The Unwanted Solution: The Health Benefits of Abstinence
“Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure for God will judge the adulterer and the sexually immoral.” – Hebrews 13:4
What if I told you I know how to prevent cervical cancer? What about Sexually Transmitted Disease? I might even tell you that I know how to prevent unwanted children, divorce and even heartbreak. Of course, you would want to know the secret; who wouldn’t? What if I told you that nearly everyone knows how to prevent many of societies biggest problems, but they simply don’t want to sacrifice their desire of immediate gratification to do so? This is exactly what is happening. Pregnancy out of wedlock, abortions, HIV, other STDs, heartbreak, divorce, and even cancer can be greatly reduced or eliminated if more youth took the responsibility to be abstinent from sexual intercourse until marriage. Whether you look at this issue from a religious or a health standpoint–sex was made for marriage. Premarital sex causes many undesirable problems that can be prevented if our society stressed personal responsibility through abstinence.
In 2000, nearly 240,000 children were born to unwed mothers under 18 years old. R.E. Rector, K.A. Johnson, Ph. D, and L.R. Noyes from The Heritage Foundation (2003) found that these women have a very high probability of long-term poverty and welfare dependence. This is an undesirable situation for any child and it could have been prevented if these women valued chastity and made the very mature and responsible decision to not have sex until marriage. While some of these young women do succeed despite having children so young, many do not. In their book, “Love your Neighbor”, Norman Giesler and Ryan Snuffer (2007) state that “People who selfishly engage in sexual activities outside of [marriage] often bring unwanted children into this world (p. 85)”. The authors, sociologists and theologians, say that these children are often born into unhealthy situations where they cannot receive the love and attention that they need to thrive into healthy adults. Every child deserves to be born into a world where both of their parents are responsible enough to provide and for them and love them. They also deserve to have parents who love and are committed to each other. Children need stability. When teens engage in sex too early, they rarely have the financial or relationship stability to support a child.
One very practical and intelligent reason for abstaining from sex until marriage is to avoid pregnancy. Unfortunately, when many women decide that they cannot take care of a child they elect to have an abortion. One must ask, if they knew that they were not ready to take care of a child, why were they having sex? Nevertheless, “ [i]n 2003, more children died from abortion than Americans died in the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, World Wars I and II, the Korean, Vietnam and Gulf Wars combined” which brings us to about 1, 287,000 abortions just in 2003, says the National Right To Life (NRTL). It is a fact that the only birth control that is 100% effective is abstinence. Most of these could have been prevented if people took more responsibility for their sex lives. 3,500 abortions took place each day with only 7% involving rape, incest, health of mother or baby, etc. This means that about each day, about 3,250 couples or women decide that they aren’t ready to take responsibility for the natural consequences of having sex. If you get pregnant after having sex, your body is only doing what it was designed to do after sex: make babies. Our bodies were not meant to ingest chemicals to fool our hormones into acting as if we are already pregnant. Our bodies were not designed to wear a latex sheath to prevent transmission of fluids. Our bodies were not designed to have caps placed over our cervices. These methods were invented because people wanted to have the ability to have sex without taking responsibility for their actions. As soon as people had access to these methods, premarital sex increased at a rapid rate. If you do not want to have a child yet, don’t have sex yet. Sex is not a biological need. You can live without sex until marriage; this is known because many people do it everyday and never have regrets.
Let me be clear, however. I am not advocating the abolition of contraception. I think that it should only be used in marriage. For example, a couple decides to get married, but they want to build a home for their family first. This is an acceptable time to use birth control. If the couple were to become pregnant unexpectedly, the chances are that they would gladly keep the child and adapt quickly to their new situation; knowing that they are in a committed and loving marriage provides the security needed to raise a healthy child, regardless of a “less than perfect” time or financial situation. The child is still much better off having two parents who love and are committed to each other, rather than having parents who are in a rocky relationship because they weren’t prepared for sex or its consequences in the first place; or worse, to be aborted immediately.
