THINGS THREATENING TEENS
- THE PREMARITAL SEX CHALLENGE
Suppose you were invited to join a parachute club for one year with 6 of your friends. If the pilot of the plane told you that one of the parachutes would fail that year, would you jump? You probably wouldn’t even get into the plane.
Suppose you are a cricketer (that gives away that I’m an Aussie). At the beginning of the season, the coach tells you that at least 3 out of the 22 young men on the two opposing teams would sustain fatal injuries during the year-long season. Would you sign the permission slip to play?
Young people today face many threats. They are under a lot of pressure — much more than when I was a teenager 40 years ago. I want to expose one particular threat that I am deeply concerned about. I’m concerned about it because of the damage I am seeing it do to so many of our youth–all with the permission and promotion of the government, and with the endorsement of the mass media. This concern I am talking about has a failure rate equivalent to the examples I gave of the parachutes: one-in-seven; 3 out of 22 in the two cricket teams.
One of the foci of this article is:
I. CONNED BY THE CONDOM?
One of the greatest pressures for you today will come in this form.
- IF IT’S NOT ON, IT’S NOT ON!
- THAT FEELING DOESN’T STOP HIV: SAFE SEX DOES
What is this sex education message saying? If you don’t wear a condom, you will become pregnant. And, if you want to prevent getting sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), use a condom.
Have you noticed that we rarely hear the term, “venereal disease” today? When I was a youth, when we heard “venereal disease” we knew it was picked up by being sexually promiscuous sleeping around. But now, the trendy description is “sexually transmitted diseases.” That doesn’t have the same negative stigma as “venereal disease.” Sexually transmitted diseases are those that ordinary people get–they just happen to be sexually transmitted.
If that’s not enough, we go ahead and give the initials, STD–that even further diminishes the impact. Our society, which promotes sleeping around, is just trying to make these diseases another public health issue, without relating them to anything moral.
As young people, you are bombarded with the message: “sex is great whenever you can get it, and that waiting for marriage is for fuddy-duddy’s–incredibly old fashioned.”
I’ve had it said to me by youth: all kinds of pressures are put on me to have sex, and no-one has given me any good reasons for saying “No.” That young people are saying, “Nobody has told me the many good reasons to say, ‘No’ to premarital sex,” is a tragedy.
One of your greatest threats is that you may be CONNED BY THE CONDOM message. This is one of my major concerns for youth. You are in danger of submitting to the propaganda that condom use will make “safe sex” possible.
A. DANGER IN THE MAKING
What the government and media don’t trumpet loudly is this:
1. The “safe sex” message is a disaster in the making. Condoms have have been found to have a failure rate of at lease 15.7%. I have yet to see this as a significant emphasis in government or media campaigns.
A 15.7% failure rate for condoms represents the percentage of married women using the condom as a contraceptive, who will become pregnant over the course of a year.
It seems that you also are not told clearly this additional information: It is possible to become pregnant once a month–a woman can conceive only one or two days per month. But we can only guess how high the failure rate for condoms must be in preventing disease, which can be transmitted 31 days of every month–365 days a year. Any sexually transmitted disease can be transmitted at any time during a sexual relationship with an infected person. (This statistic is from Planned Parenthood, USA. See Jones & Forrest, 1989, p. 103)
- You also will not be told that the failure rate of condoms in the survey I have just mentioned was shockingly higher for certain groups of people: among young, unmarried, minority women the failure rate was over one-in-three (36.3%). Among unmarried Hispanic women in the US, it is as high as 44.5%–that’s approaching one-in-two condoms will fail. (Jones & Forrest, 1989, p. 105).
- You will not be told condoms cannot be accurately tested for AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. So researchers have been studying surgical gloves made out of latex, the same material as condoms. They found “channels” of 5 microns width penetrated the entire thickness of the glove. (Arnold, Whitman Jr., Fox & Cottier-Fox, 1988, p. 19)
- The HIV virus measures 0.1 of a micron. (Dirruba, 1987, p. 1306)
In other words, the latex of condoms has channels through it that are 50 times wider than the HIV virus, which makes it a possibility that the virus could seep through the rubber (latex) of the condom.
