Birth Control for Teens Who Are “Doing It Anyway”?
If pressed, many “family planners” admit that in an ideal world, all young people would refrain from sexual activity before marriage and remain faithful to their spouses after. Such a society would have no HIV-AIDS or other sexually transmitted diseases, very little unwanted pregnancy (and few pregnancies among unmarried teens!), and most likely a very low divorce rate. In turn, crime, poverty and dropping out of school would plunge.
But immediately after acknowledging this unavoidable truth, those who advocate abortion and birth control for teens firmly state that hoping or working for such a future is completely “unrealistic” and is thus a waste of time.
The Promotion of Birth Control for Teens
One of the primary problems of the “sexperts” is that they do not believe in the eternal soul. Therefore, they say, people are no different from other animals and so we must pursue what they call “harm reduction.” We must give in to our weak human nature and make everyone as comfortable and as safe as possible as they engage in unhealthy behavior. We are not allowed to “judge” people committing various harmful and sinful sexual activities because they were “born that way” and therefore cannot help themselves.
The Culture of Death is ridiculously short-sighted, especially regarding human sexuality. Since it has no concept of humanity’s fallen nature, it simply cannot perceive the inevitable consequences of its activities. It simply dismisses those who predict disaster as “religious cranks,” and when these “cranks” turn out to be correct, the “sexperts” only prescribe more of the false solutions that enabled the problem in the first place: more condoms for teens, more explicit sex education, more free abortions, and more “confidentiality.”
Many priests see the results of these policies to their great sorrow. Young people in their parishes have followed the “free love” philosophy of their Baby Boomer parents and grandparents, who grew up in the 1960s and 1970s.
It has gotten to the point that many young people have sex with someone they have just met in order to help them decide if that person would be a good boyfriend or girlfriend. The norm for some young people is what they call “serial monogamy” with a succession of “partners.” Should priests look the other way if they use contraception? After all, some ask, birth control for teens is certainly better than abortion, isn’t it?
People — and especially young people — have the ability to live up to our expectations for them. Unfortunately, they also live down to our expectations for them. Whether or not they admit it, they look to older people for guidance and example. If we treat them as if they are no better than animals and simply throw condoms at them, they are going to have sex. It is as simple as that.
Sex educators claim that providing birth control for teens in schools or clinics will not lead to sexual behavior. This is as illogical as saying that giving them cars will not lead to driving behavior. Every experienced crisis pregnancy counselor has talked to many teenaged girls whose parents put them on birth control “just to be safe,” and who have taken this as a green light to have sex.
If we emphasize that we have high expectations for young people, that their bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, and that we know that they will make the right decisions, they will be much more likely to abstain from sex and avoid all of the terrible worries and problems that accompany premarital sexual activity.
Parents have more influence on their children than religion, their friends, the media, or what they learn in school. Unfortunately, in today’s world, parents often give their children bad example. Father Paul Marx, the founder of Human Life International, often said that “contracepting parents beget fornicating teenagers.” He also said that “virtue is caught, not taught.” We must lead by (good) example.
The Catholic Church is suffering greatly from the impacts of two consecutive uncatechized generations. We must win our children back from a world whose paramount message is “If it feels good, do it.” This huge task may very well take another two generations, but are not the souls of millions worth the trouble? We must never despair.
Discouraging Birth Control for Teens
A practical, rather than a religious, appeal usually works best with teenagers because many of them really think that they can enjoy life now and worry about religion and the disposition of their souls decades later in their lives. This attitude tends to lead to many woes in this life as well.
Young people are under a heavy load of stress. They have their studies to attend to, in addition to defining who they are and what their interests are and planning for their futures. One effective way of “immunizing” young people against premarital sex, abortion and contraception is to show them how engaging in such activities clutters up their minds with oppressive and unnecessary worries. Teenagers who remain chaste experience much less stress and have minds that are free to concentrate on planning their future lives.
