Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Eli Stone and Teen Sex

I have a feeling that most of my Water Cooler Wednesday posts will be light and fun. But every so often, I do intend to take a hard look at our culture's entertainment from a logical and Biblical perspective. Today is one such day.

When Lost returned at the end of January, it was pared with new show Eli Stone. Starved for new TV, I started watching it. Of course, it helped that I Victor Garber was one of the cast. I've been a huge fan since his days on Alias. It only took me an episode or two to warm to the quirky show.

The basic premise is that Eli Stone is a lawyer for a prestigious firm in San Francisco. He's engaged to the boss's daughter. Things are looking great until he starts getting visions. While his brother quickly diagnosis him with an inoperable brain aneurism, these visions seem to be more then that. They are actually guiding him on the cases he should take and how he can win them. Unfortunately, he never knows when they will come, like while in a meeting or even in court. The show is a fun mix of humor and legal drama. And, since Eli's acupuncturist thinks that these visions might be from God, there is even a little bit on faith mixed in for good measure.

The one thing I knew going in was that some of the court cases handled might bother me. And I wasn't a fan of the week the sub-plot involved two lesbians fighting over custody of their unborn child since the one carrying the child had refound her Christian faith. But I actually liked the ending, and it made me think that they might present an even hand in the future.

That was before this last week's episode. It centered around a teen who was expelled from school for playing George Michael's song "I Want Your Sex" during a school assembly about abstinence. She was blaming the fact that the school was teaching nothing but abstinence for several friends' pregnancies and STD's. The principal's only response was, "If we teach anything else, we loose government funding for sex ed." Fortunately, the episode ended happily when George Michael agreed to do a benefit concert for the school.

Oh, where do I even begin?

Let's start with the fact that these are teens we are talking about. The laws vary from state to state about what constitutes statutory rape, but according to the official laws on the books, sex for anyone under 18 is discouraged if not illegal. I know it was at one time here in California. So why are we encouraging teens to break the law? We've got huge ad campaigns up about drugs, smoking, and alcohol. Why is this law different?

More then anything else, this comes down to self-control. Remember, we are not animals but humans. We have a brain. We have conscience thought. We can choose to give in or choose to show restraint. I know it isn't a popular topic in our culture today, but everyone needs more self-control. And I'm not just talking about sex here. Overeating is a matter of self-control. Lack of exercise? Self-control. The previously mentioned illegal drugs and alcohol? Self-control. I'll freely admit I don't have nearly the level of self-control I need. But that's at least a place to start.

Then there's the issue of whose job sex education is. Guess what, it isn't the job of the schools. That's right, it is the parent's job to teach their kids about sex. And if they should use whatever they this is appropriate. I especially loved the part where the school principal was so upset about loosing money for sex ed and not being able to teach anything. When we have students who can't read or write or do math, why are we spending time and money on any form of sex ed, abstinence included?

And, frankly, I'd like to know what kind of abstinence education the school is providing. If it amounted to "Don't have sex," then I agree they weren't doing their job. (Yes, we are going to pretend it is their job, even though it isn't.) Why not discuss the consequences of sex. Like pregnancy and STD's. And I love the fact that everyone's solution is to hand out condoms. Guess what folks, those don’t always work. I think sharing some information about how little those really protect would open a few eyes. I know they opened mine.

Now, I'm not naïve enough to think this would convince everyone. In fact, I know it wouldn't. But if we held them to a standard and explained why, it would get through to some. And if we really had their best interests at heart, wouldn't we want to discuss what would truly be best for them.

Because we haven't even gotten to the emotional impact yet. And that's something that you can't protect against no matter how much you try to do. God designed sex to be a wonderful thing between a husband and wife. It is the ultimate act of intimacy. And when you throw that out the window and bounce around from partner to partner, it is going to be hard on everyone. Even in a committed relationship without the benefit of marriage, it is going to be emotionally harmful.

