We talk about this on BreakPoint quite a bit: Young people who wait until after the wedding have a better chance for a stable, fulfilling, happy marriage—not to mention they don’t have to worry about sexually transmitted diseases and unplanned pregnancies. You’ve probably also heard me or Eric Metaxas talk about how obedience to the Lord’s loving plan for confining sex within marriage brings incalculable spiritual benefits in our Christian lives.
But what we haven’t heard in quite a while is the government admit that teenage sexual activity has, shall we say, negative consequences. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—that’s right, the CDC—young people who are virgins register much higher in nearly all health-related behaviors than those who are sexually active. What kinds of behaviors? Things like using seat belts, avoiding drug abuse, eating a healthy diet, going to the doctor, exercising, and avoiding riding with a driver who’s been drinking.
In addition, in a finding that the media is sure to either bury or dispute, while sexually inactive teens are healthiest, sexually active homosexual and bisexual teens fare worse than their sexually active heterosexual peers.
The CDC conveys this blockbuster conclusion as drily and bureaucratically as possible: “Significant health disparities exist.”
Our friend Glenn Stanton, director of global family formation studies at Focus on the Family, documents some of these disparities. Let’s take a look at just two:
First, smoking. Sexually active heterosexual teens are 3,300 percent more likely to light up daily than their virgin counterparts. The “same-sex/bisexual-active” teens are an amazing 9,500 percent more likely to smoke daily than the virgins.
Second, drug abuse. Sexually active heterosexual teens are 500 percent more likely to have ever injected a non-prescription drug than the virgins, while a whopping 2,333 percent of the “same-sex/bisexual-active” teens are more likely than the virgins to have done so.
Now Glenn is quick to add, correlation is not causation—meaning the research doesn’t prove that abstinence causes these other healthy habits. But the fact that the CDC noted a relationship between behaviors that you might at first blush think are unrelated is more than a little significant.
And parents should take note, too. As researcher Mark Regnerus has highlighted in his book “Forbidden Fruit,” the intensity of teens’ religious beliefs is more important when it comes to sexual activity than exactly what religious beliefs they claim.
So it goes without saying that the first thing we should care about is our kids’ faith. A strong, informed, and vital relationship with Jesus will help them resist temptation and peer pressure—sexual and otherwise—the type that assault them every day at school and online.
While the CDC will never be able to put it this way, Glenn Stanton does sums up their findings well: “The sexual choices and values our young people hold have real-life consequences far beyond sexuality itself.”
Or in other words, as we say all the time around here, “worldview matters.” The CDC report shows there are consequences for a secular worldview that sees bodies as something we “own,” something external to who we are, something we use (or abuse) depending on our desires, our will, or our “identity.”
The Christian worldview, in sharp contrast, teaches that our bodies are integral to who we are, both in how humans were created and in that Christ took on flesh to make all things new. The extent that we and our kids truly embrace this, will determine how we treat our bodies and the bodies of others.