Although I firmly believe that young people should be taught to reserve sex for marriage, there is one area where I’m in agreement with the opponents of abstinence education: abstinence means nothing unless one understands exactly what it is. To that point, I would add that to understand what abstinence is, one must also understand what both sex and marriage really are—what they mean, and what they’re for.
That may all sound simple enough, but growing up, I has no concept of the meaning and purpose of sex and marriage. I though sex was something one did for recreation and also if one wanted to have a baby. Marriage, I believe, meant that one had a societal sanction to have sex with a particular person. Sex was better when one was in love, I imagined. Married people should have sex only with each other because—well, because it wasn’t nice to cheat, plus cheating could lead to divorce, which I knew was a pain.
Reminded me of a recent discussion at Et Tu? in which I surprisingly found myself in sort of agreement with an opponent of abstinence education. At the time, I couldn’t really articulate why I felt like she sort of had a point and yet missed the point at the same time. Then I read this passage, the first paragraph at least, and said: Yes! that’s what I wanted to say.
Of course, in a discussion on the subject one would need to follow up with the argument Miss Eden develops in the next chapter, The Meaning of Sex. But this at least is a good start.
I’m enjoying the book so far. Bits of it sound familiar because they’ve appeared before in slightly different form on Dawn’s blog, The Dawn Patrol. I enjoy her style, friendly, funny, familiar. I highly recommend both the blog and the book.