What Arguments for Inadequate Sex Ed and Banning Condoms Sound Like

It will appear at first that I’m not talking about the topic I identified in the title. Do not be alarmed by this. Read on.

Many argue that cycling on the road is bad.  Although it is an excellent form of physical activity that boosts personal fitness, traveling through the streets on a bicycle puts cyclists at risk of being hit by cars. Riding a bike on the sidewalk is much safer, and is the best way to avoid a fatal accident. The fact that many drivers dislike cyclists should be taken as proof that riding a bike on the road is bad for you, even though it is illegal for a driver to turn and hit a cyclist on purpose. Because of the widespread dislike of cyclists, the conservative political party has proposed several laws prohibiting parents from teaching their children how to ride bicycles.

“Most parents I know don’t want their kids riding bikes,” says an infamous conservative politician. “Not everyone has a sidewalk on their street, so a lot of people end up riding their bikes in the road. Parents can tell their kids to stick to sidewalk cycling, but not every kid lives in a neighborhood with sidewalks. If you teach a kid how to ride a bike when the nearest sidewalk is several minutes away by car, you’re basically enabling them to ride in the road, especially if you hand them a helmet. We need to include anti-cycling classes in our schools so that children are aware of the dangers of cycling in the road, and learn to save cycling for where it belongs:  our sidewalks.”

The politician on the opposing side disagrees. “Riding a bike is not a bad behavior, and regardless of whether or not it is, what we really should be worried about are the fatalities in accidents involving cyclists. Wearing a helmet saves many lives every year. Besides, kids often don’t listen to their parents, and if they really want a bike, there are plenty of ways to get them, whether from friends, or using their own money. If we really want to protect kids, we should teach comprehensive cycling lessons in schools. These lessons should include rules of the road, how to wear a helmet properly, and an explanation of where it is safest to ride, with emphasis placed on riding on slow-moving residential streets, and sidewalks for safety reasons. That way, kids can choose to ride, or not to ride, but if they choose to do so, they will do it in the safest way possible.”

Religious leaders have their own points to make on the matter. “It is very important that people avoid cycling in the roads,” says the Pope. “It is especially holy to abstain from cycling altogether, but when cycling is reserved for the sidewalks, there is a holy purpose for that cycling, and that purpose is safe transportation under God’s watchful eye. Transportation in the road is not a valid form of transportation because it is like testing God. We should not expect God to protect us from our unsafe decisions. Mountain biking and cycling in parks should also be avoided because cycling must always be used as a form of transportation. Doing it for recreational purposes, regardless of the benefits of fitness, is an invalid form of cycling, and it offends God.”

The Pope has also spoken out against providing helmets. In countries where cycling is a common form of transportation because most cannot afford cars, the church has been providing anti-cycling education, treating injured cyclists’ wounds, but also forbidding the use of helmets. “I will not condone giving out bicycle helmets,” the mother superior of the Sisters of the Sidewalk says. “These injuries are the result of poor behavior. God is offended that people will test him by cycling in the road. And you know, he is even more offended by people who do this while wearing helmets. These people are testing God, but are not fully trusting him to protect them during that test. Besides, even with a helmet, people can still get bicycle related injuries. We must legislate against road cycling everywhere, and protect people from these injuries. Walking is the safest form of transportation. Next time you need to get somewhere without a car, ask yourself, how would Jesus travel?”

 

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19 thoughts on “What Arguments for Inadequate Sex Ed and Banning Condoms Sound Like

  1. That’s a fine analogy, except that, if you do some research, I think you’ll find that the pope hasn’t actually recommended the banning of “helmets.” In fact, Pope Benedict XVI a number of years ago stated that if if someone is going to engage in immoral and risky sex, it’s better to use a condom than not (which many took to be some sort of relaxing of Catholic precepts or accommodation, which it was not).

