SUMMARY: Now that school's back in session, Gary describes the kinds of issues that school-age children and their parents have to deal with, far beyond previous generations' concerns about academic performance and the like -- the battle over our children's souls. He tells of the growing "True Love Waits" movement, where teenage men and women have chosen to wait for sex until after they are married. (Even secular magazines, such as "Mademoiselle", are beginning to see advantages offered by abstinence, referring to it as "the latest stage in the sexual revolution.")
September 7, 1994
"My parents gave me something to look forward to -- the day when I could look my husband in the face and say, 'I loved you before I even knew you.'" - Lakita Garth, in Urban Family magazine.
Something to look forward to..." These aren't exactly the words that come to mind for most young people as they anticipate the beginning of a new school year. These words don't adequately describe the sentiments of most parents either. In the Bauer household, and most likely in yours as well, a new school year means many things, less family time together, more car pools, back to school spending and increased personal challenges. Whether the phrase "back to school" refers to public school, private school or even home school for your family, September finds most of us scrambling to make the necessary adjustments to rules and roles for children and parents alike.<> Scrambling is an appropriate word. That's exactly what the Bauer's do each weekday between 6:00 a.m. and 7:20 a.m. as Elyse, Sarah and Zachary gobble down breakfast, look for homework that was (hopefully) completed the night before and rush for the door. I remember this daily ritual well from my own childhood days.
Having children in school also requires the sacrifice of parents' personal time and finances. It means the weight of worrying that we are doing everything in our power to guide children in the acquisition of knowledge that will sustain them in a tough economy and an even tougher culture. Children, too, must be taught how their personal sacrifices of today will lead to the accomplishment of their goals later.
What I'm describing is the basic paradox of education even in the best of times. But these are not, as most parents know, the best of times. Today, education is a battleground for the clash of right and wrong. Under pressure from groups like the American Civil Liberties Union and the Sex Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS), schools have largely abandoned serious instruction in what it means to be responsible or virtuous. Harvard University's Dr. Robert Coles recently said, "There's no inner voice screaming at people saying, 'This is wrong!' or if there is, they say, 'I've got to get rid of that voice. There's something wrong having a voice like that.' There was a time when we were taught to embrace guilt, to live with it and struggle with it, not take it to Oprah."
As the new school year begins, the ACLU is predictably back in court. This time its lawyers are trying to overturn a school board's decision to ban T-shirts with pictures and slogans that are sexually explicit or advocate drug or alcohol abuse. And we have another government study calling for more aggressive "safe sex" education in the schools. The Clinton Administration is also awarding more funding to SIECUS to evaluate sex education programs across the country in an attempt to identify and promote those found to be the most "innovative" (you can imagine what kinds of "innovation" would appeal to a group that is dedicated to, among other things, redefining the family and encouraging acceptance of all forms of sexual behavior).
Parents today must now face an additional sacrifice: the daily burden of knowing that they must contend with increasingly powerful forces battling for the hearts and minds--and, above all, the souls--of our children. When Jim Dobson and I sat down to update our book Children at Risk recently, we recognized that parents need tools to help level the playing field. Raising children is the most important, time-consuming task in the world and the enemies of the family seemingly have endless free time to concoct their destructive schemes. The revised Children at Risk, which includes former Education Secretary Bill Bennett's introduction, identifies numerous resources that will make parents more effective in today's cultural conflicts. I hope you will find the book helpful.
I've believed for a long time that groups like the Family Research Council must speak directly to our young people. For the past five years, FRC has hosted a small number of college-age interns during the school year and the summer months. These young men and women have not only performed invaluable services for FRC, they have given our full-time staff a tremendous spiritual lift. The pro-family cause has a bright future--we've seen it in the new faces of leadership that have joined our staff each semester, eager to defend the institutions of marriage and the home. The nation's capital recently saw tens of thousands of these bright faces, as the pro-abstinence True Love Waits campaign culminated here with a whole series of impressive events. FRC's staff and interns took part.
In addition, our young interns' comments and analysis helped us to complete a new project designed to reinforce the TLW message. We've designed five advertisements to appeal to young people. Each underscores the link between health, happiness, sex, and marriage. Beginning this October in Rolling Stone magazine, FRC will be taking this message right into the heart of secular culture. We don't want anyone to be able to accuse FRC of ducking the tough challenges!
"What these kids are doing is really against popular culture. It's a counterrevolution." - Ed DeGarmo, The Washington Post, July 30, 1994
The recent front page coverage The Washington Post gave to TLW was one of the most encouraging stories I've read in that paper in years. The Post included a photograph of 16-year-old Sandra Tate planting one of 200,000 stakes bearing TLW pledges signed by young Americans. I think Christian musician Ed DeGarmo is right: abstinence is "counterrevolutionary." Our hope is that this virtuous counterrevolution will not merely defy the times, but actually come to define them. If the '60s were defined by Woodstock, think what it would mean to have the '90s defined by True Love Waits!
