I'm gonna go out on limb here and talk about something that is getting a lot of attention in the state of Utah right now.
But before I do that, let me share a little bit with you about what I believe.
I believe that one of the absolute most important lessons we will ever learn in this life, is the correlation between choices and consequences. The greatest gift God has given us is the gift of choice. It is balanced out by consequences. The two always go together...Choice and Consequence. It is something that is repeatedly discussed in my home. It is one of my greatest focuses when it comes to teaching my children. When we make a choice, the following consequences help us to learn. They teach us things about the world, about God, and about ourselves - who we are and who we have the potential to become. They also act as a motivation to make the right choice. The more right choices we make, the happier and better off we will be.
Consequences are an important part of our lives. They serve a purpose. I find that it is becoming a growing trend for people (parents, society, government, etc.) to try to remove consequences from our children in order to "protect" them or to keep them "safe". I think this is incredibly dangerous and stupid.
Let me share an example here. Lets say I tell my daughter that she should not play with matches. I explain to her the dangers involved, how badly it would hurt if she were to burn herself, and that even worse things than hurting herself could happen as a result - like burning the house down. If she chose to play with matches she could affect not only her life, but the lives of others as well.
Her reaction would likely be, "I will NEVER play with matches."
Now lets say I follow up with that conversation by saying...."but, there is a likelihood that you may find some matches someday and you will want to know what it's like to start a fire. Even though I've already told you that you shouldn't play with matches, let me tell you a few things you can do to play with matches more 'safely'." Then I tell her things that may make it less likely for a complete disaster to be the result of her playing with matches, like "Only play with matches in an open space, where you are less likely to catch surrounding objects on fire."
What would her reaction likely be then? Probably something like, "I can see that playing with matches can be dangerous, but I also now know of ways to try to prevent those things from happening. So it's probably not such a big deal if I light a match or two just for fun, as long as I'm being 'safe' about it."
What's just happened here? She is no longer afraid of playing with matches or the possible consequences that could follow because she has been taught to do it 'safely'. The likelihood that she wouldn't worry too much about playing with matches just increased ten-fold. And it did so because the consequences of doing it were just taken away.
So, if I teach my daughter not to play with matches, I don't want anyone else to swoop in and teach her about how she can do it 'safely' if she ever wants to. It diminishes the dangers involved, undermines my teaching as a parent, and makes her more likely to find herself in bad situation.
Get my point?
Okay, so now I will tie this in with what is being talked about in Utah right now. Utah legislation just passed a bill called HB363. This bill states that when it comes to sex education in our schools, our children will be taught from an abstinence-only standpoint. A petition is going around urging the Governor to veto the bill immediately.
As you can imagine, people have many different views on this topic. But the one that I keep hearing over and over again goes something like this, " Let sex education stay and give our students the information they need. Many teens are going to have sex anyway and telling them, 'just don't do it' isn't going to stop them. Give them the knowledge they need to stay safe and avoid STD's and pregnancy." ( I actually got that quote from an online discussion board today.)
I'm sure you can probably see where I'm going with this. In our home we teach our children, or will when they are old enough, that abstinence before marriage is the only option. Obviously they will choose one day whether or not they agree with that, but we will never teach them anything differently. We will teach them the purposes of sex that we believe are dictated by God, not by man. We will teach them of the dangers and consequences that could follow if they abuse that God-given gift, including unplanned pregnancy and STDs. BUT we will not teach them how to avoid those consequences. They will be much more likely not to be concerned about them if they know a way around them. They will be much more likely to make the wrong choice if they can do it without worrying about what may result from that choice.
I want my children to fear those consequences! I want my children to fear God and follow His guidelines! Those are the things that will keep them safe!
So, just as with the matches, if I teach my child that she should not have sex outside of marriage - I demand that no one else (including well-intentioned and educated adults in the school system) swoops in and 'saves' her by teaching her how to have sex without consequences. If she makes the choice to have sex, she will deal with the consequences of that choice, however harsh they may be, because that is how God intends it to be. That is how we learn, grow, and change. It is how we become stronger people. It is how we gain integrity.
Do not steal my daughters innocence! Do not steal her integrity! Do not try to 'save' her by making dangerous things seem more doable and appealing! That is counter-productive. And DO NOT undermine my ability as a parent to decide what is best for my child!
I fully support HB363. I hope it is not vetoed. Saving our children starts in the home, not in our schools.