What every teenager
should know about casual sex
Pam Stenzel says more
women are dying in the US each year of cancer caused by HPV than
of AIDS - and condoms don't protect against HPV. If this is true,
then current 'safe-sex' campaigns are placing women's lives at
Over Christmas I listened to the CD of Pam
Stenzel's talk in Dublin, "Why didn't someone tell me?"
The powers that shape public opinion tell us that by using a
condom, one can have "safe sex". But how safe
is "safe sex"?
If Pam has her facts correct, then it is not safe at all - in
fact by creating the impression that casual sex can be safe, it
is placing at risk not just women's chances of being able to bear
children, but even their very lives.
Condoms don't protect against chlamydia. Hundreds of thousands of women in the Western World are
discovering that they cannot have children due to pelvic
inflammatory disease caused by chlamydia. Pelvic inflammatory
disease is in fact one of the causes of the declining birth rate.
Condoms don't protect against HPV of which there are
about 100 strains. Pam says that more women die in the
US each year of cervical cancer caused by HPV (human papilloma
virus) than from AIDS. There is no cure for HPV. Once one has it,
one has it for life - and so will one's spouse! (Plus anyone else
one has sexual contact with!) Often it leads to warts on one's
genitals that need to be burned off. Sometimes these warts can
spread to one's hands, and then it can be passed to any babies
that one is caring for. But the greatest risk is to women -
Condoms don't protect against herpes. There is
no cure for herpes. Once one has it, one has it for life - and so
will one's spouse! (Plus anyone else that one has sexual contact
with.) For the adults, this leads to embarrassing and painful
sores. If a baby is delivered naturally during the mother's first
bout of herpes, the baby will be infected leading in many cases
to either the babies death or brain damage.
Apart from the diseases where condoms offer no protection, there
is the natural failure rate of condoms. A UN study published in
2003 put the failure rate at 10% re AIDS. Sounds a bit like
Russian Roulette! We regularly see the adverts promoting 'safe
sex' on TV. There wasn't even the slightest mention of the above
facts. If a bank was to promote its products using similar faulty
adverts, think of how quickly they would be before the financial
regulator. If this was the tobacco industry, packets of condoms
would be forced to carry health warnings re both their
limitations and the dangers of casual sex.
I am not familiar with school sex education programmes, but if
they fail to warn young people of the dangers arising from casual
sex even when using condoms, then there is culpable negligence.
Likewise there is the
question of whether such programmes focus on teaching respect.
Peer pressure is a major factor for
young people. A good education programme will have the
aim of educating people in how to stand up to peer pressure. This
is about having respect for oneself.
Then there is respect for other people. We do not respect people
when we seek to use them for our momentary pleasure. We do not
respect people when we expect them to engage in acts which may be
harmful for them. We do not respect people if our intention is to
use them. In Christian education, it needs to be clearly stated,
that to be a follower of Jesus, our calling is at all times to
seek what is best for the other person.
Given the problems now faced by our youth, the prevalence of peer
pressure, and problems arising from the abuse of drink, drugs and
sex, teaching respect should be at the very centre of all life
Then there are the spiritual implications of casual sex (and
indeed of other forms of destructive behaviour like abusing drink
Engaging in casual sex
or premarital sex always has a spiritual impact - a negative one.
1) Some mistake what feels good for
what is morally right. Engaging in premarital sex feels
good, so many conclude that it is morally good. They mistake
feelings for objective facts. This in turn leads to them living
in a way that is outside God's anointing and they lose their
sensitivity to spiritual things.
2) Others deep down know that what they are doing is
wrong. This leads them to a sense of alienation from the
Church - since they no longer feel worthy to go to Church. Their
attempts to rationalise this and to justify to themselves what
they are doing, sometimes leads them to reject or even attack
3) Others blunt their conscience where sexuality is
concerned. They convince themselves that what they are
doing is okay and continue to receive the sacraments. In the
process, they often become quite selfish and even shameless.
Theirs is possibly the worst response of all.
