March 13th, 2008 13:23 EST
New CDC Study Sees High Rate of Sexually-Transmitted Diseases in Teens
In a first-of-its-kind, nationwide study, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported this week that one out of four American teenage girls -- a total of 3.2 million teens ages 14-19 -- has at least one sexually transmitted disease, diseases that can lead to infertility and cervical cancer.
But beyond those alarming statistics, other experts also worry about other harm that is also sexually- transmitted -- the emotional and spiritual toll of premarital sex.
According to teen counselor and author Jan Kern, far too many teenagers--guys as well as girls--settle for the emptiness of false intimacy in an effort to fill deep longings for love and acceptance. For despite encouraging recent downward trending statistics on teenage sexual behavior, according to 2005 CDC reports, 63% of teens have had sexual intercourse by the time they leave high school.
And as youth leaders will tell you, churchgoing teens are not immune from the pressures.
In Seduced by Sex: Saved by Love (Standard Publishing, March 2008), Kern tells us the true account of a Christian teenager who gave herself sexually to her first boyfriend, then lived increasingly promiscuously seeking popularity and acceptance.
In an account that is equal parts heartrending and heartwarming, Kern tells us the story that is uniquely Suzy's own, yet a sadly familiar one shared by thousands of other teens.
Reflecting on that time in her life, Suzy says, "I was only skin deep. Sex meant nothing to me anymore. I walked into a lifestyle where the more I did it, the less I cared about myself and the more I wanted to beat myself up and give more of myself away."
She began to feel like an object with no value other than to be used by others, and nearly lost her life as she spiraled into despair.
"Her journey took her down the painful paths of false intimacy," Kern said. "But God, in his unrelenting pursuit of her heart, loved her, healed her, and redeemed her. He set her feet on a new path so she could discover the gift of true intimacy he had for her all along."
Suzy shares her story now as she hopes others won't walk the same path that she did, Kern explains, and to help others already on the path find their way back.
"There are girls are out there who have been used and have let themselves be treated that way, and now they feel like trash," Suzy says. "They need to know there's hope, healing, forgiveness--life after the state they've been in. Newness."
At times reading like a novel and at other times written directly to teens from the counselor that she is, Kern tells us Suzy's story from ninth grade on. She includes side notes to friends and leaders who struggle with knowing how to help teens they know seek God's best for their lives.
And the struggles aren't only for Christian teen girls. Kern writes also for teenage boys and the challenges they face. She interviewed many teenagers and shares their stories as well.
"We're created to operate on love, acceptance and the expression of all God made us to be, including through our sexuality," Kern says. "And it's true that an intimate sexual relationship between two people can encompass those elements and more. But heartache and disillusionment also enter when the timing and circumstances are off track.
"True intimacy is an amazing gift from God. It's designed to be shared exclusively between a man and a woman--who are bound together in marriage-- for life."
Suzy's winding path ultimately led her to forgiveness and a new life. Kern describes seeing her now happily married as she and her husband raise their growing family. Then Kern turns her comments back to her readers.
"Wherever you might be on your journey, God is somewhere near. If you haven't already, invite him to join the journey with you. He is the only one who can help you find the intimacy your heart longs for."
Seduced by Sex: Saved by Love is the second book in Kern's "Live Free" series designed to help young adults overcome struggles and addictions. Her previous book about cutting, Scars that Wound: Scars that Heal, was published in 2007. The third book, Eyes Online: Eyes On Life, about Internet addictions, will be published in fall 2008.
For more than 25 years, Kern has served at a residential ministry for at risk youth. She has also worked on a church staff and with a variety of ministries where she has mentored and encouraged teens, young adults, and parents. Many of her writing and speaking topics give hope to teens and young adults, especially those who are deeply wounded and struggling.
Since 1866, Standard Publishing has been providing true-to-the-Bible resources that inspire, educate, and motivate Christians to a growing relationship with Jesus Christ. Based in Cincinnati, Ohio, Standard creates a wide array of Christian products and resources for churches and families. For more information, visit www.standardpub.com.