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Rather than telling teens exactly how far is too far, Di Marco points them to Jesus’ teaching that if a man merely looks at a woman lustfully, he has already committed adultery in his heart.Di Marco tells teens, “If what you are doing is going to in any way lead one of you to think about sexual thoughts, then you have gone too far because what you are thinking in your mind is what you are going to be accountable for.” For parents who discover that their teen has been sexually active, it is important to handle the situation in a healthy way.Other research shows that each day 8,000 teenagers in the United States will become infected with an STD, with more than 3 million teens becoming infected this year alone.(See Note 1 below.) Popular Christian campaigns like True Love Waits -- a program that encourages teens to pledge that they will remain virgins until they get married – are not enough, Di Marco said.Sometimes the best approach, she said, is to talk with the teen couple about their mutual sexual attraction and support them by establishing guidelines for their relationship.“If (the teens) really want to be obedient to God, they can’t do it on their own," Di Marco said.While it is primarily the parents’ responsibility to pass on their values to their children at home, Di Marco said churches also have a responsibility to guide the teens in their congregations.

“Teen girls don’t understand what virginity is,” Di Marco says, “so everything except intercourse is considered okay even by Christian girls.” These behaviors can include everything from deep kissing and heavy petting to oral sex.

"They have to have their parents’ support.” It is also important that parents exhibit forgiveness for their teens.

Parents should remind their children that God forgives any sin that we commit when we confess it to Him and stop doing the behavior.

“I found no difference between Christian girls and non-Christian girls,” Di Marco said.

“No difference, except that they talked a good show and acted really nice in front of me.” When she probed deeper she found that Christian teens were engaging in the same sexual behaviors as their non-Christian friends. According to researchers at Yale and Columbia University teens pledging virginity until marriage are just as likely to have STDs as their peers.

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