By Spencer D Gear
The information I provide below is not designed to replace the relationship between you, the patient and your primary health professional. If you have questions about the use of condoms and contraception, I urge you to speak with your doctor (in Australia they are called GPs – general practitioners).
The following details in this article are for your information and consideration only and do not constitute the practice of medicine. I encourage all people who read this to see a licensed medical practitioner if you have questions about sexuality, birth control, various methods of contraception, and all other medical factors relating to sexual intercourse.
However, I encourage you to seek out a GP whose world and life view is consistent with your own regarding sexual morality.
I do not take responsibility for any treatment, procedure, action or medical application that results from reading the information in this article. I urge you to speak with your primary health care provider before engaging in any form of self treatment regarding sexuality.
THINGS THREATENING TEENS
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 about 50 years ago. I want to expose one particular threat that I am deeply concerned about. I’m apprehensive about it because of the damage I have seen 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.
A report from 2013 stated that
according to mainstream scientific sources, its efficacy has been grossly overstated by its promoters. After the use of just 10 condoms, the probability of at least one failure is 52%, according to the authoritative Contraceptive Technology and other sources. 22 major studies of more than 40,000 condoms used during heterosexual intercourse in five different countries have found that 4.6% of all the condoms broke and 2.5% of them partially or completely slipped off, for a total failure rate of 7.1%. That means that about 1 in 14 condom uses results in failure. Failure results in exposure to all the sexually-transmitted diseases that a partner has and may result in pregnancy. Even the highest-quality condoms used in the most effective manner possible by educated, monogamous, adult couples fail at a high rate under real-world conditions (Human Life International 2013).
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.
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 infections (STIs), 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’ (STD) or the more politically correct, ‘sexually transmitted infections’ (STI). Those don’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, STI – 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 been found to have a failure rate of at least 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 1989:103)
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 1989:105).
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 1988:19)
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.
You might be saying that those statistics from the late 1980s are out of date and condoms are now more reliable.
Let’s check in with William D. Gairdner, in his 2010 article, ‘Condomania’. He reported:
Governments, schools, and media have been united for three decades in a frenzied effort to protect us all from sexual diseases by telling us there is safety in latex. The condom will save us. Pleasure can be snatched from the jaws of disease, or perhaps death. Even Toronto’s Globe and Mail has on occasion deigned to lecture us about ‘safe-sex fatigue,’ boldly advising that ‘condoms are effective against sexually transmitted infection, including HIV.’
This week we learned that the condom is useless against Human Papillomavirus.
But what about HIV, the virus thought to be the cause of AIDS? It would seem utterly sensible to ask whether or not the latex condom will in fact do what we are told, and why it is that information so readily available is so late entering the public mind?
A few years ago I interviewed the then editor of Rubber Chemistry and Technology, Dr. C. Michael Roland of the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory in Washington D.C., about his research on ‘intrinsic flaws’ in latex rubber condoms and surgical gloves. What he told me was alarming, to say the least, and gives at least a partial answer to the question the Globe raised in its Sex-ed editorial: ‘Why, in spite of so much effort, does AIDS keep spreading?’ Roland said that what I am about to relate is ‘common knowledge among good scientists who have no political agenda’.
Electron microscopy reveals the HIV virus to be about O.1 microns in size (a micron is a millionth of a metre). It is 60 times smaller than a syphilis bacterium, and 450 times smaller than a single human sperm.
The standard U.S. government leakage test (ASTM) will detect water leakage through holes only as small as 10 to 12 microns (most condoms sold in Canada are made in the U.S.A., but I’ll mention the Canadian test below). Roland says in good tests based on these standards, 33% of all condoms tested allowed HIV-sized particles through, and that ‘spermicidal agents such as nonoxonol-9 may actually ease the passage’.
Roland’s first paper on this alarming subject (in Rubber World, 1993) shows electron microscopy photos of natural latex. You can see the natural holes, or intrinsic flaws, ‘inherent defects in natural rubber [ranging] between 5 and 70 microns’.
And it’s not as if governments don’t know. A study by Dr. R.F. Carey of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control reported in the same period that ‘leakage of HIV-sized particles through latex condoms [is] detectable for as many as 29 of 89 condoms tested’. These were brand new, pre-approved condoms. But Roland says a closer reading of Carey’s data actually yields a 78% HIV-leakage rate, and concludes: ‘That the CDC would promote condoms based on [this] study…suggests its agenda is concerned with something other than public health and welfare’. The federal government’s standard tests, he adds, ‘cannot detect flaws even 70 times larger than the AIDS virus’. Such tests are ‘blind to leakage volumes less than one microliter – yet this quantity of fluid from an AIDS-infected individual has been found to contain as many as 100,000 HIV particles’.
