Should we be educating young people to have sex without values as a background? Should we depart from the previous emphasis on abstinence?
Presenting them with an array of ‘choice’ is itself a value that is being imposed on sex education – the value of choice and promoting choice. But there are often things other than choice to contend with and for young people to be aware of. In fact, encouraging young people even to reject abstinence, and to pursue other ‘choices’ does not adequately present the weight of making these choices.
Education cannot be treated purely factually, in the sense of presenting students with the maximum array of choices without considering the weight of these choices and what sort of stand one is going to advocate for in the curriculum.
If education was purely factual, there would be no problem for example, with letting students watch porn, just to see how sex occurs. I would go so far as to argue that sex is very much tied to the idea of romantic love. Popular songs constantly equate love with good sex, in fact. So when considering the idea of sex, many values related to love and relationships will inherently come to play, and these must be considered carefully.
By virtue of it being a massive school-wide sex education program, I would personally much rather err on the side of caution. A school-wide sex education program will always be different in scope and impact, from individual parenting. In scope and impact, it reaches a massive array of students from all backgrounds. I would err on the side of caution when even one life is at stake, due to its inherent worth, and much more so when many lives are at stake. Education after all, will form the culture we live in.
In countries where experimentation may be taught or encouraged, whether formally or not, without adequate emphasis on the weight of the choices made, this has often been linked to increases in teenage pregnancy, identity and image issues, bullying or blackmail of former sexual partners, and such. These statistics suggest that it may be better to err on the side of caution when choosing which values to impose. I do not wish to label them as conservative or liberal, as I believe, at least in its origins, liberalism went beyond seeing choice as the ultimate trump to all other values.
Parental perception: Some organizations have clearly taken the stand that the choices of students should be maximized. It may be worthwhile to listen also to parental perspectives, and do surveys on whether parents truly want their children to receive perceptions that contraception and experimentation are equally valid choices to abstinence.
It takes a village to raise a child. So I am not arguing that a sex education program is decisive and conclusive. In fact, much depends on whether this entire generation cares enough for the generation to come, to help form each individual physically, mentally, emotionally, and even morally and spiritually. Yet, one way in which we as the generation that has gone before can and must do this, is by giving voice to our views on sex education programs and carefully weighing each ideology that might present ourselves. Again, it is worth restating that opting to give students the widest array of choice is itself a choice.
Sex is not merely physical, but an emotional mental and some might argue, spiritual union. The value of abstinence is that it is certainly not to be confused with being a prude, but waiting until both parties are in all major respects, ready for commitment and responsibility.
It is extremely intimate and should not be treated or taught about lightly. To encourage people that they may try it out, not abstain, etc, fails to recognize the intimate ties and deep consequences that it creates. We must consider that a culture of experimentation and contraception may lead to deep emotional, physical, and mental ties that if broken off especially at such a formative age, may have serious consequences on students. Here, I am not speaking merely of an inability to concentrate on learning, but on the physical, emotional, mental and moral spiritual health of these students.
Also, these are people we are talking about, whom we will affect if we have sex with. Even if we can argue that we leave sexual relationships without being affected (which I disagree with anyway), we must always at least consider how our choices affect others. A culture of ‘experimentation’ could end up with unintended casualties. Better to err on the side of caution and teach our young people to abstain until they are ready for commitment and responsibility. Liberty is premised on an individual’s worth, and that should mean that each individual is of great worth and to be regarded with much care and desire for that person’s welfare.
These consequences extend even to the creation of new lives through conception. This is not the place to argue about when life begins, who defines that or even if there is such authority to define at all. I only wish to argue that even contraception, if presented as a perfectly valid choice, does not always work. A culture of experimentation, even with contraception, bears consequences like occasional unintended pregnancies. Again, the value of abstinence for students and young people, is that it encourages delayed gratification until a time when they are ready and able to handle commitment, responsibility, and consequences.