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A star Brigham Young basketball player was recently suspended from the team for engaging in premarital sex. Abstaining from premarital sex is a part of the school’s Honor Code. Brigham Young is run by the Mormon Church. It would seem obvious that most churches of all denominations would teach that sex should be reserved for marriage. We also know that premarital sex leads to pregnancy. This often happens to teens who are ill-equipped to raise a child. It also leads to increased probability of venereal disease. But a recent ruling of the Mississippi Court of Appeals makes it clear that a Judge does not have the right to impose restrictions on visitation which would prevent exposure of the children to premarital sex.

In Howell v. Howell, No. 2009-CA-01509-COA (Decided March 1, 2011), the Court of Appeals reversed a ruling by a Chancellor which prohibited a father from exercising visitation with his teenaged daughter while his girlfriend was also spending the night. The Court held that a Court cannot restrict visitation without a finding that the restrictions are necessitated by some adverse affect on the child. On the one hand, it seems commendable that the Court of Appeals is taking a position that government should not unnecessarily intervene in peoples lives. On the other hand, is it not also the place of the Courts to advance sound moral upbringing? Could it not also be said that allowing the child to be exposed by her father to premarital sex would be setting her up with a belief system that would expose her to her own unwanted teen pregnancy or venereal disease, not to mention the fact that fornication is technically still a crime in Mississippi?