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2007-07-16-kissing1.jpgWell my inquisitive friends, I can see you tuning in, drawn perhaps by the salacoius slug, or maybe it’s the provocative couple featured in the attached graphic. No matter. For the record, sex stories tend to do better on this blog than many of the more scientific ones, which in a way is sad, because this is, after all, an environmenal blog. But this posting deals with the best of both worlds, sex and science, and that boondoggle that is ABSTINENCE education. Well, the latest numbers are in as to the effectiveness of abstinence – only education, and as predicted, the news is not good for the politicians and religious groups promoting abstinence as a way of controlling teenage sexual activity.

According to the latest federally funded study of four abstinence-only programs by Mathematica Policy Research Inc., teenagers participating in abstinence-only programs had “just as many sexual partners as nonparticipants”. What’s more, the teenage men and women studied had “started having sex at the same median age as nonparticipants”.

What makes this latest data particularly compelling and worth repeating here is that each of the groups Mathematica studied had taken a broader, better though out approach to teaching abstinence than what might be considered the norm; balancing the heaven/hell/eternal damnation hysteria with meaningful discussions of human anatomy and sexually transmitted diseases. Moreover, each of these programs also helped their students to develop better, more accurate communication skills, resist peer pressure, set personal goals, and enhance their self-esteem, important character building blocks that are all to often passed over in our schools today as they struggle to comply with the requirements of No Child Left Behind (NCLB).

Lest this seem an endorsement of this sort of abstinence-only education, let me make it perfectly clear, I find it morally and ethically wrong to bully our young men and women with threats of eternal damnation, life threatening diseases and other bad things befalling them merely for pursuing their purely natural hormonal urgings.

What I do endorse is a mandatory, science-based, theologically neutral sex-ed syllabus; one that not only touches on all the major accepted methods of birth control – including abstinence – but which also helps our young men and women develop the character traits necessary to decide wisely when, and with whom, it is correct to establish a physical relationship with.

Now, I am sure that any older evangelicals reading this posting will go ballistic at the mere though that teenage men and women would be wise enough to know when and with whom the time was right to have sex. But then, many of these same folks, more than likely, do not give today’s youth credit for being the sophisticated, wise and thoughtful individuals that so many of them are; figuring, I guess, that because they were unable to make appropriate decisions at that age, that others would have trouble as well.

Thankfully, this is not the case. But then, there are many differences between today’s teenagers and those who have gone before, not the least of which is in the way that they practice their religious faith.

Raised on My Space, MTV and the Internet, these young men and women are technologically astute and worldly. In a break with tradition, they care more about the important issues of the day, such as world hunger, health care, and global warming and less if gay people are allowed to marry, adopt children or serve in the military, issues that drove many of their parents and grandparents to the picket lines and voting box in years previous.

Additionally, today’s young people are more racially and ethnically accepting than their predecessors, believing that all people regardless of color, sexual orientation, or belief system are entitled to freedom, happiness, a good job and a fulfilling family life.

Those who are religious, and that’s a pretty significant number, overall, find themselves drawn more to the personal style of Christianity practiced by Democratic presidential candidate, Barack Obama, than that practiced by Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson and James Dobson, religious icons of a previous time. This support of Obama has Republican political strategists scrambling to find ways to draw today’s young evangelicals to their candidate. The only problem is, they have taken these people for granted for so long, they have no idea of how to get them back. If they did, they would not be running that tired, old, out of touch, Beltway hack, John McCain against young, brilliant, Barack Obama and actually thinking that McCain can win.

But how can one expect a party that preaches abstinence to have any concept of what people want?


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