In a society which focuses increasingly on immediate gratification—doing now what feels good now—more and more teenagers are asking the questions and making the argument, “Why is it so important to wait to have sex? Everyone else is doing it, so why should I wait? It’s become old fashioned to expect only one sexual partner in my life; I should find someone with whom I’m compatible” and so forth.
Religious values are the most often cited for waiting until marriage to engage in sexual intimacy, however, it is becoming clearer that there are myriad other reasons that one should give weighty consideration to engaging in pre-marital sex.
The fact is that there is no method which is 100 percent effective in preventing conception. No matter how careful a couple is, a woman still runs the risk of becoming pregnant. Any couple who engages in intimacy should have given careful thought to what they will do should they conceive. Certainly not the least important consideration is whether you would really want your partner to be the father or mother of your child. In addition, are either or both of you really situated to take care of and raise a child? If you are still in middle or high school, the answer is already “no.” There are extremely few occupations on which a teenager could support a family. What about the emotional and physical consequences? What fifteen-year-old girl is fully equipped emotionally to become a mother herself when, admit it or not, she is still so dependent on her own mother? What sixteen-year-old boy is emotionally mature enough to take on all of the implications which becoming a father carries?
Some may make the argument that if a girl gets pregnant, abortion is always an option, or even adoption. Abortion carries with it physical risk for the mother, but that is also a burden which a girl will have to carry the rest of her life. Are you ready to face that choice? Even if a girl carries the baby to full term and then gives the baby up for adoption faces severe trials. Her body must sustain the baby for nine months, must go through physical labor, and then must heal; then the girl must hand her baby over to strangers, possibly to never see it again. Are you ready for this challenge?
Beyond the risks of pregnancy, which have been severely reduced with modern technology, there are many other risks which you take on if you choose to engage in pre-marital sex. There are no known preventions or cures for four sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), including Hepatitis B, genital herpes, Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), and the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) which causes AIDS, and those for which there are cures can still cause intense pain and discomfort.
The spread of genital herpes, HPV, and HIV infections has reached epidemic levels, and these diseases continue to spread quickly. The World Health Organization (WHO) recently estimated that 20 million new cases of genital herpes and 30 million new cases of HPV occur every year. HIV infections continue to spread at the rate of about 5 million new cases per year. What is even more shocking is that in 1970 there were only two major STDs known; there are now about 25. The rate of STD infection went from about 1 in 300 Americans in 1970 to 1 out of 4 in 2000, a span of only 30 years. In 1999, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention predicted that for every unwed teenager who got pregnant the following year, 10 teenagers would become infected with an STD.
Are these not grave and valid reasons to wait to engage in sexual relations until you are married? It has been said that when you have sex you are not only having sex with your partner, but also with every person he or she has engaged in intimacy with. Make sure you know with whom you are getting into bed.
Beyond the stark statistics and bleakly real physical consequences of choosing to engage in pre-marital sex, there is a good deal of emotion involved as well. Someday you will find someone with whom you will want to spend the rest of your life. You will want to share an intimacy with them of which sexual intimacy is an important part. If you have already had that intimacy with others, what you have left to offer that partner will be severely diminished.
In addition to the reasons listed above, religious reasons can hold even more influence and weight. Make sure you consider all of these things carefully before you decide it’s worth it to risk so much for so little by living in the moment for immediate physical gratification. There is so much which can be lost so quickly if you choose to not wait and the compensations are minimal and short lived, but the opposite is also true: there is so much to be gained by waiting and nothing to lose.