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To have sex, or not to have sex? — that is the question

Ashland Daily Tidings

We don't like to talk about it. But the messages are everywhere in our society, and now a new book &

"Unhooked" by Laura Sessions Stepp &

is forcing folks to reconcile the predicament in which we've placed our nation's youth.

'Hooking up' is a favored pasttime for many teens and young adults. But such activity may be harmful to young girls and women, argues Stepp, "denying their emotional needs, putting them at risk of depression and even sexually transmitted disease, and making them ill-equipped for real relationships later on."

With her new book, Stepp has pulled back the sheet covering the hushed world that promotes sex to teens and adolescents. And she has brought to the national forefront teen sexual activities, which involve everything from light petting and kissing to variations of sexual involvement ranging from oral sex to orgies.

But surely this is nothing new. Teens have hormones that naturally urge them to desire sexual activity. Encouraging this desire is a number of adult-run industries that cater to the understanding that the innocent, na&


175;ve, gullible teen world remains vulnerable to persuasion. The fashion industry is a leading purveyor of sex to students. Walk into any major department store that sells clothing for adolescents and teens and one will find fashions similar to the streetwalkers of the 70s. In one store in Medford that targets teens and adolescents, the intent is quite deliberate &

even featuring an aisle of sensual clothing ranging from negligees to dominatrix attire. And throughout today's Bratz society the focus of sexual lure toward pre-school children is quite evident.

There is no argument that entire industries run by adults are targeting the youngest of youth with sensual products and sexual titillation. And there is no doubt the children of America have responded. Stepp documented some of their activities and shared them with us. But a number of people are angered by her analysis that casual sex has harmful effects on girls and women.

In a March 10, 2007 Associated Press article by Jocelyn Noveck titled "New book draws fire for claiming that sex 'hookups' can damage young women," Stepp's critics are quoted claiming that Stepp is a "throwback to an earlier restrictive moral climate," and "imagines the female body as a thing that can be tarnished by too much use." But in fact, it seems apparent that Stepp and her critics are all on the same side:

"True, she regrets that oral sex 'isn't even considered sex anymore.' But she isn't saying girls should not have sex; just that they should have it in the context of a meaningful connection &



Noveck's summary of Stepp's foundational premise is clear evidence that there are women in the upper echelons of professional careers across the country who are absolutely confused about the roles of sex and women in society. Stepp considers having sex in the context of an undefined 'meaningful' relationship acceptable &

while her critics take one step further by attacking her and positioning themselves as open to condoning the sexual decisions determined by 13-year-olds.

To be sure, this age-old debate still swings the pendulum of public acceptance from one end of the political spectrum to the other. Those pundits who typically condone sexual decisions made by largely ignorant, misguided and na&


175;ve young girls and women, offer the sacrosanct notion of 'choice' as the ultimate exercise of a 'free' woman. Those who argue it is wrong for girls and women to engage in sexual activities outside the boundaries of marriage typically do so because of their own religious beliefs they believe ought to apply to the entire planet of peoples. Three major religions &

Christianity, Judaism and Islam &

all agree that through marriage is the only condition under which women may indulge their sexual desires. Engaging in sexual activity outside of the boundaries of marriage is viewed as morally wrong, with the idea that only God determines what is and is not moral.

But what about the girls of American society groomed to discard religion as a guidepost, adopt their own individual feelings as a divining rod and head into a desert filled with predators thinking they will all someday find the 'right' guy for them? What will become of these girls and women who freely give away their innocence, chastity, virtue, along with their heart, mind and body for the cheapest of temporary titles &


Who will warn of the impending doom inherent in 'long-term' relationships that have no true definition, but sound more legitimate than 'hooking up?' Which voices, outside of religion, have defined the manner and method through which all people ought to engage in relationships in order to preserve families that are the cornerstone of society at large?

It appears that those who denounce Jesus' definition of marriage and its boundaries have yet to come up with anything better. In fact, they've yet to come up with anything at all, outside of allowing young girls &

whose psyches are constantly preyed upon by society &

to decide for themselves if they wish to put a couple hundred notches on their bedposts. The natural consequences of sexual activities are consistently played down by those determined to ensure that as many young people as possible continue to remain clueless and vulnerable to predators lurking throughout society.

Stepp cannot answer a young girl's most pressing questions regarding sex, relationships, marriage, etc. Her thought-provoking, seemingly well-reasoned advise to wait until there is a 'meaningful connection' is devoid of context, subjective to every girl and woman being swept off her feet by smooth-talking players, and of little use to women who only give their bodies away when they 'feel a meaningful connection.' Stepp's critics are even farther from being able to assist any girl understand how her decisions will impact her life, the life of her children, her family, friends and society.

While the so-called 'relationship experts' find studies, statistics and credentialed people to quote, none have yet to effectively counter Jesus, who spoke plainly about marriage, and who likened the relationship He has with His church to that of a marital relationship. But you won't find any relationship experts quoting Jesus who also tout the value of 'choice' for women.

Yet, Jesus believes in choice &

completely informed choices.

The inherent negative consequences in choosing a lifestyle that leads to danger, despair and death ought to be considered in a total context. The notion that the innocuous term 'relationship' authorizes sexual activity, or at least legitimizes it in the minds of most Americans is an indication that parenting has sunk to the level of kids raising themselves with the help of television, radio and Planned Parenthood.

And when a 15-year-old puts on her low hip-hugging jeans, high heel shoes, makeup, and tiny tee-shirt showing her mid-rift and the tattoo in the small of her back, she can be self-assured she is making a choice.

The dangers inherent in such choices is what religions seek to help young girls avoid, and the church looks to provide protection from. So while our secular society proclaims itself as the great protector of 'rights' and 'choices' and 'freedoms,' in the final analysis it is secularists that deride religion in order to 'protect' young girls from the whole truth regarding the choices they make. —

is the author of, "The WHOLE Truth About the U.S. War on Terror: answers to every question you never knew to ask."