The Dangers of Holding Hands

Respectfully submitted by Lawrence Rafferty (rafflaw)- Guest Blogger

As one who was taught by Benedictine nuns in a Catholic elementary school, I grew up with some strange and possibly severe restrictions on what the nuns called “mixing” the boys and girls. More recently, when my adult children were in school, the Diocese of Rockford forbade Altar boys being on the altar at the same time as Altar girls!  With that background, I thought I had seen it all.  However, the State of Tennessee has just beaten that sorry record of over restrictive rules for school children.  It seems that Tennessee state senators, in their infinite wisdom have updated their already suspect abstinence based sex education law by suggesting that holding hands is a gateway to sex. 

“Last week, the Senate passed SB 3310, a bill to update the state’s abstinence-based sex education curriculum to define holding hands and kissing as “gateway sexual activities.” Just one senator voted against the legislation; 28 voted in favor.  Since the bill specifically bans teachers from “demonstrating gateway sexual activity”, educators would be prohibited from even demonstrating what hand-holding is.”  Truth Progress

I understand the concept of abstinence only programs.  The nuns were in favor of that idea, and it worked as badly in the 1960’s as it does now.  “In a new family life instructions bill, holding hands and kissing could be considered gateways to sex. Planned Parenthood said that allowing state government to define local sex education curriculum could backfire.  According to a 2009 Youth Risk Behavior Study, 61 percent of Memphis City high school students and 27 percent of middle school students have had sex. That’s higher than the national average.  Planned Parenthood said these numbers are why a new sex education bill promoting abstinence is not realistic.” WMC-TV

As I understand it, the State Senate of Tennessee has an ongoing problem with high school and middle school students having sex.  Their educated response to this problem is to claim that holding hands is a dirty and dangerous act that could lead to dire sexual health consequences. Under this proposed legislation, a teacher could be subject to a direct lawsuit from parents if the instructor goes beyond this draconian curriculum.  Do these State Senators have any idea what is happening in the real world?  The numbers quoted by the Memphis TV station above suggest that the State Senate should be happy if all the students are doing is hand holding.  Could the respective religious beliefs of these State Senators be guiding their legislative hands?

Just how successful are these abstinence only programs?  One George Mason University article in December 2006 discussed claims that any reduction in teen pregnancy rates is far and away due to contraception and not abstinence. “A new study has shown that contraception, not abstinence, is behind declines in teen pregnancy. Researchers from Columbia University and the Guttmacher Institute took a nation-wide look at why it is that teen pregnancy rates are down. In 1995, there were just under 100 pregnancies for every 1,000 teenage women age 15-19, according to the Guttmacher Institute (the figures vary slightly among the three major sources for teen pregnancy rates – the Guttmacher Institute, the National Center for Health Statistics, and the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion).  By 2002, this had gone down to just over 75 per 1,000. According to the new study, 86 percent of the decline is attributable to the use of contraception, while only 14 percent is attributable to abstinence.  Abstinence has only contributed to a small percentage of the overall decline, and none for teens aged 18-19. For those ages 15-17, abstinence was responsible for about 23 percent of the decline, according to the study published in the American Journal of Public Health.”

When the Tennessee House representatives take up the Senate bill, I hope that they look beyond religion and realize that the teen pregnancy problem won’t be solved by burying their heads in the sand.  A sex education program designed by educational experts and not Bishops, can have a positive impact on teen pregnancy.  Outlawing teachers from actually talking about the real issues could defeat what the legislators are trying to accomplish.  However, since Tennessee just passed a law allowing creationism to be taught alongside evolution, I am not holding my breath that the legislature in Tennessee will do the right thing.

Do you think religion is getting in the way of proper education principles and methods?  Are the state representatives pandering to a particular segment of their citizens rather than suggesting and promoting valid, scientific methods to address the problem at hand?  What do you think?

