Adults Must Teach Teens To Value Marriage
- Allie Martin and Jenni Parker Agape Press
- 2003 15 Oct
Although many secular advocates of "comprehensive sex education" downplay the effectiveness of abstinence-only programs, one popular Christian youth speaker says the message of abstinence is being accepted in schools all over America.
International speaker and author Doug Herman (dougherman.com), who has spent more than 20 years in youth and family work, has created an effort called the "Pure Revolution Project" in order to bring the message of sexual postponement until marriage to students, families, and communities.
Currently Herman tours the country, speaking to more than 250,000 teens and adults yearly on issues of character development, sexual abstinence, and spiritual passion. His past experiences as a youth pastor and a former high school coach and substitute teacher have bolstered his effectiveness in the high school assembly programs he conducts throughout the U.S. every year.
Herman says he is encouraged by the proclamation made by President George W. Bush to set aside October 12-18 as "Marriage Protection Week." The abstinence advocate, who lost his first wife and their daughter to AIDS as a result of a blood transfusion, says it is important to maintain traditional marriage as a standard in the culture.
While many liberal youth advocates tout sexual freedom as among the highest cultural values, Herman says many people today are finally realizing that the so-called sexual revolution of the 1960s has left chaos in its wake. Now he wants young people, educators, and parents alike to understand that abstinence is the only choice that is 100% effective in preventing exposure to HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases.
"Abstinence works every time in preventing an infection," Herman says, "every time."
The youth speaker believes many parents and educators do not realize that their kids can have self-control. But he assures them that kids can "just say no" -- and he says, "for Christians, that's a fruit-of-the-spirit issue. For educators, it's a character-education issue."
But according to Herman, either way, the issue begins at home. He says in order to protect young people and give them the right messages about sex, parents have to begin in their own homes, with their own marriages and with their own families, making sure all of that is okay.
Then, the abstinence advocate tells parents, "We need to rebuild connections to our children. If you're a single parent, make sure your heart connection to your child is solid. Work hard on that bridge, because that's the number-one protective factor in any risk behavior -- parent-teen connectedness."
Herman adds that in doing all this, parents have to talk about character issues and values with their youngsters and help them understand the reasons why marriage is important.
The abstinence-education spokesman says every parent needs to help children and teens understand why sex belongs exclusively in a committed marriage relationship. This is important, "even if you're single, widowed, or divorced," Herman says.
Herman, a co-founder of the Community Advisory Board of The Children's Hospital of Denver for the Children's Hospital HIV Program, has been seen and heard on more than 100 national radio and television programs and has published several books, as well as articles in Leadership Journal, Youthworker, Living With Teenagers, and ParentLife magazines.