Sex Ed: A Poll

Hawkgrrrl Mormon 49 Comments

Which is more effective at preventing unwanted pregnancies:  abstinence education or conception education?

A recent article on cnn.com talked about the gaps in teen knowledge about sex, and their dangerous sexual practices as a result of their ignorance.  The article attributed this lack of knowledge and misinformation to a recent focus on abstinence in education rather than teaching about contraception.  Some of the misconceptions they found:

  • 27% of women and 34% of men reported a belief that contraception would cause cancer (or other life-threatening side effects); as a result, many avoided using contraception
  • 63% stated they knew nothing about oral contraceptives (“the pill”)
  • 30% had little knowledge of condoms, including not knowing how to use one; 28% of men believed using two condoms provided extra protection (when in reality this “princess and the pea” approach causes breakage)
  • 18% of men believed that vertical sex reduced the likelihood of pregnancy
  • 40% of respondents fatalistically believed that contraception was irrelevant, that people get pregnant “when it’s their time” (I assume that means just those who are sexually active.  What if it’s “your time,” but you aren’t having sex?)
  • 32% believed that the government encourages birth control to limit minority populations.  (I wonder how much of this group also believes the moon launch was faked.)
  • nearly half of respondents believe that pharmaceutical companies don’t care about side effects, only about making money

The obvious next thought I had after reading this article was:  These are the people who are parenting the next generation of kids.  And  much sooner than they think.

Art imitates life.  A popular TV show new in 2009 is Glee, the story of an Ohio high school’s show choir.  Main characters in the show exemplify some of these sexual misconceptions and seem to be a not-so-subtle indictment of abstinence-based sex education:

  • Quinn, the teen president of the Celibacy Club becomes pregnant.
  • She convinces her boyfriend Finn that he is the father although they’ve never had sex because they had a racy make out session in a hot tub.  And he believes her!
  • The male students admit that they only joined the Celibacy Club to hook up with the girls.
  • The female students have a secret motto:  “It’s all about the teasing, not the pleasing.”
  • A further dig is made at the “abstinence” crowd as Quinn’s baby bump is noticed (and overlooked) by her mother as she helps her prepare for a Purity Ball (a daddy-daughter dance to celebrate the daughter’s commitment to celibacy).  When her pregnancy is revealed (in song, no less), her parents kick her out of the house and their lives.
  • Their teacher is equally ignorant.  His wife convinces him she’s pregnant (when she’s not).  She also tells him she knows the sex of the baby at 10 weeks (which is not possible, but he doesn’t know any better).  She also convinces him that he can’t touch her stomach or have sex with her without harming the baby.

So, time for some poll questions to see what you think about sex education.

[poll id=”89″] [poll id=”90″] [poll id=”91″]

Discuss.

Comments

comments

Comments 49

  1. I’ve seen studies that suggest that the effect of abstinence education in reducing teen sexual activity is marginal (there’s a slight delay in first sexual activity). I’ve also seen studies indicating that the effect of contraceptive-centered sex ed has only a marginal effect in discouraging high-risk sexual activity.

    The conclusion is that any high school student worth his salt will blow off everything he hears in health class, and that what kind of sex ed he gets doesn’t matter much either way, except to make various adults feel better for having Done Something about an intractable problem.

  2. I agree with Thomas–high school sex education seems to have little impact.

    Sexual activity is more linked (in my opinion, which is formed by observation & knowledge of psychology) to cultural norms than any degree of education. If the perceived cultural norm is that sex is part of a relationship of any kind, then a certain percentage (the majority) of teens are going to conform to that norm when they have any type of relationship. Likewise, if the social norm is that condoms/oral contraceptives are mandatory when having sex, then teens will use contraceptives…

    So in short, I think MOST sex-ed efforts in high-school are doomed to failure, regardless of their emphasis.

    That said, some basic level of knowledge obviously needs to be imparted, as demonstrated by THIS:

    http://snipurl.com/pregnancy_idiocy

    I mean this is a level of failure that is astounding, but I’m guessing that if ONE person is dumb enough to miss that connection, then there are lots of others that do too.

    Unfortunately.

