Sunday, August 31, 2008

Abstinence and STD Statistics

In the comment section of the previous post, BB-Idaho and I began discussing the pregnancy center that I work at, which lead up to a discussion of Pregnant Teens, Abstinence, Sex and STDs and I'm not even sure if I have the answer yet to all of the things he brought up, yet I do know that there is information at the center about Abstinence and "Safe-Sex" statistics. Since it's a long weekend, I won't be back there until Tuesday, yet I assure you that there will be more coming besides what I put in this post.

If you would like to read the previous discussion that was made on this subject, go to the next Post down entitled "Avoiding the Extremes in Both Parties", click on the title and then use the "Find on this Page" feature within your browser to find the words "Pregnant Teens". You might have to hit the "Next" button once to get to the mention of this in the comment section. This is where my discussion with BB on this subject begins.

Meanwhile, I though that I might post some of the statistics that I already have handy relating to Abstinence attitudes and STDs.

BB presented some information about birth rates. Here are some statistics about the rate of Abstinence over the years, as well as the current rates of STDs...

A poll conducted in 2001 revealed that 60% of Americans believe that there is nothing wrong with a man and woman having sex before marriage and of course, the media reinforces this idea. The problem is that as our attitudes about sex have changed over the years, so has the decline in those who practice Abstinence before Marriage.

A study in 1992, (same year as a study presented by BB), 55.1% of all women born between 1933 and 1942 reported that they had abstained from premarital sex and only 27.4% of women born between 1953 and 1962 reported the same (Edward O. Laumann et. al., The Social Organization of Sexuality: Sexual Practices in the US (University of Chicago Press: 1994)). Later studies revealed that between 1971 and 1995, the rate of girls between the ages of 15 and 19 who reported having premarital sex increased from 30% to 49% (Joyce C. Abma and Freya L. Sonenstein, "Sexual Activity and Contraceptive Practices Among Teenagers in the US", 1988 and 1995; "Data from the National Survey of Family Growth", National Center for Health Statistics, Wasshington, D.C., April 2001, Table1). As far as I'm concerned, these percentages are far too high.

This whole picture wouldn't be so bad if it weren't for the rate of STDs going up as well.

Over 65 million Americans currently have an incurable STD and each year there are 15 million new STD cases in the US, of which 50% are incurable (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Tracking the Hidden Epidemics: Trends in STDs in the US", 2000). Also, at least 1 in 3 sexually active people are estimated to have contracted an STD by age 24 (The Kaiser Family Foundation, "Sexually Transmitted Diseases in the US", Feb. 2000).

Each year, over 3 million teens are infected with an STD (The Alan Guttmacher Institute, "Teen Sex and Pregnancy", Facts in Brief, 1999).

Gonorrhea rates are highest among females 15-19 years old (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Tracking the Hidden Epidemics: Trends in STDs in the US", 2000).

Also, at least 10% (that's 1 in 10) of all sexually active teens are infected with Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, a condition most often caused by untreated Gonorrhea and Chlamydia that can lead to infertility and ectopic Pregnancy, or Pregnancy in the Fallopian Tubes (The Medical Institute for Sexual Health, "Medical Updates: Frepuently Asked Questions").

Young people are often led to believe that they will be safe from STDs and pregnancy if they use condoms, however conveying such a message can be dangerously misleading. Condoms protect against HIV/AIDs, but only at the rate of 85%, or put another way, they reduce the risk by only 85%. Personally, I think that 15% is a huge window and what's more, there's no evidence to support any protection at all against the many other STDs, now more than 50 strands, many of which are incurable and Birth Control Pills offer no protection at all.

Many sexually active young people do not view themselves as being at risk for STDs and tend to form perceptions of their own risks and their partners risks based on impressions, rather than factual information.

The unfortunate truth, though, is that an immature immune system places adolescents at increased risk for STDs and teenage girls face a greater risk because of an anatomical variance. The outer covering of a teenage cervix is more susceptible to infection by the bacteria and viruses of STDs.

Dr Teresa Crenshaw, past President of the American Association of Sex Educators, said "Saying that the use of condoms is 'safe sex' is in fact playing Russian roulette. A lot of people will die in this dangerous game."

Do we really want to play this game with our young loved ones by leading them to believe that sex is Ok as long as they use "protection"?

For more Statistics, see my other page; "More Abstinence and STD Statistics"

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Avoiding the Extremes in Both Parties

In the comment section of one of Griper's posts, BB-Idaho said something very interesting.

"It's just perspective..

"Q: How do you tell the difference between a liberal and a conservative?
"A: Easy. Watch a man drowning fifty feet offshore.

"The conservative will throw out 25 feet of rope and shout 'swim for it!'

"The liberal will toss out 50 feet of rope, drop his own end, and go off to do another good deed."

I guess that this could be taken as a joke, but I found it to be rather profound and it's just the sort of thing that's right down my ally. I've often talked about the subject of what's wrong with both of the extremes within both the Republican and Democratic parities, and BB said it so perfectly.

