Thursday, July 21, 2005


I understand the government is funding Youth Rallies, held in various locations around the country, in which young people are treated to an evening of fun and frolic and then are asked to take the Pledge of Abstinence, vowing they will not have sex until they are married.

This seems good idea, until one learns that these young people are being told that condoms fail. Thus, if they do not live up to their Pledge, and they do not use a condom...which the U.S. government has told them is useless...they may just contract a venereal disease or, even worse, AIDS.

And statistics have shown that 80 percent of these youngsters who take this Pledge do not follow it. Only twenty percent have managed to remain chaste until their wedding night, a statistic that probably doesn't come as a surprise to any parent of a teenager. Teenagers will pledge to mow the lawn, yet the grass will be kneehigh before that event occurs. When it comes to promises, teenagers make a lot of them in exchange for the use of the family car, but the trick is to hold them to their word. In the words of a disgruntled parent, "It ain't easy!".

Speaking of pledges always reminds me of my younger years, when I used to trudge off to Bible School in the summertime. I always enjoyed Bible School. One had to listen to the preacher and sing a few songs, but it was a good opportunity to meet with friends and dawdle on the way home.

Every day in Sunday School, the minister would admonish the children to come to the Altar to be Saved. Every day, I dutifully went up the Altar, penitent and humble, and bent my head as the preacher prayed and then pronounced me a member of the Christian class.

I was saved so many times, I ought to be Saint by now. But, if there was any saving to be done, I wanted to make sure I was a part of it. I wasn't going to walk around unsaved in a world full of evil perils. But I honestly felt no different after being saved than I did before that prayer was offered.

However, I did feel a bit smug, having been saved at least 14 times before the Bible School ended. I shouted out "Amen!" and "Hallelujah!" at appropriate times in a voice that would have carried to the back row at Madison Square Garden. Maybe I couldn't pray too well, but you couldn't beat me on those "Amens"! They were magnificent!

I have a neice who had a different view of Bible School. She said that, to her, the church was like a ghostly sepulchre cavern, and the minister, garbed in black, seemed like a deep-throated evil wizard. She trembled her way to the Altar when summoned, submitted to the prayer as she stood on shaking, weakened legs, made it back to her seat to sit there in fearful agony until the sermon ended, then ran home screaming to her mother, shouting "I've been saved! I'm sorry! I'm sorry! I didn't mean it!"

I think perhaps this is similar to the "Pledge of Abstinence". Teenagers, making this pledge, do not really realize its significance. It is one thing to vow Abstinence in a crowded auditorium, but quite another to practice it in the backseat of a car with a cute boy or girlfriend. I would guess that the 80% of our youngsters who have failed the Pledge are walking around with mammoth guilt complexes, adding to the rebellion that teenagers just naturally seem to come by anyway.

It appears to me that we ought to use our funding to double down on the Sex Education. It appears to me that only through knowledge of the pitfalls and dangers can youngsters realize that sex is a serious business. I think perhaps that teacher who gave his students one egg each and instructed them that, for a period of two weeks, they were to care for the eggs, carry them everywhere they went in little baskets and make sure they didn't break, was teaching those young people far more than the preachers at a rally. In this way, they learned what it would be like to care for a baby, 24/7. This is Sex Education, and the more of it the better.

Why teach our young people a lie? Condoms occasionally fail. They certainly aren't perfect, but they are definitely better than nothing. And they just might save one from contracting AIDS. This is a life or death matter, and our government should teach Truth, not Falsehoods. We all know it would be wonderful if teens would practice abstinence until marriage. But, when you lie to a teenager, you are giving him or her ammunition for all sorts of retaliation. Many of us have lived through those scenes...

"What about you? You lied to me! You lied!" There is no indignation like that of an angry teen.

It is a mammoth responsibility, getting teenagers through those tumultous years until they finally reach maturity....whenever that may be. My advice? Tell them the truth. Keep a close eye on them. Expect the worst. Hope for the best. And take the Pledge of Forgiveness. You'll need it!