My nearly 15 year old daughter went to a Purity Conference on Saturday. I let her go because it was important to her and because I think that any program designed to allow kids to make informed decisions about sex is a good thing. Or at least I thought that before she went. All right, all right, being a church-based program, of course I should have been prepared for the moralistic viewpoint; no brainer. And on one level I was. I mean, of course a religion-based Sex Ed. program isn't going to tell the kids about birth control, right? What I was not prepared for were the absolute lies-told in the name of Christianity-to these young kids. One of the things my daughter talked about as fact was that "all the programs that come into the schools and talk about birth control are also the same programs that will give you an abortion," and I was thinking,"What the hell are you talking about?" Because to my knowledge, the Sex Education Program at the schools talks about all sorts of methods of birth control, including but not limited to abstinence. What they are not allowed to do is talk to the students about what to do if they do get pregnant, although last year my daughter was given a list of potential resources. Also to my knowledge, Planned Parenthood is the only 'program' that offers abortion as a possible option, and they are not allowed to come into the schools. There was also, of course, the "abortion is murder" argument, as well as the "you have to be pure or God doesn't love you" message, and I was left reeling. Not so much about the nature of the message itself; like I said, I had a pretty good idea of what the general message was going to be. No, what bothers me the most is how willing my daughter is to accept this one viewpoint as fact, and cannot-or will not-see her way clear to exploring any other possibilities.
Here is my view: abstinence is the only sure way. We all know that. But what about the religious viewpoint that says you are immoral, impure, and unloved if you are already having or planning to have sex? What about those kids who are already out there, unprotected, who don't hear that there are ways to make it safer? Talk about letting a huge percentage of the population fall through the cracks! And what about the theory that God won't love you unless you are pure? I have to disagree with that as well; otherwise, the God I know and love would have given me up for a lost cause years ago, and not just for having sex! I tried to talk to my daughter about this-that even though abortion not be right for us from a personal standpoint, there are many, many women who feel like it is the best option for them at the time. I also tried to talk to her about our own morals/beliefs/ethics and why other people might not agree with that. Doesn't mean we are wrong, but neither does it mean they are. Last, I tried to inject some of my own personal beliefs in there-that if we don't want other people to dictate what we believe or impose their morals on us, what makes her think it is acceptable for her/us to do the same?
This is the problem I have with religion, so to speak: that a select group of people has the moral market cornered, and that there is no room for any other viewpoint. I believe in God; I even take my kids to church and attend myself. We day prayers every night before bed, every time we get in the car for a road trip, and I personally spend a rather large amount of time carrying on conversation in my head to the Big Guy. But for me, it isn't about God and High Priest and Judge; it isn't about what rules I am supposed to follow in order to "belong" to a particular church. It certainly isn't about judging anyone for the choices they make in life. There are people who are bad to the core; I believe the Bible says to love the sinner but hate the sin, and I fail at that on a daily basis. I mean, I am sorry, I just can't have some mythical Christian love for a man who rapes a three year old and videotapes it. I hope people like that burn, frankly. For me, in my life, God is this pretty great person like a big brother, who looks out for you and tries to keep you safe, and then watches you screw things up pretty badly while shaking his head at the choices you make. But He is there, loving us anyway, wanting us to love and support each other where we are that day. And He is always there, waiting for us to come back to Him.
So I keep talking to my daughter, hoping that some of it will sink in. I am a little shocked(and, I will admit, disappointed)that having grown up in a rather liberal household, she prescribes to such a narrow view of right and wrong. Maybe that comes from being young; I have found myself that getting older and knowing more about life has caused a lot of shades of grey to pop up, and I hope that happens to her. I respect and honor her desire to believe in something, even if it isn't what I believe. I honor her ability and willingness to explore different views, and just hope and pray she doesn't find herself in a situation where she might have to face making a choice that goes against her beliefs-like abortion. Not because it would disappoint or anger me-I believe it is our right, as women, and I know some really great, really strong, absolutely GOOD women who have made that choice, for reasons of their own-but because it would damage her and the view she has of herself. In the meantime, I keep telling her that yes, abstinence IS the only sure way-I agree 100%-but that if she chooses to not be abstinent, then there are a lot of different ways to protect herself AND that I wouldn't love her any less.