A Power Greater Than Jesus: the Adolescent Sex Drive17 September, 2009
It surprises me (why, I don’t know, since it has happened often enough) when an anecdotal experience from my (rather boring) youth serves to perfectly illustrate something happening in the world today. For instance, take this story of narrow-minded authoritarian zealotry:
When I was in eighth grade (middle school in Maryland), there was a nice, quiet, and very, very religious girl a year younger than I. I played little league (not capitalized because we weren’t part of Little League) baseball with her brother, so we knew each other. Tangentially, but we did know each other.
Her family attended a church over in West Virginia. They billed themselves as a Christian bible church. They were biblical literalists — very word in the King James version of the Bible was the absolute, literal and unchanged word of god.
Of course, her church firmly believed that teachers in public schools should lead children (of whatever religion (or no religion)) in prayer. They thought that Ronald Reagan was semi-divine and that Jimmy Carter was the anti-Christ. They also believed that sex-education was for the parents, not the school. After all, the school might teach that barrier-protection methods are, when done right and with redundancy, rather effective (which our sex-ed class did teach). (Odd that they had no problem with praying to an imaginary sky-daddy (which not every one believed in), but had conniptions over the idea of some forms of education (human biology).)
This young lady became enamoured of an older man. He was in tenth grade but already had his driver’s license (I think he failed a year (which is not necessarily a bad thing — I repeated my sophomore year of high school). Her parents decided that, since he’s a good Christian, and a member of their church, this was a good thing.
I’m sure you know what happened next. From what I heard, they were in the back seat of his car (a late ’70s Monte Carlo) and decided to ‘express their love for each other.’ Since she was going to be a virgin ’til marriage, and her boyfriend (from what I heard) convinced her that once he had an erection he had to use it or suffer, when that moment came, they were not prepared (and he was a boy scout, too).
Five months later, she went to visit a relative. Five months after that, she was back at home and her mother had presented the family with a little baby boy. Cute kid. Black hair. Mom had red hair and dad was a blonde. Not that anyone was fooled, of course. We all knew what had happened.
So since her parents did not believe in contraception, and since she was not allowed to participate in a rather limited sex education class, she gave birth just after her 14th birthday.
A study by a researcher at Drexel and Pitt’s medical school looked at the correlation between religiosity and teen pregnancy. Religiosity was measured by biblical literalism. Allowances were made for abortions and other factors. And, big surprise, the more religious the state, the more teens giving birth.
This study (and all quotes are from MSMBC)
The relationship could be due to the fact that communities with such religious beliefs (a literal interpretation of the Bible, for instance) may frown upon contraception, researchers say. If that same culture isn’t successfully discouraging teen sex, the pregnancy and birth rates rise.
Researcher Strayhorn said,
“We conjecture that religious communities in the U.S. are more successful in discouraging the use of contraception among their teenagers than they are in discouraging sexual intercourse itself.”
As PZ Myers writes, “Fancy that. The adolescent sex drive is a power greater than Jesus.”
John Santelli of the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University calls the study “well-done,” adding that the results are not surprising.
“The index of religiosity is tapping into more fundamentalist religious belief,” Santelli said. “I’m sure there are parts of New England that have very low teen birth rates, which have pretty high religious participation, but they’re probably less conservative, less fundamentalist type of congregations.”
So religiosity is not the determining factor. There are plenty of more liberal Christians who actually tell their children the truth about sex and birth control. It appears to be the fundamentalist and evangelical chunk which cant quite get the kids to understand the connection between sex and babies, and the role of contraception.
So, once again, we have yet another study linking fundamentalist literalist Christian education practices with either higher teen birth rates or sexually transmitted disease rates. I’m not sure which is more depressing: the fact that I find it important to write about this subject so often, or the fact that narrow-minded authoritarian zealotry has replaced parenting in so many American families.
The girl who I knew (I lost track of her in high school) is now 42. Her son is now about 28. I wonder if she has figured out the relationship between fucking and pregnancy? And I wonder if she passed that on to her children?
I think the giant winged porcupines are more likely. No matter the orifice out of which it appears.
Posted in abortion, Abstinence, abstinence-only education, Authoritarianism, Bible, Christianity, Church and State, god, Me, religion, Religious Abuse, sex, sex education, sexually transmitted disease |