An Open Letter to Brad Henning

I would like to thank ElizabethLeigh for leaving a comment on my last post directing me to Mr. Henning’s web site. For everyone who doesn’t know, Brad Henning gives abstinence-only presentations at high schools. I just sent him this e-mail.

Mr. Henning,

You gave a presentation to my school back in 2000. I was a freshman, a believer, and a virgin. I remember that your talk really resonated with me and I reaffirmed my commitment to stay a virgin until I was married.

That commitment lasted a year.

The next year you came and spoke again, and again I listened, only this time I was a sophomore, an unbeliever, and no longer a virgin. Every other word out of your mouth, it seemed, was a lie. None of the bad things you had predicted had come to pass. Sex wasn’t what held my relationship together; my boyfriend wanted to do more with me than just hump all the time; and we were both on our way to the top of the mountain together, while also taking in the scenery–together. During that second presentation, I didn’t know whether to laugh at your ridiculous statements or to tell you off for saying such horrendous lies. I opted for neither and sat in silence.

Now, seven years later, I’m married with a little girl. It might interest you to know that both my marriage and my daughter are five years old. You see, I was a part of the statistic that kids who receive abstinence-only "sex ed" are less likely to use condoms when they do have sex–only six months later than their peers. My sophomore boyfriend was a good guy, and I’m sure if he had been the one to knock me up that we would have been very happy together. However, I’m so, so, so happy that it was my husband. That’s not to say I’m glad I got pregnant and married at the age of 17, but my daughter is the most beautiful, smart, and amazing person I’ve ever met and my marriage is happier and healthier than most others I know of.

As a point of interest, our marriage is open. My husband was the seventh man I slept with, and now that number has almost doubled to 15. Our marriage is more happy and healthy since we’ve opened it than it was before. This is because it is not sex which binds us together, but our commitment to each other. We are not wearing sex blinders. The key to a good marriage is trust and communication, two things that HAD to grow exponentially when our marriage opened up. If you wish to prepare students for solid marriages, then exercises in building trust and communication skills will take you much farther than telling the kids to just wait to have sex until they’re married.

One of the biggest lies you ever told me–though, to be fair, you weren’t the only person to tell me this lie–was when you told a story about your friend’s friend who had sex with over 200 women before meeting his wife and that now, whenever he has sex with his wife, he thinks about the 200 other women. I know that you would be totally ignorant of this, having only had sexual relations with one woman, but that is complete and utter hogwash. I’ve only had sex with 15 people, nowhere near 200, and I have trouble remember them all AT ALL, let alone remembering them all every time I have sex with my husband!

I know that you regularly invite students to your house to see how happy a marriage between two people who waited for sex is. I would like to take you up on that offer, seven years late, if that’s all right. Perhaps we can show you how happy a marriage can be between two people who didn’t wait and still aren’t monogamous. In fact a joint dinner with students involved would be perfect so that students could compare and contrast and perhaps decide for themselves what sort of marriage and sex life they would like to have. Unfortunately, I live too far away to arrange for the dinner now, but perhaps advance planning would be good for something of this sort. I can set a tentative date for April, 2009, when I will next be in the States. I look forward to your reply.


Disclaimer: This post was written by a Feministing Community user and does not necessarily reflect the views of any Feministing columnist, editor, or executive director.

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