A response to the Rosenbaum study.
“Many Teens Don’t Keep Virginity Pledges”
This is one of the latest articles I’ve seen on Yahoo. It comes from a recent study by Janet Elise Rosenbaum, published in Pediactrics (the study is entitled Patient Teenagers? A Comparison of the Sexual Behavior of Virginity Pledgers and Matched Nonpledgers).
But Yahoo’s interpretation of the study is very misleading. Here’s the first paragraph of the yahoo article:
“Teens who take virginity pledges are just as likely to have sex as teens who don’t make such promises. . .”
Wrong! This is not an accurate interpretation of Rosenbaum’s study. I’ve taken the time to read the abstract and analyze her study.
Previous studies compared those who took virginity pledges with the general population. Such studies showed those who take pledges were less likely to have premarital sex and more likely to delay sex.
But Rosenbaum’s study was different: it compared “virginity pledgers” with “matched nonpledgers.”
If I understand this correctly, the “matched nonpledgers” were virgin teens that 1) anticipated feeling guilty about premarital sex, and 2) attended a church/religious youth group meeting once a week. This is the group she compared with those who made formal virginity pledges.
Allow me to summarize: a group of teens with religious convictions against premarital sex were compared with a group of teens that made some type of formal virginity pledge. Their behavior was similar. Is this supposed to be a surprise?
Here are some of my thoughts:
Teens that embrace the message of purity behave differently than those who don’t. This doesn’t mean all of them remain chaste until marriage (which is the Biblical standard). But they are more likely to delay sex (some until marriage) and have fewer sexual partners. Let’s not forget the positive impact of committing to biblical principles.
A virginity pledge is simply a formal way for a teenager to express his/her commitment to purity—it is not a “magic bullet.” None of us would argue that a formal pledge guarantees chaste behavior. Many of the pledgers in Rosenbaum’s studied actually denied ever making a pledge. If such was the case, they lacked some much-needed foundation for living a pure life.
Teen sexuality is not just a medical/biological issue. STD’s, pregnancy rates, and the incidence of sexual behaviors are easily measured and quantified. But there are other dimensions to human sexuality that cannot be measured: the spiritual and emotional consequences of premarital sex.
Regardless of statistics and studies, God’s mind hasn’t changed on this issue. His plan for sexuality is clearly stated in the Scriptures: One man and one woman in a covenant of marriage.
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