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Study: “Virginity pledges” don’t delay sex

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And, alarmingly, those who so pledge are less likely to use condoms when they become sexually active.
clipped from www.huffingtonpost.com

Teenagers who pledge to remain virgins until marriage are just as likely to have premarital sex as those who do not promise abstinence and are significantly less likely to use condoms and other forms of birth control when they do, according to a study released today.
The new analysis of data from a large federal survey found that more than half of youths became sexually active before marriage regardless of whether they had taken a “virginity pledge,” but that the percentage who took precautions against pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases was 10 points lower for pledgers than for non-pledgers.
“Taking a pledge doesn’t seem to make any difference at all in any sexual behavior,” said Janet E. Rosenbaum of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, whose report appears in the January issue of the journal Pediatrics. “But it does seem to make a difference in condom use and other forms of birth control that is quite striking.”
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Sounds like whatever our religious outlook, we’d better be sure our kids get a frank and honest sex education, including contraception and disease prevention.


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Written by Monte

December 29, 2008 at 3:20 pm

The baptism of Jesus

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[This sermon was first posted in January of 2007. Rick Reilly’s comment reminded me that many may be working on something similar, so it seemed good to update and re-post it.  Best wishes!  – Monte]
I have often thought of Jesus as pretty uncertainty-free: so totally God that humanity is just a minor irritation. So certain, so unsurprise-able, so un-swayed by what’s up.

For instance, I might think of his baptism like so: I imagine he becomes off-to-on aware that it’s time (click!), appears on the banks of the Jordan (click!), where the crowds part and everybody understands the obvious (click!), and he all but comes up out of the water with one finger extended for the dove’s perch. Of course he knows it all before it happens.

Doesn’t he?

We’ve been talking about the three audiences to the events of the Bible, especially regarding the gospel of Luke. Remember them?
1. The A.D. 30 Jews, who see it all first-hand.
2. The A.D. 80 or so Jews and Gentiles who first read Luke’s gospel.
3. And us. Now. Read the rest of this entry »

“To live now as we think humans should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us…”

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UPDATE: I found some good encouragement in the comments of friends at Clipmarks today, and was reminded of this post from nearly two years ago. Here’s a re-post—’cause we all need hope.


Sometimes I think of the enormity of darkness which our world contains, and find the tragedies involved simply too crushing.

How small I am! How seemingly powerless! I find myself in need of hope.
I found some, today, in the conclusion to Howard Zinn’s 1994 book You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train: A Personal History of Our Times. If you’re invested in bringing good to your world, perhaps you’ll find these words encouraging.

. . . In 1992, teachers all over the country, by the thousands, were beginning to teach the Columbus story in new ways, to recognize that to Native Americans, Columbus and his men were not heroes, but marauders. The point being not just to revise our view of past events, but to be provoked to think about today.

What was most remarkable was that Indian teachers, Indian community activists, were in the forefront of this campaign. How far we have come from that long period of Indian invisibility, when they were presumed to be dead or safely put away on reservations! They have returned, five hundred years after their near annihilation by invading Europeans, to demand that America rethink its beginnings, rethink its values.

It is this change in consciousness that encourages me. Granted, racial hatred and sex discrimination are still with us, war and violence still poison our culture, we have a large underclass of poor, desperate people, and there is a hard core of the population content with the way things are, afraid of change.

But if we see only that, we have lost historical perspective, and then it is as if we were born yesterday and we know only the depressing stories in this morning’s newspapers, this evening’s television reports. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Monte

July 7, 2008 at 4:06 pm

Complacently pleased with themselves (readings for Sunday, Oct 28)

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PhariseePerhaps you’ve heard the old saw that says Jesus “comforts the afflicted and afflicts the comfortable,” while we in the church tend to “comfort the comfortable and afflict the afflicted.” He’s at it again in this Sunday’s readings.

Pharisees—one of whom plays a role in Jesus’ story— are not the generic bad guys they’ve been made out to be. While some of them tangle with Jesus, others come to his aid. There’s no reason to doubt that many were sincere God-followers.

But Jesus has a quarrel with their world-view. Remember, Judea is militarily occupied by the Roman army. The Hebrew Scriptures often taught that such calamity was a result of God’s judgment. Pharisees assumed, then, that what was needed was more careful obedience to the religious code of their ancestors. Then God would be pleased, bless their nation, whip the Romans, and demonstrate his power over nations. Their plan was to get more and more people to live legally, and to distance themselves from those who didn’t, until they were powerful once more. Who could oppose such an idea? Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Monte

October 22, 2007 at 5:20 pm

The 2nd price tag (readings for Sunday, August 5)

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I had a book-glut, and decided to sell some on Ebay.

So I picked a few, shot pictures, grouped into saleable categories, wrote listings, uploaded photos, decided on terms, figured out shipping. And they sold.

So I made mailing labels, found packing material, picked up shipping boxes, packed and taped, delivered them to the post office, and followed up with the buyers by email.

It ate time alive. And I began to wonder: what if everything has two price tags? Read the rest of this entry »