Condoms are not the solution to the tragedy of AIDS, he warns. ‘It is ludicrous to believe they allow one to safely engage in sexual relations with HIV carriers. Their promotion for that purpose is dangerous and irresponsible’. As one U.S. surgeon memorably put it, ‘The HIV virus can go through a condom like a bullet through a tennis net’.
It’s the same story with latex gloves. Gloves from four different manufacturers revealed ‘pits as large as 15 microns wide and 30 microns deep’. More relevant to HIV transmission, ‘5 micron-wide channels, penetrating the entire thickness were found in all the gloves’. He said the presence of such defects in latex ‘is well established’.
Perhaps that is why a review of major studies shows that while condom use may reduce ‘rates’ of infection, nevertheless the acknowledged HIV infection rate for couples using condoms is very high, ranging from 13 to 27%. Handing a student a condom to protect against AIDS is like giving him an overcoat to walk across a battlefield. Meanwhile, strict avoidance of sex with infected partners gives a 5,000-fold increase in protection.
For Canada, the story is the same. I investigated this in 1995 and have a letter on file from Health and Welfare Canada explaining that a standard test of condoms manufactured between 1987 and 1990, based on stringent tests of pressure, leakage, and volume (as in the U.S., there is no effort to examine micron-level leakage), revealed that an astonishing 40% of the condoms tested failed at least one of the tests. Tests in 1991 showed an ‘improved’ 28% rate. Why didn’t this hit the front page?
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 STDs 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?
These figures are somewhat dated, but they are worthy of note. How do you respond to assessments by these professionals?
Dr. Harold Jaffe, chief of epidemiology at the National Centers for Disease Control [USA], said, ‘You just can’t tell people it’s all right to do whatever you want as long as you wear a condom. It (AIDS) is just too dangerous a disease to say that’. Dr. Robert Renfield, chief of retro-viral research at the Walter Reed Army Institute [USA], has said, ‘Simply put, condoms fail. And condoms fail at a rate unacceptable for me as a physician to endorse them as a strategy to be promoted as meaningful AIDS protection’ (in Alexander 2013).
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 had been counselling for 34 years when I retired in 2011, the last 17 years as a full-time counsellor and counselling manager (I have 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), HIV, and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) can do. Dr. Patrick Dixon says: ‘Sleeping around has always been unhealthy, now it is becoming suicidal’ (Dixon 1987:29).
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:
On June 19, 1987, I gave a lecture on AIDS to 800 sexologists at the World Congress of Sexologie in Heidelberg. Most of them recommended condoms to their clients and students. I asked them if they had available the partner of their dreams, and knew that person carried the virus, would they have sex, depending on a condom for protection? No one raised their hand. After a long delay, one timid hand surfaced from the back of the room. I told them that it was irresponsible to give advice to others that they would not follow themselves. The point is, putting a mere balloon between the healthy body and the deadly disease is not safe (Crenshaw 1987, in Antonio n d, emphasis added).
[Dixon, 1987, alerted me to many of the above statistics and information that he obtained from ‘Condom Roulette’ (n.d.)]
‘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’ (Focus on the Family 1992:7). See also,
(2) Results from the year 2000 of ‘Scientific Evidence on Condom Effectiveness for Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) Prevention’.
Let’s come to the year 2013 and the information provided by Columbia Health of Columbia University, New York City, about the risks associated with condom use:
During a year of typical condom use, between 10 and 15 out of 100 sexually active women will become pregnant. During a year of perfect condom use, that number drops to between 2 and 3 out of 100 sexually active women becoming pregnant. Just for the record, 21 percent (typical use) and 5 percent (perfect use) of women who use the female condom experience an unintended pregnancy within the first year of use.
Here’s the difference between perfect use and typical use. Perfect use means using a condom during intercourse consistently and correctly every single time, and reflects the effectiveness of condoms themselves. Typical use gets at the reality that people may use condoms incorrectly or may not use them every single time they have sex. That is, the ‘typical use’ condom effectiveness rates you see include the possibility of human error or omission. It follows that typical use condom effectiveness would be lower than perfect use – if someone uses a condom 90 percent of the times they have sexual intercourse there is a higher chance of pregnancy than if they use a condom 100 percent of the time.