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    • You’re somewhat correct, but not quite, and I appreciate you pointing this out. Condoms have been banned by the church since their invention due to the Bible story in which a man spills his “seed” and God gets mad. Catholic couples are taught natural family planning, because they believe the semen has to go into the woman to keep God happy. So barrier methods that prevent this aren’t considered OK, and that’s the background for why. However, the church was under fire for not giving condoms to people with HIV, and then everyone got really excited when Pope Benedict XVI made the statement which this article quotes: http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2010/11/20/pope-says-condoms-may-be-ok-in-some-circumstances/The pope If you read the actual quote from him, he basically says that if a male prostitute uses a condom to prevent spreading infections, that’s more moral than him not using one. He does not actually go so far as to say that condoms are OK if used to prevent infection, just that it’s more moral if a prostitute (someone they consider immoral from the get-go) avoids giving his partner a dangerous infection if it can be avoided. The author of the article suggests that this may be a turning point in the church’s teachings about condoms, which it would seem to be at first glance. But I was still a practicing Catholic when this happened, and I didn’t hear any change in teachings. The reason for this is that the Pope has to actually issue a new teaching officially to make a change. What a pope says in a comment to a reporter, or in this case a writer, isn’t considered infallible, so people won’t actually change their behavior because of it. If you read the very end of the article, it quotes an older statement made by Benedict XVI, where he says exactly what I was complaining about in this post: that giving condoms to people with AIDS “increases the problem.” I wish you were correct, and that the church was now willing to hand out condoms to people with AIDS, or at least willing to not tell people with AIDS that God doesn’t like condoms, but unfortunately as far as I can tell, it appears that the church is not considering this an infallible teaching, and therefore has not made any changers with regards to this.

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      • The key is what you mean by “ban.” The Church is not a governmental agency; she does not make binding laws regarding what is “banned” or what is “legal” to possess or use, nor does she “prohibit” anybody from having or using condoms. The Church is not a body that is responsible for distributing condoms (and she wouldn’t be even if she approved of them). She is a spiritual entity who teaches spiritual and moral truths. The Church has not and will not change her view or teaching that artificial contraception is contrary to God’s design for human marriage and sexuality. But that teaching does not stop anybody from using condoms or contraception. I did not say or imply above that the pope said that condoms were “okay” in any circumstance: they aren’t, according to Catholic teaching. What he said, and you acknowledged, is that if somebody were going to blow off Catholic teaching, it is better to at least do something good and work to prevent disease. This is not a change to Catholic moral teaching and no, it does not make the Church any more willing to “hand out” condoms. As for whether either condoms, or a lack of condoms, “increases the problem,” you might find it enlightening to compare rates of HIV infection in predominantly Catholic African countries versus those in countries where condoms are actively approved, encouraged, and “handed out”:

        http://catholicdefense.blogspot.com/2011/09/what-impact-does-catholic-teaching-have.html

        This is a Catholic blog, but the statistics are publicly available, and secular sources have reported on the same visible trends.

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      • I’ve read articles that suggest that may not be likely but haven’t read studies on this, so thanks for sharing. You’re correct that the church doesn’t prevent its followers from using condoms or doing anything–it can’t. It does preach against it, and on that I have to disagree at least based on the information I’ve been provided with up until this point. However, in fairness, I will consider what you’ve shared.

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      • Having read the post you shared, I’ve decided to do my own comparison, country by country, using the same source (World Factbook) that they used, but I’m going to include the contraceptive prevalence rate, because that is also available on that website, and I think if you want to argue that the pope was right, and abstinence, not contraceptive use, will slow the spread of HIV, then the contraceptive rates should be included in the discussion. Especially since, as you pointed out, the church doesn’t force people to not use contraceptives, and if they’re using them anyway, then religion may be merely correlated with sexual health, but might not actually be causing it. Thank you again for directing me towards this line of inquiry. I came to atheism through reason, and I don’t want to hold on to opinions that don’t hold up to scrutiny. I highly encourage you to do the same research for yourself.

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  2. What’s wrong with teaching kids that you should only bicycle in places where bicycling is appropriate, and in ways that are appropriate? Should we teach kids that they can ride their bikes in the grocery store, or in the ocean, or on the freeway during rush hour? While standing on their heads or while texting? Should we tell them that it’s fine to put sand in your gears, and grease on the surface of your tires, if that’s what they feel like doing?

