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Family Room



Hollywood certainly takes a dim view of abstinence. Take The 40-Year-Old Virgin. In that raunchy film, an aging bachelor's pals treat his sexual inexperience like a disease to be cured. Or how about The Producers? A shocked courtroom learns that a man refused to sleep with a leggy blond unless she married him, causing a "wise" old judge to call the principled young man a "schmuck." A running bit in Forgetting Sarah Marshall finds naïve Christian newlyweds fretting about sex until they learn to treat it as a religious experience. And the list goes on.

Indeed, entertainment often pities or derides singles committed to sexual self-control, teens included. That breaks my heart. Adolescents have a hard enough time fending off raging hormones without the media implying that they're freaks for embracing a high moral standard. Kids get a similar message from social engineers who would rather hand out condoms than encourage celibacy. The Washington State affiliate of the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL) once hosted a fund-raiser entitled "Screw Abstinence." Classy, huh?

Even some medical professionals don't get it. How did the American Academy of Pediatrics respond to news of a high U.S. teenage birthrate in 2004? By amending a 1998 policy report that called abstinence counseling an "important role for all pediatricians." That sensible line was stricken in favor of a recommendation that all teens—sexually active or not—have access to birth control.

No wonder young people are mixed up. Do you remember when cholesterol-conscious Americans switched to margarine only to learn that it's no healthier than butter? Frustrated by conflicting data, we gravitated to what tasted best. I'm concerned that aroused teens facing similar confusion are following their appetites and paying a heavy price. Fortunately, we do have a trustworthy authority on the issue of sexual conduct: God's Word (Prov. 5:15-19; 1 Cor. 6:18-7:9; Col. 3:5; 1 Thess. 4:3-5). Of course, even with Scripture on our side it would be nice to know that there's at least some sanity in the world around us. And there is. Virtuous teens should know that most of their peers don't share the cynicism of Hollywood, the liberal agenda of NARAL or the moral ambivalence of the medical community. More than 90 percent of teenagers in a Seventeen survey said being a virgin is a "good thing." When asked for benefits of delaying sex, a vast majority cited self-respect, the esteem of parents and friends, maintaining control in relationships, avoiding pregnancy and STDs, and staying true to religious values.

Lauren Winner, author of Real Sex: The Naked Truth About Chastity, offers further incentive for purity. "Premarital sex has no normal qualities," she told the Village Voice. "It is based on mutual desire and dispenses with the ordinary rhythms of marital sex, trading them for a seemingly thrilling but ultimately false story. The twisted lesson premarital sex teaches is that sex is exciting. In fact, the opposite is true: The dramas of married sex are small and more intimate."

She's right, yet so-called experts keep telling teens that chastity is impossible or unrealistic. It's not. In fact, abstinence has played a significant role in drastically reducing Uganda's HIV/AIDS infection rates since the early '90s. A member of that nation's parliament even promised to pay for the university education of any girl in his district who graduated high school a virgin. Self-control works. Factor in the promise of Philippians 4:13, and Christian teens have every reason to believe they can do it too.

Often obscured by statistics and debate are names and faces. Young people valued by God. They live in your home and mine. As a dad I'm encouraged by stories like Katie Chromik's. When Katie received a purity ring during a public ceremony, her junior high friends snickered. "Some people have made bets on me that I'm not going to make it," she said. "It just makes me more determined." I pray that when NARAL, Hollywood and others bet against them, our kids will say the same thing.

Published May 2012