- If you think you might have sex, ask yourself:
- Does it feel right?
- Do I love my partner?
- Does he/she love me just as much?
- Have we talked about using condoms to prevent STIs and HIV, and was the talk OK?
- Have we got contraception organised to protect against pregnancy?
- Do I feel able to say "no" at any point if I change my mind, and will we both be OK with that
Yup, 'Am I married to my partner'? doesn't come into it. The first 3 conditions are subjective - the survey assumes that children as young as 13 are able to answer these questions well and be 'sexually competent' Have they ever met a 13 year old? All the criteria would be also satisfied by someone cheating on their partner. The only moral question here is consent - tick that box and everything else is ok. Is sex really that trivial?
I note in passing that the report never refers to 'children' - "22.4% and 36.2% of men and women who had first sex at age 13–14 years were categorised as ‘sexually competent". Child sexual behaviour is reported as if it were adult sexual behaviour. Am I alone in finding that a bit disturbing?
The genuinely radical option here is to honour sex as the ultimate physical expression of commitment, saved for the one person to whom you make the lifelong covenant pledge of marriage. Even if you don't buy the 'sex as an expression of commitment' thing and just want to be pragmatic about it, if you value the relationship you're in, you'll wait, as it's better for the relationship.
There are public health benefits too: sexually transmitted diseases are transmitted by, you guessed it... They jumped massively in 2012-15, and the number of people attending sexual health clinics in Wales has doubled in just 5 years. There would be dramatic falls in STIs if it was normal to pursue faithfulness to a single partner and public health policy encouraged people to wait. Sure, not everyone will do it: not everyone takes up the MMR vaccine either but that doesn't make it bad practice. And it could save the NHS up to £1bn a year, which is before we get into all the other financial costs of a culture of casual sex. A culture which the BBC itself has been normalising for decades.
One of the complaints in the Br***t debate is that you can't question immigration without being labelled as racist. Can we discuss sexual behaviour without being labelled as moralising?