    Or should we teach them that there are appropriate and inappropriate times and places for bicycling, and ways of doing it?

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    • There are definitely appropriate and inappropriate places to ride one’s bicycle–but the grocery store is a vastly different location from the sidewalk or the road. It would be completely ridiculous to tell everyone to ride their bicycles in the grocery store or the ocean, but plenty of people do it safely in the street, or on the sidewalk. Certainly part of education should include when something is appropriate and when it isn’t, but at some point educators have to accept that as teens grow up, they will have to make their own decisions, and should be fully informed so as to decide whether it’s the sidewalk or the road for them.

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      • The problem is that we’re starting from different premises. Your implied but unspoken premise is that there is no objective right and wrong when it comes to sex and contraception. The reason it’s implied is this:

        If we were talking about, say, armed robbery, you would not argue that “kids are going to rob people anyway, so why not show them the safest and most efficient way to do it? That way we save them a lot of pain and anguish from getting hurt by the improper use of deadly weapons, or possibly even going to jail.”

        If sex outside marriage, and the use of condoms within marriage, are presumed wrong, then it makes no sense to teach people the “proper” or “safe” way to do them. Your argument only works if it’s presumed that whether or not people commit grave sins is a matter of indifference.

        Teaching people that sex outside marriage is sinful, is analogous to teaching people that riding a bike in a grocery store is inappropriate. A grocery store is an inappropriate place to ride a bike, and outside-marriage is an inappropriate circumstance in which to have sex.

        Likewise teaching married couples that contraception use is sinful, is analogous to teaching them that it’s a bad idea to put sand on their bike chains: It’s going to screw up the bike and prevent it from fulfilling the function it was intended for.

        You reject these arguments not because the arguments are invalid, but simply because you reject the premises, that sex outside marriage, and contraception use within marriage, are morally wrong.

        If good and evil are things that matter to you, it just doesn’t make any sense to teach people how to “safely” commit evil. You wouldn’t teach people how to “safely” rape the environment, or cheat on a test, or lie, or embezzle. By the same token it doesn’t make sense to a devout Christian to teach people how to “safely” commit the sin of fornication.

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      • I see where you’re coming from, and it is possible that I didn’t create the best analogy, since bicycles aren’t a natural or necessary part of human existence. Sex, on the other hand, is. Human brains contain structures which reward us for sexual activity, because sex is a behavior that helps us continue to exist as a species. While it is possible to choose to be abstinent (and even doctors acknowledge that that is the safer option), the odds of a teenager having sex are the same regardless of whether or not he or she is taught about contraceptives. The difference between teens who have sex after comprehensive sex ed, and teens who have sex after abstinence-only education, is that teens with the latter are more likely to have unprotected sex if they fail to be abstinent, and are therefore more likely to end up with STIs or teen pregnancies. Because of this, I strongly believe that teens should be taught comprehensive sex ed. I completely understand telling them to be abstinent. I also will go so far as to say that “you’re going to have sex anyway” isn’t the right thing to say to a teen. But statistics show that for some teens, they will regardless of what we teach them, so they should all be informed so that they can minimize the risks they’re taking in doing so. There’s nothing immoral about that.

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  3. I appreciate you giving my argument a respectful hearing. Unfortunately we still disagree, but that’s OK. : )

    It’s true that sex is a natural urge which is hard to resist. Other natural urges which are hard for people to resist, are laziness and impatience. And laziness and impatience can lead to things like being tempted to cheat on a test rather than doing the hard work of studying, and stealing nice things rather than working and patiently saving money to buy them. Accordingly, a lot of teens and young adults cheat on school work and commit petty theft. Some get caught and get in trouble for it. Some get beat up by their victims. Some go to jail.

    Since a hefty proportion of kids will steal and cheat in spite of being taught that it’s wrong and illegal (due to their natural urge to do things the easy way), should we not teach them the best ways of doing these things so as to “minimize the risks they’re taking in doing so”?

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    • You’re welcome. I may disagree with you, but I also think people can learn from each other regardless of what side they’re on, so maintaining respect is important to me.

