“What is abstinence? I have heard many different things about it."
Many people have their own definitions of sexual abstinence. In this guide abstinence means-to refrain from sexual contact of any sort, including: genital intercourse, oral sex, anal sex, dry sex (a.k.a. grinding or outercourse), mutual masturbation, or any other physically intimate activity done for the purpose of sexual gratification. Although there are some types of sexual activity which do not result in pregnancy, these are still a form of sex (most of which can also transmit disease).
YOUR HUMAN SEXUALITY IS A SPECIAL GOD-GIVEN GIFT..THERE IS NOTHING WRONG OR SHAMEFUL ABOUT IT!
SHAME AND HEARTBREAK COME WHEN IT IS MISUSED OR ABUSED OUTSIDE OF ITS INTENDED PURPOSE.
SEXUAL INTIMACY WAS GIVEN FOR COVENANT MARRIAGE RELATIONSHIP, AND, PROCREATION.
Waiting to have sex until marriage is the best way to eliminate any reasons to be fearful or ashamed about your sexual history. Your spouse and children will thank you!
Abstinence is a lifestyle, not a method of contraception with a failure rate. However, unmarried couples find it easier said than done. It will be easier if high pressure situations are avoided. Avoiding risk is the only way to assure that pregnancy will not occur. It is also the only sure way to prevent heartache; contracting and spreading sexually transmitted diseases, including AIDS; and, loss of self-esteem. It is the only way to experience life success as well as optimal health physically, emotionally, relationally, economically and spiritually for yourself, your current and future families, and, for your community.
“How am I really supposed to stand up against peer pressure? I want to be liked and accepted.
It is very important to me.”
Peer pressure can seem to be a "big deal" at times, but it doesn't have to be and it shouldn't! Believe it -- it is the absolute truth! During this time in your life, the pressure from your peers to conform to their standards or style is the most intense. This is primarily because you are seeking your own self-identity as you begin emerging from beneath the umbrella of your family. Hey! Re-read that statement! You are seeking your OWN self-identity....ummm....not a cheap copy…keep that in mind. It's ok to NOT follow the crowd; BE DIFFERENT and create a little positive peer pressure.
Acceptance into a circle of friends is very important to some teens. It is at this point that the foundation of your moral character and convictions will be tested. Peer pressure by definition means: an urgent claim or demand from others without concern of your personal integrity or convictions. Since this is a time of seeking your own identity start with these facts:
You have individual value and worth to God, your Creator. As the modern saying goes: God don't make no junk -- never has, never will. Everyone is unique ... and your uniqueness is one of the best attributes of life. No one can do what you can do -- no one can have the impact you can have on someone else's life -- just by being who you are to be. He designed you to be special and to stand out from the crowd.
View this time of personal pressure as a time that you recognize God, Almighty working in your life and making you stronger in matters that really do matter! The peers around you that you feel unhealthy pressure from are there --- not to make you like them -- but for you to be an example of a true person serving the Lord.
Always keep a Heavenly Point of View! Religious and moral reasons are among the top reasons teens give for not engaging in pre-marital sex. Peer pressure will not last forever; however, eternity does last forever! Your choices -- your outward behavior and inward thoughts -- must be based upon a love-relationship with Jesus Christ and the Word of God to live a holy life. Jesus, His love, His power, and His concern for you is the same today and always. He is the Friend you should spend the most time with and whose opinion you want to seek and take to heart. The earthly friends worth having are those who love you, want to know who you really are, encourages you to do what is right and daily walk with God, Your Creator.
“What is so important about practicing abstinence?
All my friends are having sex, so why shouldn't I ?"
Because the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends abstinence as the most reliable way to avoid the risk of contracting a sexually transmitted disease. Another reason is that the Lord loves us so much that He gave us commandments and principles to live by to protect us from harmful consequences, not to make us miserable! You can begin a new “norm” towards a healthy life, not only physically, but emotionally, socially, relationally, spiritually and economically.
If that isn't enough, there are some frightening statistics to consider as well. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, 65-80 million Americans live with an incurable sexually transmitted disease (STD). 20 million people are infected annually with almost half among teenagers. In the 1960s, there were only two significant STDs - syphilis and gonorrhea. Today, there are more than 30. The Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) causes over 90 percent of cervical cancer cases. This cancer kills over 4,000 women each year, as many as those from AIDS. HPV is also attributed to cancer cases of the throat and mouth. Condoms offer virtually NO PROTECTION against HPV because it can be transmitted by skin to skin contact, areas where condoms cannot cover.
“How can a you avoid sex when temptation seems to be around every corner?“
It’s in music videos, movies and even commercials!
Sexual sin ranging from lustful thinking to perverted behavior is rampant in the world today. Even a quick sampling of television, magazines, the internet, movies, advertising, and music, sexting, gaming videos can drown a person in sexually explicit material that is meant to cause arousal and appeal to the flesh.
Think about and practice good refusal skills. It’s ok to say “NO”! Also, keep sex in its context, its lane. Remember that God created sex to be a beautiful expression of love between a man and a woman who are joined in marriage. Since sexual activity can result in the creation of a precious, eternal, human soul, it is obviously very important and valuable. It takes making a commitment, developing, and then standing on your convictions, before, the temptation presents itself.
