A Remainder of Fear
November 25, 2002 7:29 AM   Subscribe

If you have sex before marriage, you will die. Why is fear so often used to promote an agenda?
posted by The Jesse Helms (37 comments total)

Because it can work.
posted by Dark Messiah at 7:30 AM on November 25, 2002

Wow, take a positive article about a church working with health officials to talk about sex and the dangers of HIV and turn it into "If you have sex before marriage you will die."
posted by Plunge at 7:39 AM on November 25, 2002

A church encourages members to take an HIV test, and you spin it into "using fear ot push an agenda"? Don't you think that's trolling a bit?

People should be informed about the dangers of unprotected (and even protected) sex. It is dangerous.

Free love is dangerous, and that's a statement of fact, not me "pushing a right-wing agenda."
posted by oissubke at 7:40 AM on November 25, 2002

Of course, we're all going to die sometime, so that's an empty threat.

No explanation of nuance, no expectation of care or control, just denial. Like dieting by complete rejection of *all* whatever-it-is-you-think-is-the-problem (carbs, processed sugar, fat, etc) Rigidity as fear of dealing with life and all the good stuff.

I (and millions of others) have been sexually active through several decades, and yet I'm HIV, herpes, HPV, and other STI free. No babies here. It's called birth control, condoms, thinking.

These folks should give it a try.
posted by Red58 at 7:42 AM on November 25, 2002

These folks should give it a try.

Did you even read the article?
posted by oissubke at 7:44 AM on November 25, 2002

Why yes I did. They're promoting abstinence outside of marriage.
posted by Red58 at 7:46 AM on November 25, 2002

"Historically, the church has been a mecca for change," he said. And what church is THAT?

I think this was a bit-o-trolling. It seems that they were acually doing some good, and differently than most churches do these kinds of things. It sounds like they were giving out lots of information, not disinformation. Planned Parenthood was invited...so it's not your regular evangelical sex=hell church talk.
posted by aacheson at 7:51 AM on November 25, 2002

They're promoting abstinence outside of marriage.

Uh, no, the article actually didn't have much to do with that at all. The article was about a church encouring it's members (who, one would assume, are sexually active) to take an HIV test, and informing them about some of the dangers of unprotected or promiscuous sex. The word "marriage" doesn't even appear in the article.
posted by oissubke at 7:54 AM on November 25, 2002

Volunteers handed out pamphlets with sex information and promoted the church's message of abstinence to the mostly African-American congregation.

Gosh you're being judgemental and rude oissubke.
posted by Red58 at 7:56 AM on November 25, 2002

Red, abstinence before marriage is the standard for a Christian.
But from the context of the article, it is obvious that the minister understands that there ARE people in his congregation that are at risk for having contracted AIDS, and in that context encouraging testing. That simply seems responsible. And since most of us are aware that condoms can break, the truth is that even with precautions one can never be 100% percent sure of protection from a sexually transmitted disease if one is sexually active outside of a mutually exclusive relationship. If a person chooses to have sex otherwise, they need to be aware of that fact. That is simply education.
posted by konolia at 7:58 AM on November 25, 2002

People should be informed about the dangers of unprotected (and even protected) sex. It is dangerous.

We do far more dangerous things every day. Engaging in protected sex in a parked car, say, is far far safer than driving or riding in that car and that's a statement of fact, not me "pushing a left-wing sex-positive agenda."
posted by y2karl at 8:02 AM on November 25, 2002

Yes, and a truck might hit you when you cross the street, but you still cross don't you? Because you're careful, you look before you cross. You move quickly as you cross.

Likewise, you choose your sex partners carefully. You use condoms, you ask your partner's to be tested and you are too. You are careful with condoms. But you don't deny yourself a full and complete loving relationship because you're afraid. Or maybe *you* do?

I haven't found anyone I wish to marry. Most teenagers haven't either. But the sex drive is strong and very natural and normal.

Yes people should be educated, but they're using fear to push an abstinence agenda.

And yes, it's marvelous that they're encouraging people to be tested. And that PP showed up. Can't argue there. I do applaud them for that.
posted by Red58 at 8:07 AM on November 25, 2002

From the 700 members of the True Bethel Baptist Church who watched Pridgen's example, 105 stopped by the nearby charter school to be tested for the virus that causes AIDS, the paper reported.

Whatever they're promoting, at least people are getting tested.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 8:26 AM on November 25, 2002

Check it out, God cures AIDS in homosexuals and Muslims! But, white Christians are just stuck with it.
posted by four panels at 8:30 AM on November 25, 2002

I'm not sure what the complaint is here. African-American churches have been on the firing line for ages because of their refusal to deal head-on with AIDS issues. This church gets its act together, and people are grousing? I don't follow.
posted by thomas j wise at 8:33 AM on November 25, 2002

Red58, it doesn't look like oissubke's being rude at all. Nothing untrue or snarky that I see...