Human Life International missionaries have found that the most effective way to encourage young people to follow a holy and healthy lifestyle is to emphasize the problems that they will avoid if they follow God’s plan for their lives, and the happiness and security they will experience if they follow it. These problems include the following urgent, and many times life-changing, worries, which always seem to fall heavily on the teenaged girl:
- “Unwanted” pregnancy and single motherhood. Single mothers are much less likely to attend college, hold a well-paying job, or find a good husband. They are also much more likely to live in poverty with their children and are generally unhealthier. These disadvantages are also passed on to their children.
- As we have seen, many highly infectious sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are making a comeback in the United States, and many people do not know that they are infected. These diseases cause nothing but misery, and the more serious ones can even lead to infertility, severe health problems and even death. Young people who are chaste are not at risk for HIV-AIDS or other STDs.
- Loss of self-respect can be a crippling psychological handicap for young girls, leading to drastically lowering their standards and their goals in life. Those young women who engage in premarital sex generally have lower self-esteem and thus do not achieve in life as well as those who remain chaste.
- Despite the bizarre movement these days that seeks to eradicate alleged “slut-shaming” and even celebrates promiscuity, young women who are known to “sleep around” have lost one of their most precious possessions — their reputations. This can cause a spiral into more and more damaging and unhealthy behavior, especially if they associate with others having early sexual activity.
- Regardless of what the “sexperts” tend to say, teenagers do care intensely about what their parents think of them. Teens who remain proudly chaste can be certain their parents hold them in high esteem.
- In their efforts to avoid pregnancy, many teenagers resort to the use of contraception and abortifacients. As we have seen, contraceptives fail frequently, and the list of side effects of chemical abortifacients is long indeed, ranging from heart problems and stroke to significant weight gain and excessive hair growth.
- If (or, more likely, when) their contraception fails, teenaged girls often find themselves completely on their own. Their boyfriends usually tell them to “get rid of it,” and so they are forced into raising money for an abortion and sneaking off to an abortion mill, where they are victimized once again. Contrary to what pro-abortion propagandists say, this is a dreadful ordeal for any young girl. Then, of course, there are the common physical and psychological injuries inflicted by abortion. Teenagers who are chaste do not have to worry about any of this.
- Difficulty in finding a good husband. Young men, even if they have themselves been extremely promiscuous, prefer to marry a young woman who does not have children by other men. Yes, this is hypocritical and unfair. It is also a sad reality.
- Early sexual activity often leads to a lifetime habit of “breaking the rules” regarding sexual morality. Studies have shown that sexually active teens are much more likely to commit adultery, have children outside of marriage, and be divorced later in life.
- And, most importantly, we should fear of loss of their souls! We must stay in the state of grace at all times, for we do not know when our lives will end. Teenagers die every day, and eternity is a long, long time. Those who decide to be serious about the Catholic Faith early in their lives follow the example of Saints Dominic Savio and Maria Goretti, and in general can expect to live much happier lives than those who decide to become “pick and choose” Catholics.
It is no exaggeration to say that teens that stay chaste suffer less than half of the psychological stress load that sexually active teens experience. Early sexual activity is a terrible distraction, perhaps as addictive as the most powerful drugs.
By contrast, teenagers who are chaste suffer from none of these terrible troubles and are free to turn their eyes towards higher things — their education, their future, and God. Refusing to give in to the temptation to participate in pre-marital sex will lead to a galaxy of rewards (and disasters avoided) that most people cannot even begin to imagine.
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Dr. Brian Clowes has been HLI’s director of research since 1995 and is one of the most accomplished and respected intellectuals in the international pro-life movement. Best known as author of the most exhaustive pro-life informational resource volume The Facts of Life, and for his Pro-Life Basic Training Course, Brian is the author of nine books and over 500 scholarly and popular articles, and has traveled to 70 countries on six continents as a pro-life speaker, educator and trainer.