Audacious Ideas? The Sexual Intercourse Age Limit

I have recently become a listener to the Harvard Business Review Ideacast.  In one recent episode, the hosts focused on a list of 12 “audacious ideas” with the potential to change the world.  One of the ideas featured was by the columnist Ellen Goodman.  She proposed that everyone (really, everyone) be sure to talk with a loved one about their wishes regarding health care as they approach death.  By so doing, she suggested, we could create a greater sense of trust and make better decisions at the end of life.

The idea is a fine one, but what struck me was that creating a social norm could make the list of audacious ideas.  Henceforth, I will propose a new social norm of my own.  I admit it is a bit retro.  We should create a social expectation that no one will have sexual intercourse outside of marriage before the age of 21.

Let’s think this through.  Is it not true that if the government, social elites, the media, and public schools were to get behind this new norm, we could probably radically reduce unwed pregnancy, numbers of children without present fathers, sexually transmitted diseases, and abortions?

Let me be clear (to use the president’s favorite phrase), I am not proposing a law to be enforced by the police.  I am simply arguing that it would be highly prudent and compassionate to create a social norm around the idea that intercourse is for adults.  We have an age at which young people can drive.  Why not have an age (a higher one) at which they can/should engage in another activity that can be far more consequential?

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5 thoughts on “Audacious Ideas? The Sexual Intercourse Age Limit

  1. Hauerwas has a paragraph in one of his books wherein he argues that all teenage sex is rape. It is fairly persuasive. 

    • Charlie, we don’t need a law, just a conspiracy of adults to promote the idea with kids from the word go. Who could argue it wouldn’t be for the good?

  2. I think your idea would increase teenage pregnancy.
    Why do you think they do it? Because they are not supposed to. May I suggest that adults stop shaming girls to affect their behavior. Girls need to know the real reason not to start sex too early. Same with boys only they are not the ones who have to start seeing a doctor after losing their virginity. Maybe they ought to…

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