These are not the same question

Why are some people (especially in parental capacity) so hostile to measures that protect people from the hazards of sex? Why are they opposed to comprehensive sex ed, contraceptives, Gardasil?

Is it because they genuinely believe that blocking their children’s access to these things will effectively force them to remain sexually inexperienced until marriage? Or is it because unintended pregnancy and disease are the only real punishments for sex that actually make an impression anymore?

One would think they couldn’t possibly, genuinely believe that young people are going to stay virgins because they can’t prevent unwanted pregnancies or avoid the transmission of disease, but, you know what? Never, ever underestimate the power of human stupidity. It’s as reliable as gravity. You’d think the hypothesis of sexual deterrence had been tested and accordingly discarded, but that would be an assumption from Mount Logic, which is an astonishingly unforgiving place and an awful lot of folks never make it past sea level.

But then perhaps they’re well aware that we’re all a pack of glorified apes and as such, we’re going to fuck with or without society’s permission no matter how risky it is to our quality of life, but they want to keep up that fig leaf that sex outside of a certain context is to be frowned upon. The thing about sex in the developed world is: it’s nowhere near as dangerous as it used to be. Our society’s system of family planning isn’t perfect, but it helps. For those with access to the resources and knowledge to use contraception correctly, it isn’t 100% effective but it is good enough to be a game-changer. Disease prevention, same thing. Condoms aren’t a magic bullet but there is no telling how many people owe their lives and health to the fact that little rubber sheaths are available without a prescription. Gardasil is even more threatening to the idea that sex should ruin lives, though not really because of what it does by itself. Once we make it impossible to contract one viral STD, it’s only a matter of time before we do the same for another. HPV goes first, then we get rid of herpes, and eventually HIV is a history lesson instead of a public health crisis. When pregnancy is a decision rather than a capitulation, and disease is either curable by antibiotics or preventable by vaccine, that’s when the libertines ask: what the hell is so bad about having sex, anyway? We’ve been asking that for years now, actually, but we still have the specter of illness and accidents hanging in the air. It’s difficult to treat sex as nothing to worry about when you know the condom might break. When there’s no longer any need for barrier methods, however, then how can anyone expect us to apologize for getting our freak on?

Furthermore, the separation of sex from disaster affects more than just the individuals who can fuck with impunity. It means those who have had sex are impossible to distinguish from those who haven’t. Protection means privacy as well as liberation, and that disables the social consequences of sex as well as the biological ones. How can you shame people for fucking out of wedlock when you can’t even tell who they are?

So, while the rest of us keep on asking why we’re supposed to feel guilty about having sex, why sex needs to be restricted to marriage and justified with babies, why we have to be ashamed of living in our bodies and sharing pleasure with our partners, the enforcers of tradition are quickly running out of answers. When we’re no longer held hostage to germs or our reproductive organs, then the old rationalization of God’s plan looks increasingly irrelevant. Does having an orgasm without a ring on your finger make baby Jesus cry? Really? Then why doesn’t He do something about it? If God hates my orgasm, then He can bloody well strike me down.