As long as we’re on the subject of effectiveness, it s hould be noted that condoms are also highly effective in preventing transmission of HIV and a number of other STIs (sexually transmitted infections). Studies done on heterosexual sero-discordant couples — where one partner is HIV-positive and the other HIV-negative — show that HIV was transmitted in zero to two percent of couples who correctly and consistently used male condoms for both vaginal and anal sex. With typical use, the HIV transmission rate increased to between 10 and 15 percent. While condoms can also reduce the risk of other STIs, but their exact effectiveness is harder to determine (Columbia Health 2013).
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 a condom because it gives five dangerous messages. They are:
1. You can achieve ‘safe sex’. From what I’ve said so far, it should be evident that that is not possible.
2. It tells you that everybody is doing it – that’s not so.
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 this question: Has the story changed in recent years or is the message as destructive as it was back in the 1980s-90s? Westside Pregnancy Clinic, Los Angeles (2009) provided these details:
The male condom as a birth control method, ‘If used consistently and correctly every single time, the male condom is 98% effective at preventing pregnancy. However, during typical use, condoms are around 85% effective at preventing pregnancy’. ‘The female condom is 79-95% effective at preventing pregnancy’.
Although some of the following statistics are somewhat dated, they do provide a pattern of condom failure rates and other issues (where possible, updated statistics were added):
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 1986:204.]
Among sexually active teenage girls aged 12 to 18, 30% contracted an STI 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, 1989:105.]
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 1990:173.] That is a rate greater than one in six. Statistically speaking, the uninfected partners would have been better off playing Russian Roulette. More recent research in Australia has indicated that
the most frequently reported routes of HIV exposure were male to male sex (71%) and heterosexual contact (18%), and the population rate of diagnoses have increased in both categories. Among the cases reported as heterosexually acquired (n = 2199), 33% were in people born in a high-prevalence country and 19% in those with partners from a high-prevalence country. Late presentation was most frequent in heterosexually acquired infections in persons who had a partner from a high-prevalence country: 32% compared with 20% overall (Guy et al 2008:91).
Only 7 percent of HIV positive persons voluntarily notify their sexual partners. [New England Journal of Medicine, Jan 9, 1992.] More recent UK research in 2008 is more encouraging:
London-based Mortimer Market Centre’s audit showed HIV partner notification was not documented for 15% of newly diagnosed patients. In another, separate study a case note review of 145 HIV positive pregnant women revealed 18% had no record of partner notification discussion with a healthcare worker.
HealthCentral reported in 2013 that:
If a condom is used regularly and correctly, it should prevent pregnancy 97% of the time, and prevent the spread of most STIs. The actual effectiveness among users, however, is only 80 – 90%. This is due to:
Break in condom due to manufacturing problems (rare)
Failure to use a condom during each act of intercourse
Occasional tear of a condom during intercourse
Semen spilling from a condom during withdrawal
Waiting too long to put a condom on the penis (penis comes into contact with vagina before condom is on) (HealthCentral 2013).
For an update on research, see: Renewing HIV Prevention: Solutions for Today’s Challenges, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (U.S.). This is from the Jon Cohen AIDS Research Collection.
2. Update on Condoms & Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)
a. Are condoms a safe protection against STIs?
‘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’ (Contracept.org 2013).
b. In particular, are condoms a safe way to prevent contracting HIV & AIDS?
‘Condoms will reduce your chance of infection, compared to having sex without any form of protection. Nonetheless, one in three AIDS victims will contract the disease from an infected partner despite 100% use of condoms. One study found that among married couples where one partner was HIV-positive, 17% of the uninfected spouses contracted the disease, despite the use of condoms. The best way to prevent AIDS is abstinence. [More about HIV/AIDS.]’ (Contracept.org 2013).
The European Commission has a different view:
Brussels 20 November 2003
Questions have arisen recently over whether the HIV virus can or cannot pass through pores in latex condoms. EU research projects provide extensive proof that this is not the case: if properly used, condoms are safe. Over the last 15 years, the Commission has supported about a dozen research initiatives in this field across Europe, as well as in Asia and Africa, the areas most affected by the AIDS pandemic. EU projects focused on condoms’ potential porosity and quality standards, and included surveys of infection transmission in couples and prostitutes. Scientific evidence shows that condoms are the only effective protection against HIV/AIDS. HIV/AIDS kills over 3 million people every year, and the fight against this virus relies mostly on protective measures, including condoms….
ll the studies concluded that the male condom was an effective way of preventing the transmission of HIV, with an efficacy close to 100% when the condom is used appropriately (European Commission Research, ‘HIV/AIDS: European Research provides clear proof that HIV virus cannot pass through condoms’, 2003).
c. Testing condoms in Europe
‘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’ (‘Comparing condom tests’, 2002).
