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FIRST-PERSON: Teens capable of heeding true safe sex message

McMINNVILLE, Ore. (BP)–A report on FOX News indicates that President Bush is going to seek a 33 percent increase for abstinence-only sex education. If granted, the additional funding would bring the total spent on such programs to $135 million. Critics charge it is a colossal waste of money because when it comes to sex, teens only ignore the “just say no” message.

The liberal message is that teens are simply going to have sex. Nothing anyone can say is going to thwart them. They are slaves to their hormones and must obey. Therefore the message should be geared toward instructing them to be responsible in their behavior and encourage them to engage in safe sex.

I have often wondered how liberals would react if they learned there were a growing number of individuals — specifically teenagers — who were choosing to nap on railroad tracks? If they took the same approach they do with teen sex they would simply retort, “Nothing we can say will persuade these young people from sleeping on the rails, therefore we must educate them so they can do it safely.”

I can well imagine a campaign to distribute train schedules. This knowledge would insure that those dozing on the tracks would know the specific time when a train would be approaching. The intent would be that they would avoid napping at these times. Of course, there would always be those who would ignore the schedule information and be at risk of being hit by a train. The response likely would be an effort to distribute some type of warning device that would sound whenever a train approached.

It would never occur to the liberal to tell people who chose to sleep on railroad tracks that their behavior is hazardous. They would never think to show them the devastating effects a train has when it impacts with a human body. Rather than point out the likely consequences of choosing to sleep on a railroad track, liberals would dispense information that would only provide a false sense of security for those in engaging in a perilous practice.

Teenagers need to be told the whole truth about sexual activity outside of marriage. While condoms might reduce the risk of pregnancy — and then only when used consistently and properly, they do not eliminate it. When it comes to sexually transmitted diseases, they are less effective. A summary report released in August 2001 by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health and the Department of Health and Human Services revealed that condoms are, at best, only 85 percent effective in providing protection against STDs.

The so-called safe sex message has not been effective. Recent statistics indicate that nearly 900,000 teens get pregnant each year. These are lives that, no matter the choice they make concerning their pregnancy, have been forever altered.

I was recently involved in a debate concerning the safe-sex message as it pertains to homosexual youth. My opponent asserted that the fastest-growing segment of the population being diagnosed with HIV is those in their teens and early 20s. My reply, “Kids are dying, and yet you refuse to admit that the repeated message of ‘just use a condom’ is failing.”

The liberal position betrays a lack of confidence in young people. It assumes that they do not possess the ability to make wise choices. However, given the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth about the consequences of sex outside of marriage, many teens — perhaps even most teens — might well choose abstinence. President Bush thinks so, and I agree.
Boggs, whose column appears in Baptist Press each week, is pastor of Valley Baptist Church, McMinnville, Ore.

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  • Kelly Boggs