Reading an article in The Nation about the so-called rebranding of the virginity movement, I had an immediate flashback to a youth rally I later regretted taking a group of junior high kids from my church to a number of years ago.
The guy speaking was one of those flashy youth pastor types with a master’s degree in youth ministry and a look-at-how-hot-my-wife is attitude. He was talking about sex, more specifically about the dangers of sex. I don’t recall him using scripture or talking about sexuality as a gift from God. He was basically trying to scare teenagers from ever having sex – which of course is a wonderful strategy for the kids who as a reward for actually listening end up in counseling because of performance anxiety once they do get married.
My kids were either snickering or too zoned out to know what he was talking about and I was busy trying to concoct an excuse for why we would have to leave early when he called for volunteers. He asked for 10 dudes to come forward. Ten promptly came forward. And then he asked for one female. One on the front row bravely raised her hand, not knowing that she was volunteering to play the slut in this twisted man’s idea of an illustration.
In front of a crowd of a couple hundred youth and adults, this so-called youth pastor explained that the female volunteer had hypothetically slept with all 10 of the men on stage and that because only one of them had AIDS she also too now had AIDS. All of this to illustrate that condoms are only 90 percent effective. Or something like that.
We didn’t stay too much longer after that but in my attempt at damage control ended up having a decent conversation about the whole ordeal. We talked about why what the guy had done was completely insenstive and disrespectful to the young lady. We talked about how she had no idea she was volunteering to be labeled so much more than just a youth group slut (youth group slut=a girl who kisses more than one guy in youth group) for a cheap and ill-advised illustration. We even talked a little bit about sex and why the church teaches and instructs people to reserve sex for marriage.
It ended up being a teachable moment in an otherwise disastorous encounter with the kind of scare tactics that, like the illustration described in The Nation article of dangling a cinder block near a young man’s genitals, have failed miserably at changing young peoples’ hearts, minds and attitudes about sex.