Just a quick addition to the topic of "abstinence only" sex ed. Its promotion by the right - especially fundamentalist/evangelical Christians and its abject failure in the real world is well known. One item that I haven't heard discussed is that of the time span between onset of puberty and decision to marry.

For reasons that are known and unknown, the onset of puberty, especially in girls continues to come earlier and earlier with each generation. In many cultures the onset of puberty in females indicated readiness for motherhood, and therefore marriage. In the United States marriages in late teens and early twenties were a cultural “rule”- especially for young women. Times have changed, and in our culture today women and men are delaying marriage while focusing on career, education, travel and other life choices. Many are choosing not to marry for a myriad of perfectly rational motives.

I can see in an era before "the pill" and deadly STDs, when a far narrower gap between puberty and marriage was the norm, the idea of abstinence was marginally more reasonable than it is today. To suggest that a young person might wait two or three years for marriage before exploring his or her sexuality was not illogical in our Christian, puritanical culture. However, to suggest today that waiting from puberty at 10 or 11 until marriage at 25 or 30 is insane. It is simply absurd and irrelevant to young people today, and ancient cultural demands that young people “save themselves for marriage” are laughed-off, either in public through behavior, or privately.

Young people, in this very real world of the sexualization of products, people, entertainment and the graphic sexual content easily found on the internet, must be armed with information that is as real to them as the feelings they experience as their bodies change. They need data - not fiction, and not the echoes of cultures past when so much has changed, and so much is at stake.


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