Whichever of these three attitudes one adopts, there are
inevitably further spiritual consequences if one
is engaging in sex outside marriage. One is operating outside
God's anointing. One will often miss out on His plan for one's
life. One may miss out on the partner who could bring one
greatest fulfilment in life, and while Jesus loves sinners and
will give a person every chance, one risks missing out on the
personal relationship with Jesus which alone can satisfy the
emptiness in the human heart. And that's just in this life.
Pam Stenzel - She Was
Conceived Through Rape
Now she challenges the
safe sex myth
One November evening in
1964 a fifteen-year-old girl was raped and became pregnant. She
could have had an abortion, but she decided to give her unborn
child the chance to live. She kept her baby girl, Pam, for five months,
but then, realising that she couldn't properly provide for her
herself, she gave her up for adoption. What a painful choice that
must have been, yet it was also an act of real love, putting what
was best for her baby over her own feelings. That little baby was
Pam Stenzel. Today Pam speaks to over 500,000 young people each
year. Last year she spoke in Dublin.
When she worked for nine years in a crisis pregnancy agency, Pam
was meeting girls daily who had contracted sexually transmitted
diseases; girls who thought they had been practising 'safe sex'.
So often they said, "Pam, I didn't know. If someone had told
me that this would happen to me, I'd have made a different
Pam Said In Dublin
I began to ask these girls, "What
could someone have said to you that would have helped you to have
made a better choice?" After 9 years of talking to these
girls, I realised that there were a lot of people out there
making choices about sex with no idea what the consequences of
that choice would be.
I did not come to Dublin today to decide for you what you are
going to do about sex. I can't make this choice for you. I would
love to protect my own kids, the oldest is 20, from the pain I
have to look at everyday. But I cannot. All I can do is love
them, tell them the truth and pray that they make good choices.
My goal is that no one would leave this room tonight and have to
say to a counsellor, to a physician or to their future spouse,
"Nobody told me. ... I didn't know."
God created sex, and He is the one who understands it
best. It was His idea not yours. God is not into
wrecking your life or ruining your weekend. Sometimes we think
that God is the fun spoiler; that one day when He had nothing
better to do, He drew up a book of rules to ruin everybody's
When I was young, I thought that all God did was sit up there and
watch me. And that if I blew it, He had this lightning rod ready
to fry me. But now I know that God loves me. He isn't in the
business of making silly rules to spoil my fun. God desires to
give us the best. The rules He gives us are to help us find the
best, the very best.
God took a colossal risk at the beginning to time. He gave us
choice, knowing that at some time, all of us would shake our
fists in His face and tell Him that we don't need Him. He knew
too that sin, heartbreak, disease and even death would follow,
yet He gave us the power to choose because love, to be love,
needs to be free.
God created sex, but He
created it with a boundary.
When sex happens within the boundary for which
it was created, it is awesome. When it happens outside that
boundary, it often is horribly, horribly destructive. It's like
fire. Fire in my fireplace is a good and beautiful thing. Fire in
the middle of my livingroom floor would be destructive. It
requires a boundary. So too with sex. God created sex for the
expression of love in a permanent lifetime commitment:- marriage.
If you have sex outside of marriage, you will pay. There is a
cost. No one has ever had more than one partner and not paid -
physically, emotionally or spiritually.
Pregnancy is the biggest fear of teens having sex today. But
pregnancy is not a disease. You can live through it. I have lived
through it three times now. I have had girls in my office for
pregnancy tests, scared out of their minds waiting for the
results. When I tell her, "Your test is negative. You are
not pregnant," you should see the look of relief come over
her face. But then I ask, "Have you been tested for sexually
transmitted diseases (STDs)?" She replies, "No! I
wouldn't need to be tested for that."
How often have I had a
girl in my office thinking that she could be pregnant but not
thinking that she could have a disease. Astounding!
You have a four times greater risk of
contracting a disease today than you ever have of being pregnant. Pregnant teenage girls in Ireland today are carrying on
average 2.3 sexually transmitted diseases. But they were
not worried abut getting a disease!