      Laziness and impatience are bad tendencies, definitely, but they’re still not comparable to sex, and neither is crime. The thing about comparing sex to all these things, is that we don’t have reward centers in our brains designated for rewarding criminal activity or cheating. Nor do we have physical body parts designated for those things. We do, however, have that in the case of sex. Whether you believe humans evolved or were designed, the fact remains that those body parts are there, and that it’s good that we’re rewarded for those behaviors so that we keep a steady population going. I wouldn’t teach a kid how to “minimize the risk” in committing a crime because crime isn’t something to which most people are naturally inclined, nor is crime an important part of maintaining human existence.

      Even if everyone agreed sex should be saved for marriage, that still leaves a large number of people in the world having sex. If those people aren’t taught in school how sex works, how to minimize the risks that come with it, and especially the concept of consent, when are they going to learn it? Not everyone’s religious, and I don’t think it’s fair to expect churches or other religious organizations to tell them. Their parents? Not all parents are comfortable telling their kids about sex. My parents tried and didn’t insist on explaining it to me when I told them I wasn’t interested. What’s the worst case scenario for people if they don’t find out? Pretty bad. The day they get married and their spouse goes, “Well, it’s time honey” is going to be extra scary if the person’s response is “Time for what?” A person with inadequate sex ed is more vulnerable to sexual assault and rape because they don’t recognize signs of arousal in the creepy stranger who’s giving them attention all of a sudden. I don’t wish that situation on anyone.

      High school is a good time for people to get comprehensive sex ed for several reasons. For one thing, they need to understand the bodies they’re growing into, how they work, and why. They’re old enough to understand, but young enough that they’re inexperienced and need to be told. They should be prepared for the point in their lives when they decide to have sex, even if it’s years down the road. Also, in school it can be taught to them by a teacher who understands anatomy and can teach it in a way that’s nonthreatening and informative. I only wish I’d gotten my sexual education from a teacher, and not from the teenage boy who flirted with me in 10th grade.

      Most kids at least where I live get some sex ed in middle school, and get more comprehensive information in high school, and I think that’s reasonable for their safety. They don’t need to know everything in 6th or 7th grade, but for a 10th grader to not know about penetration (and I didn’t) is a risky, terrible thing. I’m lucky I didn’t get sexually assaulted during that time. I’m thoroughly embarrassed by the things I said about sex in 9th grade, when I thought it was evil and bad, but didn’t know what I was talking about. I actually told someone it “couldn’t feel good,” because I mean–I’d been taught it was bad. Bad things weren’t supposed to feel good. But if I had gotten into a relationship then, and had become aroused, I would not have recognized that as the sexual response cycle, and would have assumed, this feels good, let’s keep doing what feels good. Even if sex before marriage is wrong, if you know nothing about sex, you can actually end up doing it, or something close to it, because well–we’re wired to like it. I didn’t realize until writing this but I actually think that in order to make a decision to be abstinent, one should fully understand what one is avoiding. It’s the most effective way to keep oneself abstinent as well, if that’s what you decide to do. A person who knows the sexual response cycle can recognize it in him or herself, and say, nope. Not doing that today. Let’s do something else.

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  4. Well, you’re getting onto a lot of different areas now. To keep the discussion manageable I will try to stick with the original point.

    I’m not sure what you mean by “reward centers” in our brain for sex. It seems to me that people will have sex simply because it’s extremely pleasurable, which is reward enough.

    I think people also have “reward centers” for laziness and impatience, in the sense that it feels good to reward those urges. Certainly not as pleasurable as sex (what is?), still there’s no doubt that they exert a very strong pull on behavior for most people: All else being equal, people will always choose the easier way (laziness), just as they will always choose the fastest way to gratification (impatience), and the most pleasurable way (lust).

    So in my view, laziness or sloth, impatience, and lust are alike in that they are all things that people are strongly naturally inclined to, and things which everyone has to work to overcome and resist if they are to be happy in life. You simply can’t always be as lazy as you would wish, you can’t always indulge your impatience in demanding immediate gratification, and you can’t always do what’s most pleasurable. Sometimes you have to push yourself to work (contra laziness), to wait (contra impatience), and to do what you don’t like doing (contra lust for sensual pleasures).

