In his column, David Strand speaks of infant mortality, high STD rates in American youth and other problems. He blames these problems, or rather, the fact that his preferred solutions are not adopted, on ‘science phobia’ which he blames on superstition exemplified in belief in the devil.
I agree with Mr. Strand that these are serious problems. I do not agree on his solutions and I certainly do not agree with his smearing of all who dare to disagree with him as superstitious and afraid of science. Neither do I agree that traditional Christianity, to which millions of Americans adhere and of which belief in the devil is a part, is the same thing as superstition and science phobia.
The concern for pre-natal health is admirable, if a bit ironic, given Mr. Strand’s support for government funding of Planned Parenthood as argued in his November column. The bill to defund Planned Parenthood would have redirected the funds to community health centers which provide pre-natal care, which Planned Parenthood does not; it only provides pregnancy testing, contraception and abortions; the last of which couldn’t be more opposed to pre-natal health.
As space is limited, I will focus on his proposed solution to high rates of sexually-transmitted disease among youth. Mr. Strand argues the solution to widespread STDs is ‘comprehensive’ sex education, which means sex education that doesn’t promote abstinence, but condom and contraceptive use.
The only 100-percent-effective guard against STDs is abstinence from sexual activity. But some sexual activity is necessary for continuance of the human race. The sexually-active lifestyle that best guards against STDs is an ideal of many groups Mr. Strand would call superstitious, Christian churches: a man and woman coming virginal to marriage and remaining faithful unto death. While this has never been universally achieved, it was the expected norm in Western Civilization until the sexual revolution, since which STD rates have skyrocketed, both in incidence and in emergence of new diseases.
Studies have shown that the STD stats for students of abstinence-only sex ed programs are about the same for those of comprehensive programs. Obviously, many students are not listening to the abstinence programs. This implies that sex ed is far from the sole dictator of students’ sexual behavior. And the stats being about the same suggests that the nationally-mandated comprehensive sex ed Mr. Strand argues for will … keep the rates about the same.
Abstinence until monogamous marriage was expected seventy years ago. Why is it regarded as impossible now? The culture has changed, and in culture, not politics, lies hope for a solution. With every one of these problems, Mr. Strand seeks a solution from the government. I say the government should get out of the bedroom; it has no place teaching children ideals about sexual behavior; that is the responsibility of parents and churches, both of which Mr. Strand dismisses as superstitious. It is in culture, most of all the stable, two-parent family, that babies are supported and youth can learn prudent behavior. Ideals of chastity, fidelity and responsibility, which often go with ‘superstitious’ Christian beliefs like belief in the devil, yield the conditions that science tells us are most beneficial for children.
A final note, Mr. Strand’s reference to Galileo is historically inaccurate. Galileo was not made to recant heliocentric theory, only his particular interpretation of a Bible passage which he tried to use in support of his iteration of the theory. Those who would use heliocentrism as a stick to beat Christianity should research Nicholas Copernicus – after all, it’s called Copernican theory, not Galileoan.