So much money is being spent to find a cure or a vaccine for HIV, and it makes me wonder how many lives and dollars could have been saved if people decided to not have sex until marriage. According to AVERT, an AIDS charity, at the end of 2007– 455, 636 people were living with AIDS in America. The CDC estimates that around 1.1 million people are living in the United States with HIV, including those who haven’t been diagnosed or have already progressed to AIDS(2008). The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation (ETAF), just one of many AIDS organizations, has raised a total of $270 million dollars. This is very noble of Ms. Taylor, but again, would this all be necessary if more people decided to abstain from sex? Some act as if condoms are the only ways to prevent HIV, and I disagree. Condoms are just one way, and they happen to not be 100% effective. The only 100% effective method of prevention is abstinence.
HIV is not the only STD that teens should be wary of when considering premarital sex. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC 2009) in 2008, people between the ages of 15 and 24—1,065,305 had either chlamydia, Gonorrhea, or syphilis. These numbers have only been growing. This generation, 15 to 24 years old, are by far the most educated and knowledgeable about safe sex and STDs (compared to their parents and grandparents at the same age) but their numbers in infections keep growing. Information about safe sex can be found on the internet, on television, and in most health classes. There isn’t a lack of knowledge about safe sex or STDs in these kids, but instead a lack of maturity and responsibility for their actions.
Sex is supposed to be a very intimate and emotional experience meant for married couples who love each other. When sex is experienced too early in a relationship, not only are there physical risks of infection or pregnancy, but emotions play a huge and underrated role. Many teenagers feel they are mature enough to engage in a sexual relationship, only to find that they were too optimistic about the level of commitment from their partner or themselves. Premarital sex can ruin relationships. Emotions such as love, guilt, jealousy, possessiveness, embarrassment, confusion, depression, insecurity fears about diseases and pregnancy and expectation of marriage can and often do result from premarital sex. Premature sexual relations can cause a developing relationship that is based solely on sex. Susan Browning Pogany (1997) writes in her book, Sex Smart, that “Instead of having a chance to learn to trust and communicate calmly and gradually, partners can find an unexpected wall of worry and self-conscientiousness thrown up between them. The relationship is suddenly pressured, stressful, and uneasy (p. 17)” Studies have even shown that being sexually active as a teenager can drastically increase the probability of depression. Researchers Rector, Johnson, and Noyes from The Heritage Foundation (2003) conducted a study that showed that over 25% of girls who were sexually active showed significant signs of depression; by contrast only 7% of girls who were not sexually active showed signs of depression. This is even true in boys as well– over 8% of sexually active teenage boys reported signs of depression while only 4% of non-sexually active boys showed signs of depression. The study also asked if the teenagers who were sexually active regretted having sex so early. 63% of the teenagers said that they wish they would have waited longer. Beverly LaHaye (1995) stated in her book Desires of a Woman’s Heart, that when a group of young girls were asked “What would you like to have more information about regarding sex?”, the majority of the young girls said they wanted information on how to say no to sex without hurting the other person’s feelings. Instead, adults, educators and organizations are just handing them condoms and telling them that sex before marriage is okay (p. 67).
The emotional aspect of sex is highly underrated. Oxytocin is a hormone in both men and women– affectionately called the “love hormone” or the “cuddle hormone”. This hormone is released in women to induce labor, to initiate lactation, and is released in both sexes during orgasm. Oxytocin creates bonds between people, promotes trust, makes you less critical of mistakes. Inside of marriage, Oxytocin can create a stronger and healthier marriage. Outside of marriage, Oxytocin released during sex can make life more difficult because of the temporary bonding then break ups. The strongest bond of Oxytocin is released with the first person you have sex with in your life (Oxytocin.org 1999). If that person is your husband or wife, you are likely to have a very successful and happy marriage.
Marriage, unfortunately, has a 50% success rate in America. Many factors can be attributed to this but some of the most common reasons are: Poor communication, lack of commitment, and infidelity. If a young couple decides to remain abstinent through out the dating period, they have an amazing opportunity to base a relationship on a spiritual, emotional, and social platform. Their relationship develops without sex and they are able to have a deeper connection by the time they get married. These couples are far less likely to split up because during their dating period they had the time to learn to communicate, commit and become dedicated to their one and only sexual partner– their spouse. The significance of Oxytocin released during sex was already explained earlier. This strong of a bond is far less likely to end in divorce than someone who frequently “wastes” their Oxytocin levels on temporary relationships. One reason that some young people decide not to have sexual intercourse until marriage is because of religious or spiritual affiliations.