I'm not sure how anyone got "You will die if you have sex before marriage out of the article." I got "If you have had sex with someone who has had a number of partners you didn't know, you should get tested." Common sense. And also hard to do in a community/culture where abstinence outside of marriage is valued. Where's the fowl?
posted by namespan at 8:37 AM on November 25, 2002

I think christianity is stupid, but I don't see anything wrong with this. These people are doing the right thing. If they were just teaching abstinence, there wouldn't be a need for HIV tests.
posted by 2sheets at 8:41 AM on November 25, 2002

I think what they're doing is great and I have no moral problems with it at all. The minister led by example and got tested in front of his congregation, then encouraged everyone else to, thereby eliminating any embarrassment or stigma anyone might have felt over getting tested. They also had Planned Parenthood there, and so now anyone in the congregation who needs information will know exactly where to go to get it.

I have no problem with them "pushing an abstinence agenda". It's a church. If people want to hear moral relativism, they can go elsewhere.
posted by orange swan at 8:45 AM on November 25, 2002

If people want to hear moral relativism

Sex outside of marriage is a question of morality?
posted by four panels at 8:56 AM on November 25, 2002

Just call a troll a troll and move along.
posted by Cerebus at 9:17 AM on November 25, 2002

Yes, four panels, some people do consider that sex outside of marriage is a moral question.
posted by orange swan at 9:39 AM on November 25, 2002

Moral absolutes and sanctimony aside, promoting abstinence is fine, as is promoting a healthy weight through portion control alone but note next time you visit the mall how few are thin, trim and buff. Preaching a moral absolute like abstinence is mostly just preaching--we're dealing with human beings here.

As for the not 100% safe--crikey, what is 100% safe? I know people who died eating.

Given human nature, from a pragmatic risk management and harm reduction point of view, a thorough instruction in the procedures of safe sex would seem more sensible use of time and resources than trying to promote an abstemious ideal.
posted by y2karl at 9:44 AM on November 25, 2002

Consider this horribly flawed economic analysis: this is a good thing because it's the most efficient allocation of the available resources (this church) towards a desired goal (reducing the spread of HIV).
The church in question is a Baptist one. While I think it's a slight exaggeration -- or at least a bit muddy -- to say that exclusively promoting abstinence is standard policy for Christians (there are many Protestant congregations, including the 3 Episcopal churches I've attended in my life, for which this is simply not true), it is at the very least standard practice for the majority of Baptist churches.
Expecting the church to abandon this position is unreasonable, and complaining that they are pushing their own agenda is looking a gift horse in the mouth. That they are addressing the problem of HIV at all -- and promoting its discussion -- is praiseworthy. That their solution to the problem is different from mine is incidental; discussion of the problem is the first step to discussion of possible solutions.
[Lest this sound too conciliatory, I would note that the promotion of abstinence exclusively makes very little practical sense to me in the absence of religious/moral concerns. And even with them, I still don't think it compares favorably to a more comprehensive prevention scheme.]
posted by tingley at 9:58 AM on November 25, 2002

While I'd love to get into a moral debate about the traditional teach abstinence vs. teach real sex education that is not at all what this article is about.

To sum up for those who missed it or didn't read it too well The Minister for a mostly Black congregation asked that they all get tested for HIV. The minister himself got tested as well.

I for one applaud this action as the black community seems to be more and more devastated by HIV infections yet seem to be the least aware of it.
posted by aaronscool at 10:04 AM on November 25, 2002

[Red, abstinence before marriage is the standard for a Christian. ]

These people would strongly disagree with you.
posted by revbrian at 10:05 AM on November 25, 2002

Sounds like someone was overly eager to post a firestarter of an FPP and didn't take enough time to find a good article for it.
posted by Space Coyote at 11:17 AM on November 25, 2002

"Historically, the church has been a mecca for change," he said.

Anyone else catch the irony here? Made me laugh...until I started reading this thread, of course.
posted by PennyPrune at 11:28 AM on November 25, 2002

(for the humor-challenged out there)
church : Christian
Mecca : Muslim
posted by PennyPrune at 11:29 AM on November 25, 2002

About the second link:
If you expect a high school student to understand literature, physics or maths - complex topics abound there. Why do they patronise the same young people by saying they won't understand 'delay, if you can; protect, when you can't?' The analogy with IV drug use is inaccurate, as most parents/teachers do not assume their young adults will take such drugs - I think the evidence shows that most people do eventually have sex, and we should assume that when they are capable, they will want to. Young people (as we once all were) do tend to respect a cultural and emotional message which is extremely difficult to enact.
The safest form of sex, as we all know, is masturbation - mutual or solo: will they talk about that? If they do, I will give them more credit. If they don't, then I would perceive the educators who promote 'abstinence-only' programs as anti-sex, rather than pro-health. And that just ain't realistic.