    It’s important to note the distinction between our natural inclinations, and the actions that those inclinations can lead us to if we don’t resist them. When we fail to resist our natural inclinations, they can lead us to do things that are wrong: Laziness and impatience can lead you to cheat and steal, and lust can lead you to indulge your appetite for sex at inappropriate times and circumstances.

    For a Christian, “inappropriate times and circumstances” for indulging our appetite for sex means outside marriage. So, just as it’s wrong to indulge our inclination to be lazy and impatient by committing acts of theft or cheating, for a Christian it’s also wrong to indulge our sensual lusts by committing acts of sex outside marriage.

    I believe we are agreed that it’s wrong to teach people to do things that are wrong. Thus, you never disputed that it would be wrong to teach people “safe” ways of cheating and stealing on the ground that “they’re going to do it anyway”. Instead what you teach them is, “It’s wrong to cheat and cheating won’t be tolerated” — which is what virtually every school teaches its students — and the same for stealing.

    Whether we have “reward centers” for these behaviors is not the point. People also have a natural inclination to divide themselves into “tribes” and to believe that their tribe is better than others, which can lead to chauvinism or racism or violent conflict. Yet we have no hesitation in teaching students that “racism is absolutely wrong and won’t be tolerated”.

    So we could, if we chose, also teach students, notwithstanding that people are strongly inclined to do it, that “pre-marital sex is absolutely wrong and won’t be tolerated”.

    I submit that the reason so many kids engage in premarital sex (apart from it feeling so good) is because the message they are getting, instead of the above, is that “no one will judge you for having premarital sex; we’ll only judge you for not doing it ‘safely'”. If we taught the same message about cheating and stealing, I assure you that those things would be even more rampant than they are already.

    That being said, I would not necessarily have a problem with a sex ed class that is based on the premise that sex is for marriage only; which teaches the mechanics and the natural consequences of sex; and then proceeds to teach kids that sex is a very powerful temptation (because of the “reward centers”, if you wish), and ways to avoid situations in which that temptation will become very hard to resist. Thus, don’t be alone with someone of the opposite sex if it can be avoided. Don’t indulge in heavy kissing and hugging, which will weaken your defenses since, once you start feeling sexual pleasure, you will experience a very strong urge to satisfy it. Etc.

    This may seem naïve to you, and I agree that it’s naïve to expect most kids to follow this advice in our current promiscuously minded culture. But Christians cannot simply surrender to the promiscuity of the culture. We’re duty bound to resist it and to teach our kids to do likewise.

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    • I was actually making something of a biological/psychological argument with the whole reward centers thing. Here’s what I was talking about: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reward_system Long story short, I took a course on neuroanatomy in which I learned that the structures in the brain responsible for our sex drive are the very same structures responsible for other feelings that are necessary for survival, such as thirst, hunger, etc. The feelings we get rewarding eating, drinking, and sex, are called “primary rewards,” because they are necessary for survival, and that’s why I don’t think they’re so easily comparable to laziness, or sloth if you prefer. While humans do have a tendency to be lazy, there’s a difference between having a tendency, and having actual chemicals in your brain reward you for doing something to the point where it alters your behavior and makes you extremely likely to do whatever it is. I mean, think about how powerful hunger is. The system responsible for encouraging us to eat is the same system that applies to sex. Laziness, while tempting, doesn’t have that kind of system in place biologically. While yes, people do have to make conscious decisions to avoid laziness as well as situations that might lead to sex if they choose abstinence, we’re really comparing apples and oranges as far as the brain is concerned.

      I think we agree on more things than it seems. It makes perfect sense to me for Christians to raise their children to be abstinent. I have no problem with parents telling their kids, don’t do this, it’s a bad idea, please wait till marriage, and here’s why. I even think schools should encourage abstinence, at least in teens. Delaying sex is far safer than having sex with many partners, and even with contraception that’s still a fact.