2. The Bible is very clear that God’s purpose for you is to save your sexual relationship until marriage. Sexual purity before marriage and sexual fidelity in marriage are God’s plan. However, I ask you: based on the information I have just shared with you about condoms, do you think youth should be taught to abstain from sex until marriage?
No other approach to the epidemic of sexually transmitted diseases will work. Abstain from sex before marriage and be faithful in marriage. That’s exactly what God designed for the maximum sexual joy of human beings. The “safe sex” message you are getting from schools, universities, the government, the mass media, is a disaster in the making.
There is a word for people who rely on condoms as a method of birth control. We call them ‘parents.’
I believe it is criminal for me or anybody to tell you that that little latex device, called a condom, is “safe.” You are risking life-long pain and even death for a brief encounter of pleasure.
B. WHAT WOULD THE PROFESSIONALS SAY?
What do you think the “professionals” who advocate “safe sex” would say about the information I have just shared with you, if they were sitting in on my teaching today? Would they call me a scare-monger who is undermining what the government is doing to prevent the spread of AIDS? Would they say I am out of touch?
I have been counselling for the last 25 years (with a master’s degree in counselling psychology and doctoral studies in the same field). I am not a theorist. I deal with real people with real diseases. I am seeing the sad consequences of people who thought they could get away with the “safe sex” message and are living with the highly infectious, appallingly painful blisters of genital herpes.
I will not go into what gonorrhoea, syphilis, chlamydia (pelvic inflammatory disease), AIDS, and other STDs can do. Dr. Patrick Dixon says: “Sleeping around has always been unhealthy, now it is becoming suicidal” (1987, p. 29).
What would the “professionals” say about my warning? I’ll give just one example. Dr. Theresa Crenshaw, past president of the American Association of Sex Education, Counsellors and Therapists, and a member of the national AIDS Commission, had first-hand experience with the “professionals.” She says this:
“There is only one way to protect ourselves from the deadly [sexual] diseases that lie in wait. It is abstinence before marriage, then marriage and mutual fidelity for life to an uninfected partner. Anything less is potentially suicidal” and definitely against God’s purpose for your sexual expression.” ( 1992, p. 3). See also, “Dobson Addresses Condom Effectiveness.” For results of “Scientific Evidence on Condom Effectiveness for Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) Prevention,” see HERE.
Perhaps you’re saying, “That is not realistic today. It won’t work. Kids will not put it into practice.”
Some will. Some won’t. But it is still the only answer, and I must warn you of the bad consequences of the “safe sex” message. If I knew my teenager was going to have intercourse, I would not recommend the use of the condom because it gives five dangerous messages. They are:
3. It says that responsible adults expect you to do it. I never want to give any teenager that information. If I promote the so-called “safe sex” message, it is encouraging you to do what is dangerous and what God does not want you to do.
4. If I tell you to use a condom, it gives you the message that it’s a good thing. I hope I’ve shown you that it is not, and terribly dangerous.
5. The fifth danger of recommending condoms is that it breeds promiscuity–sleeping around with anybody.
They are five destructive messages I NEVER want to convey to any young people. “Safe sex” sounds so good, but it is pregnant with a dangerous message.
C. CRY FOUL: “THAT INFORMATION IS OUTDATED”
1. The story hasn’t changed
I can hear the objections: “That’s outdated information. Get with it! Be current!” Before you get over enthused, we need to ask and answer: “What is more recent research saying?” The following “Teen Sex and Pregnancy: Facts and Figures” provide statistics that are just as alarming in the twenty-first century as they were in the late 1980s (Westside Pregnancy Resource Center, 2002a):
- In preventing pregnancy, condoms have a standardized failure rate of 15.7 percent over the course of a year. [Jones & Forrest, 1989, p.103.]
