Thursday, October 18, 2007

Contraceptives for Children

King Middle School in Portland, Maine is now offering a full range of contraceptives to their students, including birth control pills and patches. This move is in response to the fact that over the past four years, Portland's three Middle Schools have reported 17 pregnancies. King Middle has 134 students, five of whom admitted to having had sexual intercourse. Let me remind you that the average middle schooler is between 11-13 years old.

What we have in Portland, Maine is worldly wisdom desperately struggling to find a way to prevent children from having children. But notice a few flaws of the worldly wise:

1) Parents can't raise their children; the trained professionals must do it for them. Rather than contacting, educating, and working with the students' parents, the school system bypassed them in making this decision. Why would they do this? Because the educated elite know better than parents.

This worldly wisdom is prevalent in our modern society. Parents have bought into the lie that they aren't equipped to raise their kids. In fact, one school board member in Portland who has a daughter at King Middle said, "I know I've done my job as a parent, but there may be a day when she doesn't feel comfortable coming to me." Granted, teenagers are notoriously hard to communicate with, but there are things we can do as parents to keep our kids talking. Parents are the single greatest influence in their child's life.

2) Sex isn't the problem; pregnancy is. The school board (rightly) trembles at the thought that 12 year olds are pregnant, but they seem unconcerned with the equally chilling fact that 12 year olds are sexually active. Is the goal just to keep our kids from having babies or is the goal to keep our kids from destructive sexual behavior? The wisdom of this world doesn't view sex outside of marriage as a problem. It's natural. It's neutral. The only down side to sex is the side effects (pregnancy...STDs).

But the sexual union itself is destructive for these kids... in so many ways. Why doesn't the school board find ways to deter children from having sex instead of finding ways to protect the children while they have sex?

3) Contraceptives are the only hope. The wisdom of this world stands utterly incapable of changing the situation in Portland, Maine (and everywhere else in America). In fact, they are so blinded that they cannot see their worldly wisdom (i.e. the sexual revolution, etc.) is what lead to all of this in the first place. They turn to condoms and birth control because, sadly, it's all they have. What they desperately need and furiously fight against is wisdom from above (James 3:17).

The life-transforming power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the ultimate answer for King Middle School. Only Christ's righteousness can overcome our unrighteousness. Only the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit can replace our indwelling perverse desires.

"For the foolishness of God is wiser than men,
and the weakness of God is stronger than men."
1 Corinthians 1:25


Anonymous said...

Wow! I have nothing more to say.


Kelly Jones said...

Like you, I am horrified at the thought of middle schoolers having sex with its psychological impact, possibility of physicial consequences and impact on future relationships.

However, it is not as clear cut for me. First of all, at least in Florida, a sexually active middle schooler can to a physician and ask for birth control without telling the parents and that physician is bound by law not to tell (or risk a malpractice lawsuit). Also maany physicians will screen for sexual activity without the parent in the room.
Furthermore, the school board can not hand out birth control like candy -- it has to be prescribed by a physician and there are legalities involving prescribing medication without examining a patient.

Also, I will be the first one to advocate abstinence. But what happens when abstinence fails? Research shows that not everyone will remain abstinent. Even with the increase in abstinence programs in school (and yes there is an increase along with an increase in funding), there are kids going back on their commitment to stay abstinent.
Or what about the kids who are adament about having sex?
What do we with them?

Josh Culbertson said...

I can understand the tension you feel as a medical professional. First of all, any law that allows children (under 18) to go behind their parents' backs is horrendous. Outside of all the biblical principles, a 14 year old is nowhere close to being mature enough to make such important decision. Doctors and lawmakers should never override parents (unless the parent is deemed unfit). I trust you agree with me on this. I would encourage you to use your status as a doctor and push for legislative reform in such cases.

Abstinence programs alone will not work either. Asking an unregenerate teenager who lives in a sex-saturated culture to abstain from sexual activity is naive and absurd (which is why liberals, rightly, laugh it to scorn). There needs to be a cultural change. One in which the idol of sex is dashed to pieces. The school system needs to do their part in creating a cultural change. Unforunately, the school system, with all their teachers-turned-pedophile, cannot help the cause.

What do 'we' do with the kids who are going to have sex? I assume 'we' means doctors, lawmakers, and school officials. You people need to stop trying to parent the children and start trying to find ways to change the culture in which the kids are raised. As Christians, 'we' need to present a Christ to this generation who is more satisfying than any worldly thing... even sex.

Kelly Jones said...