The problem with the Republican approach, as described above, is that they assume that the drowning man has the ability to swim 25 feet, which may or may not be the case. The problem with the Democratic approach, as described above, is that they are so eager to do a large number of good deeds, that they do not put adequate thought into each one. Quite often they just give out food, such as a fish, but they do not stick around to teach the person how to fish.

Republicans are willing to teach someone how to fish, but do not give them enough fish in the mean time in order to give them the energy that they will need in order to carry out the lesson. Perhaps I should add that the fish can represent not only food, (what is needed for the body),but also counseling and emotional support (what is needed for the spirit and the soul). Too often, those who are drowning emotionally are expected to swim without any emotional support, just expectation and judgment.

Griper and I were discussing on his blog, not too long ago, about the contrast between Government Programs and Private Charities. I guess it's pretty plain that Government Programs are run pretty inefficiently, yet when it comes to free hand outs, sometimes Private Charities don't do as much better at this as one might think, for many of them do primarily give out hand outs as well.

At the place where I work, we help pregnant teens. We just started a new program in which we have decided to no longer just give out the cloths and baby supplies free, but instead to start requiring them to watch videos and tapes about pregnancy, health, child rearing, budgeting, relationships, sexuality, etc. Interestingly, the girls actually appreciate, whether than resent it.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Don't Throw Your Pearls Before Swine

There are times in which I've felt like questioning God about the way He designed certain things on this earth and within the hearts of His people. For example, why has He created us in such a way in order to allow for the pain that we feel? It seems to me that our emotions are far too strong and our hearts far too easily damaged.

There is something else that happens too besides just the injuries that happen to human hearts. Another thing that occurs is how the truth about human hurts remains way too hidden. The very fact that we hurt so deeply hinders the communication that could aid in our healing.

One really good example of this is how a rape victim will so often fail to report the crime that has been committed against her. Sometimes the delay is so long that some will question whether or not she is telling the truth. Time and time again, it is necessary for a professional to take the stand and explain how it is not uncommon for the trauma of such an event to prevent and delay the reporting of the event and how such emotions can even remain buried in the victim's heart for years before the truth comes out.

In a similar way, sometimes people who are highly sensitive emotionally can be injured deeply by something that their loved ones do not think should be significant enough to cause pain, yet the pain is so deep, that the person can not even talk about it.

Finally, after a considerable amount of time has passed, the person finally talks, yet only to be met with the complaint, "That was so long ago. Why are you bringing up the past?" I never could figure out who wrote the rule that if too much time passes before a confrontation is made, than the complaint becomes mute, yet when the hurt is very deep, we are reluctant to talk about it. Sometimes we are even reluctant to talk about it too anyone at all, never mind the one who has caused us pain.

The problem is this...
The truth about the very deepest of hurts is not often enough expressed. Because of this, those who cause such pain continue to get away with it. The faults of the villains are not brought to light and some do not even realize that an injury has occurred at their hand. This reality troubles me.

As I've added to this a few principles that I've found in the scriptures, I've become puzzled even more. Consider for example what Jesus tells His disciples in relation to parables.

"10) The disciples came to Him and asked, 'Why do you speak to the people in parables?' 11) He replied, 'The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. 12) Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. 13) This is why I speak to them in parables: 'Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand. 14) In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: 'You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. 15) For this, people's heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.' 16) But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear.'" Matthew 13:10-16, NIV.

"10) When He was alone, the Twelve and the others around Him asked Him about the parables. 11) He told them, 'The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables, 12) so that, 'they may be ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding; otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!'" Mark 4:10-12, NIV.

"He said, 'The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of God has been given to you, but to others I speak in parables, so that, 'though seeing, they may not see; though hearing, they may not understand.'" Luke 8:10, NIV.

How odd this is. It is as if the truth is only for those who put a little effort into seeking it, for the Bible also says...

"Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you." Matthew 7:7, KJV.

And "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:32, KJV.

The idea of concealing some of the truth is reinforced by the very fact that things that hurt are difficult to talk about. And than this is reinforced again by the verse that says, "Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you." Matthew 7:6, KJV.

Yet there is a part of me that cries out and says, "But God, if only they really understood, maybe they would repent!" and this has continued to puzzle me.

I guess God wants us to be so concerned about others, that we actually pay attention to how others are responding to us. He wants us to desire to know and to care about whether or not we hurt those around us. Some people are just too absorbed in themselves and their own concerns to notice what is right there before their eyes.

Lord, please help us to want to know the truth. Please, reveal to us what we need to know about ourselves and our effect on those around us. Please seek out the motives in our hearts. Please, reveal to us the truth and set us free, so that we may more effectively love. Amen!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Back from Family Camp, so Please do Say Hello.

I guess I should do another post informing all of you that I'm back from family camp. It is taking me a while to actually post something that's significant. For some reason, it's often easier for me to respond to other people on their blogs than to initiate a post on my own blog. I do try to post once in while, but I'm afraid it's not always often enough to keep my hit count up.

Oh well. I guess I can only do what I can do.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

We're Off Again

Well, I sort of hated to post what I just posted, leave you with that and than leave town, yet that is unfortunately exactly what I'm going to do. We are leaving sometime tomorrow morning and will not be back until Monday or Tuesday, so your comments are probably going to be left in the moderation mode again until then. Please do still feel free to comment, though, and we will talk about it when we get back. Until then, do take care and I'll see you very soon. Love ya' all.

