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Sex Hurts

Every day we hear about something that is harmful to us, something the government needs to regulate or outlaw, something for which an avalanche of PSAs must be unleashed on the American people as they drive home from work, watch television, or scan their favorite websites.

Don’t eat sugar. You’ll get diabetes and die. Don’t smoke. You’ll get lung cancer and die. Don’t stop at McDonalds. You’ll get fat and die.

Meanwhile there’s not a peep about one of the most dangerous activities people engage in all the time—premarital sex. Or extramarital sex. Or, dare I say the word—fornication? Or does that make me sound too judgmental? Probably, but the word fits because sex is loaded with moral implications: The possibility of dysfunctional relationships, of sexually transmitted diseases, of an unwanted pregnancy or abortion. The possibility of guilt, shame, depression, and suicide.

Does this sound dramatic? Over the top? Maybe, but it’s true. Sex can be dangerous. Yet, we either promote it for political purposes, exploit it in the name of entertainment—even for our children—or brush it off in the name of personal liberty.

This last point is significant because I want to make it clear that I’m not saying the government should regulate people’s sexual behavior, and I’m not even suggesting that conservatives start their own barrage of PSAs speaking out against the dangers of sex. What I am asking for is some perspective, some tolerance of those who speak about the costs of this highly sexualized age without being driven from the halls of public debate as if they’re witch hunters brandishing torches of judgment and blame.

When I hear people talk about sex as if it’s no big deal, as if it’s no different than eating a steak or going for a drive on the freeway, when I see political ads comparing voting to losing your virginity, or when I hear social conservatives slapped down when they voice their grievances over a licentious culture, my heart grieves.

That’s because I’m picturing the girl walking home alone after having sex on the beer-drenched floor of a fraternity house with a guy too drunk to remember her name. The tears on her cheeks. The tightness in her chest, the sick feeling deep inside, and the already-hardening effect of knowing she will do it again.

I’m remembering a young girl when I worked in ministry who came to me with scars on her wrists and tremors in her soft voice as she told me about the day she aborted her baby. She wept uncontrollably in my arms for an innocence, a life, she would never have again, her dark eyes filled with a sorrow that only the greatest amount of love and grace could ever wash away.

I’m thinking of the boy who sits in a bathroom, alone, staring at a lab report that says he is HIV Positive. A sense of hopeless desperation wells up within him like a flood of dark water as he tries to breathe, to fight back the overwhelming fear that threatens to drown him. His life is forever changed. A precious gem exchanged for a handful of dust. I hear his sobs as he leans on the side of the tub begging for comfort no human can fully give.

An estimated 8,300 young people between 13 and 24 reported to the CDC in 2009 that they had been diagnosed with the HIV infection. Nearly half of the 19 million new STDs each year are among young people 15 to 24 years. More than 400,000 teen girls aged 15 to 19 years old gave birth in 2009. Chlamydia and gonorrhea cases are highest in Americans between 15 and 24.

While both men and women are severely affected by STDs, women face the most serious long-term health consequences. If they’re left untreated, STDs can silently steal a woman’s chance to have children later in life. It’s estimated that undiagnosed STDs cause approximately 24,000 women to become infertile each year. Syphilis rates are on the rise; they have been the highest every year among women 20 to 24 years old.

Abortion statistics are even more bleak. There have been approximately 50 million abortions performed in the U.S. from 1973 to 2011. A total of 35 percent of pregnant teens have an abortion.

Women who abort are four times more likely to die within a year than women who don’t get an abortion. Women who aborted in the year before their death were 60 percent more likely to die of natural causes, seven times more likely to die of suicide, and 14 times more likely to die from homicide. Abortion is linked to smoking, drug abuse, suicide, violent behavior, and eating disorders.

Yes, a woman has a right to do what she wants with her body. Yes, men and women can engage in all kinds of sexual behavior if they want to. But does that mean we should ignore the consequences? Remain silent to the costs? Refuse to issue warnings because we’re afraid we’ll be called judgmental or worse?

What kind of society are we when we celebrate, perpetuate, and capitalize on a behavior that hurts so deeply, that robs people of their innocence, their happiness, and even their lives? Is that compassion?

Who are the truly compassionate ones? Those who celebrate actions that lead to depression, dysfunction, and brokenness? Or those who lovingly warn that there is a better way—a way that celebrates the best of who we can be, not the worst of what we’re free to do.

Painting (acrylic and sand): Innocence Lost by D.C. McAllister

  1. Herbert Woodbery

    Again, not equally bad. We can say things that are just past the line are slightly bad, while things way past the line are much worse. But can we draw a line anywhere on the continuum to distinguish good from bad, right from wrong, moral from immoral?

    No because what makes sex non hurtful is a combination of values … Respect, trust, love, desire, etc. theses things are not as some would say delimited by a line of marriage.

  2. Herbert Woodbery

    I’m not sure I’m following you. Is this the old “sow your wild oats” theory, that if men are permitted a period of indiscretion in their youth, they will “get it out of their system” and ultimately make more loyal husbands?It seems to me you could just as easily make the opposite case: once habituated to sexual variety, a man is more likely to view marriage as a privation since he’s limited to “only” one sex partner for the rest of his life.

    Would you agree that some people are sexually incompatible (frequency,type, style, etc) with other people?

  3. Joseph Stanko
    Herbert Woodbery: 

    No because what makes sex non hurtful is a combination of values … Respect, trust, love, desire, etc. theses things are not as some would say delimited by a line of marriage. · 30 minutes ago

    Ok, if not marriage, then where should we draw the line?  

    It sounds like your proposal is that sex is moral if it involves respect, trust, love, and desire.  If it lacks one of these elements, would you agree that it is immoral?

