Maybe Christians should talk about practicing safe sex. I’m all for abstinence, I really am, and I believe that sex should be reserved for marriage. Not only do I believe it to be a Biblical mandate, I believe it would save anyone psychological and emotional heartache. However, I’m not naive to think that every kid is going to devotedly heed my advice and keep his junk in the trunk. Abstinence is to be the main focus but it cannot be exclusive if we truly care for our kids. It is widely agreed that sex education is most effective when taught in the home. But what happens with the kids whose parents either never mention the word sex or permit them to do whatever they want?
The city where I currently reside has a ridiculously high teen pregnancy rate. About 80-90% of the pregnant women that go to the local women’s health center are teenagers. I personally know a handful of girls that were pregnant by the age of 15 and 16. Expecting most of these kids to practice abstinence is succumbing to ignorance and denial. Christianity has no prevailing influence here. Whether the kids are Christian or not, the problem does not lie within their belief system but within their upbringing. And as believers, especially those who are concerned about inner city ministry, we cannot expect to impact anybody with the kind of exclusive abstinence talk that closes the doorway of a teenager’s sexuality.
I believe it is ungodly to have the kind of self-righteous attitude that condemns sexually active teenagers with a “screw you if you get someone pregnant or get STD, I told you so” and have no compassion. We need to be aware that whatever the kid does will not just affect him individually but will affect everyone else in his life, and so our advice needs to takes into consideration everyone (and, if impregnated, the child). When it comes to sex, all options must be laid on the table. Sure, one prefers that abstinence is upheld. Sure, a believer should not in any way encourage premarital sex. But a believer cannot be naive and should care not only for the well being of the person but also for all the people he is connected to.
I’m not necessarily an advocate for safe sex education. But I’m not against it if done right. It is not unchristian to talk about safe sex with teens we know are sexually active or are not planning on abstaining from sex. Ideally, parents should be the first, and perhaps the only, to teach their kids about sex. But for those of us who did not and do not have that kind of ideal parental guidance, I would rather have a Christian educate me about abstinence AND safe sex over a school teacher who isn’t allowed to discuss the spiritual dimensions of our sexual decisions.
I don’t believe it is inappropriate for the church to have a more prominent role in safe sex education. By church I do not mean creating a program for safe sex education. What I mean is that churches can be more aware and receptive to what its kids are doing and respond on a case by case basis. Sexually active kids don’t talk to their Christian parents because of their “abstinence-no exception” policy. Unfortunately, this terribly minimizes a parent’s influence in the kid’s sexual life and subsequently many other intimate aspects of his life.
Tangent: A year ago, one of the safe sex ad campaigns portrayed Michaelangelo’s The Creation of Adam with God giving Adam a condom. Although it was inappropriate, I thought it was conceptually brilliant.