|By: Dr. John Ankerberg, Dr. John Weldon; ©2003|
|Many people believe that having sex will bring them the affection, love, and purpose in life they now lack. But instead of happiness and contentment, it often results in decreased self-esteem, pain, rejection, and sometimes tragedy. Some people today don’t think we have a social problem in the area of the nation’s sexual behavior.. But we do have a problem, and it is one of the most serious we face.|
The Legacy of the Sexual Revolution
Many in America are familiar with Lauren Chapin, the actress who played Cathy Anderson in the popular television series “Father Knows Best.” But according to several sources, such as the Phoenix Gazette, as Cathy grew up in the real world, she encountered a life far different from that portrayed in the TV show. Searching for happiness, she recalls, “I slept with many, many people trying to find love, to find self-worth. And the more people I slept with the less self-worth I had.” As the years passed, before she became a Christian, Lauren Chapin suffered the results of searching for love and meaning through casual sex. Her involvement with numerous lovers, drugs, and Hollywood’s “fast lane” (which she termed a “death zone”) proved costly. It affected her health, brought eight miscarriages, and resulted in time spent in a mental hospital, and even prison.
Many people are like Lauren. They believe that having sex will bring them the affection, love, and purpose in life they now lack. But instead of happiness and contentment, it often results in decreased self-esteem, pain, rejection, and sometimes tragedy.
Some people today don’t think we have a social problem in the area of the nation’s sexual behavior. They continue to call for sexual liberty to counteract “repressive” and “puritanical” attitudes. But we do have a problem, and it is one of the most serious we face.
The Sexual Explosion
Many regional and national studies have revealed similar findings. For good or ill, the generation of the “sexual revolution” has transferred its sexual values to the larger society and even to its own children. Billions of dollars have been spent on sex education and family planning programs that have resulted only in a dramatic increase in promiscuous sexual activity and its consequences. The Washington Post revealed “that half of U.S. girls have now had intercourse by the age of fifteen.”
A major research study of eleven million teenage boys showed that 66 percent had had sex, the average age of the first encounter was sixteen, and by eighteen the average boy had had sex with five different girls.
A New York polling firm supplied forty-one questions, describing the “average” adolescent, to 1,300 students in sixteen high schools, 1600 students in ten colleges, and 500 parents of teens in twelve cities. This and other studies found that:
- 57 percent lost their virginity in high school.
- 79 percent lost their virginity by the end of college.
- 33 percent of high school students had sex one to four times a month.
- 53 percent of fifteen to nineteen year olds had been involved sexually; 58 percent of teen girls had two or more sex partners.
Senate Bill 2394 of the state of California discussed some of the statistics of teenage sexual behavior in that state:
- Sixty-five percent of male teens and 44 percent of females have had sexual intercourse by eighteen.
- Every year one in seven teens contracts a sexually transmitted disease (STD).
- The teenage pregnancy rate for California’s fifteen to nineteen year olds increased by almost 33 percent from 1970 to 1985.
- The abortion rate for teens fifteen to nineteen has more than tripled in the same period.
By age nineteen, 75 percent of unmarried women have had or are having sexual intercourse.
Unfortunately, statistics on sexual activity (or anything else) can be difficult to assess. They are easily manipulated and can be misleading, so we encourage caution in accepting the above figures as absolutes.
- A Louis Harris poll showed that 90 percent of teens admitted they had become promiscuous simply because of perceived peer pressure. Of those who had sex, 80 percent said they felt they had been drawn into sex too soon. Regret often causes such teens to cut back on sexual behavior, unfortunately, teens who have had sex only once are classified as “sexually active,” inflating the teenage promiscuity rate. . . . Regarding the relative inactivity and return to abstinence among teens who had had sexual intercourse, it is realistic to promote “secondary virginity.” As Dr. James Ford notes, “These, figures indicate that secondary virginity is not all that rare among teenagers. In other words, an appreciable percentage of unmarried teenagers who have experienced premarital intercourse are not currently ‘sexually active.’”