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) ‘Here, a condom is filled with water and rolled on absorbent paper. If the tester finds any wet patches on the paper, the condom is faulty. This test has been used in the UK and in Scandinavia’.
(2) It is ‘used in France and Germany, is known as 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….
This thorough study of the standard tests gives condom manufacturers and testing laboratories more confidence. They know that the tests actually give reliable results. Likewise, the public can be certain that the condoms they are buying are safe to use. Good health is obviously the first priority but the result also has important economic consequences for the industry with the European market of about 900 million condoms being worth 467 million ECU in 1994’ (‘Comparing condom tests’, 2002).
d. A challenge to the ‘holes in condoms’ data
The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention concluded in 1992 that:
‘While holes large enough for HIV to pass through have been found in natural membrane condoms, latex condoms do not allow the HIV to pass through the condom unless the condom has been damaged or torn. Used properly, latex condoms are effective in reducing the risk of HIV infection’ (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1992). [as of 6 May 2007, see http://www.righto.com/theories/condoms1.html]
In short, regardless of who’s right about latex, you’d be foolish to make condoms your only defense against infection. Abstinence or, more realistically, avoidance of high-risk sex partners are far more effective strategies. (If you’re a gay male and thus in a high-risk group to start with, at least stay away from IV drug users.) On the other hand, condoms do offer substantial protection, and if you insist on having sex with a high-risk partner, they’re a lot better than no protection at all.
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.Their 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.
2. God wants to protect you from the way premarital sex can damage the view you have of yourself.
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:
Due to the instant sex of the sexual revolution, people perform rather than make love . Many women can’t achieve a sense of intimacy, and their anxiety about how well they perform blocks their chances for honest arousal.
Without genuine involvement, they haven’t much chance of courtship, romance or love. They’re left feeling cheated and burned out (in McDowell, 1987:129).
There’s another physical reason to wait until marriage. We’ve spent a good amount of time on it:
3. God wants to protect you from the threat of sexually transmitted diseases.
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 1987:129).
A fourth physical reason to wait:
4. God wants to protect you from unwanted pregnancy and abortion.
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:
3. God want s to protect you from anything that will tend to break fellowship with him.
There is guilt associated with premarital sex. God is uncomfortable to be around, so you withdraw from your relationship with God.
4. A final spiritual reason to wait: God wants to protect you from being a poor witness to non-Christians because of your sinful sexual activity.
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:
2. God wants to protect you from misleading feelings.
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:
3. God wants to protect you from the way premarital sex can create in you negative feelings about sex.
- 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 1987:134)
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.
4. God wants to protect you from the difficulty of breaking off a bad relationship when sex is involved.
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 the 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.
2. Sex makes a good courtship difficult because, in addition to reducing communication, it usually comes to dominate a premarital relationship.
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 34 years of counselling youth, relationships, marriages 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’. Further:
July 29 1994 – True Love Waits National Display at DC ’94, Washington, D.C., with 210,000 cards displayed on the National Mall between the Capitol and the Washington Monument; 25,000 youth attend rally.
On the same day, students conduct a parade and rally in Kampala, Uganda, launching True Love Waits efforts in HIV/AIDS plagued Africa; IMB missionary Sharon Pumpelly initiates a close partnership with Uganda’s first lady Janet Museveni that sets in motion the most effective True Love Waits efforts resulting in a reduction of the HIV/AIDS infection rate from 30 percent in 1993 to 6 percent in 2006 (A History of True Love Waits, LifeWay Christian Resources 2013).
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 reading this 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?’
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Copyright (c) 2013 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 19 December 2013.
 This was cited in Gruson (1987:1).
 Some of these details are in Antonio (1993:271).
 Mortimer Market Centre 2010. How to improve partner notification in HIV prevention (unpublished) [HIV partner notification 2012:28, n. 43].
 Forbes K, Lomax N, Cunningham R et al (2008): ‘Partner notification in pregnant women with HIV: findings from three inner city clinics’, HIV Medicine , vol. 9 (HIV partner notification 2012:28, n. 44).
 This page is no longer being updated.
 At the time of writing this article, Cecil Adams was a syndicated columnist for 30 newspapers across Canada and the USA, writing the weekly column, ‘The Straight Dope’. Available at: http://www.straightdope.com/pages/faq/cecil (Accessed 17 December 2013). For a list of newspapers carrying ‘The Straight Dope’, see: http://www.straightdope.com/pages/newspapers (Accessed 17 December 2013).
 AIDS Rage & Reality gives a reference to Angonio (1993).
Copyright (c) 2013 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 14 October 2015.