"SEX, How To Know When It's Right" blared the headline of a recent issue of a national magazine targeted at teenagers.
The problem with the above and numerous other articles about sexuality is that they're based on the standards of the world. And those standards seem to be in a constant state of change. What may have been unacceptable 20 years ago, is not only acceptable today but in some cases is even encouraged.
In Doctrine and Covenants 59:6, the Lord commands: "Thou shalt not . . . commit adultery, . . . nor do anything like unto it."
The Lord's standard regarding sexuality, as He has revealed to His prophets, is one that would eliminate all sexually transmitted diseases and stabilize families throughout the world. It is simple and straightforward: Abstinence before marriage and total fidelity to one's spouse after marriage. In other words, sexual relations and anything like unto them are permissible only between legally and lawfully wedded husbands and wives.
That is the only acceptable answer to the statement, "Sex, how to know when it's right." And it's one that some researchers are beginning to validate.
"It is time for society at large to make a concerted effort to promote abstinence as the only alternative to teenage sexual activity," notes a report titled "Building Healthy Futures" by the Medical Institute for Sexual Health, a nonprofit medical/educational organization based in Austin, Texas.
The current casual attitude toward sex has been devastating, the report notes, resulting in 8,000 teenagers contracting a sexually transmitted infection every day. It is estimated that more than 15 million Americans will contract a sexually transmitted infection this year, with 25 percent of that total occurring in people under 20.
Improper sexual activity leads to a whole cupboard of problems. More than 75 percent of teen births in the United States are out-of-wedlock births. That impacts all of society. Young, unmarried mothers often do not finish high school. They frequently require public assistance. In addition, children born to adolescent mothers are at increased risk of child abuse and neglect. They also have a greater propensity for dropping out of school, running away, being incarcerated and becoming involved in nonmarital pregnancies.
The non-abstinence based or so-called "safe sex" programs have been a disaster, according to the report. "Despite claims to the contrary, it has been during the dominance of [these] programs . . . that the explosion in both nonmarital pregnancy and STI [sexually transmitted infections] rates has occurred."
The wisdom of the world is no match for the wisdom of the Lord.
The Medical Institute for Sexual Health notes: "Abstaining from sexual activity is more than a moral or religious issue it is an issue of personal and public health. Society should teach children the benefits of sexual abstinence and empower them with the skills necessary to achieve their goal."
Those who teach that "safe sex" is an acceptable alternative to abstinence or that other sexual practices are acceptable, do mankind a terrible disservice. The "Building Healthy Futures" study shows that sexual diseases may be transmitted by deviant acts that do not involve sexual intercourse.
Not surprisingly, it has been found that sexual activity in youth is associated with other high risk behaviors, including alcohol, tobacco and drug use, dropping out of school, being arrested and being suspended from school.
"When will we realize that teens don't need more birth-control options? They need family members, church leaders, teachers and friends encouraging them to respect their bodies and to demand the same respect from those with whom they interact," a reporter for the Houston Chronicle wisely noted last year in an article about teens and sexuality.
The conclusion of the Medical Institute for Sexual Health's report is valid because it mirrors the same conclusion that has been revealed to the Lord's servants: "All the medical data show that abstaining from sexual intercourse until marriage is the healthiest and preferred lifestyle for adolescents and young adults. The health benefits of abstinence particularly, the elimination of unmarried pregnancy risk warrant promoting this strategy to all unmarried youth."
That is precisely what Church leaders are doing. It's also what all others should do.