09 May 2013

Elizabeth Smart on Abstinence Only Education

I came across this piece this piece about Elizabeth Smart from the Huffington Post. Elizabeth Smart, the 14 year old girl who was kidnapped at knife point, forced into a polygamous marriage, and repeatedly raped before being discovered has blamed her abstinence only education, at least in part for the degree of trauma she experienced.

She commented that for those who receive abstinence only education, they are left feeling "dirty and filthy." My first comment would be that this is probably a universal, or near universal, experience for victims of rape. Feelings of shame are not isolated to, nor even more intense, for those who received abstinence education.

She said she didn't run because after being raped, she wondered who could ever want her now? Her education told her that premarital sex would make her like a chewed piece of gum. The message that she is trying to promote is that children should be taught that they have value, no matter what. In that goal, she is assuredly right. Children are valuable. Indeed, I would argue that it is only the Christian worldview that makes sense of universal value. It is grounded in the imago Dei--the image of God. Every person is created in God's image and therefore possesses intrinsic worth. It is the materialist viewpoint that has a grounding problem with regard to universal worth because the theory upon which it is based says that the strong rule over the weak. In Smart's case, the strong took what they wanted.

In a society where sex is devalued, merely mechanical, and a pleasurable end in itself, sex trafficking and rape will probably intensify in years to come. We have devalued personhood across the age spectrum. Christians need to be champions for the value of people, regardless of their circumstances.

Christians also need to step up and tell people that God created sex as a good and honorable thing and because He doesn't want to see people cheapened, He places certain boundaries around it (namely in a monogamous marriage). But Christians also need to tell people that Jesus loved prostitutes, adulterers, and regularly pursued them. It is because of who God is that those children have value no matter what.

If you haven't seen this video, I would commend it to you.

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