- For persons under the age of 18 who have used condoms for at least a year, condoms were found to fail 18.4 percent of the time. [MD Hayward and J Yogi, “Contraceptive Failure Rate in the US: Estimates from the 1982 National Survey of Family Growth,” Family Perspectives, Vol 18, No. 5, Sept/Oct 1986, p. 204.]
- Among sexually active teenage girls aged 12 to 18, 30% contracted an STD over a six month period, including condom users. [LM Dinerman et al, Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Med, 149(9):967-72, Sept. 1995.]
- For unmarried minorities, the condom failure rate is 36.3 percent, and for unmarried Hispanics, the failure rate is as high as 44.5 percent. [Jones and Forrest, 1989, p. 105.]
- Among married couples where one partner was HIV-positive, 17 percent of the uninfected spouses contracted the disease, despite the use of condoms. [Contraceptive Technology, Hatcher et al, 1990, p. 173.] That is a rate greater than one in six. Statistically speaking, the uninfected partners would have been better off playing Russian Roulette.
- Only 7 percent of HIV positive persons voluntarily notify their sexual partners. [New England Journal of Medicine, Jan 9, 1992.]
2. Update on Condoms & Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs)
a. Are condoms a safe protection against STDs?
“Latex or polyurethane (plastic) condoms are useful in helping to prevent certain diseases, such as HIV and gonorrhea. However, they are less effective protecting against herpes, trichomoniasis, and chlamydia. Condoms provide almost no protection against HPV, the cause of genital warts and cervical cancer” (Westside Pregnancy Resource Center, 2002b)
b. In particular, are condoms a safe way to prevent contracting HIV & AIDS?
“In Europe, about 2.5 million condoms are bought daily. Until recently, no standard European test for holes existed. Manufacturers and testing laboratories in different countries used different tests, leading to questionable safety of condoms being traded across borders. National testing laboratories from seven European countries, an AIDS charity and a condom manufacturer decided to see which of five tests is best. After extensive testing of nearly 200,000 condoms, they found two accurate and reliable tests which are now included in the European standard for testing condoms for holes.”
In a test of condoms over a 30-month project, the partners went through about 180,000 condoms. The results concluded that “the two test methods in the European standard are in fact the best ones to use.” These are:
(1) A condom filled with water and folled on absorbent paper to pick up wet patches on the paper. This has been used in the United Kingdom and Scandinavia.
(2) The second is ” the European electric test. This involves filling the condom with a salt solution that can carry an electric current. The tester dips the filled condom into a bath of salt solution and measures the electrical resistance. If the condom has a hole, the resistance is low as the current is not halted by the insulating condom material. A perfect “hole-free” condom, on the other hand, will show a high resistance as the current cannot be carried through the condom.”
What were the conclusions? “The extensive testing and results confirmed that the two test methods in the European standard are in fact the best ones to use. They are the most effective and reliable” (“Assessment of methods for finding holes in condoms,” 2002).
d. A challenge to the “holes in condoms” data
The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention concluded in 1992 that:
II. REASONS FOR SAYING “NO” TO PREMARITAL SEX
Our society does not want to give you the message: Say, “No,” to premarital sex. Of course, that would be imposing their views on you if they promoted abstinence–and that would be moralistic–that’s what they would say. However, what do you think the “safe sex” message is? Just that! Imposing the view that sex with anybody is okay, as long as the male wears a condom.
I am indebted to Josh McDowell & Dick Day for helping me to understand the many good reasons why you should say “No” to premarital sex. His two books are outstanding: Why Wait?(McDowell & Day, 1987) and How to Help Your Child Say “NO” to Sexual Pressure (McDowell, 1987).
Before I share with you these reasons to abstain from sex until marriage, I must begin by focussing on God’s reasons for the instructions about sex:
A. God’s reasons for the instructions about sex.
We must begin by understanding the character of God.
- He is not a killjoy wanting to ruin your fun,
- He didn’t make us to enjoy sex and then frustrate us,
- God made and designed us,
- He knows everything–he is all-knowing,
- He loves us so much he sent his Son to die for us. He always has our best interests in mind.
- Only god knows what is best for us,
- Everything he requires of us is meant only for our best good.
