Shielding Our Daughters from Sexual Impurity
- Penna Dexter Baptist Press
- 2007 1 Jan
Recently the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced its new schedule of childhood vaccinations. On the list is a recommendation that girls ages 11-12 be given a new vaccine against certain strains of the Human Papilloma Virus -- strains responsible for approximately 70 percent of cervical cancer cases. Nationwide, state legislatures, including Texas', will consider requirements this year that would require girls in certain grades to receive an HPV vaccine.
Cervical cancer is second among cancers as a killer of women; HPV is spread through sexual contact and has exploded as a result of the sexual revolution. The virus can occur in monogamous relationships if one of the partners has had previous sexual contact with someone else. As with all STDs, abstinence until marriage will prevent HPV, but it must be abstinence from all sexual contact, and on the part of both spouses. A recent study showed that people who use condoms were 70 percent less likely to get HPV than those who do not, but condoms are not 100 percent effective at preventing its spread.
There are 6.2 million new cases of HPV per year. It is a worldwide problem, and the development of this vaccine will save lives. But the deaths caused by this virus are not taking place due to lack of a vaccine. They’re occurring because certain assumptions about basic morality have changed over the last four decades. So, in order to protect their little girls, mothers are dragging them to the doctor for yet another shot, hoping to save them from certain decisions they might make someday about their sexuality, or from the pasts of their future sexual partners.
It’s a shame, but in America, we often go after the "quick fix." It’s a lot easier to give your daughter a vaccine against a sexually transmitted disease that to build into her, during those "teachable moments" beginning in childhood, the knowledge that sex is for marriage. But, instead, our culture has left our daughters adrift, without an anchor.
At one time our society provided a web of protections for young ladies and supported parents who were attempting to keep their daughters from falling into sexual activity -- and the resulting unintended pregnancy or sexually transmitted disease. Now, the fashion and entertainment industries encourage teenage girls to dress and act like tramps. Parents experiencing the natural discomfort with their daughters’ dress and behavior often seem to have trouble standing up to the onslaught. MTV, certain websites, hip hop and rock music speak so loudly that all some parents can manage is a timid "be careful." And parents who stand firm on these issues can no longer rely on a cultural consensus that says, at least ideally, sex is for marriage. When they find themselves objecting to the co-ed, all night party, sometimes "everyone else’s parents think it’s OK" turns out to be the truth.
The good news is, even amidst this sexualized culture, many teens are flourishing. Some parents, schools and churches are imparting the right messages about sex, and those messages are actually making sense to teenage girls. In fact, national data show a significant rise in virginity among high-school students. However, if your daughter does manage to leave high school with her virginity, she’ll face a minefield on the secular college campus with its "hook-up" culture.
The all-girls’ dorm is the exception, not the rule, on many state university campuses. Where’s the haven for the college girl who wants an excuse to get away from the too-aggressive date who assumes he’ll be spending the night? In fact, in some campus cultures, the date is obsolete. Writer Pia Nordlinger contends that the "Daughters of the Sexual Revolution" didn’t win. The boys did. She wrote in the Independent Women’s Forum’s "Women’s Quarterly" that in our "hook up" culture, the young college man wanting "a night of naughty romping" doesn’t even have to "shell out for flowers, a pricey dinner, or a sappy chick flick. He won’t even have to call her the next day."
Feminists seeking sexual freedom reaped a whirlwind. But, a modesty movement began to arise within feminism in the late 1990s. Wendy Shalit wrote an important book, A Return to Modesty: Rediscovering a Lost Virtue, in which she criticizes "cultural arbiters who associate maturity with sexual adventurousness." But, she writes, "deep down, most Americans know that modesty is a sign of self worth."
Perhaps a sense of "self worth" will protect our daughters from getting involved in the sexual behaviors that will only harm them. Young women whose morals are grounded in their faith have the tools to remain pure in an increasingly impure world. It would be nice if they could get a little more support from the culture.
Penna Dexter is a board of trustee member with the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, a conservative activist and an announcer on the syndicated radio program "Life on the Line" (information available at www.lifeontheline.com). She currently serves as a consultant for KMA Direct Communications in Plano, Texas, and as a co-host of "Jerry Johnson Live," a production of Criswell Communications. She formerly was a co-host of Marlin Maddoux's "Point of View" syndicated radio program.
© 2007 Baptist Press. Used with permission. All rights reserved.