But the teens who are sexually active still number in the millions—and even if some figures are inflated, no one can deny that a serious problem exists.
Former Secretary of Education William J. Bennett, in a speech to the National School Board Association, revealed some sobering facts:
- More than one million teenage girls become pregnant each year, and 40 percent of today’s fourteen-year-old girls will become pregnant by the time they are nineteen.
- Teenage pregnancy rates are at or near an all-time high. The 25 percent decline in birth rates between 1970 and 1984 was due to a doubling of the abortion rate during that period. More than 400,000 teenage girls have abortions each year.
Bennett himself confessed, “These numbers are an irrefutable indictment of sex education’s effectiveness in reducing teenage sexual activity and pregnancies.”
According to a national survey listing items that teenagers consider to be a problem, premarital sex relations ranked number one. Here are the things teenagers are concerned about:
- Premarital relations – 99 percent
- Drug abuse – 85 percent
- Alcoholism – 71 percent
- Suicide – 67 percent
- Teenage pregnancy – 44 percent
- Teenage pornography and prostitution -15 percent.
For decades, Planned Parenthood and other “family planning” agencies have promised the American public that the crisis of teenage pregnancies, abortions, and sexually transmitted diseases would ease or cease if young people were thoroughly educated about their sexuality, given contraceptive methods and devices, and encouraged to develop sexual practices that were “right for them.”
But it would appear that the crisis has escalated, largely as a result of such education—there are now far more pregnancies, abortions, and major epidemics of sexually transmitted diseases than ever before. Proponents claim that the reason for this is a continued shortage of comprehensive sex education programs. But this is false. “Different studies produce different figures, but they all confirm that sex education is common across the country… Numerous studies confirm the prevalence, not shortage, of sex education courses in the United States. This finding should cast serious doubt on the [Planned Parenthood subsidiary] Guttmacher Institute’s claim that the teen pregnancy rate is due to a lack of programs in the schools.”<ref>Ibid., 18.</ref>
The reason that so-called comprehensive sex education has failed our children—unfortunately, at their expense—is because many sex educators (1) do not understand the problem and, therefore, (2) propose wrong solutions. Modern sex education is not only a failure, it can be harmful to children in a number of ways.
In fact, it can be demonstrated demographically that wherever “comprehensive sex education programs” exist, the rates of teenage sex activity, pregnancy, abortion, and sexually transmitted diseases continue to mount. But in those districts promoting abstinence, parental involvement, and education concerning the consequences of promiscuity, there is a significant reduction in these four crisis areas. This is documented by Josh McDowell (The Myths of Sex Education), Dinah Richards (Has Sex Education Failed Our Teenagers?: A Research Report), the research of Jim Sedlak, national director of Stop Planned Parenthood, Brad Hayton (No Protection: The Failure of Condom-Based Sex Education), and the research of professor Jacqueline Kasun of San Jose State University, to name a few (see chap. 9).
In February 1992, coauthor John Weldon told a leading representative of Planned Parenthood on national television that studies had confirmed the problems of comprehensive sex education. Her response was only a flat denial that this was true (see chap. 8). She claimed that Planned Parenthood was essential to the nation’s health.
What is so tragic is that we have abandoned our own children to sexual promiscuity in the guise of helping them “handle” their sexuality. But teenagers don’t want sex; they want values and meaning in their lives. They want love. In fact, a study conducted in the junior high schools of a major American city revealed that 67 percent of kids said their greatest need in sex education was not the “comprehensive sex education” of Planned Parenthood, but rather learning how to say no to sexual pressure. Even teens can recognize that sexual intimacy is often too powerful for adolescents to handle responsibly—why many sex educators can’t seem to understand this is a bit of a mystery.
