That Silver Ring Thing

Come on, you must have heard of it. That Silver Ring Thing is the newest thing in the high-tech battle to stave off the ravages of teen pregnancy and venereal disease. As the program’s website says,

The Silver Ring Thing is the fastest growing international teen abstinence program. The Program offers a high-tech presentation style incorporating music, laser lights, humor and solid Gospel presentation.

I’m not making this up. Check it out for yourself. The plan is that you start their 7 step program, get a ring to remind yourself that you’ve promised to marry as a sexual virgin, and then wait for Mister or Misses Right to show up. If you’re interested, check out their on-line picture gallery of the really fun events they’ve held all over the country – the USA that is. But hay, it might as well be the world.

The nagging problem with these abstinence programs is that no matter how you look at it, they’re right. Who can argue that abstinence isn’t 100% effective and that it’s the only thing always more effective than Vatican Roulette or hormone pills? But I sure can argue that that’s not the whole story. In fact, religion and all that moral stuff just doesn’t work anymore. I don’t mean as birth control; I mean as ideology. It doesn’t even work for the people who really, really believe in it. And for those people, the Silver Ring Thing is just plain really, really dangerous.

It’s old news among the anti-abstinence crowd that these programs only delay first sexual experience. In the most complete study to date of this phenomena, 12,000 teenagers who had pleadged to remain virgin until marriage were tracked. Abstinence pleadges only delayed first sexual experience. Almost everyone one of them did not marry as a virgin. But that’s not the really important finding.

Abstinence pleadgers were much, much less likely to use contraception when they finally do have premarital sex. And, as I have said, almost all them do.

None of this is new news for me. For years, I have been running into fallen Christians who are now sexually active. The strange thing is that most of them are young men. While men’s fantasies are full of young Christian girls gone sex crazy, I haven’t met any of them. It’s the young men I see all over the place, drunk in bars with pregnant girlfriends and illegitimate children.

This is no joke. One of the most tragic stories that I know of involves a young Christian man. The last weekend before he moved away from the small town of his upbringing, he and a friend went out for a couple of beers. He ended up in the bed of a local woman who contacting him a couple of months later with news that they liason had not been completely without consequences. As it turned out, both he and his family have accepted this problem and kept their strong Christian convictions intact by helping to raise her baby. But my point is that proper instruction in contraception would have avoided this problem all together.

So why is it mostly young men? It’s true that the ideology of the Woman’s Movement has become more pervasive than ever before. Women increasingly have access to the kind of opportunity to accumulate power and money that has historically only been available to men. Women’s behaviour is much less controlled than ever before. Women are much freer to make their own choices without social consequences. In short, women have much more freedom to enter the world of men and masculine rewards than has ever historically been the case. But freedom has a gender and it is masculine.

And in this masculine world, there’s a lot of temptation. Why wouldn’t there be. All that stuff that guys have been getting away with, but girls haven’t, didn’t go away. Temptation hasn’t been removed and controlled as much as it has been made available to everyone. And in a world where good girls say yes, it’s hard for boys to say no, even if they’ve done that Silver Ring Thing. And if you’re one of those boys doing that Silver Ring Thing, you’re not going to be asking your girlfriend if she’s on the pill.

Silver Ring Things make a great promise, but they just don’t cut it in this world of temptation gone wild. Kids have sex before they get married and that’s just a fact of modern life. If they haven’t been prepared to handle temptation like this, then the girls get pregnant. End of story.

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