Abstinence: Still relevant in modern society?
Leslie Goyer, age 16
Teen pregnancy has been prevalent in recent news reports regarding Governor Sarah Palin’s daughter, Bristol, as well as Jamie Lynn Spears, but is teen sexuality as glamorous as it appears on TV and in magazines? Many adolescent believe that the usage of condoms or other forms of birth control will allow them to enjoy free sex without repercussions, but the consequences of sexual activity in teenagers may expound far beyond teen pregnancy, including STDs and emotional scarring.
Every day, approximately 3,000 girls in their teen years will get pregnant in the United States[i] and less than one third of them will graduate from high school.[ii] Many girls aren’t more cautious in protecting themselves from unwanted pregnancy because they don’t believe that they would get pregnant. “Teens can – and many do – get pregnant the first time they have sex,” Pam Stenzel elaborates, “if a teen couple has sex without birth control, there is a 90 percent chance the girl will get pregnant within one year.” [iii]
Many teens believe that they will be okay if they practice “safe sex,” but even with use of contraception, the possibility of pregnancy remains staggeringly high:
15% of condom batches fail to meet FDA requirements[iv]
Condoms are only about 45 percent effective given the way teens use them[v]
A teen girl is 10 times more likely to contract an STD when on the pill because her sense of security regarding pregnancy often translates into having sex with more partners, more often.[vi]
“If you were worried about being pregnant, don’t you realize how many other things you should be worried about?” Stenzel says in her book, Sex Has a Price Tag, “Have you been tested for syphilis, gonorrhea, HPV, Chlamydia, herpes, hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, trichomoniasis?” [vii] And as some teenagers are beginning to understand, these diseases are very real and impacting.
In 2005, 63.1% of teenagers, age 15-19, claimed to be sexually active[viii], which resulted in about 45% of present-day college students now demonstrating evidence of HPV infection[ix]. Human Papillomavirus is the most common viral STD in America- more than one third of all sexually active unmarried people in the U.S. are infected with it.[x]
If HPV were the only STI, it would still provide the basis for promoting abstinence as the best means of avoiding infection. However, the CDC has identified over 30 STIs, many of which are incurable and increasingly difficult to treat. [xi]
Pregnancy and STDs are common knowledge to the average teenager, but many never consider the state of their heart. These young people don’t realize that in addition to protecting their bodies, there are emotional factors they face if they do not remain abstinent until marriage.
“Contrary to pop-culture wisdom, those who do choose to save sex for marriage are not doomed to a second-class sex life” explains Jeff Hooten. “Moreover, early sexual experience has been linked to marital dissatisfaction, low self-esteem, and greater incidence of Divorce.”[xii]
“If, after they become sexually involved, one partner severs the relationship against the wishes of the other, the separation has a wrenching effect, especially for the jilted person, who is left feeling mentally and emotionally burned”[xiii] The greatest way to prevent the negative physical and emotional consequences of sex is to abstain from those sexual encounters until marriage, “In a sex saturated culture, waiting till marriage seems outdated and prudish. Pleasure is the name of the game. But that’s not the whole story. In addition to the risk of contracting STDs and AIDS or getting pregnant, premarital sex leads to emotional distress, distrust, regret, and emptiness. That’s because sex connects two people in body and spirit; it’s impossible to separate the two.”[xiv]
Sex is an amazing thing, but without boundaries it can lead to destruction. Sex may not affect a person physically with an STD or pregnancy, but it will always affect a person emotionally and psychologically. The media glamorizes flamboyant sexuality, but living a sexually promiscuous lifestyle leaves something to be desired. Waiting until marriage to enjoy sex will ultimately bring your life to more fulfillment.
[i] The Children’s Defense Fund. The State of America’s Children Yearbook. 1994 www.family.org/
[ii] Pam Stenzel with Crystal Kirgiss, Sex Has a Price Tag ©2003 Youth Specialties
[iii] Pam Stenzel with Crystal Kirgiss, Sex Has a Price Tag ©2003 Youth Specialties
[iv] Allan Parachini, Los Angeles Times, 1988 http://www.aegis.com/news/Lt/1988/LT880607.html
[v] Pam Stenzel with Crystal Kirgiss, Sex Has a Price Tag ©2003 Youth Specialties
[vi] Pam Stenzel with Crystal Kirgiss, Sex Has a Price Tag ©2003 Youth Specialties
[vii] Pam Stenzel with Crystal Kirgiss, Sex Has a Price Tag ©2003 Youth Specialties
[viii] Abma, J.C. and F.L. Sonenstein, Sexual activity and contraceptive practices among teenagers in the United States, 2006
[ix] Abma, J.C. and F.L. Sonenstein, Sexual activity and contraceptive practices among teenagers in the United States, 2006
[x] Jane Anderson, MD, National Physicians Center, Abstinence as a Religious Speech http://www.physicianscenter.org/v1/positions_abstinence-wk.php
[xi] Jane Anderson, MD, National Physicians Center, Abstinence as a Religious Speech http://www.physicianscenter.org/v1/positions_abstinence-wk.php
[xii] Jeff Hooten, The New Virgins, 2004www.troubledwith.com/Web/groups/public//@fotf_troubledwith/documents/articles/
[xiii] Noel Hornor, Sex Outside of Marriage: What’s the Big Deal? 2004 www.ucg.org/gn/gn41/deal.html
[xiv] “Sex Before Marriage.” 2004 www.troubledwith.com/Web/groups/public//@fotf_troubledwith/documents/articles/