In our culture, media plays a strong role in promoting casual sex.
Clarice Duncan, Summerville, takes issue with that and has decided to play a strong role in promoting sexual purity.
Duncan, who has taught abstinence programs in the public schools, is sponsoring a retreat April 23 and 24 called Pure Freedom: Seven Secrets to Sexual Purity.
A national retreat program based upon the book, "And the Bride Wore White" by Dannah Gresh, Pure Freedom is designed to give girls ages 13 through high school practical tools to live a lifestyle of purity. And although the retreat has a definite Christian focus, Duncan hopes unchurched girls will attend as well.
"The retreat is for every girl who wants to live a life of sexual purity going forward. Even if the girl has already had a sexual relationship," Duncan says, "this will give her a new focus."
Duncan says the rosy message bombarding our kids in movies, television and music is a lie. The message? Sex is fun, doesn't hurt anybody, and everybody's doing it. So why not give in to those urges and jump on the if-it-feels-good-do-it bandwagon?
Sex is not fun for teenagers who aren't emotionally, physically or spiritually prepared to handle the consequences, Duncan says.
As a registered nurse at Grande Ronde Hospital, a volunteer at Birthright of La Grande, and a mom, Duncan sees the hard core reality of those consequences almost on a daily basis.
Unplanned pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases are just part of the heartache when our children are encouraged to do something they are not ready to deal with, Duncan says. Even if teens are lucky enough to walk away from an intimate relationship that has ended without a pregnancy or STD, there is the heartache that most are unprepared to handle.
"You can't get that close to someone," Duncan says, "without leaving a piece of yourself behind."
Duncan says she is alarmed that most teens do not know the truth about condoms. Condoms are not a panacea they are not a guarantee against pregnancy, STDs and do not protect at all against certain types of viruses. Even the Center for Disease Control's Web site states this fact, Duncan says, but the message is not getting out.
Another great concern, says Duncan, is that most teens have bought into the big lie that oral sex is not really sex. Technically, she says, you may still be a virgin, but that threshold of sexual intimacy has still been crossed. And there is always the chance of being infected with an STD or virus.
"And once you get a virus," Duncan says, "you've got it for life."
Duncan's faith tells her sexual intimacy between a man and woman is God ordained and was created within the bonds of marriage.
"Whether you are Christian or not," Duncan says, "things were created to work a certain way."
There is no security, no trust, between teens who enter into a sexual relationship prior to marriage. When that relationship breaks apart, Duncan says, it creates levels of mistrust within a person leaving behind emotional and spiritual scars.
Duncan says it is not enough just to tell our children it is wrong to have sex before marriage. Or to list the statistics of unplanned pregnancies. and STDs. We have to tell them why not on a more fundamental level and arm them with the truth of God's design.
"We are asking our kids to abstain without giving them the tools to stand their ground," Duncan says.
Duncan says one of the biggest challenges regarding sex outside of marriage is the consequential inability to be objective about your partner before it's too late.
"When sexual intimacy enters a relationship," she says, "it is much harder to look at the other person critically."
Abstinence, Duncan says, means healthy dating. Healthy dating means healthy marriages. Healthy marriages mean healthy families.
"Isn't that what we all want?" Duncan asks.
Story by Mardi Ford