Monday, March 25, 2013

Teenagers and Sex

Evangelicals have been pushing the “purity” message to our teens for the last 30+ years. Whether it’s “True Love Waits” or Daddy-daughter dances, we’ve done all kinds of things to try to help our kids wait till they’re married to become sexually active. And we’ve failed miserably. Evangelical kids are having sex at the same rate as unchurched kids.

I’ve been part of this. I’ve talked to groups of middle school kids about sexually transmitted infections and why they should wait to have sex. I’ve done seminars for parents about why it’s important for them to talk with their kids about sex and waiting till marriage.

And I’ve talked to my own kids. Not just about the mechanics of sex. Although, since they were blessed with an MD for a mom, they get to learn everything in far more detail. I also teach them about sexually transmitted infections and sexual violence, complete with CDC handouts.

Now my son is in a Bible study group for young men about sexual purity. How did he get this old?

Yes, it’s important that we teach kids about this. We want them to wait until they’re married to become sexually active. The physical consequences of premarital sex can be significant.

But, in another way, we’ve singled out this one sin for special treatment. We’ve made it clear to kids that losing their virginity is a BIG sin. One that affects everything else. Some go so far as to say that being sexually experienced will ruin a marriage.

Psalm 51 is my Bible reading for tonight and the reason I chose to write about this. David committed adultery and murder. Psalm 51 was his confession and repentance. In verse 17, he says “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”

Sexual sin is a big deal, but God forgives this sin the same way he forgives any other sin. When we are talking to our teenagers, we need to be honest with them. God doesn’t want their virginity more than anything else. He wants their hearts. And if they sin, he’ll forgive them.

In the years that I was talking with teens about sex, I know that there was a heavy emphasis on behavior and a lot less emphasis on the relationship of the teenagers with God. It’s so easy for us to focus on DOING the right things. That’s generally pretty easy to see and talk about. It’s much harder to talk about what’s going on in our hearts and how our walk with Jesus is going.

And love. Our kids need unconditional love from their parents, but also from other adults. I’m so encouraged that there are other adults in my kids’ lives that really love them and show them the love of Jesus.

So I’m still talking with my kids about healthy and appropriate sexuality, but I’m also encouraging them to walk with Jesus. And I’m trying to help them see that God is a God of love and forgiveness, not a God of “do it right or else”.

What do you think? How are you handling “the talk” with your kids?


Anonymous said...

I absolutely know what you mean about wanting their hearts and not just external actions... but when I see the long term impact (25 years plus) of my sexual sin, I long to be able to shout from the rooftop to all young people, "DON"T DO IT - IT WILL NEVER EVER BE WORTH IT."
Thank God for his grace. Sin has consequences, but he is thankfully, wonderfully redemptive.

Catherine said...

I think a healthy discussion of sexuality with teens includes discussion of both our walk with Jesus and the importance of avoiding sexual sin. You make a strong point that it's a sin with significant consequences, but that we worship a God of grace. Both those messages need to be clearly communicated to our teens as they step out into young adulthood.