Abstinence movement is an initiative that aims to bring awareness to the youth in terms of leading responsible lives. Being responsible for oneself is centered on being aware of the changing times and being able to remain moral even at tempting times. This research paper details the motives of the abstinence movement under the understanding of morals as depicted in the novel Abstinence Teacher. The aim and purpose of this paper is not evaluating the novel, but using the novel to bring out the insight of the abstinence movement. The novel rotates around the lives of Ruth, Tim, Jaonne, Maggie, Eliza, and a Pastor. These characters in the novel are essential details whose understanding of sex education explains what abstinence movement focus on and the challenges it faces.
The significance of this study is to enlighten the Diasporas on the advantages of sex education in the society. The youth are the future of any state of country, with this in mind the paper discusses what benefits of the abstinence movement to the youth taking into account lives of some characters in the novel Abstinence Teacher. Upon the aspects of the abstinence movement that are discussed in this paper include: The role of religion and its teachings in shaping the lives of the youth; the external pressure that makes the lives of youths be immoral; understanding of parents and the impact this understanding has on their children; the right way to deal with those desperate to change their ways.
As for the characters in the novel, some odd understandings of sex education or sex itself and lack of self-realization are depicted. Their role in bringing out the phenomenon of the abstinence movement is utilized in this study using their actions and states of understanding. Ruth’s feminism and Tim’s realization that he does not belong to The Promise Keepers are some of the issues that this paper takes a toll on to relate to the abstinence movement. (Perrotta, 2008)
The impact of religion on the youth
Tim has been absorbed into the church. The church is not a responsibility but a place to get spiritual nourishment. The fact that Tim doesn’t realize that the church is an addiction that he has developed, the responsibility of church goes beyond the personal mental state of an individual but to the specific religion one belongs to. The impact of the church to the people and its contribution to the abstinence movement is tremendous as discussed below.
Religion has a great effect on the lives of youth in terms of their achievements, aspirations and self-image. These help the young people in their future physical, socioeconomic and mental welfare. Once self-esteem is improved, it will reduce such factors as: delinquency, alcohol and drug use, poor academic performance, the number of children born to unwed mothers and other varied destructive behaviors such as family violence. Information on how to improve the self-image or self worth of a person can be gotten from sources like in seminars, from self-help books with bible teachings. Adolescents seek ways on how to become independent from their parents without even realizing who they truly are. This is why teachings on self worth will help them try to identify who they are so that they avoid getting into trouble and into some unruly behaviors. (Harrison, 2000: 13)
Self worth helps the youth to know how to respond to peer-pressure and how they think and experiment on such issues as experimenting with sex and use of drugs. Religion is a great force behind the forces of self-esteem and should therefore not be ignored when instilling these virtues into the young people. Feelings of self worth are driven by religious activities, beliefs, and activities. The insight of one being a child of God, an imminent purpose of life and an involvement in a caring organization may help strengthen the self-worth of people and not just the young alone. This will therefore make the young try to formulate the teachings of the bible hence living a moral life. Such teachings of the bible include the consequences that are attributed to the rebellious people and disobedient children to their parents that lead to lack of self-respect, which in turn leads to loss of contact with God.
Although there are great controversies among different people whether religion really affects the way in which the youth behave, the fact is that the young people with a Christian understanding are less likely to get involved with negative behaviors as compared to those without a Christian upbringing. Many churches, according to findings, teach people to have good and morally upright morals and a positive image about themselves; this therefore may influence the youth to have self-evaluations in a positive kind of way. Once the youth attain this virtue of self worth they will definitely start performing in their class work since they believe in themselves and what they are capable of doing.
