Posts Tagged ‘news’

Creating the News

I know from experience that many people get their news by just scanning the headlines. Well, what would you think if you read this headline:

Losing Virginity Later Linked to Sexual Problems:
     Those Who Have Sex Later, Particularly Men,
     Seem to Experience More Sexual Dysfunction

Is this ABC News article really saying what it seems to be saying? That people, especially men, should become sexually active as teens or else expect sexual dysfunction during their adult lives?

The study’s authors–identified only as associated with Columbia University and the New York State Psychiatric Institute–are quoted several times as saying that there is nocausal link between the age one becomes sexually active and the possibility of sexual dysfunction later. One of the hypotheses being examined states precisely the opposite: that sexual dysfunction itself leads some to a later beginning of sexual activity.

Note this from early in the article: “The increase in sexual problems was also seen in those who had a comparably earlier sexual debut.” (emphasis added)

The article author, Dan Childs, brings in the suggestion of a causal relationship by quoting “sexuality experts not affiliated with the study.” Childs notes that these experts “agree that it is too early to draw a direct causal link about those who have sex later in life.” One of them, Eli Coleman, academic chair in sexual health at the University of Minnesota Medical School Program in Human Sexuality, even noted that “dynamics other than the desire to be abstinent until marriage” were involved in the clinical dysfunctions reported.

Yet Coleman suggests that the study shows supposed “detrimental effects of abstinence-only education.”

If “abstinence-only” means that the teacher is only telling students that sex is bad for them, then he may be correct. But abstinence-only sex education curricula I am aware of include the complementary messages of sex as a wonderful blessing from God that enriches the experience of marriage and making a family. If abstinence-only is being used by some parents or teachers as a way to shame their students into obedience, as adults those children will likely have sexual dysfunctions and other problems even more severe. Shame is not the way good parents teach their children self-discipline.

God’s instructions (such as no sexual activity outside of marriage) can all be followed without fear of damaged psyches. The fact that some have taught legalistic rules rather than God’s principles does not negate the usefulness of those principles. Every “thou shalt not” or “thou must” found in his word is attached to wonderful blessings.

We need to be careful what we read. People with an agenda can take preliminary findings and make outrageous suggestions that won’t hold up after full scrutiny. But the attention grabbing headlines will already have had their effect. I don’t know if it was Dan Childs or the “sexuality experts” that pressed the agenda this time. But the study was taken far past warranted conclusions by someone who mishandled the truth.