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Breaking the Rules – the Dangers of Promiscuity

Jeff Cormier, More Truth

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Preface from the Chancellor

STM is a Catholic institution of learning, owned by 12 Catholic Churches in our City.   The School exists for one primary purpose – to teach, wrapped in the truths of the Catholic Faith.   I have always believed that one should never “put down” other religions. Such an approach is weak and trite. Yet, at the same time, neither should Catholics feel we have to apologize for what we believe. The Catholic Church has something beautiful to offer the world. And, in its history, has given to the world some of the greatest men and women who have ever lived. Have there been those “others”?   Of course!   But we never judge something by those who don’t live it, but by those who do.

I have asked the Religion Administrator to put together a series of articles on some of the more “debated” and “controversial” issues of our day.   It’s actually a “follow-up” to the catechetical homilies I introduced last year at the STM Masses. It is wrong for the Church to insist and expect her children to live up to her teachings without explaining “why” she teaches them.   And certainly, in a Catholic institution of learning, we are charged to do so all the more.

The series of articles that will appear in this periodical will address issues of sexual morality. Why? Because this is THE moral issue teens struggle with in our culture. The articles are not meant to judge, to condemn, or to put down.   Rather, they are meant primarily to AFFIRM what the Church teaches, to CLARIFY why she teaches them, and to help FORM our students to live the truths of the Gospel and holiness of life.   To those who may argue that such subject matter is a bit too sensitive for our ninth or tenth graders, my answer is that perhaps in years past. But today, even pre-teens are bombarded by images and messages that shout out to them another way. It is never too early to equip and to teach the holier way, the more virtuous way, the way rooted in Gospel values.

In the debate that will no doubt follow, and in the struggles we each have to live up to these truths (Administration, Faculty, Students and Chancellor), we dare to do what we are called to do as a Catholic School –to teach the truths of our Faith with charity and love.   Why? Because we believe that what we have to say to the world brings happiness and fulfillment.

With gratitude to Mr. Jeff Cormier for writing the articles, enjoy the read…and the “conversations” that will no doubt follow.

In His Love, Rev. Michael J. Russo, Chancellor

Breaking the Rules – the Dangers of Promiscuity       

God’s rules for humanity are not arbitrary.  When we break one of them, it harms us to some degree because it violates our own human nature established by God in the beginning.  As an illustration, think of the food we eat.  Like it or not, if I choose to eat or drink certain dangerous things, it will hurt me.  If I were to drink bleach or gasoline, for example, it would harm me tremendously whether I wanted it to or not.  I cannot control the negative effects drinking these poisons would have on my body.  No amount of wishful thinking or rationalizations on my part would change the outcome.  Even if I drank these things on accident, I would still be harmed.  Likewise, if I arrogantly decide that I will defy gravity today and jump off a tall building, I will not defy gravity at all but only demonstrate its effects on my mangled body.  In the same way, some activities in which we engage harm us spiritually even though they may not harm us physically.  This is a helpful way to understand sin.  Sin is rightly described as breaking God’s rules or “an offense against God”, but another practical and personal way of understanding sin is to see it as any activity that damages our relationships with God, others, and ourselves (CCC #1849-50).  Serious sin even destroys the virtue of charity in our hearts – the worst of damages (CCC #1855).  As was noted in previous articles in this series, Scripture and our Catholic Church teach that sex outside of the context of marriage is a sin, i.e., damaging to us.  It does not accomplish the purpose for which God intended sex.  If sex outside of marriage is contrary to God’s designs, there must be some negative consequences that result from its abuse.  What are they?

