With regard to abstinence education ('An answer for everything' that ran in the Lake Oswego Review Education section May 3), I wish to respond to the three youths who believed this type of education would not keep their peers from having sex.

High school students have many reasons for showing up in the 'yes'column of sexual activity statistics. Just as there is a big difference between an underage drinker who has a single beer at a prom party and a teenage daily user, there is also a big difference between a teen who tries sex before marriage as an offering to a dearly loved future spouse, and one who is sleeping with many partners all month long with no heartstrings attached.

Abstinence education can do more than erase some of the 'yes' column stats. This education brings the full vision of possibility offered to young men and women before they give themselves away to just anyone.

Speakers can instill self worth, and encourage all students to carefully consider this step before acting.

Why make such a decision before you have all of the information? It is the most personal choice one can make - who goes into your body - and all choices should be made after a long and thoughtful look at all of the long-term effects.

The editor decries the federal monies spent on abstinence education, but like all preventative measures, if it saves one life, or helps one student to make a better choice, it is money well spent.

When the 'experts' figure out a way to have 'safe sex' that means sex outside marriage without long-term emotional damage, we may be able to discuss it again.

Teen sex is illegal for a reason. It is stealing. Stealing what does not belong to you. Much like rape. Unmarried sex is very much like rape, though we don't usually think of it that way. A casual partner is stealing what belongs to your future husband or wife. Would you steal?

Would you sleep with someone who stole regularly?

Personal testimony? Lost my virginity at 16 on prom night with first love. The guy was almost arrested for statutory rape that night, but police gave us a break. This first love dumps me after meeting someone new after going away to college.

Soon after, I went through an eight-year marriage with a guy who was addicted to many things, including pornography. After the divorce, I had two quick affairs with co-workers, resulting in an increasingly desensitized conscience, and an empty heart. Not a happy time.

At 28, I met the man of my dreams. He had saved his offering of virginity for marriage throughout high school, college, medical school and residency. He was a gentleman, kind to his mom, a follower of Christ and just what a husband should be. I am sure that I would never have been attracted to him in high school. We married at 30 and will celebrate 17 years of marriage this summer.

How I wish I had waited for him. What a waste of time the others were.

Think about it carefully. It could save someone a lot of heartache.

Linda Johansen is a resident of West Linn.

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