Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Technical Virgins, Doctors, and Church Ladies

We are never sure exactly what it is that the critics of the Montgomery County sex-ed curriculum really want. They say they like the current curriculum, but then they complain about it all the time, and blame everything that happens on it. Kids misbehaving on the school bus? It's because of the sex-ed classes they take. They say they don't want the schools to teach abstinence-only, but then they crusade on and on about how risky condoms are, and how people shouldn't have sex at all until they're married, and complain that the condom video only gave "lip service" to abstinence. They say it's not about religion, but then they talk about chastity and some so-called moral values that they seem to hold, which don't follow from reason and are almost certainly derived from religion.

Of course it's not just here in Montgomery County, these people are confusing everybody everywhere. They have giant national organizations that get on their collective high-horses over stuff, boycotting this or that, or banning books or fighting their school districts or whatever. What do they want? Nobody knows, because it has nothing to do with reality. Like, they do not believe that homosexuality is natural, or they believe it goes against God's teachings, or something. Okay, so ... then what? Are gay people supposed to just stop being gay? You can't figure out what in the world they think is supposed to happen. I don't think they'll be happy until sex ... just ... goes ... away.

This week USA Today had a kind of interesting article about how kids are reacting to these impossible mixed messages.

They have figured out how to be "technical virgins."
Ten years after Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky's relationship made oral sex a mainstream topic, there's still plenty of debate over whether oral sex is really sex.

"There's not only confusion; there's fighting over it," says J. Dennis Fortenberry, a physician who specializes in adolescent medicine at the Indiana University School of Medicine. "People disagree fairly vehemently."

The latest fuss is spurred by new federal data that found that more than half of 15- to 19-year-olds have received or given oral sex. Although the study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention did not ask the particulars of these encounters, research conducted in pre-Clinton times, along with more recent studies, suggests that teens largely fall on the "it's not sex" side. 'Technical virginity' becomes part of teens' equation

(Of course they have to mention Clinton in this... Oh those liberal media.)

Technically, I guess, a virgin is a female whose vagina has not been penetrated by a penis, or a male whose penis has not been inside a vagina. So there's your definition.

Now, some teenagers are going to be thinking about how to work around that definition so they can enjoy sex without, you know, losing that virginity that everybody keeps talking about. And it turns out to be easy.
A study published in 1999 in the Journal of the American Medical Association examines the definition of sex based on a 1991 random sample of 599 college students from 29 states. Sixty percent said oral-genital contact did not constitute having sex. "That's the 'technical virginity' thing that's going on," says Stephanie Sanders, associate director of the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction at Indiana University and co-author of the study, which the researchers titled "Would You Say You 'Had Sex' If ...?"

Now this article is going to go around a couple of sharp curves here. Watch this:
What constitutes sex tends to be defined in a culture and varies with the times, Fortenberry says.

"In certain times in the history of the world, certain kinds of kissing would be considered sex," he says. "Not too many years ago, a woman would have been considered a 'loose woman' if she kissed a person before marriage."

But a new book from the Medical Institute for Sexual Health, an Austin-based non-profit that has worked for abstinence education with the Bush administration, doesn't waffle. In Questions Kids Ask About Sex, oral sex is clearly sex.

"Sex occurs when one person touches another person's genitals and causes that person to get sexually excited," the book states. "A girl or boy who's had oral sex doesn't feel or think like a virgin anymore, because he or she has had a form of sex."

Melissa Cox, who edited and contributed to the book, is a Denver-based medical writer who also edited a publication for Focus on the Family, an organization devoted to Christian family values.

She says a medical panel for the institute determined that oral sex is sex because it places young people at risk for sexually transmitted diseases and infections, puts them at risk for long-term emotional harm and opens the door for other sexual activity.

Maybe that didn't seem strange to you, but to go from quoting "a physician who specializes in adolescent medicine at the Indiana University School of Medicine" to somebody who writes for rightwing Christian groups, mmm, do those seem equivalent to you? Like, does this lady have any qualifications? You may have noticed that none were mentioned.

This is exactly what we've got in our county. The doctors are clear about how to approach the subject of sex, whether it's sexual orientation, safe sex practices, or developing a comprehensive outline for understanding the dimensions of sexual identity. And then you've got people from these religious groups, who want sex to go away. And the church ladies pretend that they are discussing the topic on the same level as the doctors.

