What About Abstinence?


Robert Layton was holding a notice from his 13-year-old son announcing a meeting to preview the new course in sexuality. Parents could examine the curriculum and take part in an actual lesson presented exactly as it would be given to the students. When Robert arrived at the school, he was surprised to discover only about a dozen parents there. As they waited for the presentation, Robert thumbed through page after page of instructions in the prevention of pregnancy of disease. He found abstinence mentioned only in passing.

When the teacher arrived with the school nurse, she asked if there were any questions. He asked why abstinence did not play a noticeable part in the material.

What happened next was shocking. There was a great deal of laughter, and someone suggested that if he thought abstinence had any merit, he should go back to burying his head in the sand. The teacher and the nurse said nothing as Robert drowned in a sea of embarrassment. His mind had gone blank, and he couldn't think of anything to say. The teacher explained to him that the job of the school was to teach "facts" and the home was responsible for moral training.

Robert sat in silence for the next 20 minutes as the course was explained. The other parents seemed to give their unqualified support to the materials. "Donuts at the back," announced the teacher during the break. "I'd like you to put on the name tags we have prepared. They're right by the donuts and mingle with the other parents." Everyone moved to the back of the room. As Robert watched them affixing their nametags and shaking hands, He sat deep in thought. He was ashamed that he had not been able to convince them to include a serious discussion of abstinence in the materials. Robert uttered a silent prayer for guidance.

His thoughts were interrupted by the teacher's hand on his shoulder. "Won't you join the others, Mr. Layton?" The nurse smiled sweetly at him. "The donuts are good." "Thank you, no, he replied. "Well, then, how about a name tag? I'm sure the others would like to meet you." "Somehow I doubt that," Robert replied. "Won't you please join them?" she coaxed. Then he heard a still, small voice whisper, "Don't go." The instruction was unmistakable. "Don't go!" "I'll just wait here," he said. When the class was called back to order, the teacher looked around the long table and thanked everyone for putting on nametags. She ignored Robert. Then she said, "Now we're going to give you the same lesson we'll be giving your children.

Everyone please peel off your name tags." Robert watched in silence as the tags came off. "Now, then, on the back of one of the tags, I drew a tiny flower. Who has it, please?" The gentleman across from Robert held it up. "Here it is!" "All right," she said. "The flower represents disease. Do you recall with whom you shook hands?" "Everyone", he said. "Very good," she replied. "The handshake in this case is intimacy. So everyone you had contact with now has the disease, everyone was infected." It was then that Robert heard the still, small voice again. "Speak now," it said, "but be humble." Robert rose from his chair. He apologised for any upset he might have caused earlier, congratulated the teacher on an excellent lesson that would impress the youth, and concluded by saying "I had only one small point I wished to make. Not all of us were infected," he said: "One of us ABSTAINED".

That's a true story incidentally. Hopefully the teacher learned something that day.