A US campaign on youth chastity has arrived here. Lorna Mallory support s it
I BELIEVE that sex is a gift given to us by God, something that's special. Marriage is special as well. When sex happens before marriage, I think it lowers that specialness - as far as I'm concerned, sex and love and marriage aren't separate things. There's something in my make-up which makes me feel this way - I suppose it stems from the fact that I've been a Christian since I was 12. If I didn't have faith I think it would be a totally different story.

My parents are very religious, so I had quite a strict religious upbringing. Our family goes to church every week on Sunday morning and in the evening, and I work in the Sunday school teaching the children and helping out with games. My mum and dad are both Baptists. They both support what I believe in and they're rather pleased about the decision I have made. My younger sister is only 13 and she is still quite influenced by my parents, so she agrees with it all. My older sister is 22. She accepts my decision, but only agrees with it up to a point.

I didn't really think about sex until I was 15 when I got to my upper school and started learning about those sorts of things. Unwanted pregnancies and Aids are important. I know there's all sorts of contraception, but there's always that chance - I see girls of my age that have got babies and I think, ``I'm so glad that's not me'' because there's no way I could handle that.

I certainly want to lose my virginity at some point and I hope that I will meet the right person, but I don't want to get married before I'm 25 at least. At the moment, staying a virgin is common sense. If I had a sexual relationship outside marriage I'd probably be more hurt when it broke up than if I hadn't had sex, because I would have committed everything to it - not just my mind and my personality, but also my body.

In relationships I always explain why I believe what I believe. I let boys down a bit easier than just saying ``Get lost''. I do think it will get harder as I get older. Relationships will become more developed, there will be more pressure.

I'm doing my A-levels at the moment; music, geography and sociology. I like doing quite ordinary things like reading - novels especially, Catherine Cookson and Roald Dahl. I listen to a lot of jazz - Glenn Miller, Ella Fitzgerald. On Saturdays I work as a waitress in a coffee shop. But I prefer outdoor things. I'm in the college fell-walking club and we go out to north Wales a lot, climbing, abseiling, that sort of thing. I've always lived in a city so I really love nature, being close to things happening in the wild. I'd like to go into teaching after college, but I want to travel quite a bit before I settle down to anything permanent.

In my age group - I'm 17 now - there are still some other virgins, but as you get older you become a minority. I do think about having sex, I'm only human. You always dream dreams about it, what it will be like.

I get ridiculed a lot - all the time really, but it's more jokingly than anything else. Believing in Christ in the first place gets a lot of ridicule, going to church and all that. I get called the Virgin Mary and things like that, mainly by those who aren't friends of mine. It doesn't worry me.

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