Teaching Saintly Sex
Latter-day Saints face the challenge of devising sex ed courses that get specific while upholding chastity and fidelity.
With images of casual sex all around and the age-old refrain that "everybody's doing it," how is the Church passing on its values to rising generations?
The official view in Mormondom on sexual morality is stated by the First Presidency of the Church: "The Lord's law of moral conduct is abstinence outside of lawful marriage and fidelity within marriage. Sexual relations are proper only between husband and wife appropriately expressed within the bonds of marriage."
I believe that Saintly Sex Ed begins at home. When our oldest was 14, she began asking questions about physical limits in relationships. I fell back on a quote I heard from a no-nonsense bishop friend: "No appendages in any orifices!" Upon hearing this, my daughter shivered with the "too much information" response. "I just wanted to know if it was okay to hold hands!" she said.
I did not grow up Mormon, but my children did. They received the pamphlet called "For the Strength of Youth," which advises waiting until 16 to begin dating, dressing modestly, and avoiding pornography in any form. It also gives a list of forbidden sexual behaviors and encourages repentance if these have been violated. The booklet assures that "[t]he miracle of forgiveness is real, and true repentance is accepted of the Lord."
I am all for moral purity and celebrate efforts to give the principles of chastity and fidelity their due. To the extent this much-circulated pamphlet does that, bravo.
I agree with the "waiting until you're 16 to date" philosophy in principle and have seen it work in practice for many people. In our family we learned early about picking battles. When our daughter was 14 and enamored of a young fellow in her high school, her dad sat her down and reminded her of the expectation of waiting until 16 to date. She responded immediately with "Well, Dad, I can see Allen and you can know about it, or I can see Allen and you won't know about it." We opted for knowing about it.