  3. At home I got the typical Mormon chastity upbringing, but my parents were always open to answering any question about sex and birth control. None of us kids (as far as I know) ever had pre-marital sex. At school we got a combination of abstinence, contraception, and general sexual health education. The teachers really stressed abstinence (not in a religious way, rather more of a common sense way), but we got all the info about STD’s, contraception, as well as info about cancers possibly related to sexual activity (i.e. cervical). But what did it for me was being the oldest of 5 kids (and therefore knowing that I did NOT want to risk having a kid — not even the 99% success rate of the pill would have been good enough odds in my mind 🙂 ), as well as being shown a real speculum and live birth video at school.

  4. I completely agree with Benjamin Orchard that sexual activity is determined more by cultural norms than anything else. People get hung up with whether teaching kids about birth control encourages experimentation, and I think that’s ridiculous. It’s not information that’s damaging — it’s attitude. Kids are bombarded with sexual innuendo all the time. Every movie and TV show they watch seems to promote sexuality in some way or another, and the adults around them give them the “we know you’re doing it, or will soon” smirk. Kids pick up the “everybody does it” vibes, and they figure that’s normal.

    If parents don’t want their kids sexually active, they’ll quit worrying about sex ed classes and throw out their TVs before their kids hit puberty.

  5. Sex education should be up to the parents but we know we can’t demand parents to do anything, so that’s where the school comes in. I know I put myself in some risky situations and I wished my parents had explained to me the different types of sex. I thought sex was just intercourse so I didn’t know I was doing anything wrong until my husband told me when we were dating. My parents tried to shelter me from sexual stuff but I really had no idea I was putting myself in danger. I hope to be open with my kids about the risks and types of sex.

  6. Two stories come to mind:

    (1) In one of my former LDS wards, I was well-acquainted with a very faithful LDS family, the father of which had a long record of service on ward, stake, and regional levels. They had nine children. Their views regarding the sacredness of sexuality led them to bar any discussion of the topic with their children, aside from teaching the LDS “law of chastity.” Of those nine children (now all adults), exactly one has managed to avoid significant life traumas (adultery, unwed pregnancy, excommunication, legal issues, etc.) related to their sexual behavior.

    (2) About a year ago, I had a fascinating conversation with my 14 year old daughter. At the time, theatres were showing both “Mamma Mia” and “Batman: The Dark Knight” to large audiences. My daughter wanted to see both of these films, but as she reported, her faithful LDS mother (my ex-wife) forbade her to see “Mamma Mia” because the story involved a woman who had sex (about twenty years prior!) with three different men. Notably, her faithful LDS mother had no problem with her seeing the Batman film, which included graphic violence and a body count in the hundreds. I discussed this oddity with my daughter, including the fact that since the mother in “Mamma Mia” had engaged in relations some 20 years prior, she could have long since “repented” of her unchaste behavior. That was evidently irrelevant. To my daughter, and to her mother, it was more “appropriate” to view a psychotic terrorist murdering hundreds of people, than to see a lighthearted musical about a young woman trying to figure out which of three men was her father.

    I don’t post these as representative of all LDS members, of course. Rather, I post them to illustrate just how misguided one can become by obsessing over a particular point of doctrine.

  7. I think the most important policy is openness. I hope we are long past the days of prudish puritanism where sex is somehow a taboo topic. Just about everyone has sex, let’s accept that and move forward. Teens are going to have sex despite our best efforts. Let’s explain to them how they can keep themselves safe if they do have sex, but let us encourage abstinence as the only sure fire way to be completely safe.

    Additionally, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with treating sex as a sacred act as we do in Mormonism. It creates respect for, and encourages us to highly regard our intimacy. This can create important bonds in a marriage, and is a good thing I think. OTOH, let us cease to treat those who have had premarital sex as somehow less noble, or weak, or unchaste.

  8. Nick, My 2 year-old has seen Mamma Mia! maybe 3-4 times. He loves it. NO WAY in hades would we let him see The Dark Knight. We don’t even let him see stuff like The Incredibles. WAY too violent.

  9. Parents ought to do their part. But when they don’t society must step in, because sex happens to have many consequences to society as a whole. Perfectly fine with school sex education.

  10. “Teens are going to have sex despite our best efforts. Let’s explain to them how they can keep themselves safe if they do have sex, but let us encourage abstinence as the only sure fire way to be completely safe”

    This statement, while true, is primarily true because it is self-fulfilling. Telling kids the only sure-fire way of being safe is abstinence, but since nobody’s abstinent, here’s how you can protect yourself anyway is exactly what kids need to hear to overcome any inhibitions they may have had. Nobody expects better from them.

