"It's going against everything I believe in, but there's still this thought in my mind that it's going to happen, sooner or later..." The letter was from an attractive teenage girl, a subscriber of Youth 85. In spite of the pressures of her friends at school, the permissive society we live in and the constant immoral bombardment of television and movies, she set certain sexual values and standards for herself. But now, approaching her mid-teens, Cindy (not her real name) find s herself weakening. She is confused and worried about her fluctuating desires and feelings. Is she really old-fashioned in her thinking like some of the young men she dates say? "They expect me to do things I go against. They expect me to go to bed with them, and when I tell them no, they tell me to grow up." How would you answer Cindy? I've read and reread her letter and I believe there are more Cindys (and Susies and Tonys and Bills) out there than we might think — young people with moral standards they're having a difficult time upholding.
Feeling good about yourself, whether male or female, and desiring to maintain a certain sense of self-respect is not old-fashioned. That's a natural and right emotion for every human being who has ever been born.
Cindy is at a turning point in her life. She's being pressured into making decisions that she shouldn't have to face yet.
On the other hand, a lack of concern for others' future sexual lives is as "old as the hills" too. We didn't create sex and lovemaking in the 20th century. Cindy continues: "As far as getting to do the same things as the other kids in high school, I believe I should wait and share my body with the guy I really love and devote my life to." How many of you guys when you're ready to begin a family and home wouldn't like to meet this girl? Or have you given up on there being any Cindys left? "Everyone talks about making love, but it makes me sick. If they really loved each other, they wouldn't have someone else every other week." Very perceptive, Cindy. Is what's going on out there really love, or is it the not-too-cleverly disguised counterfeit lust? Too often it's lust — a total lack of real love and concern for another. We need to get our definitions straight! Everyone needs to love and to be loved, and not just by one's family. As Cindy matures physically she realizes that more and more. "Maybe I'm just lonely. I need someone to hold me. I want to feel like someone really loves me. And sometimes parents, family and friends don't fill that longing. What should I do?" Cindy is at a turning point in her life. She's being pressured into making decisions that she shouldn't have to face until she is out of her teenage years. But this is the real world. You young people are being forced to grow up quickly. You're being expected to make adult decisions daily, not only by your friends, but by adults. Why is Cindy at her tender age alone with young men so immature in their thinking that they've labeled her body some sort of personal sexual experimentation zone? And you young men, realize that there are certain girls who will experiment with your feelings and cast you aside like an empty soft drink can. That's the way you feel afterward: crushed, empty and used — a worthless piece of litter. They'll compare your performance with others. You're just someone for them to make fun of with their friends. A humiliating experience? You bet. One that neither you nor anyone else, no matter what age, should ever have to suffer. Be wary. It's an experience that can pervert your feelings about the opposite sex and affect your sexual life, even in marriage.
A gift from God
Sex is a beautiful gift from God. These warm, titillating sensations didn't just evolve from now here. Those almost overpowering needs for love and companionship were put there for a divine purpose. God meant for you to experience them. He's not trying to keep you from having a good time. His guidelines are so you can experience to the fullest extent what He designed for you to enjoy. Does that sound strange? Haven't you some times felt that
You young people are being forced to grow up quickly. You're being expected to make adult decisions daily...
God doesn't want you to have fun? That isn't true. Do you know what God really wants for you? He wants you to be the attractive, healthy, wholesome, talented person you hardly dare to dream about. Well-balanced, popular with both young and old — that's what He wants for you. He wants you to be looked up to and respected. He wants you to find the most wonderful fellow or girl to date and finally marry. He wants you to experience the most satisfying, exciting sexual moments with that person that can be experienced. He designed you to have that kind of life. The problem is most people don't believe it. Their thinking is all turned upside down. They think moral guidelines are there to keep them from full enjoyment of their senses. No, they're there to protect, to shield from what would certainly ruin those beautiful years ahead.
Hanging in there
Cindy (you know who you are), I hope you hang in there. I hope Cindy doesn't make the big mistake she's seen her friends make, the unwanted pregnancies, the ruined lives. It won't be easy. It's easier with parental support, but in many instances teens are not getting this support because parents are confused too. Many have just given up on their kids. I'm sure Cindy's parents would be surprised to know how she really feels. But, teens, give your parents a break. They find talking to you about sex is one of the hardest things they have ever tried to do. So they procrastinate. Finally when they realize you're past puberty and growing up fast, some self-consciously offer you, male or female, birth control advice. If that's happened to you, I'm sure you felt confused. You may have wondered: What are my parents trying to tell me? Is it OK to do it as long as I don't get pregnant or, if a fellow, if I don't get someone else pregnant? Parents mean well, but many times they have been intimidated by the society we live in. Parents are pictured by the media as fumbling, bumbling fools who are having little success governing their own sex lives, let alone those of their children. And parents have come to believe it. What a travesty. If parents have made serious mistakes, that should be all the more reason to instruct their children and to try to protect them from the same pain. Young people, if you're determined to have that bright future that can be yours, the one that God has designed for you to have, you're going to have to take charge of your own life and have a plan. If well-meaning adults, doctors, nurses or parents, offer you birth control aids, realize their motivation is to protect you. But also know that sexual intercourse is much more than the physical act they imply. Sex before marriage is not OK, even if nobody gets pregnant or contracts a venereal disease or STD as they call them now. Sexually transmissible diseases — I guess that sounds nicer. But there's nothing nice about contracting
Sex is a most powerful driving force in our lives. Respect that force. Don't underestimate its power in your life.
one or several of the venereal diseases rampant in our society today. In fact, the STD herpes is so contagious that we all need to be careful where we go to the bathroom and what we touch while we're there. It's no laughing matter.