Deuteronomy 10:13, “Observe the Lord’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good.”
Those last four words are critical: for your own good. All of God’s commands to us, all of his requirements for us are not to break us and kill our joy, but they are for our own good. How come? Because he created us, knows what is best for us, and gives us instructions that are for lasting joy and satisfaction.
Psalm 84:11, “For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.
James 1:17, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”
God knows and wants the best for us. He knows how your total being works–body, mind and spirit. God knows how human relationships function most fully and joyfully. So when he says that sex belongs in marriage, he is not restricting your fun. He’s showing us the way to enjoy it best. God is not trying to stop us from having a wonderful sex life. He is giving us the positive instruction to have the most wonderful sex life possible.
I have found many Christians ignorant of this perspective. I was ignorant of it for many years and it destroyed my approach to sex in my teens.
If you look on God’s commands–you shall not commit adultery; you will flee sexual immorality, etc. If you view these commands as negative and designed to frustrate your enjoyment, you will miss what God wants for your sexual enjoyment. Remember, these negatives are given for positive reasons.
When my children were young, I warned them: do not touch a hot stove. That was very negative and it looked like I might have been stopping them from having fun. But it is really a positive command. If my Paul had burned himself, it would prevent him from enjoying life for a while.
That’s how it is with God: Whenever he gives a command, there are at least two positive reasons behind it:
(1). He’s trying to protect us from some harm, and
(2). He’s trying to provide something good for us.
Suppose that a hurdler trained hard and sacrificially for four years to prepare for the Olympics. But when he showed up for the race in Barcelona, he found that there were no lanes marked to keep the runners from crashing into each other. What if the hurdles were scattered all over the track and there was no finish line to show the end of the race?
The race would be a dangerous chaos, with runners bumping into each other, cutting one another with their spikes, tripping over each other and the hurdles, and running around in confusion as they figured out how and where the race was to end.
That Olympic race needs to be set up and managed by somebody who knows what he is doing. In the same way, we need someone–the Lord–who knows what he is doing and how this life is to be lived. We need someone to set the boundaries for us. Fortunately, God has done this even before we asked–the instructions are in his Word–the Bible.
Now to some more reasons why you should wait until marriage for the sexual relationship. These are solid reasons why you should say “No” to premarital sex. There are four major areas: physical, spiritual, emotional and relational.
B. Physical reasons
1. To protect us from addiction to premarital sex.
Sex is an extremely pleasurable activity–God made it that way. But you can get hooked on it. Illicit sex can become a real addiction causing all kinds of grief and our loving Lord wants to protect us from that.
Premarital sex puts you on a performance basis. That brings insecurity into any relationship. You will become anxious about how you are performing. You know that as soon as your ability to pleasure the other person diminishes, your relationship is in deep trouble.
Debora Phillips, author of Sexual Confidence and the director of the Princeton Center for Behaviour Therapy wrote:
In one sexual encounter it is possible to pick up as many as five separate diseases.
If you have sex outside marriage you are at risk. As one researcher put it: “Unless you’re monogamous (married to one person) for a lifetime, with a monogamous partner, you’re at risk. And the more partners you have, the greater the risk” (McDowell, 1987, p. 129).
A fourth physical reason to wait:
To protect you from the physical reasons it involves, God says: don’t engage in premarital sex. On the positive side, God wants to provide you with the full beauty of sexual oneness in marriage. You will experience the beauty of sex most fully in the security, love and commitment of marriage.
The Lord want you to enter marriage free from the scars of your past life. God knows that the only way for you to experience maximum sex is in marriage. There are many good reasons to wait.
Let’s look at:
C. The spiritual reasons to say “NO” to premarital sex.
1. First, to protect you from sinning against your own body and losing respect for yourself and your body.
I Corinthians 6:18, “Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body.”
When you engage in premarital sex, there is often a deep loss of respect for your own body and for the body of your partner.
2. God wants to protect you from his righteous judgment.
Hebrews 13:4, “Marriage should be honoured by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.”