    The fact is, “some” people are abstinent until marriage, and it ISN”T unreasonable to teach kids to expect it from themselves. Kids need to learn about STDs, condoms, etc.. But they should also be taught that self-control is honorable and something they should expect from themselves.

    I’m convinced that part of the reason I remained a chaste teen was because I thought that’s what normal, honorable people did. Sure, I knew that many kids were messing around, but I never felt that it was acceptable or that everybody did it.

    I think a lot of kids live down to societal expectations.

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    I don’t think we can overlook genetics either. I do think that some teen behaviors repeat from generation to generation. I don’t consider anyone predestined to behave a certain way, but people tend to pass certain behaviors on to their children. In Nick’s #1 example, it makes me wonder if the parents were overprotecting due to some previous transgression on their part. The results make me wonder. However, I also agree with the point that teens will behave in a way they think is “normal” for society. If there is an abstinent normal, it won’t matter whether other kids are not abstinent – there is a way for them to be normal and abstinent. But if abstinence is viewed as totally abnormal, that’s when teens are embarrassed and begin to think there’s something wrong with themselves if they don’t have sex. Teens are prone to insecurity (like most of the rest of the human race, but perhaps even moreso).

  12. I’m pretty sure there was a sex-ed portion of my high school health class. I’m also pretty sure the class was taught by a poor history teacher. All I remember is everyone in the class thought it was a joke, and it really was. (FWIW, I went to high school at a public school in California in days long before Bush’s abstinence-only education, so I really do think we had some portion of sex ed in that class.)

    That said, I find it really hard to believe that the results of the poll are actually representative. Are kids really that dumb? (Yes, I recognize the possibility that they are, what with the pretty reasonable rate of teenage pregnancy.)

    Beside the point, but re: Glee, a couple things. I remember from my childhood that Dear Abby or Ann Landers gave her seal of approval to the theory that a person could become pregnant by bathing together. It didn’t sound terribly plausible when I was young (and I have no idea when I read that), but the idea has to have been around for at least 20 or 25 years.

    Also, although I’m more a sporadic that consistent watcher of Glee, the teacher isn’t really in the same boat, ignorance-wise, as Finn. I didn’t see the episode where she claimed sex would damage the baby, but it’s worth recognizing that she told him she was pregnant, word a fake stomach, and even had the OBGYN (or whomever) play a DVD of someone else’s sonogram when her husband was at her appointment. Even if he’d had decent sex ed, he’d be forgiven, I think, for believing she was pregnant. 🙂

  13. Re: #13

    This is just one data point, but in my extended family we have three generations of couples that got pregnant out of wedlock and were forced to get married. In at least one case, the parents didn’t give out any info on birth control or sex ed at all because they were afraid their children would go out and “do it.”

    In my case, everything I learned about sex I learned from Dr. James Dobson……..scary! My parents were unable for whatever reason to sit me down and have “the talk” (although they taught me everything I know about the plan of salvation…just in case they’re reading this) so they took me to the library and got me some books on sex ed from Dr. Dobson and others. I think the fact that I was a virgin on my wedding night had more to do with being a loser in high school than anything sex ed taught me. Like FD, though, I didn’t want to have a kid early. That was a very powerful motivating factor to not get involved.

  14. Actually, the discussion kind of mixes sexual activity and risky behavior. Sexual activity does not always mean risky behavior from a medical point (i.e. safe sex helps protect from STDs, and if a condom is actually used the way it should, it will prevent most pregnancies as well as STDs).

    It’s true that some kids will be sexually active if it’s a societal norm to do that (as it is today). That doesn’t mean that medically risky behavior is unavoidable.

    I know cultures, where reproductive health is actually a mandatory subject for juniors. That’s exactly because irresponsible sexual behavior has social implications, so the society has a good reason to mandate it. I am not sure about teen sexual activity, but I have pored through studies that show that their kids at least have less incidence of STD as well as unwanted pregnancy.

    It has to do with the way that parents teach and speak about sex as well as how the society does. Today in Western Europe and America (not just US) teenage sexual activity is the norm, so as already said, many or at least some will conform.

    We taught our kids about sex as soon as they started asking questions, in age-appropriate ways (not explaining stuff in clinical Latin terms to a 4-yo, but being more straightforward with a 10-yo). We had some dinner discussions that would have made many of our neighbors think we’re some liberal sex-crazed weirdoes.

    In addition to teaching about the “technical” side of sex (how you do it), we tried to teach about the spiritual and psychological side (why you do it, and when you do it, and with whom you do it).