82 thoughts on “The Dangers of Holding Hands”

  1. Dropped the taxes of at the Post Office. On the way home I stopped at a yogurt shop and saw an Ursuline female student holding hands with a Jesuit boy. ha!ha!

  2. Southern Baptists. Watch out for the Southern Baptists.

    In junior high school, my mother made me attend the local Southern Baptists church. A Lutheran herself, she had better things to do on Sunday, her one day of the week off work. But she didn’t have a car and so could not drive me to any church further away from the nearest one, to which I could walk by myself.

    I didn’t last long, as both mom and I loved music and dancing, which the Southern Baptists considered the equivalent of fornicating with farm animals. “I can do the same thing in the back seat of a car,” the reverend’s son smugly told me once. To which I replied, incredulously: “You can?” (I had in mind ballroom dances like the Samba, Tango, and New Yorker Swing.)

    The final straw came in church one Sunday when the minister launched into a fire-and-brimstone harangue against a widowed woman of the congregation sitting a few pews in front of me. “Her husband has only been dead five years and already she is out in public, dating another man!” The humiliated woman just sat weeping silently under the public tongue lashing. After the sermon, I left and never went back.

    Several years later, just before I enlisted in the Navy, a girlfriend of mine invited me to attend The Friends (Quaker) Church with her. I had other designs on her person, none of them religious, but thought I’d go along just to preserve future possibilities. What a shock to discover this group of pacifists sitting around on a Sunday morning discussing how best to organize relief supplies to impoverished Eskimos in Alaska. Not one fiery condemnation of a single soul, anywhere.

    But watch out for those Southern Baptists. I understand that they form the storm-trooper base of the religious Republican Party. This does not surprise me.

    1. Fornicating is a sin against the body. .How in the blue blazes can sex with another species be sinning against your body or even sinning against a human out side your body?> War will sin against the body. That can have shrapnel in it, and bullet holes,and severed limbs, and minds tormented with war. Devils hate happiness, singing, and dancing . .Devils in humans frown on that.

      Religions teaching eternal hellfire are giving the devils sermons. That is why that woman was given guilt. Marry, and have sex. Have it wherever you want. Demonic religions will get enraged. The religions are of the devil. Jesus does not give tears at all. Hell is Gods light that Moses could not see from the face of God. Humans waring are fornicating against their body. Sex has been demonized, and war sanctified.

  3. Brother Jonathan Hughes:

    “The devil does not want truth to be sought after – investigated so truth will remain a mystery.”


    10 When he was alone, the Twelve and the others around him asked him about the parables. 11 He told them, “The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables 12 so that,

    “‘they may be ever seeing but never perceiving,
    and ever hearing but never understanding;
    otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!’

    ~Mark 4 (New International Version (NIV))

    So it seems, does the carpenter from Nazaerth.

  4. Jonathan Hughes,
    the world’s many religions want truth to be a mystery. The devil has nothing to do with it, even if you believe in the devil.

  5. Nobody mentioned the nuns’ dating rule of passing the popcorn to your date by holding the popcorn bucket at the top of the container as your date chastely receives it by grabbing politely the bottom of the popcorn ( You might have been aroused if flesh touched flesh , you see. ) A much more realistic approach was a thoughtful priest taking Catholic students to see the movie Alfie in the late 1960’s and discussed it afterwards. Severe repression only creates empty churches .

  6. Jonathan Hughes 1, April 15, 2012 at 8:55 pm

    … Sex, and nudity will not lose you your soul.
    Good I was born naked in a vagina and it has had a powerful impact on my life. 😉

  7. Dredd,

    Maybe they’ve had a total immersion…… And they suffer from the Stockholm Syndrome……

  8. Anonymously Yours 1, April 15, 2012 at 6:55 pm


    Ones reality in the real world is grounded in their own reality…… One may or may not know what is socially acceptable……
    Tru dat.

    They seem to think like someone who just left a convent or monastery and misjudged that s/he had been dropped off into downtown Sodom or Gomorrah.

