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FIRST-PERSON: Burgers, bullets and ‘safe sex’

McMINNVILLE, Ore. (BP)–If a fast food chain revealed that 85 percent of the burgers it served were free of e-coli bacteria, would you feel comfortable eating in one of its restaurants?

If an airline boasted that 85 percent of its flights landed safely, would you feel secure boarding one of its planes?

If traffic lights were known to function properly only 85 percent of the time, would you feel safe approaching an intersection?

Any thinking person would answer a resounding no to all the above. Unless “safe-sex” programs change their message, they are encouraging young people to utilize condoms that are, at best, only 85 percent effective against sexually transmitted diseases.

A recent report released by The Centers for Disease Control concludes that condom use reduces the risk of contracting HIV by only 85 percent — and then only if they are used “correctly and consistently.” That’s the good news. The summary report compiled by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, and the Department of Health and Human Services also concluded that there is no scientific proof to the claim that condoms provide protection against other sexual transmitted diseases such as gonorrhea and syphilis.

For years “safe-sex” programs in public schools have strongly intimated, and even asserted, that condom use almost absolutely provides protection from pregnancy and disease. The recent CDC revelations challenge not only the wisdom but also the validity of the prophylactic prevention message.

It is absolutely imperative that “safe-sex” programs include the truth about the consequences of sexual promiscuity. Teenagers should be told that if they choose to be sexually active, they not only run the risk of pregnancy, but they are also in danger of contracting an incurable and perhaps even terminal disease.

Through the years, many churches and parents have spoken the truth concerning sex outside of marriage. However, the message has been challenged by public school programs that not only asserted that promiscuous sex was safe, but made condoms readily available to willing teens. Those who believe this information did not encourage sexual activity are, at best, naive.

The new data concerning condom effectiveness – or lack thereof – will reveal the true motive of “safe-sex” programs now peddled in public schools. If the true concern is for the safety and well being of teens, the current message will be altered to present the unvarnished facts concerning the risks of promiscuous sex. However, if the real motive is about promoting freedom from puritanical values, an “anything goes as long as you utilize a condom” philosophy will continue to be espoused.

If concern for teen health is not enough to change the “safe-sex” message in public schools, perhaps the threat of litigation will be. I can well imagine a future scenario of an “HIV-infected 20-Something” suing a school district because her or she were led to believe that using a condom guaranteed a safe-sex experience.

Some will argue that 85 percent is a relatively high rate of effectiveness. However, when you consider that in Russian roulette one has an 83.4 percent chance of firing an empty chamber, the argument ends. No one encourages participation in the dangerous game, even though the odds of getting a bullet are relatively low. The stakes are simply too high.

The sexual stakes for today’s teens are enormous. Those who become sexually active run the risk of contracting diseases. Some are incurable and can result in death. For this reason alone teens need the truth about the consequences of promiscuity. Abstinence will then not only make sense, but will also become a wise alternative.
Boggs’ column appears each Friday in Baptist Press. He is pastor of Valley Baptist Church, McMinnville, Ore.

    About the Author

  • Kelly Boggs