Calm the Anger in My Heart - Poem

The Lord has actually healed me of a lot of the things I used to really feel angry about.  Of course, this horrible beast still rears it's ugly head at times.  We all struggle with anger at times, yet I'm so much more at peace than I once was.

Forgiveness is talked about a lot in the churches, yet my struggle was significant enough that I kept saying, "You know what?  It's just not as simple as that."  Forgiveness actually involves a little bit of a healing process and can often take a little time.   It just plain doesn't happen over night.

Here is a poem that I wrote once when I was feeling angry.

Calm the Anger in my Heart
Calm the anger in my heart. Help me to release it unto You.
Pry my fingers from their grasp.
Help me to know You know the way.
Calm the anger in my heart. Show me hope that You are there.
You're the one who changes hearts. Help me, let You do it, Lord.

What can I do, when the trust has gone away?
What do I do, with the hurt that still remains?
I give it to You, Lord. Heal my pain and make me love.

Calm the anger in my heart. Help me to see Your guiding hand.
Let me cry my tears to You. Heal me Lord and show the way.
Calm the anger in my heart. Help me to see the other’s pain.
Help me feel compassion, Lord. Ease my hurt and show me how.

What can I do, when the trust has gone away?
What do I do, with the hurt that still remains?
I give it to You, Lord. Heal my pain and make me love.

Calm the anger in my heart. Please forgive me, Lord, I pray.
Help me to confront some one in love,
Yet not until You’ve calmed my angry heart.
Calm the anger in my heart. Take the pain, Lord, heal me now.
Take the tears and cleanse me, Lord.
Help me to let go and trust You, Lord.

What can I do, when the trust has gone away?
What do I do, with the hurt that still remains?
I give it to You, Lord. Heal my pain and make me love.

A lot of what I have to say about anger is reflected in the poem.  Anger involves more than just anger and lack of forgiveness.  It also involves hurt; sometimes very deep hurt; and quite often there are trust issues, so to simply say, "You need to let go and forgive that person." does not address all of the issues.

Only God can fully heal us of our hurts and help us to love again and letting go of anger involves healing and therefore also tears.

Another thing that helps is the understanding that we all have areas of our life in which we feel pain.  Even the ones that we are angry with have things in their life that cause them pain.  In our own humanness, it is extremely difficult to see this because we are so caught up in our own pain that it is nearly impossible for us to imagine that that "horrible monster" that we are angry at feels any pain, or for that matter feels anything at all.  Trying to see things from the other person's perspective is extremely difficult on a purely human level and most of us have mental blocks that prevent us from seeing the point of view of someone who has hurt us.

We also have such a strong tendency to hang on to anger.  It is not at all easy to let go of.  I know.  I've most definitely been there, yet God can help to break through the issues in our heart and help us to release that which we cling to so tightly.  As long as we keep holding on to the anger, it is impossible to find peace.  It's like a strong hold in our heart and letting go involves a healing process that can often take considerable time.  The reality of the long healing process has been too often ignored.

Sometimes too, there are issues of trust.  Just because we have chosen to not trust someone does not mean that we have not forgiven them.  It is foolish to not do what is necessary to protect oneself from further harm and unfortunately, lack of trust will usually change the relationship, yet trust is something that must be earned and once it is broken, it must be earned back.  This is not an issue of lack of forgiveness.  It is simply the natural result of broken trust.

The last concept in this poem is the possible need for confrontation.  If the person who has caused the pain is someone that we care about, it will probably be necessary to tell that person how we feel, yet this should not be done in anger.  Sometimes we need to ask God for help in this one, because it is really hard to express deep hurt without including anger.  Anger, though, only begets more anger and accomplishes nothing, just as the Bible says, "A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." (Proverbs 15:1, NIV).

Another very important thing to remember is that it is only God who can truly change hearts.  Just as it is God who can help us to let go of the anger, it is also God who can change the hearts of those who have hurt us, yet in order for this to happen, the other person also needs to turn to God for help and this is a healing process, so we need to be patient.

Lastly, and unfortunately, quite often we never do get the apology that we were hoping for.  This is what makes forgiveness even more difficult and the trust may also never be restored.  Sometimes there can even be a rift in the friendship that will never be healed, so the most unfortunate and sad reality is that sometimes the process of forgiveness can result not in reconciliation, but actually letting go, not only of the anger, but of the relationship as well, or perhaps of what you hoped the relationship could be.  This is the part of the puzzle that I struggled with for so long and wasn't willing to accept.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Well, We're Back. It was a Fun Trip.

It was a fun trip. I guess I almost could have made a post out of the comment I just left on the next post down. I'm hoping to one day soon write about the trip in even more detail, yet for now I just wanted to put something on the top of my blog that says something other than we're gone on vacation, though, to tell you the truth, we have family camp coming up this week end, so I will be away from the computer again this weekend, yet I'm here for now in case anyone wants to say hi.

If you are new to my blog, please do read some of my earlier entries and check out the labels on the right. Thanks for dropping by.