Straight Talk: Another Christian guide to dating and relationships

On our college mission in 2010 we had the opportunity to sit through a presentation by Straight Talk Australia’s Jim and Faye Lyons. Perhaps Australia’s most seasoned abstinence campaigners.

I thought the presentation could have done with a smattering of “forgiveness” and “grace” alongside the “unwanted pregnancy” and “gonorrhea” – but it certainly scared me. And I guess if it can scare a married 26 year old it can scare a 16 year old. Right?

The presentation was interesting. It involved a video of one of America’s biggest abstinence campaigners – Pam Stenzel – doing her thing on an Australian tour in 1998. The video is dated, jaded, and Pam is wearing an off putting combo of high pants with a big belt buckle that draws altogether too much attention to her chest area.

This is one of the many videos of Pam at work on YouTube.

Anyway. I wouldn’t necessarily endorse the product. But I thought Ben Law’s take on the program in an essay for the Monthly (from a couple of years ago) was pretty interesting. Ben is a gay essayist of some talent, and growing repute. He was my creative non-fiction lecturer at uni, and I saw him perform some stand up as part of JJJ’s Raw Comedy competition (I was cheering on some of my friends). He’s a funny guy, and remarkable even handed in his treatment of the program for one so diametrically opposed to all it’s seeking to achieve – though Pam’s outfit was too much for him:

“The Lyons invited Pam Stenzel to Queensland in 1998, and made a DVD of the resulting school tour. The Price Tag of Sex is the core of Jim and Faye’s presentation at Inglewood. Stenzel, despite looking a little dated (she is wearing high-waisted jeans that rise above her navel), is aggressively charming. She speaks with that irresistible American mix of authority and mocking disbelief. Throughout the DVD, there are clear-cut rules she shoots out. “Absolutely no genital contact of any kind – none!”; “Keep your pants on – simple!”; “If you are not married, don’t do it. If you are married – go for it!””

It’s worth reading to get a feel for what outsiders think of the stuff you might put on in your churches and schools without much thought. His analysis resonates with my experience of the program too. And his concerns are my concerns – though we approach the issue from vastly different perspectives.