Girls encouraged to take the pill, sometimes by their parents,
end up ten times more likely to catch a disease than if they were
not taking that drug. They risk ending up sterile, or even dead.
We have made pregnancy the disease. "Do whatever you want,
just don't be so stupid as to get pregnant."
Yes, I had to tell a lot of girls that they are pregnant, and to
tell them too that their options at this stage are bad, terrible
and even worse. "You had a good choice. But that was before
you choose to have sex. Now all the choices you have got are
going to carry consequences."
Abortion hurts women. I have counselled hundreds
of women five, ten, fifteen years after their having an abortion,
and they are still hurting.
Sometimes things go horribly wrong. My uncle is a trauma
specialist. On one occasion, he asked me to visit a young lady in
hospital. She had just had an abortion. During the abortion, her
uterus had been perforated, and part of her bowel pulled out. She
was rushed to hospital where she had both a radical hysterectomy
and a colostomy. This twenty year old will not merely never be
able to have children, but for the rest of her life she will have
to carry a bag on the outside of her body.
Parenting is also a very challenging choice for the lone
parent. The number one indicator for poverty in the US
today is single parent households, and even more so, the age of
that young girl when she started parenting alone. You could wipe
out much of the poverty in my nation by taking care of teens
Another option is adoption. It is the ability of
a young mother to take the child she has carried for nine months
and say, "I want what is best for that child." Having
been an adopted child myself, I know I'm biased, but I honestly
believe that most often, adoption is the best choice. Saying,
"I'm willing to go through this pain to give my child a
family" takes a lot of courage, a lot of maturity and a lot
of love. It is not an easy choice. In the US, two million
requests for adoption will go unanswered this year.
Forty two years ago in
Michigan a young fifteen year old became pregnant. She had been
She had a lot of difficult choices to make.
Abortion was then freely available for those who had been raped.
This fifteen year old choose to give her child life and then to
place that child with an adoptive family. That child was
My biological father is a rapist. I don't even know my ethnicity.
But I am still a human being. I still have value. My life isn't
worth any less than yours just because of the way I was
I did not deserve the
death penalty because of the crime of my father.
I have listened to the rhetoric my whole life.
I have listened to people say, "Well, every child should be
wanted and planned." I have heard this said in Church. I
have heard 'good' Christians saying, "I don't approve of
abortion but if it were rape....." In effect they are
saying, "Pam, you are a mistake. You should have been
I don't believe that. I believe that every child is wanted by
someone. And I believe that God in His Mercy had a plan for me. I
learned a verse from the psalms when I was young:- "Before I
formed you in your mother's womb, I knew you." Did that mean
me? Or does it just mean you? Did God look down that night in
November 1964 and say, "Oops, what am I going to do with
The God I have come to know is so awesome and so amazing that He
is capable of taking your worst pain, whether it is something you
choose or whether it is something that was done to you, and make
something very beautiful come from that. That is the power of
God's amazing grace, the power of redemption.
I have not met my birth Mam. Some day I hope to and would love
to. If I do not meet her on this earth, then I will meet her in
Heaven. I have been praying for her since I was four years old,
and when we meet, I'm going to wrap my arms around her, and I'm
going to tell her I love her, because she loved me. She loved me
enough to give me my life, and then she loved me enough to give
me the next most special gift I was ever given - my family.
I am the oldest of eight children, seven of them adopted. There
is every colour of the rainbow in my family. We are the United
Nations. My brother just younger than me, my favourite brother,
he is the only bio child. My parents tried to get pregnant for
seven years but couldn't. They adopted me and six months later,
my Mam became pregnant and had my brother. They later adopted six
more children. So he is the only bio child. I once came across a
birthday card and could hardly wait for his birthday to send it
to him. Inside it said, "I was planned. You were an
This amazing family I was given was a gift from a scared fifteen
year old girl. I will forever be grateful to her for that. I wear
on my wrist this black band. It is rather ugly but it never comes
off. I was given to me by that famous priest from the Bronx, Fr.