Susan is a good example. Although Susan was raised in a Christian home and understood the importance of not becoming romantically involved with unbelievers, she fell into the wrong crowd and began dating a young man with whom she soon fell in love.
Susan intuitively knew that she was not ready for sexual activity, but because of her love for this man, she gave in to his continual encouragements to “show her love” for him. Once she had given in, her boyfriend abandoned her, apparently satisfied with his conquest. But Susan was crushed; she felt used and betrayed. It took her several months of counseling and almost a year to heal from the consequences of a single, brief, sexual encounter. “I wish I had known,” she said. “I knew I wasn’t ready, but I couldn’t deal with the intimidation of my sex-ed class.”
Teenagers have enough problems today without being encouraged into early sexual activity. Various studies, including one by the U.S. Surgeon General, reveal that many of the nation’s teenagers and twenty-three million college students are now drug and alcohol abusers because their lives lack meaning and purpose. Because there is so little faith in the future, it is also easy for them to “live for today” in terms of physical or sensual gratification. Unfortunately, this only compounds their problems. For example, Brandon told us how he felt about life as a teenager: “Life is so boring. So I’ve found my own excitement. I don’t have a lot of money, but sex is a cheap thrill that doesn’t cost anything and can be done anywhere. It is easy to find a girl who is willing. Life is so meaningless anyway, why not?” Brandon never knew that Shirley, one of his “cheap thrills,” would later kill herself as a result of his sexual abuse. Or that he would spend twenty years in jail upon conviction of rape.
Teenagers rarely see the consequences of actions that are done in a moment of passion or misguided love. As Mary, a fifteen-year-old girl recalls, “I had no idea what the cost would be. But it took losing my virginity at a very young age, my self-respect, my fertility, bringing ruin to another person’s marriage, acquiring an incurable disease, much guilt, and a year and a half of distrusting men before I realized that sex is not something that can be entered into lightly.”
On the TV special “C. Everett Koop, M.D., Listening to Teenagers,” the former Surgeon General commented, “Teenagers are walking through a mine field.” He noted that most teens have little or no self-esteem, and this leads to drugs, alcohol abuse, and sexual promiscuity. It was startling to hear him say that almost 50 percent of teenagers suffer from depression severe enough to require treatment. Home problems, grade problems, relationship problems, and parental drug and alcohol abuse are some of the causes.
He also emphasized that what adolescents choose to do is what puts them at risk. For example, teens can no longer afford to not worry about AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome), because teenage infection rates are increasing dramatically. Yet more than 50 percent have had sex by eighteen, and every year one in ten teenage girls becomes pregnant. Further, 50 percent of teenagers drink, and one in three is a heavy drinker; thousands die each year in alcohol-induced car accidents—and there are millions of homeless teenagers. Thousands more commit suicide—a “last resort” that is surprisingly not infrequently linked to premarital sexual intercourse (see chap. 10).
What is the solution? Dr. Koop emphasized that “communication is the first step in health care” and that sometimes the right words are better than a doctor’s prescription. He noted that lack of communication between parents and teens is the greatest problem we face.
Josh McDowell, who has given more than eighteen thousand talks to more than eight million students and faculty at more than a thousand universities and high schools in seventy-two countries has outlined both the problem and the solution in The Myths of Sex Education.
He observes that almost all teenagers and college students have two basic fears—that they will never be loved and that they will never be able to love. As McDowell points out, “One out of every two marriages ends in divorce, and many of the couples who remain married model hatred, distrust or apathy instead of love. No wonder so many kids today are unable to develop close, intimate relationships.”
When parents don’t show love to their children, those children may search for love elsewhere. One questionnaire among a thousand high school students revealed that 50 percent were uncertain that their parents loved them. McDowell explains: “Fathers are often worse offenders than mothers in failing to communicate love. . . . I truly believe that lots of hugs between fathers and their teen daughters would do more to stop the teen pregnancy epidemic than any other single factor.”
