I remember as a little boy placing my hand firmly on top of a hot stove. I quickly removed it. You didn't have to tell me twice. It hurt.
The problem comes when an action has long-term negative consequences but brings short-term pleasure. We no longer act rationally. No one starts drinking with the intention of becoming an alcoholic. No one starts gambling thinking, "I will become addicted, lose all my money and not be able to pay my bills."
Think about extramarital sex. In the olden days, it came with the consequences of pregnancy. But through technology and feminist activism that helped fuel the sexual revolution, we have removed the consequences -- or at least we think we have. Clinics provide abortions all across the nation while public schools distribute the morning after pill.
But we haven't told our kids about all the consequences -- emotion and physical. Abortions leave one dead and one wounded. Extramarital sex (and pornography) leaves emotional scars that affect intimacy in marriage for years to come. Men begin to view women as an object for pleasure rather than a partner for life, and once the pleasure ceases, those men throw them away like an old pair of tennis shoes.
But consequences exist, and they go beyond the emotional, too. A Feb. 13 story on NBCNews.com demonstrates the rise of STDs: 20 million new incidents of infection arose in 2008 for a total of 110 million infections in the United States, according to the CDC. These STDs costs the US nearly $16 billion in estimated direct medical costs.
So what is the secular solution? Matthew Golden, the director of Public Health Seattle and King County HIV/STD Program and a professor of medicine at the University of Washington Center for AIDS and STD, wants to remove the consequence instead of addressing the root problem.
Golden said, "We have snatched defeat from the jaws of victory by not pursuing effective strategies, such as school-based universal access to the HPV vaccine."
Let's be honest. If we did it God's way, which means waiting to have sex until you are married and then staying married to one person, you would have only one sexual partner with no prior experience for your entire life. Guess what? No more STDs.
I'm glad I work with people like Richard Ross, who 20 years ago started a movement to inform people about the negative consequences and to call them to a higher standard. The movement known as "True Love Waits" has impacted millions with a challenge to do it God's way. A couple of weeks ago, Ross preached at the same church where, two decades earlier, he launched "True Love Waits."
The Bible says in Galatians 6:7-8, "Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life."
No amount of technology, pills, procedures, or anything else will remove the consequences forever. One day we all will stand before our heavenly Father and give account for our actions. It's time we realize that God intended for it to hurt when I placed my hand on a hot stove, and God intends consequences when we violate His commands.
Consequences exist for our own good -- an earthly reminder of eternal significance.
Thomas White is vice president for student services and communications at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. This column first appeared at http://thomaswhite.wordpress.com and was later re-posted at TheologicalMatters.com. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress ) and in your email ( baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).
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