Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Life Values and Intimacy Education

I just finished reading
a paper
about the new sex education curriculum sponsored by the Jewish Orthodox rabbinical seminary at Yeshiva University and was really impressed.

It's truly comprehensive: it goes from elementary school through 12th grade, follows the sex education guidelines of SIECUS (an advocacy group that is unfortunately dismissed by the evangelicals as a fringe liberal group), and teaches the students about masturbation, condoms, and that they're not allowed to touch or be alone with the opposite sex: really abstinence-plus. And they teach 11th graders about sexual ethics based on the Talmudic story of the yeshiva student who visits a prostitute.

I haven't seen the curriculum beyond this paper, but what I've seen is fantastic. (As when I look at evangelical books, I overlook the wording issues that seem overly normative.) I'm sure once I see the whole thing I will have a more mixed opinion.

My favorite part is the list of questions to ask about people you're dating:

1. Do I treat the other person as a person or a thing? If you go out
with him/her because he/she is good looking (a “prize” to be
with) or a way out (a ticket to the movies), that isn’t love.
2. Would you choose to spend the evening alone with him/her if
there were no kissing, no touching, and no sex? If not, it isn’t
3. Are the two of you at ease and as happy alone as you are with
friends? If you need other friends around to have a good time,
it isn’t love.
4. Do you get along? If you fight and make up a lot, get hurt and
jealous, tease and criticize one another, better be careful, it may
not be love.
5. Are you still interested in dating or secretly “messing around”
with others? If so, you aren’t in love.
6. Can you be totally honest and open? If either or both of you are
selfish, insincere, feel confined, or unable to express feelings,
be cautious.
7. Are you realistic? You should be able to admit possible future
problems. If others (besides a parent) offend you by saying
they are surprised you are still together, that you two seem so
different, that they have doubts about your choice, better take
a good look at this relationship.
8. Is either of you much more of a taker than a giver? If so, no
matter how well you like that situation now, it may not last.
9. Do you think of the partner as being a part of your whole life? If
so, and these dreams seem good, that is an indication of love.


David said...

Do you think such material could be useful for parents to utilize in discussions with their children as well?

Janet said...

It seems like a good curriculum, though I say this having only seen this excerpt and having read some of the essays separately like Rabbi Berkovits's essay on forming a sex ethic.

If the whole curriculum is as good as the excerpt, it would be a great starting point for a parent-child or parent-adolescent discussion.

That raises a good question, though, separately: how to start that conversation. I will look into that.