    In addition to that, as they were approaching teen years, we taught them about contraception and different risks, and how to avoid them. We tried to teach about risks without demonizing sex itself, and continued to stress the psychological and spiritual issues with sex. At some point I told my sons that if they are not going to have the backbone to be chaste, they may as well go to hell without syphilis. No, not really, but I did tell them, that even if they do not believe in the things their parents do spiritually, they should be men enough to talk about contraception with the girl they’re going to have sex with. Likewise, our girls were told pretty much the same from the female point.

    Even if you don’t believe in the law of chastity, sex will be associated with strong feelings, and you should not treat them lightly. Sex can be a wonderful thing to share with a special partner you feel good with; if sex is all you have in common, your relationship will soon wither.

    Three of our five kids are married. Two of them were sealed in the temple, which suggests that they did live according to TR requirements. One says that both of them wanted to have the one partner, with whom they will be committed and put real effort in that relationship, so they didn’t have sex before they were married (civilly, in a registrar’s office with two witnesses, which we found out two days earlier together with the info that we’re not invited, because we’re so far; we would have a party for the families later). BTW, all of the married kids lived on their own for at least some time before marrying. They did visit home often, though, which made me very happy.

    AFAIK, the two others, who are not married, have not been sexually active — one just recently returned from a full-time mission right before turning 25, the other (18) doesn’t have friends that are. With the latter, she’s had boys court her, but she hasn’t shown much interest. She’s flattered by their, courting, though, so she does have normal instincts. She just doesn’t want to be “involved” right now. And being sexually active would mean “being involved.”

    I don’t think that our kids have avoided the typical pitfalls because of our teaching. I think it has more to do with having long and lively discussions in the dinner table about all thinkable (and some quite unthinkable, as will be the case with teenagers!) subjects. Also, TV was rarely on. It was there so that if there was some talk about a show that the kids showed interest in, we would watch it together. The TV was never our baby-sitter, as we see it used in quite a few families.

    Spending an inordinately long time in front of the TV does give both adults and children a warped view of humanity. At least it needs to be balanced by plenty of discussion and reading, so that their reality would be more real than the “reality” shows. BTW, I think that quite a few of the “reality” TV shows represent something quite outside of reality.

    Sorry for the long-winded rambling again.

  15. That’s exactly because irresponsible sexual behavior has social implications, so the society has a good reason to mandate it.

    I would reformulate the sentence. Now it reads like the society is mandating irresponsible sexual behavior. You’ll know what I mean, I hope…

  16. I got pregnant at 17 not because I was encouraged to be abstinent before marriage (I was), and not because I didn’t have access or information about contraceptives (I did). I got pregnant because I had a broken family life, non-existent parents, abusive parents when they were involved, and had no rules or structure as a teenager (ie, no one waiting up for me at night, and no loving, late night conversations with mom or dad). I finished up high school at a school for pregnant teens…they all came from similar backgrounds- no father figures, divorced parents, druggie parents, no rules/structure, no one who loved or cared about them, abusive relationships, etc. We had sex because we wanted to feel loved. We were too embarrassed to buy condoms or get pills because we were immature teenagers. We told ourselves getting pregnant couldn’t happen to us (because cognitively, thats how teenagers view the world). We wanted to escape our broken homes and somewhere, deep down in the back of our minds, we wanted a family of our own.

    You ca preach contraception and abstinence as much as you want, but if the parents and home life of these teens arent stable, theyre MUCH more likely to have teen sex. Teach your children self worth, love them, encourage them, give them rules and structure, know where they are at all times, and talk to them honestly about sex and contraception.

  17. Anon-

    I’m sorry you had to go through all that you did as a teen. I agree that teens look elsewhere to feel loved if they don’t find it at home. Thanks for sharing and reminding us as parents what is most important.

  18. First, I’m totally open with my children, and they can talk with my wife and me about absolutely anything, including contraception. I also teach them the basic Law of Chastity and let them know that my wife and I were virgins when we were married – that it can be done, and that it can produce wonderful people and great marriages. I also teach them WHY we were virgins, and you better believe I make sure they are aware of WHY I believe abstinence is the best sexual practice. Why is more important than what, imo, with regard to far more than just this topic – and, “Because God said so,” just doesn’t cut it for most things.