Stan Fortuna. I wear it in honour of my birth mother who showed
what love is. We all talk of God as love, yet we live in a
society and a culture that has no idea what love is. So Fr. Stan
created these wristbands.
My wristband says,
"FAMILY stands for 'Forget About Me. I Love You'."
Real love is never selfish. Real love will
always do what is best for the other person regardless of the
pain it costs themselves. Isn't that what Jesus did on the cross.
On the cross He said, "Forget About Me. I Love You."
The problem is we live in a culture that says exactly the
opposite, "Me, me, me, I, I, I", "I want" and
"my needs"! Real love says exactly the opposite. It
says, "Forget About Me. I Love You." My birth mother did
that for me and I will forever be grateful to her.
I spend 15 days a month away from the teenagers I love the most,
my own, because I wouldn't want any teenager to have to make a
choice like this, having spent nine years working with girls who
had this choice to face.
The best choice is before you have sex. That is when there is
still a good choice to make. After that it can get really tough.
But if someone here tonight finds herself pregnant and didn't
intend to be, get help. There is a better answer than abortion.
No matter what short term problems you face, life is always a
better answer than abortion. Pregnancy is not the worst thing
that could happen if you decide to have sex. There are far worse
things than that.
This very day in the US,
14,000 teenagers will contract a sexually transmitted disease.
When we include up to 22 year olds, the figure
goes up to 39,000 a day contracting a sexually transmitted
disease. Our university campuses are now big giant STD
I have seen the statistics for Ireland, and I have news for you:-
they are worse than those in the US per capita. Western Europe
now has the highest STD rates for anywhere in the world. In the
1950's there were five sexually transmitted diseases that we knew
about. Back then if someone did get an STD, like syphilis or
gonorrhoea, a course of penicillin solved the problem.
We now have over 30 sexually transmitted diseases and over 30% of
them are absolutely incurable. Get one of these diseases and you
have got it for life. Think of that, boys, when you are getting
ready to get married. "Take this ring and marry me. By the
way, I've got genital warts. You will get it too and we will both
need treatment for the rest of our lives. In fact you could even
end up with cervical cancer or needing a radical hysterectomy,
but do marry me."
Aids is not the only disease out there and it is certainly not
the only disease killing people. Yet we still have students in
Ireland who think "If I don't get pregnant and don't get
Aids, then I don't have anything to worry about."
Chlamydia, one of the most common diseases, is a
bacteria and not a virus and so is easily treated and cured.
There is just one problem. You most likely will not know you have
it, so you won't seek treatment until it is too late.
There are two types of STD's - bacterial and viral. A
bacterial disease is curable. A virus is not. Get a virus and you
have it for life. There is no cure. We have never in the history
of the world cured a virus. Chlamydia is a bacteria. Ten days
treatment will clear it up. But 90% of those with Chlamydia have
no symptoms. You can't treat a disease you don't know you have.
Young people often say to me, "Pam, I have had sex several
times, but I don't have a disease." I ask them how they know
they haven't a disease, and they say, "Because I have no
symptoms." They think, "If I can't see, feel or touch
it, I don't have it." The truth is the only way to know is
to get a full viral test.
The American Medical Bulletin recently stated that every teenage
girl who has had sex, needs to be tested for Chlamydia every six
months for five years. Why are only girls tested? Boys get it
too. How otherwise would it be passed on? But boys are not
screened. The reason girls are screened is, if they get chlamydia
even once, there is a 25% chance that they will be sterile for
the rest of their lives. Get it twice and the chances that you
will never have children jumps to 50%. Get it three times and the
odds jump close to 100%.
Hundreds of thousands of
women in the US, when they seek to start a family, discover that
it is no longer possible.
When they go to their doctors, they discover
that their Fallopian tubes and ovaries are full of scar tissue;
that they have pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), as a result of
chlamydia. The boy who gave her the chlamydia may have moved on
and married someone else. He is able to have children. But the
girl is scarred for life. Girls have more to lose. Where STD's
are concerned, life is not fair. Girls will always pay a higher
Of the 30 sexually
transmitted diseases, 26 damage women, the other 4 damage both.
