The Pen

40 harmful effects of Christianity #14 – “Abstinence-only” sex education

This entry is part 14 of 32 in the series 40 Harmful Effects of Christianity

“ you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.” 1 Corinthians 6:8-10

This post is theoiourteenth in a series that addresses a list of “40 harmful effects of Christianity” that originated on the American Atheists Facebook page and has since made its way around the internet. In this post, I examine the following “harmful effect” from the list:

Harmful Effect #14: “Abstinence-only” sex education, resulting in five times the amount sexually transmitted diseases and teenage pregnancies – often leading to ill-fated “emergency” marriages.

The author(s) of this list didn’t do its readers the kindness of citing a source for this statistical claim. Thus, I cannot quickly determine whether or not it is veridical.  It’s just as well, since, from a biblical worldview, such statistics just aren’t relevant. What is relevant is what the bible teaches about sexual morality.  Its teaching is clear:

It’s not morally permissible to have sex with someone unless one is married to that person. 

I can remember a particular occasion when I was a teenager upon which an individual came to speak, about sex education, to the youth of the church which my family attended.  During the course of his talk, this individual claimed that condoms were not always effective.  He spoke about the size of sperm in relation to the integrity of the latex membrane of condoms in support of this claim.  I was perplexed and a little outraged.  I can remember thinking, “What does it matter if condoms work well or not?  The Bible says not to have sex outside of marriage.  Why isn’t this man just teaching everyone what the Bible says?”  This speaker was trading on statistics and a utilitarian ethic.  Such an ethic hasn’t much place inside the church of Jesus Christ.  This man was doing the youth of the church and their parents a disservice by putting stock in statistics instead of the sufficiency of God.

“All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17

It should be noted that this speaker was teaching the youth about the usage of condoms.  It was clear from his presentation (not that many in his audience didn’t already know) that condoms are useful in preventing sexually transmitted disease and pregnancy.  However, unlike abstinence, condoms are not 100% effective in preventing sexually transmitted disease and pregnancy.  Any responsible non-Christian sex education program teaches this as well.  Considering this, let’s analyze what “harmful effect #14” really says more closely:

“Abstinence-only” sex education programs which teach that condoms prevent sexually transmitted disease and pregnancy but not with 100% effectiveness result in five times the amount sexually transmitted diseases and teenage pregnancies than do non- “Abstinence-only” sex education programs which teach that condoms prevent sexually transmitted disease and pregnancy but not with 100% effectiveness.

What an absurd claim.   Further scrutiny should only make the claim appear more ridiculous.

We’ve not explored the implied assertion that formal “abstinence-only” sex education programs are biblically-prescribed endeavors.  We’ve not explored the assertion any marriages which result from teenage pregnancies are either “ill-fated” or prescribed by the bible.  Having proven the claim absurd, it’s not necessary to chase these rabbits.

In closing, I would like to challenge non-Christians to consider what society would look like if everyone faithfully followed a Christian sexual ethic.  This would be a society without STD epidemics, unwanted pregnancies, or the emotional turmoil caused by adultery and divorce.  Such a society may not be achievable before the return of Christ, but it would nonetheless be prudent to strive for one.  We are not, as Richard Dawkins claims, “machines for propagating DNA” (by the way, if Dr. Dawkins is correct, trying to prevent pregnancy seems counterintuitive and futile) but rather moral beings made in the image of God for the purpose of glorifying Him.

(Jesus) will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” Revelation 21:4

In my next post in this series, I’ll address the following:

Harmful Effect #15: Women having septic abortions—or being forced to have unwanted children they resent—because religious organizations have gotten laws passed making abortion illegal or inaccessible.

[Contributed by Seth Dunn]

*Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church at which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.

Series Navigation<< 40 harmful effects of Christianity #13 – Friendships Severed Over Religious Differences40 harmful effects of Christianity #16 – Censorship >>

Seth Dunn

Masters of Divinity in Christian Apologetics, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary Member of the Evangelical Theological Society Certified Public Accountant