It won't be easy
In today's society, saying no to sex is not going to be easy in every circumstance. Nothing worth having is ever easy to attain. It takes personal courage and determination on your part. We're sexual beings. Sex is a most powerful driving force in our lives. Respect that force. Don't underestimate its power in your life. Put off until later going out on dates by yourself, just the two of you. Save this one-on-one dating for when both you and your date are older and are ready to consider the responsibilities of marriage. Your youth should be a time to have a relaxing good time with a group of friends without the oftentimes embarrassing discomfort and awkwardness of a single dating relationship. Save that for later when you're more socially experienced. And, right along with that, of course, don't go steady. Dating only one person multiplies the pressure on young people to have sex. I mean after hundreds of hours alone with one another, you can find it difficult to maintain your moral standards. You have the freedom, while you're a teenager, to get to know and learn about the personalities and likes and dislikes of a lot of people. So why settle down and parrot adults, developing an old-married-folks image? You're cheating yourself. You'll only be a teenager once. Get involved in positive activities that you can enjoy with a lot of young people. Spend time developing your skills in some sport or activity that will put you in good stead with everyone. Make some money; learn how to enjoy your work. Spend enough time developing a skill that you know you're good at it. You may be alone while you're developing certain of your talents, but believe me, once you've done it, the sense of self-respect you feel and the recognition of your abilities by others is well worth the price. Be the best at whatever interests you the most.
Did you know the lovemaking that precedes actual sexual intercourse is a part of that sexual act? This touching, prolonged kissing and fondling is a vital, integral part of sexual intercourse in marriage. God did not intend for people to indulge in these acts before marriage — another good reason not to date alone or go steady. Such lovemaking was designed to heighten the sensations of the physical union of two bodies. To try to experience as much as you can and go as far as you can without going all the way, kidding yourself that you are not doing anything wrong, is stupid — and pretty frustrating too. Some older teens, after deciding they're ready for marriage, justify their sexual activities by convincing each other they are just checking out their sexual compatibility before they marry. Oh really? Sexual compatibility is developed over a period of time. Not taking this into consideration can make you believe you're not compatible. Many a close relationship has been ruined by introducing sex into it prematurely. You can lose a person you love deeply that way. Remember, whether male or female, to respect that sexual drive in your bodies and realize you can't play around with it and not get hurt in a very intimate, devastatingly painful way. Avoid pornographic literature and movies. Pornography distorts your perception of sex, and an obsession with it can pervert your mind into weird notions of what sexual enjoyment is all about. Pornography and the abuses that often go along with it dull sexual senses and steal pleasures awaiting you in marriage. Also avoid destroying your sense of good judgment with alcohol and drugs. Don't ruin your entire life for one evening of chemical euphoria. Those of you who have already made some mistakes, chalk them up to learning the hard way. But learn the lesson, don't keep repeating the same mistakes. You can straighten out your life.
Talk to parents
Try to talk to your parents about your feelings. Ask for their support. They may not understand that when they allow you to be alone and unchaperoned with a friend of the opposite sex, they are placing you in a compromising situation that you may be unable to control. Parents tend to think of you as their little boys and girls still and avoid facing up to the fact that you now have strong sexual drives. Ask them to help provide opportunities for the balanced social and recreational opportunities you and your friends need. Parents may be tired and filled with problems of their own, but it would be difficult for them not to respond when you point out the need. Of course, don't expect your home to become a total entertainment center at all hours, day or night.
Choose friends wisely
Now comes another hard part — getting yourself out of the entanglements you are already involved in. Be honest. Go to the person you may be steadily dating and tell him or her how you feel. Tell your friend you're not turning against him or her as a friend, but make it clear that what you want is a friend, not a lover. Evaluate your friends and their moral standards — even if you're in the "in" crowd. In the long run it's not who's in the "in" crowd that matters. It's your success and happiness in the future that matters. It might be interesting to ask your parents: "Whatever happened to the people who were in the 'in' crowd at your high school? Where are they now and how successful and happy are they?" This article is not going to be a long dissertation on the dos and don'ts of sex. It's too broad a subject. Youth 85's Editor-in-Chief Herbert W. Armstrong, however, after years of counseling hundreds, more likely thousands, of teenagers and other young people, has written a book that covers the subject in-depth. In his book, The Missing Dimension in Sex, Mr. Armstrong discusses going steady, dating, the best age for marriage and other instruction vital to the happiness and fulfillment of teenagers and adults. It is absolutely free. It is also available in many libraries. We do care about you, Cindy, and all you others out there who are bucking a crowd on its way to venereal disease, unwanted pregnancies, unhappy and broken marriages and a generally miserable, unsatisfying life. You have the opportunity to avoid these painful problems and, instead, to have the enjoyment now and the tremendous marriage later that God intended. Cindy — stick up for your values. You're definitely worth it!