Day By Day© by Chris Muir.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Whatever happened to right and wrong?

Teaching abstinence and "safe sex" has always struck me as like teaching kids that stealing is wrong and them teaching them how to do it without getting caught. Think that's too strong, because stealing is, after all, illegal? Okay. How about like teaching that taking drugs is wrong and passing out clean needles? What's missing, of course, is the quaint notion that premarital, teenage sex is not only bad for your health, it's wrong. This is a moral, not a religious judgment, just as a liberal's condemnation of, say, the war in Iraq as immoral doesn't depend on religious beliefs. When did we abandon the idea that one of the responsibilities of any society is to teach their young right from wrong? We should be teaching our children what is right, not the best way to minimize the harm caused by doing wrong. Saying "Gee, I know you're going to do wrong so here's how to do it 'safely'" is simply shirking our jobs as parents, educators and society as a whole. Now it may well be that there is no longer a consensus in our society that premarital teenage sex is morally wrong. But there is certainly not a consensus that premarital teenage sex is just fine, either. No issue as to which the society is sharply divided as to what is right and what is wrong should be taught in the schools at all! The schools should not undercut the teachings of parents with either belief system. Parents who want their kids to have information about either abstinence or "safe sex" should provide that information themselves. Children who want such information should be able to seek it out from other, perhaps even governmental, sources, but not from their school. Our society seems unwilling to teach our children right from wrong in any area of personal behavior, personal responsibility or personal success or failure. How can we expect our society to survive at all, if we do not teach the next generation how to act, and teach them to take responsibility for their own actions and to strive for earned success? We cannot. By the way, the reader may be surprised to learn that I personally am in the camp of those who see nothing inherently immoral about premarital sex. One of the problems here is that children become physically mature at 12 or so and then our society asks them (or, at least, used to ask them) not to act on that fact until 18 or 21 or later if they are unmarried. It strikes me as an impossible request (they really will do it anyway unless given powerful practical or moral reasons not to) and very much against our physical natures. However, I know that many, perhaps most, of the adults in this society disagree with that view and do believe that premarital teenage sex is morally wrong. Even though I disagree with that view, I respect it and believe our society should respect it as well. Schools, K-12 at least, are places for children to learn the knowledge and skills necessary to success in life. Insofar as they teach values at all, they should teach the values of the society as a whole, in a way that respects, and does not undercut, the lessons the children are learning at home.