15 April 2008

Brother Jed has a Point

I think it was the spring of 1978 at The University of Texas at Austin when I first encountered the Preacher Man. Only later did I realize that he was probably the famous George Smock, aka "Brother Jed." He was saying something like

All the women on this campus are whores, and all the men are just boys!

One of my students, Tawny, took him on. She argued boldly that a mature, responsible, and moral sexuality was possible without adhering blindly to the blanket prohibition of sex between people not married to each other. I admired her courage. And I thought she was right.

Thirty years later the Centers for Disease Control states that nineteen (19) million new STD (sexually transmitted disease) infections occur each year, almost half of them among young people ages 15 to 24. Whether you agree with Brother Jed or not, he has science on his side. If absolutely everyone abstained from any kind of sexual activity outside of marriage, STDs would die out. And if people resumed their present habits after the STD die-out, new ones would arise to take advantage of the ecological niche offered by networks of sexual contacts.

Simply put, abstinence and chastity are good public health. If you are screwing around, don't expect the rest of us to take you seriously when you admonish us about the environment, vegetarianism, or any issue demanding behavioral changes to improve public health, safety, or sustainability. First get your own act together.

Now I don't expect everyone to be abstinent outside of marriage. But I do expect you to keep the number of your sexual contacts low as part of your obligation to respect and preserve our human environment.

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