MRS Shelen Ang's letter ("Underage sex: Tell teens they are worth the wait"; yesterday) conflates two very different issues.

The first is underage sex. There is wide consensus that underage sex is wrong, mainly because younger people may not have the mental maturity to handle the consequences of sex, such as pregnancy. That is why a legal age for sex is instituted in most countries, including Singapore.

The second is premarital sex, which Mrs Ang, being from Focus on the Family, discourages. However, this ignores the sheer sociological complexity of modern family life, and is quite evident from views expressed on premarital sex.

While underage sex is clearly a problem, can the same be said for premarital sex?

Mrs Ang says sex is a sacred expression of love reserved for the confines of marriage. But what about older individuals who choose not to marry? Are they to be denied the freedom to have sex, even with their life partners?

Many adults now choose to remain single, refusing to be shackled by marriage, but they are nevertheless in committed, loving relationships with their significant others.

It is true that there is research showing that young people are less likely to engage in premarital sex if they are in warm, loving relationships with their parents. But Mrs Ang also makes the critical point that parents must set the boundaries for sexual activity.

Research by public health experts, sociologists, psychologists, and even moral philosophers, has shown that premarital sex does not damage future married relationships, and even has benefits for the individual, both physically and psychologically.

Angeline Wong Hui Wei (Ms)

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