Essay by Akalia Woods /age 13, grade 8th/ Middle School Topic#1. How can choosing abstinence impact your present and future life? Wow…that’s a pretty big question. How to start? To begin with, nearly every person who practiced abstinence that I know has (or has had) a very happy marriage. Most of the people out there who are getting divorced did not choose abstinence, and are reaping the sad benefits of their early decision. So, how can abstinence impact my future life? Well, for one thing, it’ll certainly help my marriage in many ways. Then how will abstinence impact my present life? Will it make it difficult to keep friends at school? Will it prevent me from watching TV? What about a book that has inappropriate material in it? Will abstinence keep me from that as well? I believe that any true friends that you have won’t care about whether or not you practice this ideal, and won’t pressure you either. If a friend dumps you because you don’t want to hear about the last date she went on, or the hottest movie star, then she wasn’t really a friend. If a friend just says “Okay, sure, whatever,” then you know that she will never really care too much about any of it. And if a friend says “Gee, that sounds kind of smart, actually…I think you should go ahead.” then you know that she will always be your avid supporter. So choosing abstinence will probably get rid of any “weird” friends that you have. As for TV, there is a lot of junk out there that is inappropriate, no matter what. But the first thing before you watch that R rated adult swim show, check why you are watching it. If it’s for all of the gross humor, you probably should go back to Spongebob. If it’s because you think you can ignore all of that and try to glean whatever value you might gain from it, go ahead. It means that you are looking for the silver lining in that very ugly little rain cloud. So choosing abstinence will also help you to stop and review your current lifestyle. The same should be said for books, really. If you are reading for the bad parts, don’t read it. If you just want to see the good guys prevail and get married, then you should be fine. In other words, abstinence doesn’t just mean not going on dates and stuff before marriage. It also means living in a pure, aware sort of way, so that you aren’t caught off guard and fall into the general cesspool of modern times by accident. I know that that has happened to a lot of people. So choosing abstinence will keep you away from bad influences, including television, books, music, and certain parts of the internet. So, to return to the main point, abstinence will not only affect your future by improving your marriage, it will also change your lifestyle. It’s not always easy, and it might be annoying sometimes, but in the end, it’s definitely worth it. At least you shouldn’t reap any bad influences in your later life from it.