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Abstinence - It's No Joke



I was holding a notice from my 13-year-old son's school announcing a

meeting to preview the new course in sexuality. Parents could examine

the curriculum and take part in an actual lesson presented exactly as it

would be given to the students.


When I arrived at the school, I was surprised to discover only about a dozen parents


As we waited for the presentation, I thumbed through page after page of instructions

in the prevention of pregnancy or disease. I found abstinence mentioned

only in passing.


When the teacher arrived with the school nurse, she asked if there were any

questions. I asked why abstinence did not play a noticeable part in the material.


What happened next was shocking. There was a great deal of laughter,

and someone suggested that if I thought abstinence had any merit, I

should go back to burying my head in the sand. The teacher and the nurse

said nothing as I drowned in a sea of embarrassment. My mind had gone

blank, and I could think of nothing to say. The teacher explained to me

that the job of the school was to "teach facts," and the home was

responsible for moral training. I sat in silence for the next 20 minutes

as the course was explained. The other parents seemed to give their

unqualified support to the materials.


"Donuts, at the back," announced the teacher during the break. "I'd

like you to put on the name tags we have prepared -- they're right by the

donuts -- and mingle with the other parents."


Everyone moved to the back of the room. As I watched them affixing

their nametags and shaking hands, I sat deep in thought. I was ashamed

that I had not been able to persuade them to include a serious

discussion of abstinence in the materials. I uttered a silent prayer for

guidance. My thoughts were interrupted by the nurse's hand on my



"Won't you join the others, Mr. Layton?" The nurse smiled

sweetly at me. "The donuts are good."


"Thank you, no," I replied.


"Well, then, how about a name tag? I'm sure the others would like to

meet you."


"Somehow I doubt that," I replied.


"Won't you please join them?" she coaxed.


Then I heard a still, small voice whisper, "Don't

go." The instruction was unmistakable. "Don't go!"


"I'll just wait here," I said.


When the class was called back to order, the teacher looked around the

long table and thanked everyone for putting on nametags. She ignored me.

Then she said, "Now we're going to give you the same lesson we'll be

giving your children. Everyone please peel off your name tags." I

watched in silence as the tags came off.


"Now, then, on the back of one of the tags, I drew a tiny flower. Who has it, please?"


The gentleman across from me held it up.


"Here it is!"


"All right," she said. "The flower represents disease. Do you recall with whom you

shook hands?" He pointed to a couple of people.


"Very good," she replied. "The handshake in this case represents intimacy. So the

two people you had contact with now have the disease." There was laughter and

joking among the parents.


The teacher continued, "And whom did the two of you shake hands with?"

The point was well taken, and she explained how this lesson would show

students how quickly disease is spread. "Since we all shook hands, we

all have the disease."


It was then that I heard the still, small voice again. "Speak now," it

said, "but be humble." I noted wryly the latter admonition, then rose

from my chair.


I apologized for any upset I might have caused earlier, congratulated the teacher on

an excellent lesson that would impress the youth, and concluded by saying I had only

one small point I wished to make.


"Not all of us were infected," I said. "One of us...abstained."


Thanks to the Mr. Layton of this story for sharing it with others.




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