      But I don’t think it’s the school’s job to “judge” students. There’s a huge difference between encouraging a behavior, and forcing people to do (or not do) something. I understand your position that sex outside of marriage is morally wrong, but not everyone agrees with that point. There are parents who are going to tell their kids that sex is ok, just wait till you’re (insert age here). There are also going to be parents who say, “Wait until you’re at least in love.” Religious parents can say, “Wait until marriage,” as much as they want, and they’re completely in the right for saying what they believe they should to their kids. But I think on this issue they’re just as in the right to say that as the parents saying, “Wait till you’re 18” or whatever reasonable age they set.

      The thing I’m against is incomplete sex-ed, not parenting. Parents can make their own decisions about how to talk to their kids about this. The school’s job, on the other hand, is to present the facts. That includes all the facts, including contraception. It may feel as if secular culture is very promiscuity minded, but biologically, Christians are encouraging a challenging behavioral decision. Any religion or cultural movement that encourages abstinence is going to experience challenges simply because of the way our brains work. Honestly I say more power to anyone who successfully practices abstinence. He or she still needs to understand sex, though, because even if you decide not to use them that way, those body parts, and that reward system are still there, and will still try to get you to use them.

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      • “But I don’t think it’s the school’s job to ‘judge’ students.”

        But they do it all the time. Cheating is one example, racism another. Also on the issue of intolerance of various kinds of sexual orientations and so forth. Students who don’t conform to behavioral and attitudinal expectations in these areas are constantly judged by their schools (though I realize that the particular subject matter on which kids are judged may vary depending on the area you live in).

        I understand where you’re coming from when you say “The school’s job … is to present the facts.” My problem is that they will present the “facts” in a value-neutral way, as if there are no moral implications. I suspect that many sex ed courses would go even further, and tell kids that there are no good and bad kinds of sex, and whatever kind they choose is perfectly normal and healthy.

        In other words, you have the school wading into an area which is absolutely fraught with moral implications, indeed cannot be otherwise, yet acting as if it’s only a matter of mechanics and choices. If they can’t teach proper morals in an area that is heavily freighted with morals, then they should stay out of it.

        I will say this, that I would have no problem with having optional sex ed courses, where each family is presented with course materials and allowed to decide whether that is what they want their kids taught. I would also have no problem with the school teaching kids about sexual assault, in order to make clear that it’s never OK to force sex on someone who doesn’t want it, and how to defend yourself against it. Because obviously that is consonant with Christian morality.

        I think the underlying, unspoken point of disagreement between us, is that you believe in moral neutrality, and I don’t think there is any such thing. My illustration of this is that we would never speak of robbery or cheating or racism in morally neutral terms. Yet the state thinks we should speak of premarital sex in that way. This presents a serious problem for Christian parents.

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      • I think you’ve done an excellent job of boiling the argument down to our point of disagreement. The main reason I cannot accept even your suggestion of optional sex ed classes is that I strongly believe that knowing how one’s anatomy works, which is a pretty basic concept, needs to be taught in schools. It’s information that needs to be presented in a factual way, and it’s the parents’ jobs to present the morality aspect.

        Now, I think that parents should be made aware of when schools are getting ready to present this information so that they can prepare their children in whatever way they see appropriate. Parents should be given the chance to have serious conversations about this. It’s a very important issue. I ask you this though, if sex ed were optional, and let’s say that most parents opted out of school-taught sex ed, how are kids supposed to learn about it? As I’ve said previously, even if they wait until marriage, they need to know about this before they choose to get married. Otherwise, they’re going to have serious issues. I’m living proof that parents don’t always succeed in teaching their children about sex, so if parents can’t be trusted to explain things 100% of the time, and you’d rather the schools not do it, then who will? Not everyone’s religious, so church classes aren’t the answer either. Having considered this myself, I’m left with the conclusion that schools need to teach it to everyone, and that parents should simply supply the moral background they choose to add to the lesson, at home. But what is your conclusion?

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      • You write, “It’s information that needs to be presented in a factual way, and it’s the parents’ jobs to present the morality aspect.”