    Second, sexual activity, especially when one of the partners has had multiple partners, has potentially horrific results in our society. Not teaching that is as stupid and ignorant and fanatical as not teaching anything about sex.

    Finally, I think it’s instructive how nearly unanimous the last poll response is.

  19. #23. Ray hit the nail on the head with me. My parents explaining WHY made all the difference in the world. And they didn’t just say “because God says so.”

    It was 50% that, and 50% the STD pictures we saw in class. Talk about a buzzkill.

  20. I feel skeptical that the type of sex-ed taught in schools has much impact on teenage sexual behavior or pregnancy rates. I believe that all children deserve accurate and complete information about how their bodies work including reproduction/contraception/STD’s. But their behavior is going to be primarily determined by cultural norms, as others have said. I believe neglect and/or abuse lead to riskier behavior, while spiritual experiences/testimony can lead to a decision to abstain, but the general messages most kids get, very consistently, is that sex is the norm in any dating or romantic relationship.

    I can only shake my head at the type of parenting that Nick describes by the family with 9 children. We need to understand that the overwhelming messages kids will get about sex in the general culture are unhealthy. If we do not provide them with a healthy understanding of sexuality, they are probably going to get into some type of trouble over their sexual behavior.

  21. I’m not sure I trust any “scientific” study on abstinence-based education because it is politically charged. That being said, I think we need to educate AND scare kids about the risks of sex. I’m not sure what you mean by exaggerating the risks of contraception. Contraception doesn’t always work. Condemns can break. They don’t always keep you safe from herpes. Oral sex is usually unprotected anyway with most teens where you can get herpes and gonorrhea and who knows what else. Most teens think safe sex is just slipping on the rubber before you go. Protected sex certainly doesn’t protect you from the emotional damage of early sexuality. This is the education that often is missed the most. I believe in being as comprehensive as possible–if you are, I think teens will see that the optimum solution is to wait.

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    Peter – “I’m not sure what you mean by exaggerating the risks of contraception.” The article specifically said that many teens had been given misleading information about the dangers of contraception, not only that it sometimes failed, but that it was itself toxic (chemicals in it) or would cause cancer if they used it and that manufacturers did not care about and were not held to standards of health and safety.

  23. Peter, are you talking about “scientific” or scientific. “Scientific” can be politically charged, but scientific can not be — if it is, it’s not science.

    Otherwise, comments #20 and 21 were very instructive, and #23 goes a long way, too. The WHY is very important to many people.

    I’ll say it again, that I think sex ed for teens always comes too late. You should start at around 7/8 yo to get them before they’ve developed the teenagers’ don’t-trust-anyone-over-30 attitude.

  24. One bone to pick with the poll above:

    We were asked if we agree that “parents are responsible for teen sexual behavior.” I believe strongly that parents are responsible for teens’ sexual education, but behavior?

    The law of Moses forbade to hold a father responsible for the transgressions of the son, and I will accept responsibility only insofar as some infraction is the result of our failure to teach the correct principles. Modern revelation has the implication, too, that if parents do not teach, they are responsible, otherwise, the children are responsible for themselves.

  25. Ummm…both? Why do they have to be mutually exclusive?

    I really appreciated anon’s comment. Thanks for sharing.

    I heard a joke once: “Why do Mormon girls always get pregnant? –Because it would be a sin to carry a condom.” You can insert “Catholic” or any other religion with an investment in it’s member’s sexuality into that joke.

    I think it’s an interesting point, bringing up violence in movies and sexuality. I think back to Larry Miller, the theater owner who refused to allow Brokeback Mountain to be shown in his theater, while at the very same time, the movie “Hostel” played. If we boil it all down, one has total disregard for human life, and the other was a love story. They just had the misfortune of having the wrong “parts” for loving each other.

    My brother refers to this as “preference over principal”. I believe that if you asked any person in or out of the church what was more important, they would immediately say “human life”. (Well, okay, those who don’t adhere to the “Miracle of Forgiveness”, anyway.)I would go a step further and say that love trumps it all.

    To illustrate, when I was in the YW Presidency, one of the Laurels (the president) became pregnant. Her mother sought me out, desperate to navigate what to do about it all (which was weird because I was this young 20-something and she was well into her 40’s). I gave her the best advice I could, and I stand by it: “Just love her. Your relationship with your daughter is more important than anything.”

    We teach our kids that there is a sure-fire way to staying healthy sexually and NOT pregnant–abstinence; then we teach them about safety, and most important, that we love them no matter what.

