Let's Talk About Sex Baby!
by Captain Rebecca Gane, New Zealand, Fiji and Tonga Territory
I'm sad that there aren't more Liesl's in our world today (think The Sound of Music) who can honestly say 'I am 16, going on 17, innocent as a rose.' The swish of her pretty dresses have given way to much shorter skirts and I'm fairly sure there are not many girls out there today who blow out their birthday candles and proudly declare, 'Sweet 16 and never been kissed!' Even as I write, these words seem almost outdated and ultra-conservative, and I fear that many Christians are living in a great big bubble of denial when it comes to teenage sexuality.
Captain Rebecca Gane, New Zealand, Fiji and Tonga Territory
Statistics in Western countries (and I guess these would be replicated around the world) point to skyrocketing teenage pregnancies, a steady lowering of the age young people lose their virginity - and in general, these would include Christian youth. In fact, despite our best efforts at promoting the 'no sex before marriage' ideal, I fear that the secret world of promiscuity is alive and well in the Church.
Although we need to keep the Christian values of sex within marriage at the forefront of our teaching, many people still hold a blind idealism that refuses to address this issue. So, here are three points to start with:
Start the Discussion
My preaching tutor always said that if Christian leaders don't address relevant issues, people will think that God doesn't care. I have no doubt that God cares about sex and its right and proper use. But if we don't talk about it, teenagers may assume that sexuality is a taboo subject and will go looking for answers to their questions elsewhere. And the world has plenty to say about sex! So, make sex a talked-about subject: from the platform, in small groups, at youth group and one-on-one with young people. It will help teens to see that God does care about their sexuality and the choices they make.
It may be easier on us as leaders when we don't know all the details of our young people's lives ... it keeps us believing the best about them. But a healthy awareness about the power of sexuality and a willingness to discuss the hard issues can be powerful tools in youth leadership. The secrecy of inappropriate, sexual expression is dark and highly effective in Satan's plan to oppress and keep people bound in sin. Giving young people a safe place to talk about their sexuality will not only break the power of secrecy, but will let the light shine in and enable any wanderers to start finding their way to God again.
Express Much Grace
We preach that God's greatest desire for all people is to be in a right relationship with him. It is my experience that God goes to great lengths to seek, pursue, forgive, heal and set his children free. What right do we have to stand in his way with talk of moral retribution and judgment without a heavy dose of grace? Grace preaches its own sermons and invites those who are aware of their own sin to receive forgiveness and rightness with their Creator. Be generous with grace when you talk with teenagers (or anyone) about sexuality, and remember that 'while we were still sinners, Christ died for us' (Romans 5:8 NIV).