Factors that lead to immorality in youths
Taking a look at Ruth in the Novel Abstinence Teacher, it is clear that lack of sex education in her life has a tremendous contribution to her feminism. The fact that she felt bad when her daughter Maggie prayed in some event, points out that out of the most important factors of parenting. In the abstinence movement some of the most important pillars of shaping a young one’s life is by pointing them the right way. However, there are many factors that lead to immorality in youths. Unless these factors are looked into, the success of the abstinence movement would be difficulty to achieve. The factors are described below and how they can be dealt with. (Cornog, 1996)
Several factors lead to the unruly behaviors in the youth and some are external while others are internal psychological problems. Peer pressure is the greatest of all the factors. Most youths do things so that they can belong to a certain type of group of their fellow teens and not because they enjoy it. Some young people get into immoral behavior because their parents are not good to them and they therefore want to feel good bout themselves and have people who can appreciate them and get into sexual activities when they “satisfy” their partners in bed. Some parents have a way of not accepting anything their children do and always think they are wrong and this is what leads to the rebellious attitude, to prove a point. Parents therefore end up losing their children without knowing in the first place that they themselves contributed greatly to their behaviors.
Very few of the youths however involve in irresponsible sexual behavior by lack of knowledge. There are those who are simply ignorant on the consequences sex may have in their lives and therefore need to be guided to avoid temptations and avoid people manipulating them into it. The society has also contributed greatly to the sexual decay in the world. Many people view sex as an ordinary thing and will even find it odd when someone is past the teenage period and still a virgin. In some colleges and universities it is even worse since one is openly ridiculed by their friends once they find out that they are virgins and therefore people do everything so that they can avoid such embarrassment. (Halstead & Reiss, 2003)
Other factors that lead to sexual practices among the youth include poverty and trying to live up to certain standards. Most parents cannot provide for everything that their young adults need. Girls end up engaging in sex with elderly men for the money while the boys go for mature elderly women for the money. Mostly the college and university-going students do this, as they want to keep up with the latest fashions and the parting life that is a bit costly.
The right way to deal with those who want to change their lives
Therapy is not an old means of dealing with troubled lives, but in sex education it is the responsibility of the society; starting from the parent level to religion level. Going the bible way, keeping in mind that Christianity is the largest religion, some of the teaching in the bible can be good examples for application in the abstinence movement. Some of these teachings are discussed under the light that Ruth does not provide them to her daughter, but they would be of great help if she had.
The bible condemns premarital sex before marriage and calls it fornication, which is a sin. Fornication happens when people not married engage in sex and this category captures the youth. 1 Corinthians 6:13 says that the body is not meant for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. This therefore means that the bible does not support sexual practices between or among individuals if they are not married since the body is holy and belongs to God. Anyone willing to follow the right path in life should shun sexual practices before marriage as it is a shameful act that leads to many negatives effects such as: school dropouts caused by unprotected sex between the youth who do not have knowledge on contraceptives.
Sexually transmitted infections which are very shameful; poor performance since attention will drift from class work and the time that should be spent reading will be used for the sex escapades and feelings of fear since one will be suspecting of being sick sexually or pregnant. A factor to consider is that fifty percent of the people who have HIV are between eighteen and twenty four years of age due to irresponsible sexual behaviors. It is therefore wise to abstain since the contraceptives used like the condom are not one hundred percent safe. They can allow some viruses to penetrate and we do not want to be a victim of such life changing blunders that we can avoid.
What the Bible preaches is abstinence by people who are unmarried. For the married, sex is basically meant for re-creation, that is, to bear children. Take a second and think about how different the world would be if people did not engage in premarital sexual practices. There would be no unwanted pregnancies, many deaths caused by abortions, poor lifestyles caused by the youth burdening their parents with an extra child from premarital sex, and sexually transmitted diseases. Why God prohibits premarital sex is to protect women from bringing up fatherless children, protect children from having parents who were not prepared for them or do not want them at all. (Kehily, 2002)
As much as The Abstinence Teacher is involved to figure out what is good for the abstinence movement. The roles of the characters provide us with insight of people and their understanding of sex education. Religion plays an important role in shaping the lives of the youth and the sexually confused. It does so by providing teachings that are aimed at bringing light to the youths through the teachings of the bible. Ruth and Tim are self absorbed to mentalities they do not quite embrace effectively. The problem is because they are not aware of sex education and the importance of self recognition.