It annoys me when I hear people say, "Boys
will be boys"; that they are incapable of showing respect. I
have two teenage sons, the eldest is now nineteen. I have
made it my aim to teach my sons to respect women. If
they do not, I will kill them! Those are their options. I know
I'm not the only mother in this nation who has taught her sons to
I have met some amazing young men who truly do respect women and
who desire to meet ladies who have waited. I am tired of hearing
girls say "Nobody wants me if I am not prepared to have
sex." Girls, if you want to make sure you will not be
wanted, screw around, for the young man of integrity will settle
for nothing less than a young lady of integrity. You will get
what you are.
Recently after one of my talks in an American College, a young
man, aged 22, came up to me, and said, "I watched your video
when I was 13, and I want you to know it changed my life.
Watching that video, I wanted to become a young man who treats
women with respect. ... Every girl I date is told from the very
first date that my sexuality is for my wife and that if they
can't deal with that, they can date someone else."
Everywhere I go, I meet young men with integrity, boys with
character, boys who do wish to respect girls, boys who would say,
"While I might be able to walk away from sex with you
without permanent damage, you might not and because I love you, I
would never ask you to put your life on the line, your ability to
have children, your future or your self-respect on the line to
meet my momentary need." There are boys with that kind of
Real love respects. Real
love does not pressure. Real love does not say, "If you love
me, show it by having sex."
Love would never ask you to do something that
could damage you for the rest of your life. Girls, there is only
one way you will ever know if a boy loves you. Put a boundary
down. Watch for respect. If there is no respect, then there is no
love. Love would never damage you for it's own needs. Love will
always want the best for you even if it is difficult.
This applies to girls as well. It isn't just boys who are selfish
or who lack respect. Often girls do too. Boys, instead of asking
yourself who would you like to take to the prom, ask yourself,
"Who would you like to be the mother of your children?"
There has always been and always will be women who will throw
themselves at you. This is not just a teenage problem. It is a
fact of life, something that one has to be prepared to face if
one is to be a person of integrity, and to be faithful to your
wife in marriage. If you stay over regularly in hotels, the
chances are that some woman will throw herself at you. Does that
mean you are to have sex with her? Are you to tell your wife
afterwards, "Oh she started it. What was I to do?"
Boys if there is a girl encouraging you to have sex with her, or
a girl dressing in such a way that she is saying "Take me
now!" run from this girl. This girl has bought the lie of a
culture that tells her that what makes her valuable is her body.
In order to feel good about herself, she needs to turn your head,
and when she is finished turning yours, she will need to turn
his, and then his and then his. And it won't end when she is 25
or even when she is 40. Boys you don't want to marry a girl like
Herpes has increased in
Ireland by 579% since 1992. Herpes is a virus. Get it and you
have it for life. And you will give it to your spouse.
It won't kill you, but you will have sores or
boils on your genital area periodically for the rest of your
life. There is medication for the sores. It may have side effects
like diarrhoea or vomiting but it will clear up the sores for the
time being. 20% of the Irish population over the age of
twelve are now infected with herpes. But it is still not the most
The most common STD is
Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). Again there is no cure and once you
have it, you will give it to everyone with whom you have sexual
It is the most contagious of all STD's. It is
not transmitted the same way as HIV. The street name is genital
warts; warts on your genital area that need to be burned off
periodically. But you can have the virus and be passing it on
without ever having warts. The most cancerous strains, and there
are over 100 strains, don't produce warts at all. The vaccination
only protects one against 2 out of the over 100 strains.
Again men are not tested for it normally, for the simple reason
that the test costs around £1,000. Yet we have boys who will say
to girls, "Oh I'm clean. I don't have anything. I got
If a boy says that to
you, ask him, "Tested for what?" and "Is it five
years since you last had sex?"
