Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Why "abstinence" doesn't work

This may or may not surprise you, but I don't hold out much hope for teen abstinence programs such as "True Love Waits" or the "Silver Ring Thing," the latter taking place at my church several years ago, having any effectiveness in keeping Christian teenagers from becoming sexually active. Believe me, I don't condone sexual conduct outside of marriage.

But the programs, from what little I've seen of them, leave one major issue out of the discussion: How we as fellow believers in Jesus Christ regard each other.  Without that, the ceremonies become nothing more than just that -- ceremonies to make people feel good but eventually turn to naught.

Indeed, I don't think that a whole lot kids are having sex.  But here's the problem:  The popular kids are, especially male athletes -- which should make sense, because they're the ones that attract girls in the first place.  Many of these same Christians who fear teens having sex will watch these same boys play football on Friday nights and even glory in their victories.  And when you get that kind of near-worship on a consistent basis you often end up not feeling accountable to anyone.  (I'm not saying that all athletes act this way, but those Christians that do play will tell you that the temptation is always there.)

But I digress.  It seems to me that, rather than trying to keep kids out of the sack, we should teach them to regard each other as "brothers and sisters" -- and model that behavior.  Say if some guy tried to hit on your sister -- his name is seconds to live, right?  And if someone picked on your brother, you would rush to his defense, right?  So why don't we treat people in the household of faith like that?  I personally experienced considerable rejection from Christian women because I wasn't what they wanted, and I'm not alone in that.

Just consider whom we choose as elders, pastors or "leaders" in the church -- not always the most spiritually qualified but often those that give off the right vibe, have the right resume, display the right "image."  That's just like the world, frankly, and shows us to be at times hypocritical.

I've been fortunate to have experienced a better way.

My first year in college, at Georgia Tech, I fell into a campus ministry sponsored by a downtown Atlanta church, with many of the women attending Agnes Scott College, a women's liberal arts school located in a suburb.  Let me tell you that there wasn't a woman in that group that rated below a 7 -- yes, they were that pretty.

But I never even thought about asking any of them on a date.  There were several reasons for that, mostly due my own immaturity, but even beyond that the group felt like a true family.  To wit, looking back I really did feel as though these women were my sisters, not pieces of meat or playthings.

That sense of belonging was so strong that, at the beginning of a square dance that the fellowship sponsored at the church, I invited what I considered the homeliest woman there to be my partner.  Out of pity?

Honestly, no.  She simply was the one closest to me, and I didn't give it a second thought.

And that kind of attitude is missing in fears about teen sexuality.  Rather than focus upon the consequences of such for themselves, it seems to me that we should teach kids to learn to care about each other to the point that they would want the very best for each other (think "I just couldn't do that to her/him").  That's the kind of selfless love that not only nurtures but also that the world finds attractive, if for no other reason than it's different.  And then we wouldn't need all these programs to attempt in the flesh what should come naturally by God's Spirit.

1 comment:

Mark said...

Why nothing works in Christian Abstinence teaching is the same reason Christianity has lost it's effectiveness in every feild ; We feel no responsibility to THE One who OWNS us. We can make all the side excuses we want ; American Christians are autonomous . " I am FREE ! No body tells me what to do ! " . To us, Jesus set us free to do whatever we want . We no longer care that there is a judgement coming for everything "done in the body" . We get enraged at the thought of God judging sin ; and Marshmallow Christians try to appease the anger of those who hate the thought " that a loving God would judge sin". "God Damn America" , Brother Reverand Wright? Maybe God already has.