By Tom Quiner
Is chastity good or bad?
A 19 year college freshman suggests it is bad. Her letter to advice columnist, Carolyn Hax, appeared in the Register earlier in the week:
“I have decided to lose my virginity soon, obviously in a safe way while using protection. Is it okay to not tell the guy I’m a virgin? I sort of want to get this over with in a sort of one-night-stand kind of way.”
Sounds like someone anticipating a colonoscopy.
None of the participants in the online discussion encouraged chastity. Ms. Hax, to her credit, indicated that sex and intimacy are indeed big deals. No one uttered that dreaded ‘C’ word.
And yet we pay a huge cost when chastity is discarded as a societal virtue. Dr. Meg Meeker, a pediatrician, wrote a book titled, “Your kids at risk.” She said the incidence of sexually-transmitted disease (STDs) has increased 500% in recent years amongst our young.
Despite the widespread availability of condoms and contraception, despite the proliferation of discussion about “safe sex,” Dr. Meeker says that one out of four sexually-active teens has contracted a STD.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention just revealed that sexually transmitted disease has reached epidemic levels with 110 million Americans having contracted a STD, about a third of the nation. Half of the new infections took place in our youth (15 to 24 year olds).
The societal cost of unbridled sex goes beyond the high risk of infectious disease. It also leads to human abortion. The vast majority (85%) of human abortions occur in unmarried women.
A million human abortions take place in this country every year. Since Roe v Wade, some 56 million Americans had their lives ended in the womb, more than all American deaths in all wars combined. To compound this tragedy, women who choose human abortion are susceptible to long term health risks.
A meta-analysis, published in Britain’s Royal College of Psychiatrists, of 22 studies from six countries involving 877,181 women revealed women who choose abortion are more likely to experience a variety of subsequent mental health issues, including 155 percent higher rate of suicidal behavior. Even more, these women were 55 percent more likely to experience mental health problems than women with unplanned pregnancies who rejected the abortion option.
Credible research reveals that post-abortive women also face long term physical health risks, including higher incidence of breast and cervical cancers.
In light of all of this, it seems that the biggest public health concern facing the American culture is not Ebola, but rather the consequence of promiscuity, especially among the young.
Here’s where politics enters in. Two philosophies clash in the public square on what to do about the fallout of the sexual revolution. One camp proposes risk-reduction. They believe kids are going to have sex no matter what anyone says, so adults should teach them to do it safely.
This camp’s philosophy has gained dominance in our communities over the past generation as sex education is increasingly offered to younger students with an emphasis on “safer sex” practices. The idea is arm kids with info on the risks of sexual activity, give them easy access to condoms and other forms of birth control, and expect them to behave like adults in bed.
Only adults aren’t behaving responsibly in the sexual arena either (see above).
A family doctor in New York, Ann Nolte, says the sex-related health risks plaguing her teen patients has nothing to do with lack of knowledge on sexual matters or lack of access to contraception:
“Most teenagers that I’ve cared for know about sex, condoms and birth control — and have ample access to it. They know where to get it, when to use it and what can happen if they don’t. Yet teen pregnancy rates remain unacceptably high; sexually transmitted diseases in some major cities are epidemic.”
Another doctor, Dr. Miriam Grossman, author of “Unprotected” and “You’re Teaching my Child What?”, worked with students in their late teens and twenties as a member of UCLA’s Student Counseling Services. She observed that “risky sexual encounters … happen even when adolescents know and understand the dangers involved. It’s not lack of information; it’s lack of judgment.”
We tried the approach advocated by the risk-avoidance camp. By any metric, it has failed. No matter how many condoms we throw at the problem, we are awash in a cycle of disease and death that makes Ebola look like a bruised knee.
Perhaps it’s time to listen to the second the camp. They believe in adopting the same ideal promoted in other public-health interventions, such as no-smoking campaigns. These campaigns don’t encourage kids to ‘smoke safely,’ they call on them to stop smoking entirely.
Let us do the same in the area of teen sexuality.
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