09/12/2009 05:12 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

Another Blight on the Abstinence Only Agenda

This morning, Faith Lab published a compelling query concerning the fact that abstinence-only requirements may actually push young people into marriage before they're ready, simply because they feel less guilty about divorce than they do sex outside of marriage.

In a society like ours, with over 50% of couples disappearing into the realm of divorce, this seems rather irresponsible. The fact that abstinence only education has been proven to have even more detrimental effects than providing educational and contraceptive tools to cope with sex among consenting adult individuals (and the teens who continue having sex despite all efforts to prevent them from doing so), is only magnified by the fact that such attitudes may force individuals into a financial, spiritual and emotional arrangement that they are simply unprepared for.

Yes, you can argue that if you're not prepared to take on the responsibilities associated with marriage, then you may be unprepared to take on those of having sexual relations. Idealism, however, has proven a poor indicator of what actually takes place. People are having sex, will continue having sex, and the religious institutions standing on principle alone in their campaign for abstinence actually relegate their congregations into the margins where no real discourse can take place.

Trapped by their hormonal and social urges, young people may decide incorrectly to get married rather than to have safe sex. This seems a shameful waste of hearts and resources, both on a familial and personal level. Safe sex between two consenting adults, after all, is premised on a choice between two individuals. Marriage, on the other hand, tends to involve entire families, communities and a larger number of lives on the periphery, which will be adversely affected in the long run by ruined vows.

Given that the reality is far from the ideal, isn't it time to just say no to the notion of abstinence only agendas and embrace, instead, that we are a sinful and sexual lot, we humans; and that we will continue having sexual relations with or without the guilt imposed upon us by our religious leanings? Perhaps we should talk, instead, about how to go about these sexual exchanges in the most self-preserving and mutually respectful manner rather than suggest that the majority of us are capable of abstinence at all.