How Do You Have Safe Sex?
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I was sitting on an airplane, enjoying a free first-class upgrade. There was an attractive young lady sitting next to me, and she obviously wanted to talk. It turns out she was a recent college graduate and was working for a major internet company. I listened to her story for awhile, then she started asking about my life.
As I started sharing some of the work I do with young people, and that it was usually Christian related, she asked a very direct question; “Well, do you teach these teenagers about safe sex?”
“Yes, I do,” I replied.
She seemed confused. It wasn’t the answer she expected, since she thought (as our society stereotypes Christians) that we would be narrow-minded prudes. “What I mean is, do you teach them about condom usage?”
“Yes, I do. We teach them that condoms do give a limited degree of protection against the HIV complex (AIDS), although those who have studied the disease have admitted they would never have sex with someone who was HIV positive even with a condom.” Then I turned the tables, “Did you know that condoms fail miserably in protecting women from HPV, which is passed skin-to-skin? Did you know that you could have HPV and have no symptoms? Did you know that HPV can cause a woman to be sterile and could even lead to death through cervical cancer?”
I looked at her face, which was contorted in a mixture of anger and fear. She did not say it, but in her elite college education (she had attended the highly regarded and exclusive Tufts University in the Boston area) she had been lied to about condoms and safe sex! Thus, although she was angry, her anger was not directed at me. It was the anger of betrayal, the betrayal our society is perpetrating upon young people about the use of condoms enabling something called “safe sex.” The look of fear, and even the tears which she started wiping from her eyes, resulted from the realization that her liberated lifestyle of safe sex with guys she had met suddenly seemed not so safe. Was her body currently housing a raging infection which could make her childless? Or would she succumb to cancer and die?
Safe Sex? – Women Suffer More
When it comes to sexually transmitted infections (STIs), women suffer more. With the exception of HIV, STIs far more seriously impact women than they do men. It is because of the design features of the female reproductive system.
Men have a closed reproductive system. The prostrate and testicles are fairly well protected inside the body. Other than AIDS, most STI’s can be managed, although there is plenty of pain and suffering involved.
Women have an open reproductive system. Through the vagina you can access the inner parts of her abdomen, thus any bacterial or viral infection can wreak havoc on a woman. Often these infections give no symptoms, or the symptoms are so common with other possible problems that the infections can continue until irreparable damage has been done.
Take Chlamydia for instance. This is a bacterial STI which normally can be easily treated with antibiotics. The problem is that 85% of women have no symptoms! It’s very hard to treat something that you do not realize you have! Further, although a 17 year old girl appears to be a mature woman, she is not. The cervix (at the back of the vagina, the entrance to the uterus) is much softer and more mucus covered than a woman of 25. A soft, mucus covered body part is the ideal breeding ground for bacteria, such as chlamydia. Thus young women are far more susceptible to bacterial and viral STIs than older women are.
There are approximately 3 million new cases of Chlamydia in teenage girls each year. What a tragedy. Many of these girls will end up sterile (unable to have children). As one young lady tearfully noted, when she does meet the man of her dreams, at some point she will have to tell him that because of a previous casual sex partner, “I will never be able to give you children.” If you are young, that may not seem that important to you, but it will become important as you mature.
HPV is the new scourge on the casual sex block. 75% of sexually active people (not the married, monogamous ones, by the way) have been found to carry HPV. Of course, in the last few years, many folks “know” that the Gardisil shot can protect you from this. This is slightly true. This vaccine can protect you from approximately 4 of the 100 or so strains of HPV. Once again, women suffer far more from HPV than men. 46% of women are infected after their first sexual intercourse.
HPV has been linked to various vulvar, vaginal, penile, anal, head and neck cancers. Interestingly, cervical cancer used to be a disease of old women. Now it has become common in young ladies, even gals as young as 18 have had radical hysterectomies in an attempt to survive cancer.
Ladies, there is currently no FDA approved test for men for HPV. If a guy claims that he has been tested and is clean, he’s lying.