The Bible frequently condemns sexual immorality, specifically premarital sex. For this reason, many teenagers choose to remain abstinent. In Hebrews 13:4, it says that the only sex that God approves of is that between a husband and his wife. “Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure for God will judge the adulterer and the sexually immoral.” This is very clear about adultery and premarital sex being a sin. Some of the most beautiful verses in the Bible involve marriage. For example, in Matthew 19:6 “So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.” This is commenting on the unbreakable bonds that were meant for husbands and wives– what traditionally sealed these bonds was the marital act of sex. Organizations such as the “Silver Ring Thing” endorses abstinence through the help of Christianity and educate teenagers on how to be sexually responsible. Even though many teenagers are not Christian or religious in any way, it only takes common sense to see that waiting until marriage is the best option for your health and wellness.
Abstinence can also help prevent several cancers occurring in women. Oral contraception, known as “the pill” has been linked to an increase in cervical cancer, endometrial, ovarian and liver cancer, and now researchers are investigating a link to breast cancer as well (Cancer.gov 2006). When a woman is abstinent, she has little reason to expose her body to the hormones in oral contraception. Thus, saving her a lot of the risk of many cancers. Another cause of cervical cancer is Human Papillomavirus (HPV). This virus is transmitted through sexual intercourse. There is a vaccine for HPV, called Gardisil– however, even this is raising some eyebrows about the safety of this vaccine. ABC news (2009) states it has been linked to 32 unconfirmed deaths and shows higher instances of blood clots and fainting than other vaccines. If a woman remains abstinent, she can reduce her risk of many cancers and the undesirable side effects of the HPV vaccine (because it is unnecessary when you abstain from sex). By looking at these facts, it is wonder why many people are proponents of sex before marriage– it literally is a gamble with your life.
To my amazement, a frequent argument against abstinence is that the idea is “unrealistic” in our society. It is precisely for this reason why abstinence is unrealistic. It seems obvious to me that any idea that is deemed “unrealistic” is doomed for failure. If teenagers are told that they are not expected to have responsibility for their actions, such as having sex, then why should they expect it of themselves? How an we expect them to learn personal responsibility? If we continue to hold our youth to such low standards and expectations, how does the future of our society have any hope at all? Can you imagine a world governed by a people who were all taught to not take responsibility for important decisions such as sexual behavior? The world would be even more chaotic than it is now. In his book, Sexual Suicide, George F. Gilder (1973) says “For sex is the life force– and cohesive impulse– of a people, and their very character will be deeply affected by how sexuality is managed, sublimated, expressed, denied and propagated. In our society, teenagers are learning the philosophy of ‘if you itch, scratch’ (p.1). Imagine all of the urges that humans have. What would result if everyone simply “Scratched”? I had one eye opening experience with a homosexual friend when discussing the cure of HIV. I told him that I had a cure for the AIDS epidemic and asked him if he wanted to know the secret. He said “I would love to know!” I responded, “Abstinence.” I must admit I was not surprised when he brushed off my answer and said, “Oh, that’s been around forever. Its not new. What we need is something that allows people to have sex without any possible consequences.” His response was very common, and therein lies the problem; people want to have all the pleasures without any of the consequences. My only response to that is–you are out of luck because it will never exist, and you should grow up. No matter how many methods of birth control or protection you use, there will always be a slight chance of pregnancy or infection. Not to mention the emotional damage caused by premarital sex is can be irreparable and nearly unavoidable. Anyone who tells you different has an agenda or is “trying to get into your pants” . The only truly ‘safe sex’ (emotional and otherwise), besides no sex, is within the marriage of two faithful people who were virgins at the time of marriage.
As I have shown, many so-called solutions are out there that claim to prevent pregnancy, STDs, HIV, heartbreak, and divorce—but very few deliver as effectively as abstinence. This decision is not only beneficial to your physical health, but also to your emotional well being. Your family will be stronger and you will live a healthier life by reducing all the risks of cancer and STDs by abstaining from sex until you are married. I believe that the main reasons that abstinence is not practiced by more individuals is because of a lack of personal responsibility, self control and the “I want what I want when I want it” mentality. Abstinence is the unwanted solution to numerous problems.
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