Today’s world is full of worries and problems which did not affect teens a generation ago. New problems keep appearing in today’s world, such as STDs, increased pregnancy rates, and other factors facing teens who choose to have sex. Emotionally and physically teens and getting less developed before having sex and are not prepared for the serious problems which come along with their decision to have sex. No longer is it a matter which will just go away if we ignore it, but teen health and the health of our society depend on choices which today’s teens make regarding sex. With so many diseases and problems facing today’s world, abstinence is the only way to protect ourselves. Abstinence is a safe choice in preventing the possibility of pregnancy. One-tenth of young women between the ages of 15 and 19 get pregnant every year, 83 percent of these pregnancies are unwanted or unplanned. Half of the unmarried teens who get pregnant do so within six months of their first sexual experience. In fact, between 1986 and 1990, teen childbearing increased by 16 percent. What’s worse, pregnant teenagers often don’t see a doctor until the time of delivery. The dangers of going through a pregnancy without seeing a doctor are not only serious to the mother and child, but may risk the lives of both. “I’m doing the body count at 3 a.m. at Ben Taub [Hospital],” said Dr. Hunter Hamill, “and I can tell you that most of our (teen pregnancy prevention) programs aren’t working. We have blood on our hands.” (Feldman 1). Without seeing doctors or receiving correct pre-natal care, the risk of complications for mother and child nearly quadruple. Not only can these complications include still birth, but may also cause excessive bleeding and hemorrhaging of the mother. According to an article in America magazine, “The place to begin combating teenage pregnancy is in the family, not a clinic.” (Leone 19). Although parents seem to be afraid to talk to their children about sex, it is vital to the teens’ health. If teens feel their parents are reluctant to speak about sex, they may feel uncomfortable coming to theur parents with any problems or concerns about sex. Teens who feel they cannot speak to their parents about STDs or pregnancy can now speak confidentially with their doctor. Doctors are required to inform and treat teens with confidentiality if the teen seeks their help. Another serious problem surrounding teen sexual intercourse is the probability of AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Each year, three million teens are infected with STDs. Among 14- to 20-year-olds, chlamydia is the most common. It has no obvious symptoms, and can cause infertility if left untreated. Another common disease is herpes, which causes sores and painful swelling of the genitals. Its symptoms can be managed, but not cured. Fifteen percent of all teenage girls carry the virus that causes genital warts, another common STD. Gonorrhea, not uncommon in teens, is known to cause pelvic pain, discharge, and painful urination. It may leave its victims sterile. Perhaps even more serious is the disease Syphilis, which killed famous mobster Al Capone. It causes sores, rashes, brain and organ damage, and death. It can also harm an unborn child. AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome) is a growing danger, and is by far the most serious sexually transmitted disease. “Kids don’t take AIDS seriously,” said Dr. James W. Curran. “One thing they do have is sex. They have sex. They have sex. They have sex.” (Ferriss 16) AIDS is the sixth leading cause of death among 15- to 24-year-olds. Cases among teens have grown 62 percent in the past two years, and the number of teens with AIDS doubles every 14 months. A fifth of all AIDS victims in this country today are in their twenties, and since the disease takes two to ten years to develop, those victims contracted it in their teenage years. Even scarier is that, according to a study of 19 universities, one in 500 college students may carry the AIDS virus. With these frightening statistics, it’s easy to see why many teens are choosing not to have sex. Many bold teenagers think they can totally avoid pregnancy and STDs by using various forms of contraceptives. However, while it does lessen the chances of disease and unwanted pregnancy, birth control is not always dependable. According to Dr. John G. Sholl. the term “safe sex” is a “misleading, incongruous combination of words.” (Ferriss 16) Dr. Sholl is particularly concerned with the faults of the most popular form of birth control, the condom. “Condoms do leak, and they do slip off,” Dr. Sholl said. (Ferriss 16) Not only that, but STDs and even HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, have been known to pass through condoms made of lambskin. Believe it or not, even oral contraceptives (better known as “The Pill”) aren’t always foolproof. Although “The Pill” diminishes the chances of pregnancy, it does not offer any protection against STDs or AIDS. Other medical drawbacks include side effects such as minimal weight gain, nausea, hypertension, benign liver tumors, and an increased risk of blood clots and strokes. Recent studies have linked its use with the development of breast cancer. In smokers, it may also increase the risk of heart attacks. “The Pill” is not cheap; it costs from $10 to $30 a month, plus doctors’ fees. Women who are taking analgesics or antibiotics should NEVER take oral contraceptives, as those medications can interfere with “The Pill’s effectiveness. All things considered, if today’s abstinence programs were working, “The Pill” wouldn’t be necessary, anyway. An older form of birth control, the IUD (intrauterine device) has many drawbacks. IUDs can only be inserted by a physician, and those containing copper or slowly-released progesterone (a female hormone) must be periodically replaced. More recent studies have revealed that IUDs may also cause pelvic inflammatory disease, an infection which could lead to blockage of the fallopian tubes or an ectopic pregnancy (within the fallopian tubes or elsewhere outside the uterus). It has also been linked with the increased risk of infertility, even when there are no obvious reasons. Other methods of birth control are also troublesome. The