July 23, 2004
“Come on,” Lynetta pressed.
There was precious little time left before curfew in the dorm. Betty had promised to follow her down to the snack bar where Lynetta planned to “bump into” the latest “cute guy” she had staked out on their college campus in Rochester, New York.
Only minutes later, Lynetta’s mission accomplished, Betty found herself trapped with the group at the snack bar table across from a complete stranger. John.
The conversation was easy and lively when suddenly the group broke into giggles. John leaned back in his chair, slapping the table with laughter. He captured Betty’s heart right then and there.
Unfortunately, as he walked her back to the dorm that night, she was so shy she couldn’t manage to speak. Looking at his Ohio high school letter jacket, she finally thought of something to say. “How do you say that?” Conneaut, she pointed to the name of his town.
John was Betty’s first kiss. In 1960 language, they “made out a lot.” But they both knew they would not “go all the way.” They held to those standards for three years, saving sex for married life.
Betty remembers the night John proposed in the car after dinner. “He was so cute, so nervous. I can’t imagine that he thought I might say no.” One year later on June 4, 1966, in a quiet small-town ceremony, John and Betty became Mr. and Mrs. Arthurs.
The Arthurs are in their 50s today, and their children Julie and Rob are each grown and married with children. John and Betty were very close to them as they grew up. They could always talk. About anything.
Both Julie and Rob remained abstinent until their wedding days. Including John and Betty’s parents, the Arthurs have a tradition of abstinence–until-marriage through three generations.
Nobody remembers any pounding lectures about abstinence. They are a distinctly gentle family, ready to laugh at the silly and embarrassing things every family experiences. Betty had been a nurse, and household conversations were always frank and honest. Julie tells her, “Well, I respected myself, and I wanted to make something of myself.” She married Mike in 1989 at the age of 20 after a one-year courtship.
Her brother Rob met his girlfriend Heather when he was 16, and they married on June 19, 1993. Rob was 21. His reason for staying abstinent? Looking at Mom and Dad, he tells them, “You always trusted us. We didn’t want to betray your trust.”
My friend Betty, her husband, her parents…and her two grown children…they all have a lot to teach us.
There are those who want us to give up on our children. They tell us that teaching children to stay abstinent until marriage is a hopeless task. If we were to believe their gloomy projections, our kids are “going to have sex anyway.” They hand us a box of condoms, advising us this is the best we can do for our children.
My friend Betty thinks better.
Statistics give us reason to listen to her. More teens today are choosing to stay abstinent. Over 54% of high school teens in 2001 have not had sex. That’s an amazing success story when you consider the social climate for these teens and the steady pressure on them to become sexually active.
It makes one wonder what those statistics would be if adults really believed in our children. We believe kids can say no to drugs…and tobacco…and to drunk driving. And we back up our message with a culture that gives an uncompromising message that these behaviors are irresponsible and dangerous.
The facts are in about teen sex. It is dangerous and leads to serious lifelong consequences. That’s enough reason to consider it irresponsible behavior. And those are the best reasons possible for parents and teachers to begin to promote and believe in the abstinence message…all of it. We need to believe in our teens again.
The next time you want to give up, remember my friend Betty. We will never achieve a goal we fail to set or make a touchdown we don’t work for. If Betty can do it, and her husband, parents, and children…then maybe we can, too.
 2001 Youth Risk Behavior Survey Results, Division of Adolescent and School Health, Center for Disease Control and Prevention. [http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dash/yrbs/data/2001/index.html] at 11/26/03.
MORE ON ABSTINENCE
May 14, 2004: Order in the Courtroom!
June 4, 2004: AIDS: Importing the Cure
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