Isn't that special?

Part of the problem, of course, is that different people have different goals. The doctors are concerned about public health issues, mainly having to do with disease and unwanted pregnancies. The church ladies want teenagers to be little ladies and gentlemen. For them, even if oral sex is not sex (and of course, we're just defining a word here, we're not looking for any statement of fact), it's still bad. And it needs to stop. If there were no health risk to it, I doubt the doctors would have much to say about it.

See, this isn't easy. Sex won't go away, sorry, but it just won't. We're built for it. You can sandbag the river at one point, but it's going to spill over somewhere else. Been that way since the dawn of time. We need to teach our kids what's going on and how to deal with it, honestly, thoroughly, and objectively.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

"We need to teach our kids what's going on and how to deal with it, honestly, thoroughly, and objectively."

Actually, we need to provide them a moral context and a timeless set of values. The church ladies are actually are a little more plugged in to such topics than doctors.

October 19, 2005 9:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"There you go again, Anon. Jim makes the point clearly -- you just want sex to go away."

Don't want it to go away. Want it exalted as a special blessing given by God to monogamous married couples. Studies have shown this is the type of relationship where sexual activity promotes health and happiness.

"Ever since Augustine, the Christian church has considered sex dirty,"

Dana, you seemed like a fun, uh, person. Still, I don't know where you get this stuff. Please consider Sodom. Happened years before Augustine.

"with the Catholics... now blaming gays for the epidemic of pedophilia."

I'm not Catholic, and I have alot of problems with the Roman church. In this case, however, remember this: out of misguided compassion, they allowed gays to work closely with children, and the result was a catastrophe.

"Well, at least they don't blame lesbians; they leave that to Willie Wilson and Tom Coburn."

I don't know what this is about. Not sure I want to know.

"For my part, I believe those church ladies speak as they do not out of concern for the purity of young people's souls, but because of their inner shame at being sexual beings, while having spent a lifetime being bombarded by their church about just how naturally sinful they are."

Based on what? I think they want to see kids with a high quality of life. Unrestrained hedonism is a trap.

"To me, Christian concepts such as hell and sin have done very little to make this world a better place."

One problem is that you think Christianity is a fairy tale that we should alter depending on which parts we like the best. If you just cut it up and keep your personal preferences, then it's not real.

"They have just created another generation of hypocrites in power while punishing the children because of their natural desires."

A generalization. Could you be more specific?

If you like generalizations, here's one: You people treat religion like pornography and pronography like religion. Why don't you just say, "please allow me to introduce myself"

"Then again, certain sects think we're all sinners and have been since the beginning of time."

Actually, those aren't certain sects. They're authentic, orthodox Christian believers.

"So what's the point of making any effort at all?"

Forgiveness is available. Once that has been received, there is a restoration process.

"My sense is that the loudest moralists would much prefer their children to suffer for not living spiritually and physically pure lives, rather than teaching them how to behave responsibly and make their own choices in as mature a manner as possible."

I think part of the divide here is about what constitutes behaving responsibly.

"And parents who truly do love their children would only feel that way out of their own personal shame."

Oh, okay. I guess it can't be that they want what's best for the kids.

October 20, 2005 12:51 AM  
Blogger JimK said...

Interesting that you mention Sodom and talk about interpreting the Bible literally. It appears that the sin of Sodom was inhospitality to travelers, or perhaps arrogance. There is an obscure passage in the New Testament book of Jude that mentions fornication in that city, but the contemporary account in Genesis does not say anything about any sexual behaviors or excesses. Still, certain people who claim that the Bible is the embodiment of truth pretend that it does.

The Koran does say that homosexuality was practiced in Sodom, maybe that's what you were thinking of.


October 20, 2005 6:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pro-gay activists always say that Jim. Read Genesis 19:4-8.

October 20, 2005 7:35 AM  
Blogger JimK said...

Yes, exactly. This is inhospitality. Some angels have come to Lot's house:

19:4 But before they lay down, the men of the city, even the men of Sodom, compassed the house round, both old and young, all the people from every quarter:
19:5 And they called unto Lot, and said unto him, Where are the men which came in to thee this night? bring them out unto us, that we may know them.
19:6 And Lot went out at the door unto them, and shut the door after him,
19:7 And said, I pray you, brethren, do not so wickedly.
19:8 Behold now, I have two daughters which have not known man; let me, I pray you, bring them out unto you, and do ye to them as is good in your eyes: only unto these men do nothing; for therefore came they under the shadow of my roof.

