Is National Purity Day the Anti-Valentines Day?

Photo by Bibleknowledge via Wikimedia Commons

Before I start my so-called rant against traditional values, let me cast out a potential red herring others might like to introduce to the discussion: I have absolutely no problem with those who choose, and successfully live, a life of abstinence before marriage. In fact, there are many individuals like me who would support you if you chose to join their ranks. Most of us, realistically speaking, simply can’t do what you do.

What I and many others actually have a problem with is National Purity Day (NPD), which celebrates the professed “purity” of a group of our nation’s youth. The Liberty Counsel has been pushing since 2004 for this day to be recognized every year as an alternative to Valentine’s Day.

Seemingly benign at first glance, the malignity of their resolution becomes quite apparent as soon as you begin to flesh out what the Liberty Counsel actually means by ”purity.” As a group feigning support of real religious liberty, this Christian fundamentalist group has in fact a very narrow, sectarian idea of what purity is: (1) abstinence based on the idea that sex before marriage is a moral sin and against traditional values, and (2) maintaining established gender roles of man and woman in all sexual relationships, especially in marriage (i.e. our wonderful LGBT brothers and sisters are unequivocally impure by this definition).

It should be clear by now why humanists oppose the Liberty Counsel’s National Purity Day, but for those who want more detail, here we go.

Pre-marital sex is risky business for many reasons, including the potential to spread sexually transmitted disease or bring about unwanted pregnancy, but I have to draw the line when I’m told that being sexually active before marriage is a moral sin. There is clearly deception and an encouragement of ignorance at work here in this outdated position. When abstinence is couched in moralistic terms, an opposition to comprehensive sex education almost always accompanies it. Abstinence-only education simply doesn’t work, and I don’t have to rehash the compelling research against it here. Not only that, this moralistic talk about sex encourages an environment of guilt around one’s sexuality that prevents children from talking openly to parents, peers, and counselors about this very human phenomenon.

I agree with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) when they say, “The most reliable ways to avoid transmission of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)…are to abstain from sexual activity or to be in long term mutually monogamous relationship with an uninfected partner,” but we’re deluding ourselves if we think abstinence will be a mass practice.

It’s clear to me, however, that the Liberty Counsel isn’t really concerned with STDs or teen pregnancy, because if they were, they would be more educated in the facts. This is especially true when the same group telling me that pre-marital sex is a moral evil also falsely claims that the CDC “has concluded that condoms do not prevent the transmission of most sexually transmitted diseases,” when the CDC has clearly said, “Latex condoms, when used consistently and correctly, are highly effective in preventing the sexual transmission of HIV…. In addition, consistent and correct use of latex condoms reduces the risk of other sexually transmitted diseases.”

A clear misunderstanding propagated by the LC is that we are somehow “trying to silence those who believe that sex should be saved until marriage between a husband and a wife.” No one is trying to silence those who believe in traditional values and a traditional family; we are simply asking you to keep your voices down so those of us who wish to live according to our modern values in our modern families can live in peace. In fact, it is the modern family that is being silenced by the LC. We don’t believe as you do that “a ‘friend’ who does not share the same value system as you is not a good friend.” We extend a hand of friendship to you in hopes that we can celebrate the next Valentines Day together, not in opposition, but with mutual respect.

Tags: ,