Information icon.svg

Nominations for the RationalMedia Foundation 2019 board of trustees election are now open!

Essay:Why Abstinence only education does not work

From RationalWiki
Jump to: navigation, search

Imagine you are at a circus.

Now imagine suddenly you see that a man from the audience has somehow wound up on one end of the highwire, and on the other end is a pile of money that is getting rained on through a hole in the tent ceiling. The man desperately wants that money, but has no experience with the highwire. He fully intends to cross, however. Two men from the audience, who we will call Jerreth and Chris, decide to act. Jerreth takes a safety net and sets it up beneath the highwire. Chris climbs up and starts trying to convince the man not to walk across.

This sounds all well and good, right?

but now imagine that Chris then demands that Jerreth remove the safety net in fear that it will encourage him to walk across?

Do you see the problem with this?

While it's likely that knowledge of how to have sex safely DOES somewhat make it more likely for teens to have sex, the effectiveness rates of condoms more than makes up for that increase.

On the other hand, The problem with abstinence only education is that it relies exclusively on the teachers ability to CONVINCE the students not to have sex before marriage. If the student is unconvinced, then they are at much greater risk than they would be in if they went through the comprehensive sex education course.

So now the deciding question is this: Which is lower, the failure rate of the teacher of the abstinence course, or the failure rate of condoms enhanced by the factor by which knowledge increases likelyhood to have sex?

I think it's quite clear that the sex education course has a lower failure rate in this sense.

As for the "No sex before marriage" that the religious right stands by, it's important to remember that the marriage ages in biblical times were much lower than they are today, and protection and birth control did not exist at all. this is why marriage was so important before sex. I think that in order to follow the god's guidance, it's important to look at not just WHAT he said, but WHY he SAID it. In this case, the reason he said "no sex before marriage" was likely because it was likely to result in pregnancy, and a pregnancy would likely cause problems for an un-committed couple.

But with higher marriage ages and existent birth control methods, god would likely reconsider were he to appear before us.

This reasoning is why we no longer condemn the eating of shrimp, or touching a dead pigskin, or converting people to other religions, or wearing polyester blends, all of which are forbidden in the bible.

I think that if christians truly want to follow the guidance of god, they should try to determine what he would want now, based on what he said, and why he said it. --Sanity 09:56, 12 October 2008 (EDT)