Teach both safe sex and abstinence

Matt Wier

For a little more than a week, there have been several articles on the rising price of birth control pills and the recently released study discussing the supposed failure of abstinence-only education.

What disgusts me is that this is my generation. I once heard a woman speaking who had experienced adolescence in the sexual revolution of the 1960s onward, and she was saying how ashamed she was of her generation – ashamed of the legacy they left us.

If she is ashamed, how much more should my generation and I be? Instead of reinventing that revolution, we have embraced it and taken it to unprecedented levels. I hate it when people automatically assume that I drink and have sex solely on the basis that I am a college student.

But that stereotype exists for a reason.

Pre-marital and “free” sex have permeated our culture and lives to such an extent that even fifth graders are experiencing their first intercourse. In our search for openness and an “anything goes” society where truth, right and wrong are defined by each person for themselves, we have lost sight of those basic values which are rooted in a desire for our protection.

As far as birth control and abstinence education go, I want both practices taught to my children in school; birth control as something they know about for marriage, and abstinence to practice until marriage. The problem with most general education on such topics taught to the children of this country is the way it’s presented. Right now, it’s, “If you’re ready to have sex, these are your options.” No longer do we present children with the problems associated with premarital sex.

As much as some would like to argue otherwise, no birth control method other than abstinence can guarantee 100 percent that you won’t get pregnant or transmit or receive a sexually transmitted disease. So it’s no surprise that with the rise of sexuality has come a rise of STDs. The AIDS epidemic should be enough to teach us a lesson, but HPV – which can lead to cervical cancer – is spread to 50 percent of those sexually active, according to a Monday article in the Northern Star. Also, gonorrhea has become a “superbug,” infecting nearly 700,000 new people every year in the United States, with conventional antibiotics becoming ineffective against it.

It’s no surprise that abstinence-only education has not seen the effects hoped for. If someone lives in a society where there seems to be few examples of pure sexual lives and that person doesn’t have parents raising him or her in such a fashion, how can we expect abstinence-only education to work?

What’s even worse is the legacy we are passing to the next generations. According to cited facts from teencarecenter.org, sexual relationships before marriage increase the risk of divorce, and those who live together before marriage experience a 50 percent divorce rate. Our children are the ones who have to deal with that. Facts and common sense would appear to be enough to convince us that the instant gratification of premarital sex is not worth it. But, unfortunately, our society has become largely about instant gratification.

Thankfully, there are those who see the importance and benefit of abstaining from sex before marriage. These people realize that sex is an intimate gift that should be intended to give to another person in the state of marriage. We exist on college campuses – believe it or not – and we need to find our voice in a world where sexual purity is decreasing to the detriment of all.

Matt Wier is a columnist for the Northern Star of Northern Illinois University. This column was made available through U-Wire.