Articles From the May 1995 Unification News


Healthy Love: Questions And Answers on Abstinence, Part Four

By Teri Lester

This is the last in our series of extracts from Healthy Love: 36 Questions and Answers on Practicing Abstinence.

Today's teen-agers are being sent mixed messages about sexuality. On the one hand they are told not to have sex, but on the other hand they are subjected to an endless stream of information about "safe" and "safer" sex, along with explicit guidelines about how to practice it. They are told that the HIV virus cannot be spread by casual contact, yet they read that the same virus can be detected in human saliva. They are told to be abstinent one moment, and to "practice safe sex" the next.

Safe(r) sex is promoted as something noble, almost saintly, and abstinence is openly criticized as unnatural and unrealistic, even by government representatives. In the rush to persuade youth to embrace the condom, its limitations are glossed over or even completely ignored as if they were nothing more than obstacles standing in the way of the onward march of perfect public health and universal enlightenment.

The Healthy Love program shows clearly that the choice between abstinence and safer sex is a choice between eliminating the risk of AIDS and multiplying it. Moreover, Healthy Love shows that abstinence is not just a question of not having sex, but is one part of a life style based upon the ideal of true love, a life style that is practical, healthy, positive, and, above all, attractive.

The following questions are from the booklet Healthy Love: 36 Questions and Answers on Practicing Abstinence. This booklet and other Healthy Love materials are available for purchase; ordering information is at the end.

1. How do you attract a loving, stable, dependable mate?

We are most attracted to people who are similar to us in some way, people with whom we share common interests and goals. The best way, the surest way to attract a loving, stable, dependable mate is to become loving, stable and dependable yourself. The best thing you can do is to spend your time and energy on developing your own character and personality, with the goal of becoming a mature person capable of sustaining a stable, loving, trustworthy relationship. What happens when you grow into a mature person practicing Healthy Love? You are ready to begin a faithful, monogamous relationship with another mature person who practices Healthy Love. A couple who practices Healthy Love produces a healthy marriage, and then a healthy family.

2. What is a healthy family? How would you describe a healthy family?

Most people would probably say a healthy family is ethical, loving, stable, and loyal. Do you notice that the qualities of a mature person and a healthy family are pretty much the same? Monogamy in a family is the same as self-control in an individual; having a faithful relationship depends on the self- control of both partners. You need to be abstinent after you get married: you need to be capable of abstaining from sex with everyone but your partner, so abstinence before marriage is practice for fidelity after marriage. That's why Healthy Love is such an important part of our growth and development. When we abstain, when our love is healthy, we are free to develop into our full potential as mature, stable, dependable, responsible, loving adults.

3. Why do people want to have sex? What's good about sex?

Sex isn't bad. That's actually why this is such a complicated problem! Sex isn't bad, but it needs to come at the right time. Sex is a very potent force, like fire. Fire can be either good or bad; it depends on how it's used. Sex feels good. It's an expression of love. It makes people feel closer. It makes our marriage relationship special. It's how our families keep growing, it's how the human race keeps developing instead of dying out.

4. What's wrong with "free sex?"

Okay, now what's bad about sex? Or, more precisely, what's bad about premature sexual activity? That's a very important distinction. Sex between two mature, faithful and committed adults is a completely great, positive, wonderful, necessary thing. The problems we discuss are problems that come from sex between people who are not yet mature, and who are not committed to a faithful relationship with just one person. There are three main kinds of problems. First, there are physical problems with premature sexual activity. The most common problems are unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, including AIDS. Second are the emotional problems that result from premature sexual activity. These often include depression, anxiety, insecurity, fear of commitment, and fear of abandonment. Third, there are social effects of premature sexual activity. That means the problems that everyone in society has because some people have unwanted pregnancies or sexually transmitted diseases. Young girls who have babies can't support themselves, and often they get sick, and their babies do too. Even when the babies are older, these girls may not be able to work because they couldn't finish their education. This is very stressful; when people are under stress they are more likely to abuse or neglect their children. We all end up paying for people who can't take care of themselves. People who catch diseases often can't pay for their own medical care, so we all end up paying for that, too. The social effects of premature sexual activity aren't just financial. The families of people who suffer unwanted pregnancy and disease suffer with them. It's very sad to see people sick, or little children being hurt, so as a society, we end up suffering emotionally as well as financially.