In I Thess. 4:3-8, God says he will judge sexual immorality. God is holy and will judge those who break his commands.
King David’s sin with Bathsheba (2 Sam. 11-12) is a perfect example of this. Out of adultery a child was born, and in judgment God took the son’s life. It was a painful judgment for David.
Remember this: the Lord doesn’t always judge immediately, but it is always sure. Stay pure for God. God doesn’t want you to suffer at the hands of his justice.
There’s a third spiritual reason:
There is guilt associated with premarital sex. God is uncomfortable to be around, so you withdraw from your relationship with God.
Christian values are different from the world’s. There should be a noticeable difference in our lifestyles. If the Christian young person is sexually active, how will that attract the unsaved to Christ? What will make them see that their lives need to be changed, if you are into illicit sex?
If you abstain from sex now, it is because God wants you to experience greater intimacy later–in marriage. But God is also calling you before marriage to greater intimacy with Himself.
There are emotional reasons why you should say “No” to premarital sex:
D. Emotional reasons to wait
Premarital sex can cause you great emotional stress. God wants to protect you from this. Perhaps the greatest problem is:
This comes from knowing you have violated God’s standards. As one young person put it: “One of the worst feelings many sexually active people experience is to get up the next morning and realise the person lying next to you is a total stranger. This robs you of the ability to experience the honesty of an intimate relationship. Then there are the flashbacks from past sexual encounters.”
Guilt is real. God doesn’t want your minds and consciences plagued by that kind of guilt.
Another emotional reason to wait is:
Young people who get involved sexually often confuse sex and love. When you confuse sex and love, you will confuse the concepts of giving and taking. Real love always gives and seeks the best interests of the person you love. But in premarital sex, each person is taking for his/her own selfish reasons. The confusion is this: taking can sometimes look like giving.
The third emotional reason:
- emotions of guilt,
- resentment over being used,
- fear of getting caught,
- an unwanted pregnancy,
- catching a sexually transmitted disease.
As one young woman put it, “I feel physically used and therefore undesirable. My past mistakes are evident on my body. Who would ever want to marry me? Can I ever freely give my body to a man? Would another man even want my body? Can I have children? Do I have some undetected STD? The past never goes away.” (McDowell, 1987, p. 134)
Immoral sex can make the sexual experience seem dirty and tainted to a young person, causing not only hurt feelings now, but tremendous difficulty later in the sexual part of marriage.
Sex either does one of two things to a dating relationship. It either ends a good relationship, or it sustains a bad relationship. The bonding that takes place through sexual intercourse, or even heavy petting, causes a person to look unrealistically on the relationship.
It may cause you to . . .
- see relationship deeper than it really is,
- think you know the other person better than you do.
On the positive side, if you wait for marriage, it . . .
- allows maturity to develop,
- allows self-control, character and the ability to focus on the relationship to grow.
- waiting also shows love for your future mate.
- When you say “NO” you are saying: “I value the feelings and respect of my future mate more than the pleasure of the moment.”
E. Relational reasons to wait
1. God wants to protect you from a breakdown in communication.
Spending time in sex takes away from the time that could be spent in getting to know each other more.
So, in the time when the man and woman should be getting to know each other well and developing the social, intellectual and emotional aspects of the relationship, that process is cut short by the lack of communication and focus on the physical.
3. God wants to protect you from the comparison of past sexual partners.
This always plagues those who engage in premarital sex. In my 25 years of counselling youth and families, I have never met a person who has been able to forget former lovers entirely. This plagues them in marriage. Even in the marriage bed, they may be comparing the spouse with a previous partner. This is wrong in and of itself, but it also is cheating your spouse.
The other side of the coin is that if a person knows his or her spouse was sexually active before marriage, he or she also knows comparisons are also going on in the spouse’s mind.
This is unhealthy for marriage. God wants to protect you from it.
Take a read about how the “AIDS/HIV rate was slashed in Uganda after 10 years of True Love Waits.”
There are many valid reasons for you to say “NO” to premarital sex. God really is acting in love when He commands that sex be enjoyed with in the bonds of marriage.
