With the seventeen year old daughter of vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin pregnant, let’s have a look at this problem of teenage pregnancies. I am quite sure that most religions will have ready answers to solve this situation and it’s not unlikely that Mr. and Mrs. Palin were thinking that with the help of their faith, this would not happen to them.
We all know how religions – and it doesn’t really matter which religion – deal with sex. You don’t talk about it, you call it a sin, and you tell people to have sex only in the context of “holy matrimony”. All concepts of anticonception are right out, as these make sex a safe and frivoulous and – God forbid! – pleasurable affair. Which, in the eyes of the men of God, would turn the world into some sort of Gomorra and will incur the wrath of God. In a church in Paris last week I found some references to the final days of the Roman Empire as a dire warning: I, too, learned in school that the mighty Romans were brought down because of “moral decay”. A theory which, however, remains to be proven.
In reality it just so happens that in the most liberal countries – Holland leading the way – teenage pregnancies are lowest, and that in countries with a stronger religious presence, the problem is much bigger. This teaches us a few lessons religious people do not want to hear. For starters: freedom breeds responsibility, not sin. Dutch teens protect themselves and generally have sex at a later age than average. Secondly: forbidden fruits are the best tasting ones. We already know this and even the Bible opens with that theme, but there you have it. And thirdly: taboos breed ignorance. If sex is not a topic of conversation, kids of the right age are going to have it totally unprotected anyway. Because we were “created” that way, no matter how hard you’d wish to deny it.
Sadly I hear from American friends that parents rather blame themselves for their pregnant teenager instead of questioning the system of values which lies at the root of the problem. But religious beliefs, of course, are not meant to be questioned.