When I was in public school, I suffered through an AIDS awareness week. Frankly, what we did was a joke. In my history class (yes, history), we watched the infamous "how to put on a condom" video that uses a banana. And in my chemistry class, we use chemistry to show how quickly AIDS can spread. Everyone in class was given a test tube. One of us was "infected" with something that would make the liquid turn red when mixed with another chemical. This represented AIDS. The rest of us had water. We then had to mix our test tube content with three other people. After that, our teacher added the chemical and we saw how many people's test tube turned red. Once we knew who lived and who "died", the teacher took an infected tube and poured it "into" another test tube with plastic wrap in it to show how a condom kept you safe. As I sat there not saying a word, all I could think was "And if you didn't mix things together at all, the clean test tube would definitely stay that way." No, I didn't actually speak up. I should have, but I didn't.

So, given all this, why do adults not try to protect teens? My theory is because they know they would be hypocrites if they said "Do as I saw and not as I do." They can get away with it with smoking and drinking because there are laws in place that make it illegal for someone under a certain age to partake. I'm probably wrong about the statutory rape laws. Or maybe it is because they aren't enforced. But teens are smart enough to recognize "This is okay for me to do but not for you" as the crock it is. And since adults don't want to show any restraint in this area, they aren't going to try to set a good example for kids.

But let's be honest. "Recreational" sex is not better for anyone (no matter what age they are) then smoking or excessive drinking.

It's funny that this should be on my mind this week since Mike Janke posted something in a similar vein as well. His take on it is well worth reading. And I freely admit I stole a couple points from him. He always points things out in terms I hadn't thought of, and I love reading his blog for that reason.

So, rant aside, will I keep watching Eli Stone? (You know, the show that started this rant?) Yes, for now. I do like the characters and am interested to see where they take things, especially their thoughts about faith. But if they continue with episodes that are thinly disguised liberal agenda lectures, then I will stop watching. I have better things to do with my time then be fed lies.

(And as a reminder, this week Water Cooler Wednesday is offer a chance to win an iPod shuffle if you do a post. So if you enter, tell them I sent you.)


Michael Ejercito said...

The relative value of virginity versus sex depends on age.

Let us examine the costs of sex.

Certainly, an unplanned pregnancy is much more traumatic at age fifteen than at age twenty-five.

And of course, pregnancy is almost impossible at fifty-five.

What about STD’s? Certainly STD’s would be very traumatic to a teenager with a life expectancy of decades.

But an octogenerian is not likely to have a long life expectancy in any case.

Now let us examine the other side, which is virginity.

Virginity is not disturbing at thirteen, since almost everyone that age is a virgin.

But what about age thirty? Imagine someone knowing that everyone else that he knows, including his own family, has had sex and he had not. How would he feel? What would be the only rational way for him to feel? And what would his peers think of it? Note again that the value of the opinions of one’s peers increase with age. At thirteen, one’s peers are dumbass kids. At thirty, one’s peers would include people who are married and have kids and can support themselves.

From these facts, it is rational to conclude that the value of abstinence decreases with age, and can even become negative in some cases.

Mark said...

First of all, I am argueing against teen sex in this post, so it really does seem like we are on the same side.

Secondly, you are talking to a 30+ virgin, so you might want to watch what you say. :)

Leslie said...

Comments on Eli Stone - I started watching it at first but decided for several reasons that I would not continue. I had actually forgotten that the show was on until I read your posts.

Secondly - Its refreshing to hear a MAN and a non-married one at that talk about abstinance. Not many will - so kudos!

Mark said...

Well, thank you.

I must admit I will be paying more attention to Eli Stone now. Whether I keep watching will depend on the next few episodes.

micheal said...

I am argueing against teen sex in this post, so it really does seem like we are on the same side.Eli Stone Episodes - I started watching it at first but decided for several reasons that I would not continue. I had actually forgotten that the show was on until I read your posts.

joy said...

The show has a stunning cast and Eli is very relate able and turns out to be a really good guy. Dr. Cheng is another great character who is a Chinese acupuncturist.Catch all eps Elistone Download here...