Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of March 18, 2002
Minnesota mom touts 'abstinence advantage'
Stenzel challenges teens on sex outside marriage
By RAMON GONZALEZ
WCR Staff Writer
Sex is great, but it is not a game. Treat it like a game, and you can experience "very harmful consequences."
That message comes from Pam Stenzel, a young Minnesota mother of three who travels the world challenging teens to choose the "abstinence advantage."
"Since God created sex, it's awesome," she says. "But God created sex with boundaries. When sex happens within the boundaries for which it was created - marriage - sex is awesome. When it happens outside that boundary, it's horribly, horribly destructive. It's kind of like fire."
Stenzel was a keynote speaker at the 2002 Catholic Conference. She spoke to about 700 adults March 9 and then addressed some 600 junior and senior high school students in a separate hall.
"If you forget everything else, there is one thing you need to remember," Stenzel boomed to her young audience. "If you have sex outside of marriage, outside of one permanent, monogamous partner, you'll pay."
Stenzel began talking to teenagers in 1989 after nine years of counselling girls.
"It took nine years of girls looking at me and saying, 'Nobody told me, I didn't know or I'd have made a different choice,'" said Stenzel, who believes teens do make the right choice when given the facts.
"I didn't come to Edmonton to decide for you what to do about sex. My goal today is that no one will be able to leave this afternoon and ever again have to say to a physician, to a counsellor, to your future husband or wife, 'Nobody told me, I didn't know.' Today, you are going to be told, but you'll choose what to do."
Stenzel said when it comes to issues relating to sex, teens face consequences youths in previous generations couldn't begin to imagine. In the 1950s, there were only five known sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
Today, STDs are running rampant, she said. And sterility, infertility and abortion rates are up and marriages are falling apart.
"The worst thing that can happen (if you have sex) is not pregnancy," Stenzel told the teens, noting that every 24 hours, 12,000 U.S. teenagers are infected with STDs. "There is a four times greater risk of contracting a disease than becoming pregnant."
Some girls agree to sex because they are in love. But according to Stenzel, love has nothing to do with it.
"God did not create sex for love. That's not the boundary. God created sex for one purpose and one purpose only - permanent life commitment, marriage, not love."
Teens cheered and laughed throughout the speech as the dynamic Stenzel imitated teens' voices and attitudes on the stage.
"God loves us and his love is not about wrecking your fun or ruining your weekend," she said. "God lets you choose and with that, there is a colossal risk."
The risks, she warned, come not only in the form of contracting one of 50 types of STDs - many of which are incurable - but in joining the ranks of the poor.
"The number one indicator of poverty in this country is single parent households," she said. "Eighty per cent of teenage girls in my country who choose to parent their children live below the poverty line at least for the first 10 years, most of them for the rest of their lives. And 90 per cent of those who choose to parent will never attend their high school graduation."
"Girls, you will pay a higher price physically every single time. There is only one way you will ever know if they love you, one way," Stenzel told the teens. "Put a boundary down. Say this far and no farther and demand some respect. (Your boyfriend) would never ask you to do something that will damage you for the rest of your lives."
"If someone you care about finds herself pregnant and didn't intend to be, please get some help. Please don't walk through this alone."
Making good choices, Stenzel told the teens, often takes a lot of courage, maturity and love. She told of a 15-year-old girl who in 1964 was raped, became pregnant, and decided to carry her unborn child to term.
Five months after the baby girl was born, in an act of courage and love, the young mother provided her child with a better environment by giving her to an adoptive family.
"That child was me," Stenzel said. "My biological father is a rapist. But I'm still a human being and I did not deserve the death penalty because of the crime of my father.
"God is capable of taking your worst pain . . . and making something beautiful. Its called amazing grace."
Stenzel's statements caught the attention of several students.
"Pam delivered a very important message. I agree with her that you shouldn't have sex before marriage," said 16-year-old Wilma Shim, a student at Archbishop MacDonald High.
"This really sets you in the right path," said 16-year-old Anthony Hoffman of Fort McMurray.
For more information, visit Stenzel's Web site at www.pamstenzel.com.