    Never mind the destruction of the planetary life, or the millions of starving and sick kids, the millions killed in wars, just DON’T HOLD HANDS!

    I think Mike S could tell us some stories about withdrawal, and I don’t mean from Afghanistan.

    The 1% need to withdraw from Bullshitistan.

  9. Damn. I keep messing up with the HTML tags. I meant to emphasize (in the first sentence of the second paragraph) “The point about such [controversial] topics … is that they are not framed to be resolved.”

    Additionally, as F. C. S. Schiller pointed out in Logic for Use: “the word ‘sacred’ generally means a fear that the things so denominated cannot bear investigation.”

    1. The devil does not want truth to be sought after – investigated so truth will remain a mystery. Then the priest feeds whoever what he sees, as truth not allowing humans to think for themselves to determine if the priest has truth or not, and when speaks truth the priest does not agree with is called a heretic, and all kinds of negative words.

  10. Again, as I see it, defense of the democratic Republic — what remains of it — requires incessantly pointing out that the culture-problem creators and the corporate job cremators who bankroll them have no intention of solving any of the nation’s real problems — or allowing anyone else to solve them — but only in lighting the bonfire and fanning the flames of phony controversy so as to mask their real objectives and methods.

    The point about disputes on such topics as the value of sexual abstinence, the role of religious charities in state-funded activities, the question of gay marriage, and the like, is that they are not framed to be resolved. Their political function is to divide the citizenry while obscuring and diverting the voters’ attention from the social and economic concerns of the general populace. Cultural wars might seem an indication of strong political involvements. Actually they are a substitute. The notoriety they receive from the media and from politicians eager to take firm stands on nonsubstantive issues serves to distract attention and contribute to a cant politics of the inconsequential” [emphasis added] — Sheldon S. Wolin, Democracy Inc: managed democracy and the specter of inverted totalitarianism

    I particularly love that phrase “cant politics of the inconsequential.” First-rate analysis and writing by Professor Wolin.

  11. Yes to the Taliban reference, rafflaw, but I like to think of it as “Taliban envy.” The Taliban, after all, actually once defeated an imperial power invading their land — and will do so again. The erstwhile American edition, however, never fought any foreign invaders and had to have five fellow ideologues on the Supreme Court appoint them to positions of power in America. As one of their insider apostates famously confessed:

    From “Without a Doubt,” by Ron Suskind, The New York Times Magazine, October 17, 2004

    “Bruce Bartlett, a domestic policy adviser to Ronald Reagan and a treasury official for the first President Bush, told me recently that ”if Bush wins, there will be a civil war in the Republican Party starting on Nov. 3.” The nature of that conflict, as Bartlett sees it? Essentially, the same as the one raging across much of the world: a battle between modernists and fundamentalists, pragmatists and true believers, reason and religion. “Just in the past few months,” Bartlett said, ”I think a light has gone off for people who’ve spent time up close to Bush: that this instinct he’s always talking about is this sort of weird, Messianic idea of what he thinks God has told him to do.” Bartlett, a 53-year-old columnist and self-described libertarian Republican who has lately been a champion for traditional Republicans concerned about Bush’s governance, went on to say: “This is why George W. Bush is so clear-eyed about Al Qaeda and the Islamic fundamentalist enemy. He believes you have to kill them all. They can’t be persuaded, that they’re extremists, driven by a dark vision. He understands them, because he’s just like them [emphasis added].

    No doubt about the fundamentalist, mono-theocratic resemblances, but if I had to bet on which one of them wins back real power first: the American or Afghan variety, I’d bet on the Taliban. Anything that tries and fails to kill you only makes you stronger.

  12. When a human scrutinizes church with its many anti Christ oppressive laws having no bearing on saving the soul not seeking to love all as one, and the legal laws of man doing the same being connected to the state we have not a separation of church, and state . There is a combination of the two being the same in spirit. deception is the devils tool.

Comments are closed.