This is a message of prevention for those who are virgins. God loves you and wants to protect you from entering into the damaging consequences of illicit sex.
On the other hand,I know there may be some here today for whom this message is too late–you have lost your virginity, you are loaded down with guilt, you know what I have been saying is true. What can you do?
This is exactly what I had to do. Run to the cross. You cannot undo what you have done, but you can be forgiven. God will lay down all charges against you if you repent and ask his forgiveness. The biblical message for all Christians who sin is I John 1:9, “If we confess our sin, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
You can be forgiven today. If the Lord has convicted you about sexual sin in your life, respond to him today. But let me remind you of the Scriptures, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his own heart” (Matthew 5:27-28).
Ladies, if you have lusted after a man or had impure sexual thoughts about him, you have sinned against God and need to seek God’s forgiveness and cleansing.
Gentlemen, if you have lusted after a woman, you have committed adultery or sexual immorality in your heart and need to seek God’s forgiveness.
Do it today. Come and seek God, ask for his forgiveness, and he is sure to cleanse every sin (1 John 1:9).
It is wise to have somebody to whom you will be accountable so that he (for males) or she (for females) can ask you at any time for absolutely honest answers to these questions: “Have you been tempted to engage in sex outside of marriage this last week/month?” and “Have you committed acts of sexual immorality this last week/month for which you need to seek God’s forgiveness?”
Arnold, S. G.; Whitman Jr., J. E.; Fox, C. H. & Cottier-Fox, M. H., “Latex Gloves Not Enough to Exclude Viruses,” Nature 335, (September 1, 1988).
“Assessment of methods for finding holes in condoms” (2002). Retrieved on June 3, 2002 from: http://europa.eu.int/comm/research/success/en/med/0309e.html.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (1992). HIV/AIDS Prevention Training Bulletin, July 1, 1992, retrieved on June 3, 2002, from http://www.safersex.org/condoms/work/ss6.4.html.
“Condom Roulette” (n.d.). In Focus, Family Research Council, 700 Thirteenth St., NW, Suite 500, Washington, DC, 20005.
Crenshaw, T. (1987). From remarks made at the National Conference on HIV, Washington DC, November 15-18, 1987.
Dirruba, N. E. (1987), “The Condom Barrier,” American Journal of Nursing, October 1987.
Dixon, P. (1987). The Truth About AIDS. Eastbourne: Kingsway Publications.
Dobson, J. (1992). Focus on the Family newsletter, February 13, 1992.
Drew, D. (1995). “Condom ‘safe sex’ theory full of holes,” retrieved on May 26, 2002 from http://dianedew.com/condom.htm (based on an article written for The Covington News, March 16, 1995).
Jones, E. F. and Forrest, J. D. (1989). “Contraceptive Failure in the United States: Revised estimates from the 1982 National Survey of Family Growth,” Planned Parenthood, USA: Family Planning Perspectives, Vol. 21 No. 3, May/June 1989.
McDowell, J. (1987). How to Help Your Child Say “NO” to Sexual Pressure. Milton Keynes, England: Word Publishing.
McDowell, J. & Day, D. (1987) Why Wait? What You Need to Know About the Teen Sexuality Crisis. San Bernardino, CA:Here’s Life Publishers.
Westside Pregnancy Resource Center (2002a), 12247 Santa Monica Blvd., W. Los Angeles CA 90025, HomePage at: http://www.wprc.org/index.phtml. These statistics on “Teen Sex and Pregnancy: Facts and Figures” were retrieved on May 26, 2002 from: http://www.w-cpc.org/sexuality/teens.html.
Westside Pregnancy Resource Center (2002b). “Birth Control Questions & Answers: Frequently Asked Questions,” retrieved on May 26, 2002, from: http://www.w-cpc.org/sexuality/faqcondoms.html#aids.
Copyright (c) 2007 Spencer D. Gear. This document is free content. You can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the OpenContent License (OPL) version 1.0, or (at your option) any later version. This document last updated at 6 May 2007.