One more thing about the viral STIs. Unlike the bacterial type, viral STIs such as HPV and HIV stay with you for life. What you pick up when you hook up just because you are bored, stays with you forever. Of course, that is assuming you survive the experience.
But What If You Use Protection?
When I teach the Smart Dating seminar, at this point in the discussion I usually get the somewhat terse question (always from a guy), “But what if I use protection?”
So yes, what if you or your partner uses a condom or some other form of protection. Does this guarantee safe sex? Let’s look at the facts.
Originally intended as birth control, condoms are fairly good at preventing pregnancy when used properly. They only have about a 15% failure rate in that role.
When it comes to protection from HIV/AIDS, the news isn’t nearly as good. In this case, the failure rate is 31%. Let’s use the old deadly gun game “Russian Roulette” as an analogy. In this idiotic and deadly gamble, you would load a single bullet in a six-shot revolver, spin the barrel as you slapped it in place, place the gun to your noggin, and then pull the trigger. Except, when it comes to HIV prevention, you’ve loaded two of the six chambers with bullets before pulling the trigger! Personally, I do not like the odds of 1 in 6 when it comes to a bullet in the brain or HIV, but with HIV the odds are much worse! One Aids expert noted; “Condoms aren’t safe; they’re dangerous!” His point is that a whole generation of people have been sold a wrongful bill of goods; that being that usage of a condom will make sex reasonably safe. People take some pretty amazing risks because of this bad information.
In case you aren’t aware, latex condoms are not solid, they actually have microscopic pores throughout their surface. The pores are much smaller than sperm, so they are not a consideration in pregnancy prevention. However, the AIDS virus is much smaller than the pores in latex condoms; which increases the possibility of infection during sex. FDA testing found that 33 percent of condoms tested leak virus size particles!
Finally, with the new STI scourge of HPV – how do condoms rate in preventing this very common virus? The rate very poorly, with a 69% failure rate! And as was mentioned earlier, the much proclaimed Gardasil shot can only protect you from about 4 of the 100 or so known strains of HPV – once again, not very good odds in my book.
The Greatest Harm To Your Sexual Health
Even if you happen to successfully navigate the plethora of STIs during your “casual” sex adventures, there is nothing that will protect you from the long-term personal and relational harm you will suffer as a result of the factors mentioned in Smart Dating Challenge Unit 4 – What Happens During Sex. Sex was designed as an amazing gift for the long-term relationship (read this as a husband and a wife, married for life). Sex provides incredible closeness, stress-relief, and a pleasure bordering on ecstasy. It can also provide for the bringing of wonderful children into the family, something which provides years of joy and security. But at the same time, unknown to man until just recently, the Creator who gave you life designed the chemical processes that occur while we are enjoying sex to help bond two people together more closely than we can imagine.
And therefore, no sex is casual. Unless you are married and having sex, it extracts a future price which will harm you and everyone you relate to.
Women Suffer More – Guys, Love The Women In Your Life
In some ways it may seem tragic that there are so many STIs that can derail your “fun,” if you consider casual sex fun. But in reality it is the natural result of people violating the design parameters of the human body.
Guys listen. The typical guy is stronger than the average woman. He can endure hardship and is willing to fight (thanks to testosterone) for what he believes is right and good. Going back to our lesson on what love is, know this. It is your God-given duty and a matter of honor to protect the women in your life. You are to take the lead in making sure that any lady you date is not harmed in the process.
Remember, love is doing what is best for another person, regardless of how you feel or how the other person treats you. Sex outside of marriage is harmful to her future relationships, and as we have seen in this lesson, can render her sterile or worse. It is your responsibility to plan your dates to avoid times when the two of you have the opportunity to get horizontal. Save that for your wedding night. Can you imagine the purity and excitement that will be yours (and your new wife’s) if you do this?
You Can Have Safe Sex – Here’s How
It’s pretty amazing in this day, but my wife and I have been having sex for over 27 years, and neither of us has ever gotten an STI. We have numerous friends who have the same story. It isn’t luck or coincidence though, it is just because we followed the plan of the God who made us.