  26. My main beef with the poll is that I never saw an answer I really liked. What about giving valid information on sex period. The last question which got the overwhelming response was “teach them about contraception and risks without exaggerating. Encourage abstinence as the best way to avoid risks, disease and pregnancy.” The only other option was about contraception only. I picked that because it was at least a little more true than the one everyone else chose by default.

    Why not tell the kids how great sex is if you do it right? This sex phobia is incredible, especially since we all got here through our parents doin’ the nasty. Teach them about contraception. Teach them to abstain until they are emotionally ready. Teach them to avoid STDs. Teach them where to get information and help if they need a different teacher. Teach them how life pretty much sucks if your sex life sucks.

    Then let them govern themselves and bring you grandbabies.

  27. The whole you watch violence, but not sex argument is a false relationship. That isn’t to say I would watch Hostel any more than Brokeback Mountain because I find BOTH of them disgusting. Also, I know lots of Mormons who find The Dark Knight and Brokeback Mountain equally disgusting. There are lots of non-Mormons I know who have given up movies entirely because of too much of both.

    That said, there is a huge difference between the two in social responses. Sex outside of marriage is shown in movies as acceptable and socially normal. Violence, and especially horror slash, is often not shown as acceptable. In fact, its excitement (if you will) is based on the idea that it is NOT normal. If someone can prove that watching slasher or violent movies increases the chances that violence and murder become acceptable then my views on this will change. Again, I reject both types of movies and believe there are many people who do. I just don’t buy into the equivalency argument.

  28. Addition: The only movie like this I can think of that increased violence is Fight Club. Its message seemed to show violence as a positive release of hidden modern-life anxiety. The WWF also increases the likelihood of increased violent emulation. In both situations, much like sex in movies, there is no sense of any lasting consequences other than a black eye. Video games seem to be the same way. In other words, the less the consequences are shown as a negative then the more likely it is for it to become socially accepted.

  29. #34:
    I know lots of Mormons who find The Dark Knight and Brokeback Mountain equally disgusting.

    Jettboy, rather than flying off on a defensive rant, why not actually read my comment, including the clear acknowledgement that the stories I told were not representative of all LDS members?

    The whole you watch violence, but not sex argument is a false relationship…That said, there is a huge difference between the two in social responses. Sex outside of marriage is shown in movies as acceptable and socially normal. Violence, and especially horror slash, is often not shown as acceptable.

    Perhaps you’re watching a skewed sample of television and/or cinema, Jettboy. I could readily provide a list of films where extra-marital sex has been presented as unacceptable or abnormal, with horrible consequences. I could also readily provide a list of films where violence is shown as acceptable, normal, and ultimately the defining element of heroism, masculinity, patriotism, etc., with highly-favorable consequences. (Speaking of that, ever notice how action heroes can do hundreds of thousands of dollars in property damage, but NEVER face any consequences for doing so??)

    If someone can prove that watching slasher or violent movies increases the chances that violence and murder become acceptable then my views on this will change.

    From my reading over the years, Jettboy, neither sexual or violent media presentations have been conclusively proven to increase similar behavior on the part of viewers. Researchers have put forth studies to demonstrate both of these hypotheses, but their work has been heavily criticized. If you’re being consistent, you should be questioning the behavioral influence of both sex and violence in the media, rather than assuming the relationship regarding sex, but dismissing it out of hand regarding violence. Of course, you may have other completely justifiable reasons for not viewing media portrayals of sex, such as the fact that your particular faith teaches against it.

    Again, I reject both types of movies and believe there are many people who do. I just don’t buy into the equivalency argument.

    If you thought that I was making an equivalency argument, Jettboy, you misunderstood my comments. Personally, I don’t feel the need to completely shun portrayals of either sex or violence in the media. It depends, rather, on how those aspects of human existence are portrayed, and what message they are used to convey.

    In the example I used above, my ex-wife forbade the viewing of “Mamma Mia”, on the basis that the plot involved Meryl Streep’s character having had sex with three different men, none of whom she was married to, approximately twenty years prior. The events portrayed by the film were played out as a consequence of those choices, i.e. Streep’s character had a daughter as a result, and when it came time for that daughter to marry, her own paternity was in question. There were no depictions of sexual activity in the film, and there was no suggestion that Streep’s character continued to be promiscuous in any way.

