>A couple of weeks ago when mindlessly surfing the web, I came across a health news article that struck me in several ways.

Research suggests that a drug called Truvada may offer nearly complete protection from HIV infections in those who unfailingly take it daily and also rigorously practice other safe sex habits.

A medical breakthrough like this is good news. HIV is a nasty disease with world-wide devastating effects. But the good news is tempered by two significant factors.

First, as is often the case with pharmaceutical solutions to such complex health issues, there are significant side effects related to Truvada. Primary are diarrhea, 
nausea and fatigue but liver damage and a dangerous build up of acid in the blood are also real possibilities.

Second is cost: $36/day (over $13,000/year) and it must be taken daily. Otherwise, a far more difficult to treat super-infection may arise. Once infected with HIV, medications to maintain health currently run from $12,000 to $40,000 a year. Of course, most people don’t pay that much because of health insurance, but that payment disparity is fodder for another column. Today, I just want to speak of the expense of sexual expression outside a covenant relationship where two people promise love and fidelity to one another.

Frankly, it staggers my mind. 

I live fairly frugally, both by necessity and by choice. It is beyond me to consider spending over $1000/month on a medication that would keep me safe from getting a horrific disease when behavioral choices can provide safety at no expense.

I am not naïve. We live in a complicated sexual culture. Teens and young adults, at the top of sexual desires and power and at the bottom of impulse control, are bombarded with messages that say, “Go for it! Explore your sexuality to the fullest. Restraint is old fashioned, stupid and unreasonable.” 

Furthermore, reports suggest that abstinence-only sex education has a miserable track record for preventing teen sex and unwanted pregnancies.

In addition, we tell these emerging adults not to marry young, because they’ll make a mistake in picking their life partner if they do. Then they are to finish their education and establish their place in the workforce before marriage. 

What a double-bind dilemma!

I think it is time to reaffirm some basic truths. 

First, sexual expression, when given and received in a relationship planted firmly in the ground of mutual covenant and commitment, is a holy pleasure and should be acknowledged as such.

Second, unrestrained sexual expression damages both body and soul. It’s easy to quote a Bible verse here and say, “see, I told you so.” It’s just as easy to listen to people’s stories, especially those of young women and those who suffer life-long health consequences and say sorrowfully, “God never intended this.”

Third, we need a lot better way to help our teens and young adults to figure this one out so they can learn to appreciate and to respect their own bodies and also appreciate and handle their emerging sexuality. Sticking our collective heads in the sand is not going to accomplish anything.

Fourth, we must raise our awareness of the waters that the media industry offer us to swim in. Most of us just leap on in and bring our children with us, and then wonder why we’ve had so little influence on their sexual decisions when they start swimming in their own oceans.

Fifth, I think it would be wise to ask ourselves what our decisions really do cost us. How about starting here: If you have $13,000 this year to spend on your pleasures, how would you most like to spend it? 

I’d love to hear some really creative ideas here on spending $13,000 a year on something besides side-effect ridden medications and life choices that may leave one full of regret later.