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Doing Life Together

ID-100112047Tim and Kirsten eagerly engaged in our premarital counseling sessions. As we waded through the battery of premarital inventories and family background, sex was next on our list.

This couple, like many I have counseled, was sexually active prior to meeting each other. Although committed to abstinence this time around, past sexual activity has taken a toll on their relationship contrary to what media and pop culture portray.

“Do either of you have any sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) acquired from other partners?”

Both hesitate a moment. Neither has been tested and both are aware that some STDs are silent, meaning there are no noticeable symptoms. Since statistics tell us that one out of two sexually active people will contract a STD by the age of 25, they are at risk. The past is present in the room and feelings of regret, shame, guilt and even anger emerge. Though repentant and forgiven, emotions run high.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nineteen million people will be infected with an STD this year. And while half of that number represents people age 15-24, 15% of new cases are now seen in people over 50. The numbers are staggering with an estimated one in four sexually active Americans contracting a STD at least once in his or her life. If left untreated, STDs can lead to birth defects, blindness, bone deformities, cancer, heart disease, infertility, pelvic inflammatory disease, stillbirths, chronic pain, mental retardation and even death.

Of course, sex outside of marriage can also result in pregnancy. The notion of “safe-sex” is a lie that has been perpetrated in our culture for decades. Just ask one of the one million teens who will become pregnant in the coming year. Sadly, one-third of those pregnancies will end in abortion which creates a new set of emotional scars.

And while Hollywood continues to parade it’s A-list of unwed women sporting swollen bellies, the best interests of the unborn go unnoticed. Researchers tell us that these children will be twice as likely to suffer psychiatric problems, twice as likely to drop out of school or become teenage parents, and will be more economically disadvantaged than those raised in intact two parent families.

Overall, premarital sex comes with risk, heartache and relationship challenges. This doesn’t mean that those challenges can’t be overcome but don’t be lulled into the idea that premarital sex has no costs.

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