Most Christians believe that early initiation of sex has harmful consequences for teens. Early sex has various risk factors, including increased risk of dangerous sexual behaviors, more sex partners, intercourse under the influence, negative health outcomes, and later problems in sexual functioning. Remaining sexually abstinent and delaying sexual initiation has great benefits such as future marital relationship quality and sexual health and well-being, while early initiation of sexual intercourse during adolescence often causes later physical and psychological problems, including depression and marriage-related difficulties. As Christians, we need to encourage teens to make appropriate choices, give hope for those who may have already lost their virginity either voluntarily or involuntarily, and offer prayers of support for all of them to make godly lifestyle choices both now and in the future, regardless of past sexual activity, whether it was wanted or not.
Adolescence is a stage when many teens are choosing whether or not to engage in sexual intercourse. Maintaining abstinence and delaying the onset of sexual activity are important factors to decreasing future sexual risk. Parental attitudes can influence the age in which a teen becomes sexually active. Strong parental-adolescent relationships that encourage success and health, help to protect adolescents from early initiation of sex and the consequences associated with it. The impact of the parents’ views on sexuality, a high self-respect, the influence of peers, and the knowledge of the probability of negative consequences can all help discourage early sexual activity in adolescents. Christian parents need to clearly communicate their attitudes toward early sex, especially outside the marital context, which may help teens who are struggling with their emerging sexuality and the decision of whether or not to have sexual intercourse. Teens making a “virginity pledge”, especially in connection with a parent-teen contract, may help reduce the risk of sexual initiation.
Loosing virginity will likely cause harmful schooling outcomes for teens. These harmful schooling outcomes will also likely impact teens’ sexual decisions. First, losing one’s virginity may lead to teen pregnancies or sexually transmitted diseases or infections that are acquired and transmitted by sexual contact, which may impede schooling. Second, aside from pregnancy effects, there may be physiological or psychological effects of early sex that will impact whether or not a teen remains in school. Entry into sexual activity often leads to concentration problems for teens, whose mental resources are drawn away from education and more toward sexual thoughts and worries of consequences. Teens that are abstinent usually remain in school longer and have a higher level of education.
Teen pregnancy rates are high, with about 1 in 13 adolescent girls in the US becoming pregnant each year, most being outside the Christian context of marriage. In addition to the problems of teen pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are a very serious growing consequence of early sexual activity. The more sexually active teenagers are, the more likely they are to contract an STD. Several million US adolescents get STDs each year. The problem may also be made worse by the fact that although condom use may help reduce the risk of STDs, it doesn’t provide complete protection, and teens usually don’t use them consistently. Sex education programs which promote condom use often result in an increase in sexual activity, are not 100% effective against preventing pregnancy, nor STDs, and often cover up sexual abuse by adults. Whether or not a pregnancy or STD occurs, early sexual initiation has been associated with poorer emotional health for adolescents, including depression, increased risk of suicide, lower self-esteem, and regret for sexual activity, as well as a higher likelihood of having experienced sexual exploitation, such as childhood sexual abuse/statutory rape, and unwanted intercourse by a peer.
The long-term harmful outcomes of forced or coerced sexual experiences such as childhood sexual abuse or rape, include negative sexual risk behaviors. Those whose first sexual experience happened in a negative context are more likely to experience sexual problems and false sexual guilt, to have poor health, to have an STD, and to have a lower level of life satisfaction. Contraceptive use and abortions are often encouraged as a way to cover up these events and may protect the perpetrator of the abuse, more than the child. Early initiation of sexual activity, whether coerced, forced, or not, is associated with a continuing risk of STDs, and unplanned pregnancies. This depends on the number of sexual partners, STD history, alcohol and drug use related to sexual behavior, and partners’ number of sexual partners. Adolescents with early sexual initiation generally have poorer health, more STDs, poorer life satisfaction, and higher levels of sexual guilt than those who had later sexual initiation. Young women who have a history of substance use, sexual experimentation, and multiple sexual partners often experience significant depression in the aftermath.
Early adolescent sexual activity has numerous harmful health consequences that disproportionately affect minority adolescents. Although all sexually active adolescents are susceptible to these harmful consequences, recent statistics show that African American adolescent females are particularly at increased risk for pregnancy and STDs. In the US, adolescents account for the highest proportion of unplanned pregnancies, with higher rates among African Americans than Whites. Rates of certain sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) continue to be highest among minority adolescents, as well. African American female adolescents have higher rates of both syphilis and gonorrhea, with rates of gonorrhea and chlamydia among African American youths being significantly higher than any other ethnic group in the United States. There is also a disproportionately higher rate of pregnancy resulting in abortions in the African American community as compared to the population at large. Christian parents would be wise to consider abortion for the ungodly practice that it is, that is, the killing of an unborn child.
There are many social, psychological, and health benefits from abstaining from sexual activity. Delaying sexual initiation has beneficial effects in terms of future marital relationship quality and sexual health, while initiation of early sexual intercourse during adolescence causes later physical and psychological problems, including depression and marriage-related difficulties. The positive outcomes of remaining abstinent and postponing sexual activity until marriage include the increased likelihood of a more trusting marriage and decreased likelihood of divorce. Young women who are still virgins at 18 years old usually have a more stable financial well being, less health problems, and less use of government benefits. Both young men and women who are virgins at 18 have a higher level of education and are less likely to get a divorce.
Early initiation of sexual activity clearly endangers young people with its negative consequences. Early initiation of sexual intercourse has various sexual risk factors, while later initiation has fewer risk factors. Early sex has clearly been associated with long-term negative health outcomes, including increased risk of dangerous sexual behaviors and later problems in sexual functioning. Delaying sexual initiation has beneficial effects for future marital relationship quality and sexual health, while early initiation during adolescence causes later problems, including depression and marriage difficulties. Christian parents need to make sure their children understand that the only 100% effective way to prevent pregnancy and STDs is to be sexually abstinent until involved in the commitment of a marital relationship. Waiting for sexual intercourse until adulthood and marriage is the most effective long-term solution for preventing the harmful consequences of early sex.
- In Face of Deadly New Strain of STD, What Will It Take to Wake Us Up? (erasetheneed.wordpress.com)