(10 of 10)
Apparently this kind of advice is what the students want. Sarrel has been dubbed "the Charlie Reich of sex counseling" by an irreverent observer, and like the author of The Greening of America, he is very popular: 300 men and women crowd into his weekly lectures at Yale, and more than 1,000 other colleges have asked for outlines of his course. For good reason. The Sarrels' careful counseling has cut the VD and unwanted pregnancy rate at Yale to nearly zero.
But what about ethical questions?
For those who are not guided by their families or their religion, Sarrel's system —and the whole body of "situation ethics"—fails to offer much support for making a decision. Years ago William Butler Yeats wrote a poem about the problem:
I whispered, "I am too young."
And then, "I am old enough"; Wherefore I threw a penny To find out if I might love.
How did the toss come out? Yeats, unsurprisingly, gave himself a clear go-ahead, ending his poem:
Ah penny, brown penny, brown
penny, One cannot begin it too soon.
Nowadays a great many adolescents, like Yeats, seem to be simply tossing a coin, and singing the same refrain.
*The names of the children and their parents in this story are fictitious.