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Teenage sex – what's to blame?

On Friday, Sept. 16, the major newspapers in the U.S. proclaimed “the largest and most detailed government survey that plumbs sexual practices in U.S. households” (Ventura County Star). The major concerns of the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics study were that more than half of American teenagers ages 15 to 19 have engaged in oral sex, increasing to nearly 70 percent for those who are 18 and 19, and that the number of women engaging in lesbian sex had doubled in slightly more than 10 years (from 4.1 percent in 1992 to 11.5 percent).

The Centers for Disease Control, doctors and health-care experts were deeply concerned by the study because of the array of sexually transmitted diseases communicated by oral sex. One article after another said that the people engaging in such practices do not understand the dangerous health risks.

The article in the Ventura County Star noted, “Oral sex has been associated in clinical studies with gonorrhea, syphilis, herpes and the human papillomavirus, which has been linked to cervical cancer. Condoms and other forms of contraception can be used to decrease the health risks of oral sex, but few teens use them.”

Claire Brindis, professor of pediatrics at the University of California-San Francisco, declared, “They may not have been given a strong enough message around the risks of oral sex. Maybe we need to do a better job of showing them they need to use condoms.”

“If a substantial number of young people are having oral sex, as these numbers indicate, this is a big concern,” said Kristin Moore, president of Child Trends, a children’s research organization that analyzed the center’s most recent findings.

Those of us who monitor these things watch these studies come out on a regular basis. Every one of them is accompanied by comments from doctors that this is a health-care epidemic, that sexual activity is risky behavior, that the number of sexual diseases is increasing, and so forth and so on.

One would have to be deaf, dumb and blind to miss these studies. So, the question is, why hasn’t the penny dropped? That is, why haven’t people acted on this information, instead of persisting in life-threatening, destructive behavior?

One answer is that there has not been enough repetition or reinforcement or communication of the information. Former Mayor Koch of New York City said a politician has to repeat things a hundred times before people understand it. It should be noted, however, that there have been thousands of studies in this area, most of which are mentioned in major newspaper articles and some of which are footnoted in the current CDC report.

Another reason is the educational establishment’s preoccupation with sex education. According to an article by Laura Sessions Stepp in the Washington Post on Sept. 15, “Supporters of such programs say they have resulted in young people delaying intercourse, but opponents say they simply have led young people to substitute other risky behaviors, especially fellatio and cunnilingus. The new data tend to support the latter view, showing that nearly one in four virgin teens have engaged in oral sex.”

Another reason why people have not refrained from risky behavior is that the mass media is constantly pushing sexual activity and risky behavior as the ultimate source of pleasure. A few minutes of sexual activity are extolled as being worth everything, including a lifetime of disease that can either hurt the partners or their progeny. It doesn’t make much sense, but then again, the media never highlights the consequences of the risky behavior portrayed day in and day out in movies, TV programs and Internet websites. That’s why, if we want to protect the lives and health of our children and teenagers, we must work together to redeem the values of the mass media.

Finally, everyone seems to ignore the very essence of the problem, which is the broken nature of man, i.e., sin – that inherited, broken DNA factor that causes individuals to rebel against God, indulge in lust and excess, miss the mark, and persist in destructive behavior. The problem with our sinful nature is aggravated by the fact that we have forsaken self-discipline as well as the ultimate remedy, which is repairing the broken defect through the inflowing of God’s Holy Spirit when we accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Only by preaching the salvation, transformation, self-discipline, truth and love of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in every walk of life can we truly stop this sexual epidemic of lust and sin that is ravaging the United States of America and the world.