Safe sex is only safe when we have a safe partner. For the most part, as safe partner is someone who has only had sex with you. I hear the objection sometimes, “But that’s just not realistic in today’s world.” Yes, Virginia, it actually is. We are not animals driven by uncontrollable urges. Yes, the relational/sexual drive is amazingly strong, but God intended for us to find the fulfillment of that drive in marriage.
The Smoke-Free Class of 2008 – Have a Condom
Growing up in the early 60s, there were a lot of smokers. Cigarette ads appeared on nearly every television commercial break. There were already a lot of doctors and researchers trying to tell everyone that inhaling smoke was bad for your health, but it often fell on deaf ears.
As the evidence rose linking smoking to cancer and other problems, our society decided to go after this destructive habit in spite of its popularity. The cost of smoking to our society in terms of medical treatment, lost work days, and the effects of side-stream smoke on children convinced the majority of Americans to discourage this damaging behavior.
This anti-smoking campaign has been very successful. It has reduced smoking tremendously and saved countless lives. In fact, a few years ago I saw a local school welcoming the “Smoke-Free Class of 2008” as incoming freshmen. Our community felt so strongly about the harmful nature of smoking that they decided to make not engaging in a harmful behavior a city-wide goal.
Of course at the same time, the move continues to hand out condoms and encourage “safe-sex.” The condom crowd claims that it isn’t realistic to expect young people to control themselves, so we have to teach them how to have safe sex. Of course, as we have seen, condoms do not make sex safe! Why aren’t we applying the same logic to STI prevention that we did to the anti-smoking campaigns?
I agree, there will always be a few undisciplined folks who are going to have sex outside of its intended parameters. There will always be some folks who smoke. I don’t see us handing out packs of cigarettes and lighters at school, with the admonishment to “smoke safely, use a filtered cigarette!” No, we understand that some poor souls will make bad choices, but we still try to guide others to the healthiest choice.
Remember, sex was designed to help a couple stay together for life! It is a permanent relationship helper when used exclusively between a husband and wife. It is destructive emotionally, spiritually, and physically when engaged in casually – in reality, there is no such thing as casual or safe sex, other than in marriage.
Assignment – Unit 5
1. If you’ve made it this far in the Smart Dating Challenge I applaud you. This message goes against what our culture embraces; the attitude that “I want what I want and I want it now.” Are you determined enough to show true love (Unit 2) to the people you date? These STIs have a profoundly negative impact on those who are infected. Although waiting for something we want desperately is very hard, are you willing to learn now to do the hard things in life? That is the mark of a mature adult: Someone who is willing to deny something they want now for something even better later. Make the decision in advance to share your sexuality only in the context for which it was intended.
2. You’ve probably noticed that I am big into books. I tell my young friends that “if you are not reading, you will be taken advantage of in life.” The Internet, TV, and social media are a poor diet for your brain. You really need to be reading all the time. If you look in our bookstore, there are several books which can be life changing not only for you, but also for your friends and those you meet. Read one or two of these to really broaden you horizon on the war against young adults and sexual health:
a. Unhooked: How Young Women Pursue Sex, Delay Love, and Lose at Both by Laura Sessions Stepp.
b. Unprotected by Miriam Grossman.
c. The Marketing of Evil by David Kupelian
d. Uncompromising: A Heart Claimed By a Radical Love by Hannah Farver
3. If you are dating now, or when you start in the future, have the personal courage and the love for your date to have the serious talk when you start to get serious. You should be specific about the sexual side of dating, and set some defined parameters about how you will maintain sexual purity in your relationship.
I tell my closest friends when they ask me how I’m doing, “I’m living the dream!” And I am serious. Having been married for so long, enjoying sex without guilt or disease, and having someone with whom I’ve shared my whole life – it is truly the dream. It is the common dream of most everyone we know, and it is the dream of the God who made you and loves you. Great relationships, great sex, and good health are really what He intended for us all along. But when we do not trust Him enough to do it His way, we suffer the consequences of our selfish choices. Others suffer as well.
Go for the prize, you can have safe sex only with a safe partner.