I am torn about laws that allow confidentiality between physicians and teenagers. Yes, you are right in that not all teenagers are mature (but then again are all 18 year olds?). However, there is a desire to foster a relationship with the teenager so that if they are having any gynecologic/urologic issue pertaining to sexual activity or otherwise, they would feel comfortable talking to you rather than letting the disease progress inhibiting any ability to have a normal sex life when they are adults and married or passing it to someone else. Some teenagers will not do that unless they know they will not get any repercussions from their parents.

There are cases on the books and some that I personally have seen where the doctor disagreed with the parents, such as a parent trying to force birth control on a teenager who did not want it or a parent forcing treatment on a child with a terminal illness who wanted to die. In those instances, I am not sure I would agree with the parents either.

I understand what you are saying about changing the culture. But how do we practically do that? It's like we all know the diagnosis but none of us are stating a treatment plan (sorry, I know I constantly think in terms of medicine :))

Also, random thought: What does the bible say about mental disease? Are you still responsible for stealing, promiscuity or violence if you are manic or suffering from schizophrenic hallucinations or delusions?
(I am on my psychiatric rotation)

Josh Culbertson said...

Getting comments from you is always a highlight! Your questions/insights are great.

I don't think a doctor has to report everything she hears back to the parents. If a teenager tells you she is sexually active, you're obligated (biblically) to go back and tell mom. But what doctors, especially Christian doctors, really need to do is encourage teens to talk to their parents and teach parents how to listen to their teens. More important than your relationship with the teenager is that parent's relationship with her.

In the realm of forcing/refusing birth control, treatment, etc., the doctor should certainly use everything in her power to push for her opinion. You may disagree adamantly with a parent, but they are still the parent. They raised the child; they love the child; they know the child. It's their call, not yours. While that may be hard to swallow, it must be respected. You have every right to disagree with the parents, but you never have the right to override the parents. God has given them responsibility for that child, not you. They will be judged where they're wrong, not you. Find comfort in that.

Doctors changing the culture... I'll just give one example. I've never heard a prominent group of physicians report on the emotional/physical damages of teen sex. Smoking is no longer widely accepted mainly due to the push from the medical field... why not do the same on the ill effects of teen sex? When it comes to smoking or obesity, doctors fight hard against it, but when it comes to teen sex, they say, 'it's gonna happen.'
Of course, Christian doctors could always share Christ with their patients. That will change a culture.

Mental illness... A big can of worms here! I'll have to do a post on the topic sometime. But, yes, people are still responsible for their sin. In fact, it's sin that drives people into such deep despair/depression that it causes manic depressive behavior and such. There's a soul and a heart inside the schizophrenic... it's just hard to find because he's so doped up. I know I just opened more questions than answered... Lord willing, a later post!

Josh Culbertson said...

I found a mistake in my last comment. I meant to say,
"If a teenager tells you she is sexually active, you're NOT obligated (biblically) to go back and tell mom."

Anonymous said...

Apparently the world is crazier than I thought.


Kelly Jones said...

Sorry, I have been meaning to respond but it has been crazy these last couple of weeks.

First of all, I completely agree with you that all doctors, especially Christian doctors, need to encourage teenagers to talk to their parents and for the parents to communicate with the teenagers.

There are groups of physicians who are advocating abstinence for as long as possible for the teenagers (recognizing that not all teenagers will maintain abstinent). For example, just this week the American Academy of Pediatrics published their policy on teenage contraception (Contraception and Adolescents.
Pediatrics. 2007 Nov;120(5):1135-1148.). It does advocate abstinence while stating that if the teenagers are going to be sexually active, this is what should be done. Also, I do hear physicians regularly encourage teenagers to put off sex as long as possible.

I have been wrestling with how to be a witness to patients and yet respect their boundaries and how to bring up the subject. Many times, religion does not even come up in conversation. For example, if a patient comes in for follow up of high blood pressure, your conversations revolves around are you taking your meds, do you have chest pain and are you exercising and not what do you believe.

For mental illness, what sin are you in reference to that causes the depression?
While I will agree with you that sin causes disease in the sense that we have disease in a fallen in world, but I am not sure I believe that sin causes depression any more than sin causes Cancer or heart disease. The only difference is that one is the disease of the mind/brain while the other is a disease of heart or some other organ. Furthermore, giving bipolar patients antidepressants (a drug) can cause mania (overly excited) state so there has to be some biochemical reason for bipolar depression.

And what do you mean about the schizophrenic being "doped up"? -- are you talking about the medications?
Also, I am wrestling with the belief that a schizophrenic that has command auditory hallucinations from "God" to harm someone or steal or whatever would have the same culpability as the rest of us since in their mind, they are truly obeying God.

Oh, that news post, didn't come through when I tried to look at Jason's link.