diaphragm, sponge, female condom, IUD, and cervical cap must all be inserted into the vagina. Most are messy and awkward to insert, and must be left in place for six hours after intercourse. Norplant, small capsules placed in the skin that release hormones periodically over a period of five years, are expensive and have to be inserted and removed by a doctor. The “withdrawal” method (removal of the penis prior to ejaculation) is very ineffective, because pre-ejaculate fluids some-times carrying diseases and containing small amounts of sperm can leak from the penis. It takes only a single sperm to fertilize an egg! By far, the best form of birth control is abstinence. It’s a hundred percent effective, clean and easy to use, prevents pregnancy and STDs, always available, and it costs nothing. The only major drawback is that it requires self-discipline on the parts of those who practice it. Perhaps an even more convincing factor is that of religion and moral value. As the Christian church puts it, sex should be for the purpose of reproduction and nothing else. In the Bible, 1st Corinthians 6:13 states: “Now the body is not for fornication, but for the Lord; and the Lord for the body.” And 6:18 says that we should “flee from fornication…he that commiteth fornication sinneth against his own body.” In biblical times, any married woman who was proven to have had premarital sex was stoned to death at the door of her father’s home by the men of the city. If an engaged woman was seduced by one other than her fiancee, she and the man who seduced her were also stoned to death she for not screaming for help, and he because he’d violated the virginity of another man’s fiancee. The bible clearly states that “God wants you to be holy and pure, and to keep clear of all sexual sin so that each of you will marry in holiness and honor – not in lustful passion as the heathen do, in their ignorance of God and his ways.” “Honor your marriage and its vows, and be pure; for God will surely punish all those who are immoral or commit adultery,” says Hebrews 13:4. The Catholic religion is very strict in its teachings of abstinence. They believe strongly in that sex is for procreation only. In fact, the only form of birth control approved by the Roman Catholic church is the “rhythm method,” or the avoidance of intercourse around the time of the female’s ovulation. (This method is not effective in preventing pregnancy.) However, nine out of ten Catholics do not believe that pregnancy prevention is wrong, and six of ten are using some form of artificial contraception. Catholics are engaging in premarital sex more than any other group of single Americans. Only 17 percent think that premarital sex is always wrong. These facts are just another example proving that abstinence teachings are weak in our churches and schools. Teenage members of the Baptist church have signed agreements saying they’ll abstain until they’re married. The program is called True Love Waits, and more and more high school and college kids are vowing to remain chaste.13-year-old Kenneth Legary thinks it’s a great idea, “I don’t want to catch anything, and at the same time, I can be loyal to God and my parents,” he says(Maynard B3). The promise reads: “Believing that true love waits, I make a commitment to God, myself, my family, those I date, my future mate, and my future children to be sexually pure until the day I enter a covenant marriage relationship.” “The core of the whole thing,” says Margaret Gleason, youth group leader at the First Baptist Church of Lakewood, “is that God tells us to wait,” (Maynard B3). So remember what the Bible says in Psalms 119:1 “Happy are all who perfectly follow the laws of God.” In addition, sex is surrounded by many emotional and mental consequences. “Sex, especially the first time, can leave you feeling very emotional and very vulnerable,” says child and adolescent psychologist Joan Kinlan. (Rodriguez 52). Many people feel used after having sex for the first time. Others may feel as though they’ve been exploited. Sex can be very disappointing, due to differing physical sexual responses and uncomfortability between two partners. Guilt is also not an uncommon feeling after sex. People who weren’t ready feel like they’ve let themselves and others down. Sex, in contrast to popular belief, does not always lead to emotional intimacy. Many teens who have sex before they’re ready have complicated and unsatisfying relationships, and soon the bond between the couple deteriorates. Sex can’t make one person like another more than they did before. Having sex doesn’t mean that a person will stay in a relationship, and it certainly won’t mend a crumbling one. It may prolong one, but cannot heal one. It can only make things worse. While maturity plays a large part in the decision to have sex, it may not be enough. Other factors are involved. There is no certain “right” age to start a sexual relationship. “Sex is a very individual, personal decision,” says New York psychotherapist Laurie Stein,(Rodriguez 52). Besides, a person can have a warm, satisfying relationship without sex. Priscilla Reynolds, a Maine mother-of-two, says, “As far as I’m concerned, you don’t need a sexual relationship to be involved with another person.” (Ferriss 19). In conclusion, I believe Marjorie Love says it best: “Complete monogamy is the only safe way.” (Ferriss 19) It’s true there is no better way to protect yourself from all the dangers surrounding sex. After all, you’re a role model. You have standards to maintain, and responsibilities to fulfill. Take it from Timothy 4:12 “Don’t let anyone think little of you because you are young. Be their ideal; let them follow the way you teach and live; be a pattern for them in your love, your faith, and your clean thoughts.” In a matter of life and death such as this, abstaining from premarital sex is the only reasonable and safe choice for today’s teens.
“Birth Control.” Academic American Encyclopedia. 1994. Grolier, Inc.
Feldman, Claudia. “Sex, Kids, and Crisis.” Houston Chronicle. Nov. 1992. Sec. G, pg. 1.
Ferriss, Lloyd, “The Case For Abstinence.” Maine Telegram, Feb. 2, 1992. pp. 16 +.
Maynard, Steve. “County Teens Join National Program in Abstinence Pledge.” Tacoma New Tribune. Oct. 31, 1993. B3, column 3.