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Statistics on sexual activity and sexually transmitted illnesses (STIs) in the U.S. are alarming and disheartening. In 2005, 46.8% of high school teens reported having had sex at least once. Although the proportion of high school teens who said they have had sex declined from 1991 to 2005 (54.1% to 46.8%), the percentage of sexually active teens rises steadily from 9th (34.3%) thru 12th (63.1%) grades (National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy [NCPTP], 2006). Sadly, eight in ten girls and six in ten boys say they wish they had waited until they were older to have sex (NCPTP, 2003a).

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In 2006, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported a combined total of 1,425,896 cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea, chancroid, and all stages of syphilis, the majority being chlamydia in women. Most of these STIs have been on the rise since 1941 (CDC, 2007). This doesn't include sexually transmitted cases of HIV, hepatitis, human papillomavirus, genital herpes, genital warts, and trichomoniasis and other vaginal infections, which for the most part also are on the rise (CDC, 2008). A new vaccine helps prevent potential long term consequences of one of these STIs (see Smith, pp. 74-80).


These statistics must deeply grieve God. God intended sex to be a source of great satisfaction, delight, and honor-not a source of horrific diseases. God's plan is for sex to foster intimacy between a husband and wife (Genesis 2:24), produce children and families (Genesis 1:28), and represent the remarkable love relationship Christ has with his church (Ephesians 5:25-32). But sin and evil corrupted sex (along with a lot of other good things).


These statistics move me to action. An important first step is living out God's plan for sex in my life, with no hint of sexual immorality, impurity, obscenity, foolish talking or coarse joking (Ephesians 5:3-4), and acknowledging in marriage that my body doesn't belong to me alone but also to my husband (1 Corinthians 7:3-5). Then I need to share God's plan for sex with my daughters and son, and when the opportunity arises, with other parents, youth, friends, and patients.


I also can educate others about avoiding sexual activity before marriage. The NCPTP (2003b) reports that 68% of teens have first sexual encounters at their own or their partner's home, and they have sex at night (28% from 6-10 p.m., 42% from 10 p.m.-7 a.m.). So don't leave teens home alone with boyfriends or girlfriends, make your presence known, and try not to let teens go to friends' houses without observing parents present. Encourage dating teens not to be together late into the evening or spend long periods of time together in private. Help them set boundaries on physical touch by educating them about inappropriate touching and pre-intercourse sexual behaviors.


NCPTP research (2003a) notes that overall closeness between parents and children, shared activities, parental presence in the home, and parental caring and concern (things Scripture encourages in Ephesians 6:1-4), are associated with reduced risk of early sex and teen pregnancy. I recently experienced this to be true. One afternoon my oldest daughter was upset and I gently encouraged her to talk. We ended up shopping and having dinner. That evening, she told me a boy she had had a long term relationship with repeatedly pressured her to have sex. Knowing how much she'd been hurt when this boy "dumped" her, I asked what stopped her. She said, "I couldn't stand the idea of sneaking around, hiding something I knew was wrong. I'm better than that!!" I breathed a prayer of thanksgiving, a sigh of relief, and thought about all the years her dad and I have tried to encourage, love, and make her feel special.


Nurses are in a key position to educate about health. As Christian nurses, let's tell people that even though we live in a fallen world, we can still enjoy God's delightful plan for sex.




Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2007). Reported cases of sexually transmitted disease reporting source and by sex: United States, 2006. Retrieved February 6, 2008 at [Context Link]


CDC. (2008). 2006 STD surveillance slides. Retrieved February 6, 2008 at[Context Link]


National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy (NCPTP). (2003a). With one voice: America's adults and teens sound off about teen pregnancy. Washington, DC: Author. [Context Link]


NCPTP. (2003b). Science says: Where and when teens first have sex. Retrieved February 6,2008 at [Context Link]


NCPTP. (2006). Teen Sexual Activity in the United States. Retrieved February 6, 2008 at [Context Link]