This works for you if you assume that "knowing" is a wink-nudge thing, but that is not certain at all, especially if you read the narrative in context. If this is what you hang your argument on, you're on very thin ice. You'd be a lot better off stoning adulterers than condemning gay people on the basis of this passage.

Flip over to Ezekiel 16:49-50 where it says, without ambiguity:
Now this was the sin of Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen.


October 20, 2005 7:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon said..."One problem is that you think Christianity is a fairy tale that we should alter depending on which parts we like the best. If you just cut it up and keep your personal preferences, then it's not real."

So then Anon are you saying that to really be Christian, you must adhere to all 613 proscriptions in the Torah (See: and scroll down to the table with all 613 listed) because otherwise you'd "just cut it up and keep your personal preferences?" The OT and the NT are both parts of the Bible so we can't just cut the good book up and leave out part of it, right?

So *real* Christians don't shave their beard or the side of their head, but they do marry their brother's widow.

And they don't bear a grudge, but they do circumcise all males on the 8th day after birth.

They do no prohibited labor, nor eat or drink on Yom Kippur, but they do ritually slaughter an animal before they eat it.

This just doesn't sound right to me and I don't think I'm alone. Religion IS a personal preference. People convert to different faiths for all sorts of personal reasons. Among different Christian faiths are very different rituals and tenets even though they all share the same basic text.

It seems to me faith is all about one's personal interpretation of scripture.

Aunt Bea

October 20, 2005 8:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We all want our teens to be safe. We want them to abstain from sex until marriage and then have a happy healthy love life with their soulmate, raise a family and teach the next generation to do even better.

But you are right JimK, no matter how much we want and work for keeping our teenagers abstinent until marriage, we know that about half of them won't make it out of high school as even technical virgins and 99% of Americans do not make it to marriage as vigins.

So in order to keep the other half of our high school teens who will not abstain safe, we have to teach them how to protect themselves.

Maybe it's because MCPS parents, among the most education counties in the country, are aware of these statistics that only 1% of them deny their public school students permission to take the optional human sexuality classes. Smart people don't gamble, especially not with the good health of their children and would rather err on the side of caution than ignorance.


October 20, 2005 8:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So you're saying that they were being inhospitable by wanting to "know them"? Not logical. I've read most modern translations and some use other terms. I think you're reading what you want into the passage but glad you're getting to know scripture. I've been out of town this week on business so I haven't had much time to contribute but hopefully we can get that Bible study group going shortly.

I mentioned Sodom trying to think of the earliest example of the Bible speaking against sexual immorality. So do you agree with with Dana that the concept of sexual immorality was just invented by Christians in North Africa a couple hundred years after Christ?

"You'd be a lot better off stoning adulterers than condemning gay people on the basis of this passage."

I not condemning anyone. Like everyone else, they're condemned on the basis of their sins, of which homosexual activity may or may not be the worst. Homosexual activity, by the way, is, by definition, adultery.

I'm certainly not going to stone anyone. Their sins are between them and God. I will support the Biblical concept of right and wrong, though.

October 20, 2005 8:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous said... I will support the Biblical concept of right and wrong, though.

Uh..... that would be "your" interpretation of "the Biblical concept of right and wrong..."

"Anon Free"

October 20, 2005 8:48 AM  
Blogger JimK said...

Anon, the Christian obsession with sex certainly started long after Jesus' life. In fact, it's mainly an American obsession, even European Protestants are not as insanely obsessed with sex as the American Protestants. It's not a Biblical tradition, I think it is more of a Calvinistic one.


October 20, 2005 9:55 AM  
Blogger andrea said...

I highly doubt that the pedophilia in the church is related to "allowing gays to work with children". Pedophilia is largely the province of straight white males. Perhaps creating an atmosphere of a certain class of people being beyond reproach and more blessed than others is what did it- and then protecting criminals rather than arresting them

October 20, 2005 2:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I made a post yesterday morning that doesn't appear any more. I'll try again tonight. Hate to see this one die at 13 posts.

October 21, 2005 10:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon said "Hate to see this one die at 13 posts."

Anon now showing
"human fear of the unknown"


October 21, 2005 12:36 PM  

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