In discussing the reasons that children become sexually involved, McDowell further reveals,
- If I had to give one reason, I would say [they] get sexually involved in search of a father’s love. . . . We don’t have a teenage sexual crisis—we have a teenage/parental relationship crisis. Teens are looking for intimacy from those who love them, particularly their fathers. When they don’t find it there, they turn to sexual activity to get it. . . . Our kids don’t want sex as much as they want to be loved. It’s as true for sons as it is for daughters. . . . They want someone who cares, who will listen and who will talk to them, and they want it to start with their fathers. This is the heartache of the broken home, whether through a legal divorce, an “emotional divorce” between parents and their children, or simply a lack of love and communication. Kids who are not loved at home will look for love in all the wrong places.
It can’t be denied that need for love and intimacy is one of the deepest needs we experience. Unfortunately, this is something that liberal sex education, thinking it is working on behalf of teens, continues to deny them by promoting the very promiscuity and personal insecurity it seeks to prevent.
Fathers and mothers need to learn not only how to express love to their children, but they also need to know the facts concerning the current social situation in which their children are being reared and educated by society. If the sexual epidemic is a search for love, and parents meet their children’s need for love, coupled with a common sense, abstinence-based presentation of sex education, then the current tragedy can be halted.
- Phoenix Gazette, 20 August 1983
- In Josh McDowell, The Myths of Sex Education (San Bernardino, Calif.: Here’s Life, 1990); cf. Los Angeles Tunes, 19 February 1990, 8.
- Parade, 18 December 1988, 16.
- People, 13 April 1987.
- Patricia Hersch, “Sexually Transmitted Diseases Are Ravaging Our Children: Teen Epidemic,”American Health, May 1991; cf., USA Today, 8 November 1990, la.
- McDowell, The Myths of Sex Education, 9.
- Hersch, “Sexually Transmitted Diseases,” 44.
- Sam Gitchel and Lorri Foster, Let’s TaUcAbout Sex (Fresno, Calif.: Planned Parenthood of Central California, n.d.), 5
- Dinah Richard, Has Sex Education Failed Our Teenagers? A Research Report (Pomona, Calif.: Focus on the Family, 1990), 42.
- William J. Bennett, “Sex and the Education of Our Children,” U.S. Department of Education, 22 January 1987; transcript of talk at the National School Board Association in Washington, D.C.
- Richard, Has Sex Education Failed Our Teenagers? 49.
- Jim Sedlak, research available from Stop Planned Parenthood, P.O. Box 8, LaGrangeville, NY 12540 (914-473-3316); Brad Hayton, No Protection: The Failure of Condom-Based Sex Education, Newport Beach, Calif.: Pacific Policy Institute, 1991 (714-723-6635); JacquelineKasun, “The Truth About Sex Education,” in Barrett Mossbacher, School-Based Clinics (Westchester, Ill.: Crossway, 1987); “Teenage Pregnancy: What Comparisons Among States and Countries Show,” (Stafford, Va.: American Life League, 1986); “The Baltimore School Birth Control Study: A Comment,” Humbolt State University, 1; “The State and Adolescent Sexual Behavior,” in Joseph R Reden and Fred R. Glahe, eds., The American Family and the State (San Francisco: Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy, 1986).
- To understand how dangerous Planned Parenthood is to the nation’s health, see Robert Marshall and Charles Donovan, Blessed Are the Barren: The Social Policy of Planned Parenthood (San Francisco: Ignatius, 1991), and George Grant, Grand Illusion: The Legacy of Planned Parenthood (Nashville: Wolgemuth & Hyatt, 1988).
- Psychology Today, January/February 1989.
- November 18, 1991, 11:00 P.M., PBS, Channel 18.
- McDowell, The Myths of Sex Education, 16.
- Parents and Better Homemaking, December 1965, 40.
- McDowell, The Myths of Sex Education, 17.
- Ibid., 22-23.