5. What are "safe sex" and "safer sex"?

"Safe sex" and "safer sex" mean having sex using condoms and spermicide. This is supposed to give some protection from pregnancy and STDs, but offers no protection from the emotional problems that result from premature sexual activity.

6. Is safer sex realistic?

Let's look at some facts about condoms. Condoms are supposed to prevent pregnancy by putting a rubber barrier between your skin and the sperm. However, sometimes the rubber falls off or breaks. Because of this, the failure rate for pregnancy is so high that if you have sex twice a week, about once a month the condom might fail.

7. Do condoms prevent the spread of AIDS?

The failure rate for AIDS/HIV transmission is even higher than the pregnancy rate because of a naturally occurring defect in the latex rubber used to make most condoms. In the 1800s, an English doctor discovered that the rubber barrier also gave some protection against STDs. However, all the STDs known at the time were caused by bacteria, not viruses. This may not seem like a problem, but actually it is: viruses are much smaller than bacteria. Rubber is a natural product, and it naturally has microscopic holes or pores in it. These holes are smaller than bacteria or sperm, so bacteria and sperm don't go through the rubber. However, the virus that causes AIDS is hundreds of times smaller than a bacteria, so the rubber doesn't necessarily stop the virus. How big are these pores? If a bacteria is the size of a house, the holes in the rubber are the size of a window - and the virus is the size of a baseball. So the rubber condom is likely to let the virus right through.

8. Is sexual activity safe if it doesn't include intercourse?

Because of the problems with condoms, some people recommend mutual masturbation. There are several drawbacks to this approach. The AIDS virus attacks white blood cells, so wherever there are white blood cells, AIDS may be transmitted. White blood cells are abundant in the mucous membranes - nose, mouth, and genitals. Wherever there is contact with the mucous membranes of an infected person, the virus may be transmitted. All sexual activity involves the mucous membranes. This means that all sexual activity, not just intercourse, may transmit the AIDS virus. Another major problem with mutual masturbation is that once you start, you become stimulated very quickly, and it takes willpower to stop short of actually having intercourse. Then you have very little protection from disease and unwanted pregnancy.

9. Is abstinence realistic?

Often when abstinence is discussed or recommended, nothing is said about the behaviors and choices that lead an individual to engage in sexual activity. It is presented as if, at the moment of passion and excitement, we are just going to decide to pass on the pleasure for now for the sake of future health and wellbeing. This is, quite understandably, not pleasant, and would require enormous willpower. In reality, everyone practices abstinence most of the time. Any time we are not actually having sex, we are abstaining from sex. If you are not having sex with every attractive person you meet, then you are practicing abstinence - so you must know of some context in which abstinence is realistic. What we need to do is learn how to practice abstinence consistently. Abstinence can be learned and practiced the same way we learn and practice any other skill, from playing the flute to driving a car.

If you want to order Healthy Love materials, the Question/Answer booklets are $1.00 each, or .80 for 10-20 copies, or .75 each for 21 or more copies. The 86-page manual is $8.00, and the original student booklets are $2.00 each, or $1.25 each for 10-20 copies, or $1.00 each for 21 or more copies. There is no extra charge for shipping within the US (if you live in Kansas, please add sales tax). Overseas orders please add 50% for airmail shipping. Mail your order with check payable to RUC Publications, 12736 West 110th Terrace, Overland Park, KS 66210. Call me, Teri Lester, at (816) 756-5997, or email to


Download entire page and pages related to it in ZIP format
Table of Contents
Copyright Information