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Let’s Talk About Sex, Baby…

Thursday, 20 December 2007

When is it too soon to have “the talk?”

I’m thinking that maybe Jamie Lynn Spear’s mother should have had “the talk” a little sooner given today’s news that the 16-year-old television star is expecting a baby.

Let’s be frank. Judaism has a very healthy view regarding sex. In fact, between two committed adults, sexual relations are not only celebrated but commanded. So, generally speaking, Frume Sarah has nothing against sex. But motherhood at the age of 16???

After Beernut was born, I had a very difficult time adjusting to motherhood. It must be stated that Beernut cried for about the first TEN months of his life. So between that and the raging hormones, I was a blithering, sobbing mess. I distinctly remember thinking “I am twenty-nine years old with several degrees and an intact support system and I don’t think I can do this. How on God’s green earth does a teenage mom have the wherewithal to manage?”

From the time they are quite young, our kids are bombarded by sexual imagery each day. It is of growing concern that Hollywood has glamorized teenage sexuality to such an extreme. I sound like such an old fogey, I’m sure. But it is truly disturbing to read statements from celebrities (here and here) coming out in support of Spears’ decision. Focusing on her choice to keep her baby rather than the behaviour that landed her in this mess in the first place is a misguided approach. I shudder to think that this poor girl’s announcement will become the rallying cry against abortion rather than a lesson about responsible behaviour.

When I look at my kidlets — Poppyseed, in particular — I worry. I worry that the pressure to become sexually active before they are ready might lead them to make premature choices.

At the suggestion of our uber-awesome synagogue educator, we have incorporated this very important issue into the curriculum for our 7th graders. Leaving the mechanics and clinical parts to the schools (where it does belong as a part of human physiology) Sacred Choices tackles the hard issues by way of concrete examples, frank discussions, and a clear expression of the values we hope to instill in our tweens/teens.

At the 68th URJ Biennial in Houston, Rabbi Eric Yoffie stated:

We do not tell our kids that sex before marriage is forbidden, although this has been the norm of the Jewish community for more than a millennium. Since many of our children will not marry for fifteen years after the onset of puberty, it is unreasonable to suggest that this traditional standard should be maintained for young people who are adults. Very few of our parents are telling their twenty-five-year-old unmarried children to refrain from having sex. Still, we stress that the Jewish ethical principles that apply inside marriage surely apply outside of marriage as well. And since holiness is attained in a loving, caring, mutual relationship, this should be the standard that we set for our physical relationships.

On the other hand, we say in the clearest possible way that high school participants should not be having sexual relations. Our teens are not adults. They are beset by tension with parents, pressure from friends, a desire for approval, and an uncertain sense of self. What this means is that participants in high school are not yet ready for the loving, mutual relationships that make sex an experience of holiness.

In other words, as Jewish leaders, we have an obligation to our young people to strengthen their self-images and understand what role Judaism can, and should, play in their decision-making.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Friday, 21 December 2007 11:59 am

    i am with you. i’m not usually in the boo-the-media camp but this one is *awful*. I’m very disturbed by the “support” of this young lady’s announcement. have we all gone mad that this is in some way okay????

  2. Thursday, 27 December 2007 7:05 am

    Good breeding consists in concealing how much we think of ourselves and how little we think of the other person.

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