What Toothbrushes Are Teaching Our Children About Sex

So, you wanna go home and share my toothbrush?

By Bronwyn Lea

Kim looked steadily at the crowd of 200 kids. Let me explain what holy is, she said. Holy means set apart for just one persons use. It means its not for anyone else. Just for one person.

She produced a toothbrush from her bag. Like this toothbrush. This is my toothbrush. I used it this morning. You just had snack and probably need to brush your teeth. Would you like to use my toothbrush? The crowd erupted with a chorus of no!!! and eeeew! Not a single furry-toothed kid wanted to take her up on her offer.

Brilliant illustration, I thought. Even at a young age, kids know that toothbrushes are intimate things. You dont just go around sharing toothbrushes: they are reserved for your mouth alone.

The toothbrush analogy came flooding back to mind this week while I was watching a TV show. As is the way of much entertainment, the story involved a (young, in-love, responsible, monogamous) dating couple. They were in bed together. Another show later that week depicted another couple waking up together with different partners than they had woken up with a few weeks earlier in the season.

It got me thinking: how is it that we live in a world where we think that sharing toothbrushes is more intimate than sharing your body? Why does a crowd of children shy away from the thought of picking up a friends toothbrush and shoving it in their mouth, but we dont bat an eyelid at the thought of someone picking up a friend and. (well, you know.)

Is it the germs on a toothbrush? Sex involves more germs.

Is it the risk of disease? Sex has way more risk (and more reward, as Ive written about here.)

Is it the intimacy of a toothbrush? Sex is more intimate.

And yet people seem to be willing to brush their bodies together long before theyll brush with one anothers toothbrushes.

In the last few weeks of our engagement, I remember running an errand and instead of taking my old-jaloppy of a car, I borrowed my soon-to-be-husbands significantly nicer set of wheels. I dropped something off at a friend and she walked me out to the parking lot. Wow, she observed, Im impressed! He trusts you to drive his car!

I was stunned. Of course he trusted me with his car. He was about to entrust his heart, his life, his pocket book, his most vulnerable self to me. What was a car in the scheme of things?

Entrusting yourself to someone is more intimate than entrusting your car to them. And sharing your body is more intimate than sharing a toothbrush. By an order of magnitude, in my opinion.

And it makes me wonder if, after an evening of flirting and good chemistry, if handsome guy was to sidle over to delightful girl and whisper, so, you wanna go home and share my toothbrush?, whether the response might not be a little different.

About the Author:Bronwyn Leais South-African writer, retreat speaker, and most-of-the-time mom, living in California. She writes about the holy and hilarious in faith, relationships and culture, and can be found online in her virtual living room, or being social on Facebookand Twitter.

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