Scared about Sex

The New Yorker magazine has published a fascinating piece that asks why so many evangelical teen-agers become pregnant. The piece by Margaret Talbot examines differing attitudes among evangelicals and others about sex education and related issues. The article also quotes from a Christian author who questions the prominent use of fear and shaming in abstinence-only programs. Author Lauren Winner writes in her 2005 book, Real Sex: The Naked Truth about Chastity:

“Rather than spending our unmarried years stewarding and disciplining our desires, we have become ashamed of them. We persuade ourselves that the desires themselves are horrible. This can have real consequences if we do get married.”

Texas law requires that the state’s public schools emphasize abstinence in sex education classes, although local school districts may choose also to provide information about responsible pregnancy and disease prevention. In 2004, however, the Texas State Board of Education adopted new high school health textbooks that fail to include any such information. That same year, Texas became the state with the nation’s highest teen birth rate. According to the current schedule, those abstinence-only-until-marriage health textbooks will be in Texas classrooms until at least the 2017-18 school year.