Have a plan! Accepting sexually stimulating music, TV programs, movies, reading material, and sexual behavior outside of marriage as "normal" will weaken any sense of good judgment you may have. Don't buy the lies that promise only pleasure with no consequences. The Bible advises us to "flee", evil, youthful desires and greed. In other words, don't give in to what your body and emotions tells you to do. You have a choice. Religious and morals reasons are among the top reasons teens give for not engaging in pre-marital sex. Seek the things that are good for you and for others. Think beyond the moment. Think about where your choices may lead you. "Sin will take you further than you wanted to go, keep you longer than you wanted to stay and cost you more than you wanted to pay." God wants you healthy, happy and whole!
"Does Oral Sex Count? It's not like I'm having intercourse or anything."
According to some recent studies, most teenagers define "sex" as vaginal intercourse — they don't consider oral sex to be "sex." This isn't surprising, since that's how our culture has chosen to re-defined sex. So, there are a lot of self-proclaimed virgins out there who haven't "gone all the way," but will do "everything else but," including oral sex.
When we talk about risk, it's often in reference to physical issues like sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy. But like intercourse, outer-course is sex play that also involves emotional risks. Will having oral sex change how you think about yourself and about your relationship? Will you expect more commitment or emotional closeness from your partner? Will you be doing it for the wrong reasons — like, because you think everyone else is doing it or because your partner is putting pressure on you? It's true that if someone is only having oral sex, there's no worry about getting pregnant, but, the physical risk of contracting a sexually transmitted infection is still there, especially for diseases contracted by skin to skin contact like Syphilis, HPV and Herpes.
"How to control my body's desires? It is difficult to resist my natural human urges."
The sexual appetite or sexual drive has to be managed through the God-given means called self-control! The more the desire is fed, the greater it will control you. There is no blame or shame for the desire; we were created for relational and physical intimacy within the bonds of marriage. However, lust is a focus on pleasing oneself and often leads to unwholesome actions to fulfill those desires with no regard for the physical, emotional, social, spiritual or financial consequences for yourself, or for another.
Changing your thoughts, surroundings, and actions takes discipline and commitment. The scriptures warn us to "flee" from sexual immorality. Do not allow lust to grip your heart and mind. If you currently struggle with lust, it is time to come clean. Ask God for His help and intervention in your life so that you can become free of domination. Find someone you can trust who will hold you accountable for the choices you face. Do practical things like: don't engage in sexting or pornography; get rid of any music, TV programs, videos/DVDs, magazines, books/stories, pictures and relationships that consistently stimulate the desire. If not, it will lead to lust where you are no longer in control of your desires, but, your desires begin to control YOU.
"What's a teen to do? How can I live a life of abstinence?"
Abstinence may seem easy because it's NOT doing something. But peer pressure and things you see on TV and in the movies, on social media and maybe friends, can make the decision to practice abstinence more difficult. If it seems like everybody else is having sex, some teens may feel they have to do it, too, just to be accepted. Remember that only you can make the decision to have sex or not. Don't let kidding or pressure from friends, a girlfriend, or a boyfriend push you into something that you know is wrong, even if you really want to give in to it. You can still have a relationship with someone without having sex. The people who care about you should respect your decision, not to have sex, and see it as an important personal choice. You might not realize it, but most teens DO practice abstinence. Choosing to practice abstinence is an important decision, and you may have questions about making this choice or how to cope with your decision. Talking to your parent or caring adult that you are safe with can help.
"What's wrong with having protected sex? It's O.K. as long as I am responsible, right?"
The experts preach that condoms can help REDUCE the spread of STD's. However, they do not provide complete protection. Do you really want a little piece of latex between you and a lethal STD? Condoms can slip, break, allow backflow and cannot protect you against STDs contracted by skin to skin contact. Consider the fact that hands can become contaminated by diseased fluids or body lesions before the condom is in place. Handling it at this point can add to the risk. The only 100% guaranteed defense against STD's and pregnancy is abstinence-risk avoidance. Make the right choice!
Frequently Asked Questions
Today's teens face a number of challenges that often lead to many questions. Below you will find a list of frequently asked questions by teens. We will try to answer them for your benefit.
In a "FOG"? Got questions?
Wondering what's the big deal ?
Should I cheat on an exam or assignment? Look the other way when I see someone being bullied? Spread negative things about people through texting, Facebook, gossip, etc.? Go to a party that I know my parents wouldn't approve of? Engage in risky behavior (sex, drugs, drinking)? Would my action pass these tests:
1. BEST SELF TEST: Does this action represent my "best self"? Does it reflect the kind of person I want to be?
2. UNIVERSAL ETHICAL VALUES TEST: Does this action violate any ethical values— such as integrity, respect, fairness, or kindness—that all people should live by?
3. CONSEQUENCES TEST: Will this have negative consequences—hurtful to someone else or myself— that I will come to regret?
4. CONSCIENCE TEST: Does this go against what my conscience tells me is right? If I do this, will I feel guilty or lose self-respect?
5. PARENT/TEACHER/COACH TEST: If I were to ask my parents, teachers, coaches, or any other adults I respect, would they approve of my doing this?
6. GOLDEN RULE (REVERSIBILITY) TEST: Would I want someone to do this to me?
7. WHAT-If-EVERYBODY-DID-THIS TEST: Would I want to live in a world where everybody did this (lied, cheated, stole, disrespected or used others, etc.)?
8. TRUTH TEST: Am I telling the whole truth and nothing but the truth—no lies, no omissions, and no half-truths?
9. INTERNET TEST: Would I want this made public through Facebook, YouTube, texting, etc., and seen by my teachers, parents, employers, or future spouse?
10. RELIGION TEST: If I have religious beliefs, what do they teach about whether this action is right or wrong?
© 2011 excellence & ethics, Center for the 4th and 5th Rs; May be copied without permission. Adapted from Thomas Lickona's Character Matters.