Girls who have had sex, need to be tested at
least annually for HPV - a smear test. A negative smear test
doesn't mean that one doesn't have the virus. It means that you
don't have cervical cancer. For boys HPV's are merely annoying -
having to have warts burned off one's genitals by chemicals or
laser treatment. But when it comes to marrying, what are you
bringing your wife? Her risk of infection has nothing to do with
whether you used a condom or got tested. Her risk of infection
has everything to do with you having been sexually active.
HPV is the number one
causal agent of cervical cancer.
We now have girls as young as 18 undergoing
radical hysterectomies. They will never be able to have children.
Last year an 18 year old came up to me all brave and said,
"I had cervical cancer at 14. Now I'm going to have a
hysterectomy. But I don't care. Kids are noisy, smelly and cost a
lot of money, and I don't want one." But later she broke
down and said, "I'm just trying to deal with the fact that
no one will ever want to marry me."
Last year more women
died in the US of cancer caused by HPV than died of Aids. It is
killing more women than Aids. Yet we are not telling our girls
They now estimate that 57% of young people who
have had sex outside marriage are infected with HPV. That is more
than one out of every two. So if you have sex with someone who is
not virgin then expect to get HPV.
There is not a condom in the world which will protect you
from HPV. It is not transmitted the same way as HIV. HIV
requires the exchange of body fluids - blood, semen or vaginal
fluid exchange. Herpes and HPV are skin contracted viruses. All
it takes is skin contact anywhere in the genital area and you are
infected for life, and you will then infect everyone you have
genital contact with thereafter. It doesn't even require
intercourse - just genital contact.
By the way every single form of STD can be transmitted by oral
sex, yet kids think it doesn't count, while herpes, HPV and
chlamydia can be transmitted by any form of genital contact.
The bottom line is if you want to avoid these diseases, then keep
your pants on! We still have kids saying to each other, "I'm
clean. I have never had unprotected sex." Condoms aren't
safe. They never have been and never will be. Unless they develop
one that will cover the entire body! Complete body armour!
The only safe sex is a safe partner:- someone who has never had
sex, or if they had sex, it has been a full five years since the
last occasion and they recently had a complete viral test. It may
cost £1,000 but if you have had sex in the past, you owe it to
your future spouse to abstain for five years and then have the
full viral test.
Remember too that sex doesn't just involve your genitals. It also
involves your heart and there is not a condom in the world that
will ever protect your heart. Our culture has taken a beautiful
gift that was meant to be an expression of intimacy and
self-giving love and turned it into a game for
But don't let anyone
tell you that because you have had sex in the past that you have
to keep doing it.
If you have had sex, girls especially, get
tested, then get tested in six months, and then annually for five
years. But you can start afresh. You don't have to keep putting
the gun to your head. I am tired of hearing adults, including
school principals say, "We are not going to talk to our
children about sex, because they have all done it and they just
can't stop it."
Today I'm meeting young people who realise that they can stop.
They call themselves "recycled virgins". Young people
who decide, "I'm not going to have sex again until I'm
The Sacrament of Reconciliation is not about saying to God on
Monday night, "I'm sorry", so that you can turn around
and do it again on Friday. Confession and repentance are meant to
be 180% turn from sin to true righteousness. As Jesus said to the
woman caught in adultery, "Get up and sin no more."
To get the CD of Pam's talk
The above article doesn't do
justice to the powerful talk Pam Stenzel gave in Dublin last
June. Clearly our youth are being sold a pup with the modern
'safe sex' messages. They deserve to hear the truth.
Pam's talk is one that
every teenager and young adult, and indeed every not so young
adult, needs to hear.
The good news is that it is available on CD
from Pure in Heart, 3 Pembroke Park,
Ballsbridge, Dublin 4. (01 660 7654) The CD is 5 euro or 5 CDs
for 15 euro. Post is included if you live in Ireland. Also
available from Pure in Heart is Pam's book,
"Sex has a price tag", just 12 euro including post. (If
you are a young adult who wishes to live Christian teaching on
sexuality and to meet others who are living it, why not join Pure
in Heart, address above.)
Pam's CD is also now available from ourselves,
and will be on sale after all my speaking engagements.