Frequently Asked Questions about Negiah.org
We are gratified by the overwhelming response that negiah.org has generated. Several questions have been raised by a number of respondents. We are answering them here for the edification of our readers.
By your comments on condoms, aren't you promoting unprotected sex?
Of course not! We are promoting abstention. We recognize that not everyone will choose to abstain, but we want people to be aware that condoms are limited in their uses. The very first sentence of the condoms article recognizes that there are some things condoms do very well: "Condoms might protect people from pregnancy and most forms of STD, but there's a lot they don't protect people from," for example, HPV. Now, what rational person would say, "Well, if I can catch HPV anyway, I might as well risk pregnancy, syphilis, and AIDS, as well?"
Yes, we acknowledge that condoms are not permitted according to halacha (Jewish law). We have to, because it would as irresponsible religiously to ignore that fact as it would be medically irresponsible to ignore that condoms do, in fact, protect from pregnancy and most STDs. But please keep in mind that sex outside of marriage is also prohibited according to halacha.
What's with all the statistics? Why not just cite Jewish law?
Not everyone who visits our site is necessarily a Torah-observant Jew and, for those who are, that approach is essentially "preaching to the choir." Abstinence in its social sense is different from "negiah" in its religious sense (a point we make clear in the very first article). Even those teens who do not consider themselves ready to be "shomer negiah" can benefit from being abstinent. We are presenting many sides to an issue that is important for teens, not just the religious.
Aren't you engaging in "scare tactics?"
Not at all. We're sharing facts and some of the facts can be scary. Yes, some of the things that could happen are long shots - we're clear about that in several places - but the fact remains that they could happen. To give a non-abstinence example, Toxic Shock Syndrome has an incidence rate of about 1 in two-and-a-half-million women. That's pretty rare, but every box of tampons has a warning about it because being rare isn't much consolation if you're the one in 2,407,079 who does get it. People have a right to be informed. (And many of the things we discuss are very common, or have increased likelihood with multiple partners.)
In reference to the above three questions, the NCSY Drug, Alcohol and Tobacco Awareness page also uses medical facts and statistics. Nobody ever said we should stick to Jewish law, talk about all the people who don't become junkies or give advice on how to properly sterilize needles for those who choose to use drugs anyway.
Are you saying that pre-marital sex causes suicidal tendencies?
Absolutely not! There is an established correlation, but that does not prove causation. Pre-marital sex might lead to depression, depression might lead to pre-marital sex, or both depression and premarital sex might be caused by some third, unidentified factor. But there is an established relationship between high-risk behaviors, including premarital sex, and depression and suicidal thoughts.
Are you aware that your comparison between using the mikva to have unmarried sex and washing and bentching over a cheeseburger is flawed?
Yes. There are several differences in the cases. The cheeseburger is Biblically prohibited, a single woman using the mikva is Rabbinically prohibited. That doesn't really make much difference in its use as an example, though. The purpose of the example is merely to illustrate how unseemly it is to do a mitzvah (religious duty) in order to facilitate an aveirah (forbidden act). And in the example, the mikvah is supposed to correspond to the washing and bentching, not the cheeseburger.
Rabbinical laws do count, though. We do not blow shofar or wave the lulav if Rosh HaShana or the first day of Succos falls on Shabbos. Those acts are actually Biblically required, but we refrain because of the Rabbinical safeguard. Nobody disregards those Rabbinical prohibitions and blows shofar anyway. How much more should we listen to to the Rabbis when they prohibited an act that was never required in the first place?
Don't you know that abstinence-only education doesn't work?
First of all, it's not so clear that abstinence-only education doesn't work. There are a lot of flaws with some of the studies that were done. One example is that some studies examined schoolchildren as young as ten who received no follow-up abstinence education in their teen years. So, the jury is really still out on the effectiveness of abstinence-only education.
The question of abstinence-only versus "comprehensive" sex education is really only pertinent to schools, where only one or the other can be offered. We are providing information that is supplemental to what teens receive in school. We in no way detract from the "comprehensive" sex ed programs that they have taken, we only add to them.
Why don't you talk about HPV shots for girls / gay teens / masturbation, etc.?
We're discussing abstinence here, although as the site progresses, we may branch out into some tangential areas. In short:
*The HPV shot may be beneficial, but it is a decision for the girl to make with her parents and doctor. If a girl does get an HPV shot, it should not be taken as a license to engage in behaviors that are inappropriate without an HPV shot.
*We are advocating that teens refrain from sexual activity. The teen's sexual orientation has no bearing on that position.
*Judaism prohibits wasteful emission of seed. (That's why the condom is prohibited in halacha.) We cannot advocate masturbation as a substitute for sex.
Please continue to share your questions!
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