a well thought out position.

    As for Bristol’s baby…I really don’t care. First of all, I honestly think that it is their family’s business. If Bristol were getting an abortion, and Palin approved THAT would be different. But honestly as it is I see Bristol as a non-issue. My dislike of Palin is at a much much deeper level than that.

    I don’t know why any good liberal would resort to this sort of attack on her. It’s so easy to attack Palin on the issues, why go after her family? Dirty tricks are not the way to go.