A Point of Convergence With Michael Gerson?

Jodi Jacobson

I have to give kudos to Michael Gerson for stating in a recent Washington Post column that abstinence-only-until-marriage might be a "nice idea" for those who see these issues in religious or ideological terms, but is not feasible as a social expectation.

Most regular readers of Rewire already know that Michael Gerson and I have had our considerable differences.  Gerson, former Bush speechwriter and current columnist for the Washington Post, is a social conservative among social conservatives whose reading of evidence is often filtered through many layers of ideology and his own religious beliefs.  He has long been an ardent advocate of abstinence-only programs in US global AIDS programs, for example, programs that research now shows have failed to slow the spread of HIV and have condemned many people to infection.

However, I have to give kudos to Gerson for this statement in a recent Washington Post column:

The casual sex promoted in advertising and entertainment often leads,
in the real world of fragile hearts and STDs, to emotional and physical
wreckage. But it doesn’t seem realistic to expect most men and women to
delay sex until marriage at 26 or 28. Such virtue is both admirable and
possible — but it can hardly be a general social expectation.
[Italics added].

I don’t believe the "fragile hearts" piece nor do I think the STDs are inevitable–good prevention program after all are both an effective means of reducing the spread of infections as well as unintended pregnancies, though they’ve been a target of the right.  

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Nor do I really buy the premise of the rest of his arguments.

But for someone like Gerson to at least admit that delaying sex until marriage at 26 or 28 (or later) is not feasible is a big step forward.  And if this is the case domestically, then it should portend Gerson’s strong support for effective, comprehensive sexual health education in US programs at home and abroad, for all individuals at risk of the consequences of unprotected sex.


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