When I played college baseball, we were expected not to use steroids. Sure, some athletes do it anyway, but no coach would ever walk into the locker room and say, “We want you all to abstain from using performance enhancing drugs. But since we know some of you will do it anyway, we’ll have a basket of free, clean syringes in the dugout,” with a special class for those who don’t want to abstain.
The same goes with the condom. If you had a child who was thinking about sleeping with a person who might have HIV, would you say, “I’d rather you not sleep with that person. But, since I know you’ll probably do it anyway, here’s a condom?” There’s no way you would entrust the life of your child to a thin piece of latex. You would give him or her a clear and uncompromised message of purity. Doesn’t every person deserve to hear the same message you would deliver to a person you love? Every human being is capable of self-control, and is able to make smart decisions. If anything, the people who are “going to do it anyway” are the ones most in need of a convincing abstinence message.
Besides, what if you taught students how to use a condom, and then a young woman returned to you two years later, asking how she got cervical cancer, despite using a condom every time? What would you tell her?
The fact is that most people who promote the outdated and medically inaccurate notion of “safe sex” are unaware of the condom’s failure rate in preventing STDs. Most people also underestimate the failure rate of contraception in preventing pregnancy, falsely assuming it’s 99% effective. A former medical director for Planned Parenthood once wrote, “More than three million unplanned pregnancies occur each year to American women; two-thirds of these are due to contraceptive failure.”
The notion of “safe” sex is misleading because it gives people a false sense of security to engage in risky behavior. For example, when a teenage girl becomes sexually active, she becomes more likely to become depressed, have more breakups, and eventually get divorced, as can be seen in this study of 10,000 women. Other studies also show that sexually active girls are more likely to attempt suicide. Obviously these things don’t happen to every sexually active teen, but the sooner a woman becomes sexually active, the more likely she is to suffer through them. With that in mind, it seems pretty misleading to call sex “safe” because a piece of latex is involved. Promoting safe sex makes as much sense as telling your child to wear a helmet if he’s going to play in traffic.
Lastly, the whole idea that teens are “going to do it anyway” is equivalent to saying that you’re giving up on them. After my wife and I gave a chastity talk at a school, a girl from the audience came up to Crystalina and dropped something in her hand, saying, “Thanks for the talk. I won’t be needing these anymore.” My wife looked down, and in her hand was a half empty packet of birth control pills. Now, do you think this girl would have been that impacted by our talk if we concluded it by passing out condoms for those who were “Gonna do it anyway”?
It is impossible to deliver a convincing abstinence message while promoting condoms, as can by seen by how ineffective “comprehensive” sex-ed has been. Abstinence educators are not naive about the sexual activity levels of teens. They’re just the ones who know what’s at stake. For proof that abstinence education works, click here.
. Dr. Louise Tyrer, Letter to the Editor, Wall Street Journal, 26 April 1991.