Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Why I Support Abstinence-Only Sex Education

Water Fountain

Many people on Twitter are amazed when they find out that I advocate abstinence-only (ab-only) sex education. They tell me that ab-only sex education doesn't work, because people are going to have pre-marital sex regardless.

While some people are against ab-only sex education all together, most people advocate sex education that provides information on abstinence and the use of artificial birth control as a means of preventing unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases (STD's). While this may sound reasonable to most people, as a Catholic, I cannot advocate sex education that teaches people that it's ok to have pre-marital sex, as long as they use "protection" (artificial birth control). Here's why:

  1. The Catholic Church teaches that pre-marital sex is wrong (see It would be a sin for me, as a Catholic Christian, to tell a person that it is ok to have pre-marital sex, whether it's protected sex or not.
  2. The Catholic Church teaches that the use of artificial birth control is wrong (see and It would be a sin for me, as a Catholic Christian, to tell a person it is ok to use artificial birth control, no matter how good their intentions are for using it.
Since I believe that pre-marital sex and the use of artificial contraception is immoral, I cannot advocate sex education that teaches that it's ok to have pre-marital sex, or that it's ok to use artificial contraception.

I imagine that some people who read this post will say "that's fine for you to believe that way, but I don't have to believe that way because I'm not Catholic." I believe that each person is free to believe whatever they want to believe, but I also believe that truth is absolute. In regards to pre-marital sex, I believe it is wrong for everybody, not just for those who believe it's wrong. I don't ascribe to the belief that what's wrong for one person can be right for another person. An apple is an apple, regardless of what a person may think it is. Pre-marital sex is either wrong for everyone, or right for everyone. It can't be right if you believe it's right, and wrong if you believe it's wrong. I believe pre-marital sex is wrong for everyone because the Catholic Church, which was founded by Jesus Christ himself, and the Bible that came forth from the Church, teaches it is wrong. I believe Jesus when he said that the Holy Spirit would guide the Church to all truth, including the truth about pre-marital sex.


  1. Are you arguing for the effectiveness of ab-only sex education? Or for the righteousness of ab-only sex education? Because one debate is a matter of personal opinion and principle; the other is a matter of fact and endless studies and statistics.

    What you have done above is essentially say, "People tell me ab-only sex ed is ineffective. To them, I say, yeah well it's RIGHT to teach ab-only." So what? You still haven't addressed the effectiveness of it.

    If you arm the young with knowledge, instead of forcing orders and the fear of God into their minds, you will end up with more youngsters that understand the value and importance and, more importantly, the consequences of sex.

    If you tell a kid, "No, don't touch that stove while it's on," without explaining why, all you've done is pique that kid's curiosity. You could go on for hours about how God doesn't want them to touch that stove, but that kid will still wonder. Curiosity will eventually take over and they'll try it to see what will happen.

    They'll end up with third-degree burns and pain, because they weren't armed with the information to understand WHY it was a bad idea. They will also end up with no way of knowing how to treat the burns. They'll end up doing something more harmful in a misguided attempt at trying to "fix" the burn.

    Now, consider the alternative. You instruct the kid not to touch said stove, but you also add that it's very hot, and that this heat can burn them, cause them extreme amounts of pain, make their skin bubble and turn ugly colors, and may even damage them permanently. AND, you also arm them with information about what to do in case they ARE burned.

    How is it better to omit the first aid knowledge? How is it better to say, "Just don't touch that stove, because I said to, and that's all the reason you'll ever need."

    It's misguided and ignorant. And that is why abstinence-ONLY sex ed will never work, and has been PROVEN to not work in practice. Just research the statistics surrounding ab-only sex ed. It is a proven failure.

    It's fine to include abstinence in a sex education curriculum, but when it's the only option provided to the audience, that's a mistake just begging to happen.

  2. Richard - Thank you for your response. You made an assumption in your comment that isn't correct. You assumed that abstinence-only sex education means to tell kids not to have pre-marital sex without telling them why. That isn't what I'm advocating at all. If you'll notice, I provided links to articles that explain why pre-marital sex and the use of contraception is wrong. I never once said that people should abtain from having pre-marital sex "because I said so". Good abstinence-only sex education teaches people why pre-marital sex and contraception use is wrong, plus teach people all of the positive reasons for waiting until marriage for sex. You, like many opponents of abstinence-only sex education, immediately assume that people who attend abstinence-only sex education are denied all of the facts. That just isn't true.

    The fact that many people don't heed the advice of abstinence-only sex education doesn't mean abstinence is ineffective. Show me one person who experienced an unwanted pregnancy or sexually transmitted disease because they abstained from sex. The truth is, abstinence works, whether people abstain or not. We have to teach people not to touch the stove, and why, whether they are going to heed our advice, or not.

  3. Again, you're conflating "Abstinence is not effective" with "Abstinence-only EDUCATION is not effective". Show me where I said that abstinence, in and of itself, is ineffective.

    Obviously abstaining from sex is 100% effective. But that isn't the issue here; please stop arguing against a straw-man that you've set up.

    I'm saying that ab-only EDUCATION is not proven to be effective. There are conflicting studies, some of which show it might be effective, others of which show it isn't.

    When I argue against ab-only education, I'm not arguing against abstinence in itself.

  4. Richard - I didn't mean to conflate. Honestly I didn't. :) But seriously... even if some people don't pay attention to abstinence-only education, what should we do about that? Do you think we should stop teaching abstinence-only education? Or should we continue to teach it to help those willing to heed its sound advice?


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