Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Let's talk about Sex

Let’s Talk About Sex By CHARLES M. BLOW, NY Times

Sarah Palin has a pregnant teenager. And, she’s not alone. According to a report published in 2007, there are more than 400,000 other American girls in the same predicament. In fact, a 2001 Unicef report said that the United States teenage birthrate was higher than any other member of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. The U.S. tied Hungary for the most abortions. This was in spite of the fact that girls in the U.S. were not the most sexually active. Denmark held that title. But, its teenage birthrate was one-sixth of ours, and its teenage abortion rate was half of ours. (See image below)

If there is a shame here, it’s a national shame — a failure of our puritanical society to accept and deal with the facts. Teenagers have sex. How often and how safely depends on how much knowledge and support they have. Crossing our fingers that they won’t cross the line is not an intelligent strategy. To wit, our ridiculous experiment in abstinence-only education seems to be winding down with a study finding that it didn’t work. States are opting out of it. Parents don’t like it either.

According to a 2004 survey sponsored by NPR, the Kaiser Family Foundation and Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, 65 percent of parents of high school students said that federal money “should be used to fund more comprehensive sex education programs that include information on how to obtain and use condoms and other contraceptives.”

We need to take some bold steps beyond the borders of our moralizing and discomfort and create a sex education infrastructure that actually acknowledges reality and protects our children from unwanted pregnancies, or worse.

Read it all here.


1 comment:

Rev. Kurt said...

Excerpt from Lisa Kimball's Human Sexuality: Teenagers and the Church

"I have often said that the silence in our churches around the subjects of human sexuality and alcohol is the ticket to our extinction. As long as we as Christian people are unable to reconcile our incarnate bodies and all that they do with the "nice" teachings of the church, we will continue to lose whole generations of young people who find us and our faith irrelevant and hypocritical. We cannot presume to call ourselves youth ministers, if we are not prepared to deal responsibly with the subject of human sexuality and sexual behavior. Awkward, scary, or just plain difficult as this may be, it is essential. To deal with human sexuality requires wrestling with our own understanding of what it means to be a sexual being, privately acknowledging our own sexual histories, claiming our theology of sexuality, and articulating our values about sexual behavior.

...

We found common ground, common understanding, and ultimately developed five foundations for Christian human sexuality that we felt would make sense to teenagers. They are:
1. You are holy. (Theology of creation, gifts, identity, biology.)
2. Sexuality is good. (Holiness of the body, biblical foundations and stories.)
3.Sexuality is powerful. (Always has consequences, potential for abuse, beyond recreation, makes promises.)
4. You are not alone.(Baptism, community, relationships, others' journeys, church teachings and traditions.)
5. You must take responsibility. (Mature vs. premature behavior, peer ministry, accountability,
birth control and disease prevention, sexual behavior that brings healing and wholeness to the world.)

...

We cannot assume that young people today are growing up with a balanced understanding and healthy experience of human sexuality. Boundaries are too often non-existent or are constantly being renegotiated. We, in the Episcopal Church, have a moral obligation to break our silence and go beyond our legalisms surrounding sex to equip the next generation with the skills and knowledge they will need to make responsible, life-giving, faithful decisions about their bodies and the relationships into which they enter. To do this we must take the time to prepare ourselves through prayer, study, and reflection. We need to clarify our own theology and values about human sexuality, know our bottom lines, and be comfortable articulating them. What we do in our own lives, both our actions and our secrets, will tell the story young people will remember. May our lives honor the God who gave us life."