Kathryn Lopez

Whoa, there. So to Planned Parenthood abstinence means masturbation? No wonder they think abstinence education is a total waste of time. They can't get their minds out from Down There. They can't believe that if you challenge young people to want more than what they see on television and in the movies, they'll take you up on it. Planned Parenthood just doesn't get it. Abstinence education can never be about simply saying, "Here's what you can do so no one gets pregnant but you can still get some sexual kicks." It has to be part of a greater education: a character education. A physical education. A moral education.

Planned Parenthood and most other sex-ed programs try to find a stopgap solution, attempt to repair kids' warped view of sex while still allowing them to watch "One Tree Hill." But prophylactics and STD awareness aren't the fix that kids need. We must teach our kids to treasure all their gifts, to see themselves as complete persons who have tested values that won't be compromised in the face of peer pressure or biological urges.

The girl in the Planned Parenthood video is, of course, right to say that her night at home won't give her disease or a baby. But it's no way to live. She's cutting herself off from others. She believes she lives in a world in which sex or simulating sex are the only options on a Friday night. There are, of course, alternatives, and good ones at that. If there weren't, all married couples would get divorced after only a few years of nuptial bliss.

The bottom line is that responsible educators need to be doing more than nagging young people not to have sex. Of course that won't work. Teens are not stupid; they're human and know there's something appealing about it, and they shouldn't be told otherwise. But they should understand that there's more to want, and that they should hold out for it -- for love, commitment and fulfillment. We need to seriously talk about character formation, about hard work and dedication. This is why -- or should be why -- some of the religious schools exist. This is what an entity like the Best Friends Foundation does. But those groups and messages are getting hard to hear in a prurient culture obsessed with youth and selfish, instant pleasure. Life isn't just about what happens "Down There."


Kathryn Lopez

Kathryn Jean Lopez, editor of National Review Online, writes a weekly column of conservative political and social commentary for Newspaper Enterprise Association.