    What if two people have respect, trust, and desire, but not love.  Would it be immoral for them to have sex?

  4. Joseph Stanko
    Herbert Woodbery: 

    Would you agree that some people are sexually incompatible (frequency,type, style, etc) with other people? · 28 minutes ago

    I’m inclined to think, if they love each other, they’d be able to find a reasonable compromise.

    Also, it seems to me that type and style are habits that develop over time and with experience, so that a couple who has been sexually active for a decade with multiple partners prior to marriage are more likely to experience compatibility issues than two virgins experiencing everything for the first time together.

    But hey, I’ve never been married, so what do I know?

  5. Herbert Woodbery

    But hey, I’ve never been married, so what do I know?

    We share that fact.

    As for the line, why not emphasize respect, dignity, trust, and love as opposed to a particular line? Aren’t those the real values that reduce the hurt that relationships can bring?

  6. EThompson

    That’s because I’m picturing the girl walking home alone after having sex on the beer-drenched floor of a fraternity house with a guy too drunk to remember her name.

    One of the saddest things about society today is that a girl used to be able to walk back to her sorority house after attending a fun, beer-drenched  frat party and not worry about taking a “morning after” pill or seeing a gynecologist. ):

  7. Siena

    Thanks for your post, DC. I needed to hear this.

  8. Skyler

    Sex hurts?  No it doesn’t.  Being stupid about sex can hurt.  If you do it right, it’s a lot of fun.  If others choose the wrong people to have sex with, that’s either a criminal matter or their own personal business, and I want no part of a society that blames me for others’ stupidity.

  9. Skyler
    D.C. McAllister: 

    Women who abort are four times more likely to die within a year than women who don’t get an abortion. Women who aborted in the year before their death were 60 percent more likely to die of natural causes, seven times more likely to die of suicide, and 14 times more likely to die from homicide. Abortion is linked to smoking, drug abuse, suicide, violent behavior, and eating disorders.

    DC, these statistics confuse correlation and causation, or should I say “cause and effect” pretty badly and it’s beneath you to put this out this way.

    People who live rough lives have these results and they also make poor decisions about sexual activity which results in their deciding to have abortions more than others might.  Neither sex nor abortions caused their problems.  Their problems caused the sex and abortions.

  10. D.C. McAllister
    C
    Skyler: Sex hurts?  No it doesn’t.  Being stupid about sex can hurt.  If you do it right, it’s a lot of fun.  If others choose the wrong people to have sex with, that’s either a criminal matter or their own personal business, and I want no part of a society that blames me for others’ stupidity. · 0 minutes ago

    Well, no one is disputing that it can be fun. And no one is blaming you for other people’s stupidity. I’m not really sure what you mean. But as for the point of sex. Even sex before marriage without a “bad relationship” or without pregnancy or STDs can have harmful effects, especially for teenagers who get a lot of the sexualized messaging from our society. Girls who have had sex before 20 have greater incidences of self-harm, depression, narcissistic behavior, and self-image issues. My point is there are consequences. But we ignore them and put down people who want to point them out as if we’re being puritanical. I’m not being puritanical. I’m not afraid of sex. But I’m also realistic about it.

  11. Blue State Blues

    Awesome painting.  Well done.

  12. D.C. McAllister
    C
    Skyler

    People who live rough lives have these results and they also make poor decisions about sexual activity which results in their deciding to have abortions more than others might.  Neither sex nor abortions caused their problems.  Their problems caused the sex and abortions. 

    How do you know that these statements you have made are true? 

  13. D.C. McAllister
    C
    Skyler

    DC, these statistics confuse correlation and causation, or should I say “cause and effect” pretty badly and it’s beneath you to put this out this way.

    People who live rough lives have these results and they also make poor decisions about sexual activity which results in their deciding to have abortions more than others might.  Neither sex nor abortions caused their problems.  Their problems caused the sex and abortions. 

    Skyler, as for the stats, I think there’s a pretty obvious cause and effect between having sex and getting STDs. or having sex and getting pregnant. or having sex and having an abortion. My point is that STDs, unwanted pregnancies and abortion (aside from the mental health issues—we can even remove those from the table if you wish) are painful, hurt people, and damage lives. This is just a fact.

  14. kylez

    We seem to be at the point where consent is the only moral concern regarding sex (between adults).

  15. Marion Evans

    Great post D.C! (what should we call you?). There is a benefit and a cost to every sexual encounter. The benefit can be ephemeral and is received up front but the cost is often invisible at first, can be much greater, and can go on for years.

  16. Skyler

    Bill Thom, fishing is not a good analogy. But perhaps sky diving is. Sky diving is dangerous, but if you are prepared properly, your chute is packed well, and the weather conditions are good, among other variables, then you can do it until the cows come home and no one gets hurt.

    Non-marital sex is the same way. If you choose a good partner and place and time, then no one gets hurt and a fun time is had by all. You shouldn’t ban skydiving because there are too many idiots that don’t pack parachutes and then jump out of airplanes.

    And since procreation is a fundamental human right, we should not presume to stop people from procreating.

    Three cheers for DC and others who minister to those who made mistakes. But that she was immersed in a population of people making mistakes probably taints her views.

  17. DocJay

    Nice painting.  How much does an original McAllister run? 

    People should treat their bodies with respect and teach their kids to do the same.  

  18. EThompson

    We also seem to be at the point where the young have managed to manipulate a perfectly good time into a death sentence.

    I grew up in the Animal House generation and I totally resent what has happened to fun.

    Toga.

  19. dittoheadadt
    DocJay: Nice painting.  How much does an original McAllister run? 

    Ditto.

    I don’t know (or even know how to appreciate) art, but that painting says something.