        But I didn’t reject the idea of teaching it in a factual way. I said I would not have a problem with sex ed that teaches the mechanics of sex and its natural consequences. Therefore, you could teach that “the penis goes in the vagina and the result is pregnancy” (though in more detail, obviously).

        But I would also teach that it’s wrong to do this before marriage, and ways of avoiding the temptation to do so.

        It seems to me that your objection is not that I would fail to teach the facts. Your objection is that I would teach that it’s wrong to do it outside marriage. You would rather have it presented as a matter of moral indifference, but for me that would be like teaching that armed robbery or cheating on tests was a matter of moral indifference.

        You agree that it would be wrong to teach those other subjects as matters of moral indifference. Therefore our point of disagreement is simply, whether or not sex outside marriage is wrong.

        Your position seems to be, we don’t agree on whether it’s morally indifferent, therefore let’s teach it as though it is. To which I reply, sorry, I can’t agree to that.

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      • Actually no, I was in fact objecting to a concern that you’d fail to teach the facts, mainly because you suggested that sex ed be optional, which I don’t think it should be because that allows children to go through school without learning it if their parents decide to prevent them from doing so.

        Ok, I accept your point of disagreement with the morality, since that is important to you. But I’d like to pose a question relating to it to make sure I fully understand what you’re arguing:

        Is teaching how something works without adding “it’s good,” or “it’s bad” to the lesson the same as saying “it’s good” ?

        I don’t think it is. I think that a sex ed class that avoids encouraging or discouraging sex is a perfectly neutral lesson. From what you’ve said it seems you disagree, and think that to not call something bad is to condone it, but I want to make sure I’m understanding you correctly.

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  5. You write, “Actually no, I was in fact objecting to a concern that you’d fail to teach the facts, mainly because you suggested that sex ed be optional, which I don’t think it should be because that allows children to go through school without learning it if their parents decide to prevent them from doing so.”

    How about we give parents two choices: Both classes teach the facts about sex, but one teaches that it’s immoral outside of marriage, and one is morally neutral. Parents get to choose which one their kids attend. Would you go for that?

    You write, “Is teaching how something works without adding ‘it’s good,’ or ‘it’s bad’ to the lesson the same as saying ‘it’s good’ ?”

    No, but teaching how sex works without adding “it’s good” or “it’s bad” is the same as saying “it’s morally indifferent”, which to a Christian is bad, since sex is not morally indifferent.

    Let me ask you this: Is it a good idea to teach kids how to rob a liquor store without saying “it’s good” or “it’s bad”? Or to take a more morally neutral example, let’s consider martial arts. Is it a good idea to kids how to use lethal force, without teaching them when it’s OK to fight and when it’s not? Do we leave it up to them to decide whether to use their new skills to attack others, or merely for self-defense? Would we not at least try to instill in them the idea that it should be used for good and not evil?

    Without any requirement that kids be informed of the morality of sexual acts, the implication is that sex is morally neutral, which gives teachers the green light to say things like, “Different people are ready for sex at different times, and it’s up to each one of you to decide when the time is right for you”, and so forth. Such a statement would be considered morally neutral by most non-religious people, referring to sex as neither good nor bad, and therefore complying with the requirement of moral neutrality. But it is highly problematic for a Christian.

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  6. The more I think about it, the more I realize that lethal force is a better parallel to sex, than robbing a liquor store. This is because like sex, but unlike robbery, lethal force is sometimes good and sometimes bad, depending on the circumstances.

    Suppose people started arguing that “kids are going to use lethal weapons anyway [which in some places is true], so why not teach them to use such weapons safely?” Therefore they start advocating for “lethal weapons education” in schools.

    Now what if some people argued that such classes should be value-neutral? We’ll teach the facts about the use of these weapons, but we won’t judge when the actual use of such weapons is appropriate and when it’s not. We’ll leave that up to the kids and their parents.

    People may disagree on when lethal force is called for, but everyone agrees that the use of lethal weapons is not morally neutral. Like sex (to a Christian at least), it’s something that is unavoidably fraught with moral implications. Most people would agree that teaching kids to use guns and knives without teaching them in what circumstances lethal force is right and wrong, would be completely inappropriate.

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