When it comes to 'wait till you are married', how is that a safe option when 40% of American families are split by divorce: a good portion of those will be caused by infidelity, and that introduces health risks right there. If you say 'it's ok to marry young (by the way, thats the only way you are going to get any sex)', the risks of divorce are increased due to the immaturity of the parties - so you've still lost out.

"Sulak...[professor at Texas A&M School of Medicine & proponent of abstinence-only education]...counters that sex education programs aren’t the proper venue for presenting information about contraceptive options." Words [almost] fail me! Sex ed. = procreation, human biology and health promotion. Why wouldn't it include contraception? Do you only teach in high school what you need to know today? Or is it possible that you could say: 'these are the facts, you need to wait till you can take responsibility before you test them out?'
No wonder our kids can be so irresponsible, when we don't trust them to take some responsibility.
Her quote "...You can get HIV from oral sex" is contestable - many HIV educators believe the oral HIV transmission rates to close to, if not actually, zero.

We do our children & young adults a huge disservice, when we bury our heads in the sands.
posted by dash_slot- at 11:35 AM on November 25, 2002

(for the dictionary-challenged out there)
mec·ca  n.
1. a. A place that is regarded as the center of an activity or interest.

posted by goddam at 11:40 AM on November 25, 2002

tingly: do i smell Edgeworth and pareto-optimal ? Ekk ;D Well I think that just spreading the word "Have HIV test" isn't an optimal allocation because they're only marginally helping prevent HIV infection, while they could simply say "sex is natural, but pay attention ! Hiv, condom, teenage pregnacy etc". It is not unreasonable to ask them to stop preaching the abstinence gospel, it's only likely that they're not even going to listen to you ( I have no data to prove it, but I think that a number of sex crimes are the outcome of an irrational sometime brutal repression of sex)

So the outcome of their operation is marginal help in preventing HIV (appreciated) and marginal damage (not appreciated) done by preaching abstinence as the best HIV prevention method , which is incomplete information because you can be infected by HIV also without having sex (for example, blood transfusion) and also deviant information (sex is not source of HIV, it's just one of the infection methods)
posted by elpapacito at 12:00 PM on November 25, 2002

( I have no data to prove it, but I think that a number of sex crimes are the outcome of an irrational sometime brutal repression of sex)

I wonder the % of reported sex crimes to that of the population there are to be found in the Scandinavian countries.
posted by four panels at 12:25 PM on November 25, 2002

Well, its true. It's also true that you'll die if you have sex after marage or if you masterbate.

In fact there is a 1:1 corrilation between people who die and people engage in sexual plesure!
posted by delmoi at 12:30 PM on November 25, 2002

you can be infected by HIV also without having sex (for example, blood transfusion)

In the US, at least, the blood supply has been tested for HIV since March 1985, so blood transfusions aren't probable methods of recent HIV transmission. In the US, HIV prevention efforts concentrate on the remaining modes of HIV transmission: unprotected sex, sharing infected needles, and mother-to-child transmission.
posted by faustessa at 1:46 PM on November 25, 2002

mec.ca ... the centre of self-powered activities and interests. In Canada, at any rate. Mmmm, MEC clothing!
posted by five fresh fish at 2:38 PM on November 25, 2002

From the Salon interview with Judith Levine on her Harmful to Minors, reviewed here, a comment which suggests the abstinence-only education endangers children:

Levine takes abstinence-only sex education to task, arguing that it limits crucial discussions of contraception and abortion, while depriving teenagers of information they need to have safe sex. Indeed, says Levine, the programs, which are enthusiastically endorsed by conservatives as well as the Bush administration, frequently put teens at greater risk of harm. If abstinence is presented as the only "surefire way" to prevent pregnancy and STDs, she says, students get the impression that "birth control and STD prevention methods don't work." The result, says Levine, is that students in abstinence-only programs are 70 to 80 percent less likely to protect themselves when they do have sex, compared to students who were given accurate information on birth control and condoms.
posted by y2karl at 2:52 PM on November 25, 2002

"Once you catch (AIDS), you don't just get rid of it. Do not let yourselves die for a few minutes of pleasure,"

I'd say that links sex and death pretty unequivocally. I also think this particular program is fine. It's when people try to bring the sex-death equation into schools that I get annoyed.
posted by hippugeek at 7:39 PM on November 25, 2002

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