FRC unveiled our ad campaign at TLW, and the response we received from the young people and the youth ministers and leaders in attendance was tremendous. Our goal now is to take these visual messages and make them available in a variety of formats that will impact young people in schools, churches, recreation centers and places of business. Our campaign includes ad placements, posters, and flyers. I believe it effectively communicates the fact that "everybody's" not "doing it."
Earlier this year, FRC conducted a national survey that discovered information the pop media would rather ignore. We asked Americans whether they rated their own sex lives "very satisfying" or just the opposite. The group that reported the highest degree of sexual happiness turned out not to be the sexual adventurers of the Woodstock generation. Those who found their sex lives most fulfilling were married couples whose outlook on personal and social issues could only be described as very traditional. In fact, the adventurers were among the most negative about their level of sexual satisfaction.
Slowly, grudgingly, a handful of popular magazines are starting to recognize the advantages abstinence offers. An article in the March Mademoiselle reported, "Saying no to sex might turn out to be the latest stage in the sexual revolution... Celibacy is no longer seen as something to hide, or interpreted to mean that an individual is afraid of sex... Today it [virginity] is often flaunted with pride... Young people who say no to sex... see abstinence as a way to gain control of their lives and bodies."
The New Revolution ------------------ "First they questioned marriage. Said that love should be 'free.' But 'free love' turned out costly. Very costly for some. Now they're pushing condoms. Saying sex should be 'safe.' But 'safe sex' can be risky (to your heart if not your health). We think it's time for a new revolution... for a love that is real and lasting... That's why we believe in marriage. And why we're saving sex for it." - from FRC Abstinence ad.
Our ad/poster campaign is designed to highlight the benefits of self-control and to help propel the abstinence revolution forward. This positive message is more critical now than ever, as the Clinton Administration continues its efforts to undermine the only federally funded abstinence program. Increased federal support for other so-called "comprehensive" approaches mean little more than offering every adolescent a free ticket to the neighborhood Planned Parenthood clinic.
We are combining our advertising initiatives with educational opportunities designed to spread the word that abstinence works. We have found that programs like those of the National Institute for Responsible Fatherhood in Cleveland, and "Best Friends" in Washington, D.C. are working very well --even in some of the most difficult environments in the country--poor neighborhoods where many families are headed by a single parent. When the abstinence message works there, and it does, it can work everywhere.
A sample of our ad message is shown on the enclosed reply card.* Following on the success of our "Fatherhood Campaign," we plan to send thousands of our posters and flyers to schools across the country. The ads are also suitable for public school use. They employ styles and colors that catch a young person's eye and attention. They hold high the positive message that sex is a special gift that, when enjoyed in the confines of marital commitment, can be a source of great personal happiness.
[For those of you interested in viewing posters stemming from the True Love Waits campaign, ICLnet does have small files loaded for [viewing] with your Web browser.
Full-scale gifs are available for [FTP downloads].
In the months to come, we will take our abstinence campaign to as wide an audience of teenagers and "twentysomethings" as possible. After our placement in the October "college issue" of Rolling Stone, we will, as funds permit, seek placements in magazines like Seventeen and Mademoiselle, and in other publications as well.
With schools opening, other educational issues will be coming again to the forefront. FRC will continue its efforts to promote parental choice in education and to protect the home-school movement from federal intrusion. Along those lines, FRC cultural policy director Bob Knight's research on homosexuality was cited during the Senate debate on the Elementary and Secondary Education Act in early August. An amendment offered by Sen. Robert Smith of New Hampshire and cosponsored by Sen. Jesse Helms sought to cut off federal funds under the Act to any school sponsoring curricula or projects that endorse or encourage the homosexual lifestyle. Even though Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts led a successful effort to weaken the Smith-Helms language, the 63 votes for passage of the Smith-Helms amendment is a sign the tide is turning.
As you know, our efforts have not always been successful, but FRC exists because someone must stand for the family. Someone must insist on timeless standards of right and wrong. Someone must stand up for causes that, like abstinence, require sacrifice and self-discipline to achieve longterm rewards. In partnership with you, I believe FRC can be that "someone" in Washington, D.C.-- as we continue to champion the pro-family message.
Sincerely, Gary L. Bauer President
P.S. I want to add a personal "thank you" for your continued generosity to FRC. We are truly blessed by your friendship and support. I know the demands on hardworking families. Prices keep going up and incomes get pinched. But month after month it's the little extra that you find to send to FRC that enables us to continue fighting the battles here. We love you for your commitment to our cause. God bless you for being part of the FRC family.
FRC Monthly Support Newsletter provided by courtest of Mark Conty.
Document prepared by permission, NJB Team
ICLnet file location: /pub/resources/text/frc: frc-msn.9409.html