Unwanted Pregnancy

Pregnancy is a beautiful mystery and “children are the supreme gift of marriage” (CCC #1652). Through the abuse of sex, children are often conceived without being the result of the secure, loving embrace of husband and wife committed to one another for life (though this does not lessen a child’s personal dignity in any way).  Young people tempted to pre-marital sexual activity should ask themselves, “Am I ready to have a child?”  If not, then it is very easy to avoid pregnancy because pregnancy does not happen involuntarily, like catching a cold.  The surest way to avoid pregnancy is to not engage in sexual activity.  A young, unmarried, sexually active couple who finds themselves pregnant without intending it is faced with some very difficult decisions.  Many are tempted to resort to the tragic choice of abortion.  Others courageously consider adoption, a beautiful alternative to abortion but one that is also painful.  Some may be tempted to rush into marriage for the sake of the child, which is not always the best option.  A child indeed deserves to know and to be loved by both parents and to live in the security of the stable union that should be the result of their marriage, but rushing into a marriage out of fear and insecurity is not a stable union at all.

Sexually Transmitted Diseases

Because of the promiscuous behavior prevalent in our culture today, there is an alarming number of STDs spreading among young adults. “Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)–and there are now more than 20–can rob you of your health and even your life.”[1]  The most commonly spread STD among young adults today is Human Papillomavirus (HPV), also called Genital Warts.  Research chronicled by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) has shown that among sexually active adults “ages 18-59 in 2013-2014, about 45 percent of men and 40 percent of women had genital HPV infection”.[2]  This disease is the leading cause of cervical cancer in women but it can also cause cancer of the penis, vagina, anus, and throat.  Condoms offer little protection with this disease because it is not only spread through blood and semen; it is also spread by skin-to-skin contact in the genital area.  There is no cure for this virus, and unless you contract one of the strains (there are over 40) that your body happens to be able to overcome on its own, you will carry this virus for life and infect all sexual partners.

The threat of HPV should be enough to make a person re-consider promiscuity, but there are many other STDs as well: Chlamydia, Syphilis, Gonorrhea, Hepatitis, Genital Herpes, HIV/AIDS, Trichomoniasis, etc.  The only sure means of avoiding these STDs is sexual abstinence.  You may be asking, “What about safe sex = using a condom?”  The CDC estimates that a condom has a “typical use failure rate” of 18% for preventing pregnancy.  This leads to the following consideration: only half the adult population can become pregnant (women), and a woman can get pregnant, on average, only about 4-6 days per month during ovulation.[3]  If a condom’s failure rate is 18% for only half the adult population that can get pregnant only 4-6 days per month, what will the failure rate be for the entire adult population that can get an STD every day of the month?  Doesn’t seem very “safe” at all.

Many diseases are a biological mystery – it’s difficult to determine their origin and the precise manner in which they are spread.  However, if everyone practiced chastity, STDs would almost completely disappear from the general population within a generation.

Heartache, Depression, Anxiety

In discussions about promiscuous behavior, “much is said about the dangers of pregnancy and disease–but far less about the emotional hazards. And that’s a problem, because the destructive psychological consequences of temporary sexual relationships are very real”1. Thomas Lickona, in his article, The Neglected Heart, clearly describes ten emotional dangers that result from abusing sex:  worry about pregnancy and disease, regret and self-recrimination, guilt, loss of self-esteem and self-respect, the corruption of character, shaken trust, depression and suicide, damaged or ruined relationships, stunted personal development, negative effects on marriage.  As one college professor remarked:

“I don’t think I ever met a student who was sorry he or she had postponed sexual activity, but I certainly met many who deeply regretted their sexual involvements. No one prepares young people for the aftereffects: the lowered self-esteem; the despairing sense of having been used; the self-contempt for being a user; the unease about having to lie about or at least conceal one’s activities from family members and others; the difficulty of breaking the cycle of compulsive sexual behavior; and the self-hatred of seeking, after each break-up, someone else to seduce in order to revive one’s fading self-image. No one tells young people that it sometimes takes years to recover from the effects of these sexual experiences, if one ever fully recovers”.1

God’s grace and mercy can restore even the most broken heart, but I think most of us would prefer to not have it broken in the first place.

[1] See online aricle:  “The Neglected Heart: The Emotional Dangers of Premature Sexual Involvement” by Thomas Lickona.

[2] See online article:  “CDC: HPV Infection Rates Remain High in Both Men, Women

[3] American Pregnancy Association (APA)

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Breaking the Rules – the Dangers of Promiscuity