    Now, if we were to apply my ex-wife’s “reasoning,” we could make a list of media which should be “banned” on the basis that at least one main character had extra-marital sex within the past twenty years. Like my ex-wife, we could refuse to make any allowance for intervening repentance on the part of those characters. That way, we could protect ourselves from such dangerous, obscene materials as: The Holy Bible, The Book of Mormon, any biography of Benjamin Franklin (and a host of other notable American heroes), many of our own ancestors’ life stories, and the list goes on and on!

  30. Hey Nick,

    I hear you, but I just got done watching Fight Club and I think you and JettBoy need to settle this mano e mano.

    Just remember, like the temple, the first rule of Fight Club is you don’t talk about Fight Club.

  31. Teenagers are smart. Treat them with respect, and teach them with truth.

    1. Sex is not wrong…but is like driving a car…there are dangers to be aware of and decisions to be made that are best handled by those who are old enough to safely operate it so it doesn’t hurt self or others.
    2. Pregnancy facts and myths – especially the girls need to understand these because they will be the ones dealing with the consequences directly.
    3. Personal responsibility…it doesn’t matter what I teach or what rules I put in place, the teen needs to understand their free agency leaves them responsible to dealing with consequences of using that agency.
    4. Abstinence, while uncommon in society, is possible to those committed to something. Future family relationships are influenced by decisions made by these young teens.

    Bottom line, treat the teens with respect because they are the ones making the choices.

  32. #38:
    I just got done watching Fight Club and I think you and JettBoy need to settle this mano e mano.

    But how would Jettboy ever show his face again in priesthood meeting, after getting the #@&*%)*% kicked out of him by a gay man? LOL!!

  33. Whoops–I forgot! He’d be on cloud nine, tearfully bearing his testimony to the quorum of how he was “persecuted” for his “righteousness.” 😉

  34. Nick, This being the Internet and all, I had no idea of the outcome of the skirmish, but I do know that the UFC and no holds barred fighting didn’t exist until that evil movie, “Fight Club.” (The fact that it is a modern Cain and Abel, played out on a post modern stage within one person was apparently lost on Jettboy. This is the problem with fundamentalist thinking — they take everything so literally.) As for sexual orientation, I had no idea that this would be a symbolic struggle for supremacy (Straight and Narrow versus Gay and Bent), but it does make the battle all the more metaphoric. It also makes for great theater when you remember the Eight Commandments of Fight Club:

    You don’t talk about fight club.
    You don’t talk about fight club.
    When someone says stop, or goes limp, even if he’s just faking it, the fight is over. (Reading this Rule Nick, I think you may have already won.)
    Only two guys to a fight. (Just JettBoy and Nick)
    One fight at a time.
    They fight without shirts or shoes. (Uh Oh, I thought this was Fight Club, not Brokeback Mountain.)
    The fights go on as long as they have to.
    If this is your first night at fight club, you have to fight.

    And E, give Nick a break — He’s watched all those evil movies and it has somehow warped his brain. I’d recommend a Christmas movie marathon of “Legacy” and “Man’s Search For Happiness.” I was going to recommend “Johnny Lingo” but I think it is responsible for turning an entire generation gay.

  35. I’m not sure what the holistic solution is, perhaps establish a “best practice” parental class and provide tax breaks for those who attend. If done properly the most effective sex education is conducted in the home, the essential element is openness and honesty between parent and child.

    The best time to start sex education is to decide what age you would like to talk to your child, the subtract at least 8 years.

  36. anon — my response to your comment got eaten by a spam filter, but the bottom line is that I appreciated the timing of how your post followed mine and reinforced what I was saying.

    Wish you well, in spite of all you’ve gone through, may the future be kind to you.

  37. I don’t fight, so Nick will have to shadow box. In fact, I am not afraid to say that he would win the fight simply because I was not blessed with a body made for much physical strength. Its a fact I have to live with.

  38. i LOVE glee. Glee is amazing. you know i think Finn Hudson and Noah Pucker man is the hottest guys in that FREAK-IN show i mean they r SEXY!!!!!!! I think that Finn does a great job at taking the lead for the guys!!!! 
    and Rachel Berry OUTSTANDING!!! You my friend Rachel Berry yo follow that dream and achieve it. Quinn Fabray You have some TALENT i mean you have STYLE, A GREAT VOICE, AND YOU R ONE CARING MOTHER IN GLEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Artie you may be handicapped  but you great!!!!!!!! Tina i like the way you dress do your make up.  

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