(February 11, 2001)
Rachel Chima, an abstinence educator and A/G layperson, is in her
element. In front of her are 50 teen-agers whom she has captivated
with songs, comedy and games. Now, convinced of their undivided attention,
she segues into the heart of her presentation.
|Rachel Chima: "When
we teach teens abstinence we are telling them that they can have
the best life has to offer and they can succeed."
"Your teachers invited me here because they want you to have
the best [sexual relationship] possible," she proclaims, which
stokes an already jittery crowd. "But you cant have that
right now because that only happens between married partners."
Silence grips the students. Chima then rattles off statistics and
the consequences of premarital sex. The students hang on every word.
Across the United States, Assemblies of God leaders and laypeople
such as Chima are extolling the virtues of abstinence at public schools,
from the pulpit and in crisis pregnancy ministries.
"We cover everything from sexuality, character, sexually transmitted
diseases, relationships and the effects of broken sexual relationships,"
says Chris Lerma, a Masters Commission staff member at Glad
Tidings A/G in Austin, Texas, who teaches abstinence education in
public schools. "We encourage kids to save sex until marriage."
That, say experts, is a good thing. Premarital sex is not only a
sin; its dangerous. According to the Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention in Atlanta, 3 million American teens will contract
a sexually transmitted disease this year. The sixth leading cause
of death among persons 15-24 years of age, the CDC says, is due to
Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) infection and more than 900,000
teens will become pregnant this year. Almost one-third of them will
have an abortion.
Many educators believe teens are being shortchanged by a society
bent on promoting "safer sex" and instant gratification.
After eight years of teaching abstinence education in Ohios
public schools, Chima is convinced teens not only need biblically
based guidance about sex; they want it.
"Teens are looking for absolutes in their search of the truth,"
she says. "In talking about abstinence we are awakening dreams
in them. We are showing them that abstinence is a choice for life
and that by saying no to alcohol, drugs and sex they are saying yes
Jacob Moyer, a youth pastor at Alamo Christian Center (Ken Jones,
pastor) in Alamo, Calif., says several external forces are destroying
the morals of teen-agers.
"The awesome sacredness that God intended for sex has been taken
away by the media," he says. "Teens can learn anything anytime
through their friends, the Internet, movies and television. Whoever
reaches them first can determine whether they will abstain from sex
The best and most influential teachers of sexual morals, experts
say, are parents. However, many Christian parents have sidestepped
"It is not easy, as parents, to talk to teens about sexual activity
and behavior," says Cindi Boston, an A/G layperson and director
of the Crisis Pregnancy Center in Springfield, Mo. "Parents always
have that hesitation, but they must be responsible. Its their
God-given duty to bring their kids up to fear and love God and show
them His true purpose for their lives."
Ellen Atchley, also an A/G layperson and director of Pregnancy Resource
Center in Delta, Colo., agrees.
"Two factors that will curtail sexual involvement among teens
before marriage are strong parental involvement in a teens life
and a vow to remain pure by the teen-ager," she says. "In
order for the teen to make and keep a vow like that the teen must
have accurate information. If parents dont accept the responsibility
of providing that information, the kids are not going to fulfill their
Chima says abstinence education is an avenue to show teens they are
valuable in Gods eyes.
"When we teach teens abstinence we are telling them that they
can have the best life has to offer and they can succeed."