Would Janie's parents be happy with her behavior? Probably not, Janie admits: "My mom always said, 'Don't have sex until you're married.'" Janie calls her parents "conservative in terms of values" but religiously "liberal." Janie's own relationship with God is strained. "I absolutely don't think my behavior is sinful ... I guess I believe more in the laws of human nature -- I'm not a hedonist -- but I believe in the laws of human nature more than I believe in divine law."
The results of Janie's upbringing bring into sharp relief the difference between secular and religious conservatism. Secular conservatism only frowns upon sexual promiscuity for social and health reasons; teaching a child that sex is forbidden because of some amorphous social good certainly carries less weight than a religious explanation.
While Janie is outgoing and friendly, she wonders whether life is meaningless. We've had long discussions about religion and God. While she believes in God, she doesn't believe in God-given rules for living. Her agnosticism often borders on depression.
Janie isn't unusual. A 2003 study by the Heritage Foundation linked early sexual activity with a higher suicide rate. The study reported that about 14 percent of girls aged 14 to 17 who have had intercourse have attempted suicide; 5 percent of sexually inactive girls have.
Janie believes she's taken the right path. "I believe that no matter what religious ideologies you plant into the mind of teenager, they're going to have sex. ... What you can do is tell them that getting pregnant or getting an STD is going to ruin their lives."
This contraceptive-based sex education is the solution proposed by the secular left, which created the problem of sexual libertinism in the first place. James Wagoner, president of Advocates for Youth, feels that "the stakes are simply too high to talk only about abstinence." But the question remains: Even if venereal disease and teen pregnancy are eradicated, will America's young people be able to recover from the loss of their innocence?
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