Saturday, March 12, 2005

Some God with your chastity?

Jessica Simpson was very lucky to have her daddy looking out for her chastity. When she was just an adolescent, Jessica's father sat her down and made her a promise in exchange for one from her. He promised her that he would love her and cherish her and tell her she was beautiful, until she met someone she fell in love with, until she met The One who would then be the one to whisper all those wonderful things to her. And so they promised each other--Jessica would save herself, and daddy would be there for her--and they sealed this solemn, creepy vow with a creepy exchange of rings. Marriages come in much wackier forms--nuns all marry the same dead guy named Jesus--so I'll limit my comment about this particular vow to "creepy."

And I still think Jessica was lucky. Because as the abstinence and chastity-vow movement creeps into sex education programs in schools all over America, driven by an empowered religious right and a Born Again president, other girls don't get such a pleasant promise in exchange for their chastity. Instead of love and a shower of approval, they got God--and it's a very scary and disapproving God.

The February, 2004, issue of Sierra magazine has a feature article on abstinence-only education in the public schools that shows how federally funded programs are frequently based on fear and end up proselytizing. In fact, a Louisiana state judge recently ruled that the proselytizing must stop or the programs risk defunding.

"For Louisiana seventh graders, abstinence-only education appears first and foremost to be about terrifying diseases: suppurating boils, endless rashes, sterility, cancers, and the physical and psychic morbidity with which they are to be punished for having sex before marriage."
"Hundreds of federally funded abstinence-only programs are run by faith-based groups. The Louisiana American Civil Liberties Union found that ... thousands of dollars went to programs that included prayers as well as continuous referrences to God, Jesus Christ, and the spiritual repercussions of sex before marriage."

And as everyone knows about teenagers, nothing works better to encourage good behavior than threats, fear, and intimidation. So you better not have sex before marriage--or else.


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