So, I was watching Boy Meets World the other day. Yes, I’m aware that’s a weird way to start off a blog post. Anyway, it was an earlier episode where Mr. Turner assigns his 7th grade class an assignment having to do with sex. When good ole’ Mr. Feeny finds out about the assignment, he is strongly opposed. He says they are “growing up too fast” claiming, “In the matter of sex, I prefer [the students] make no connection until they’re out of our jurisdiction.”
Since we at Rediscovered are so passionate about seeking out the truth concerning difficult and real-world issues, you better believe we’re going to talk about the times (several times) we’ve heard something like Feeny’s statement from people around us, and in our churches.
It’s not hard to understand where the ideology comes from. I think it actually used to work like that. But Mr. Feeny and most of the wonderful people who have this thought process come from a much different generation — a generation where sex was not shoved in your face from every media outlet.
Our parents’ generation had the birds and the bees explained to them with mating cows as an object lesson. They watched couples on TV sleep in separate twin beds because of media regulations. Grease was the most shocking movie of their time. They were not naive about sex, but they certainly had somewhat of a choice about how much they wanted to learn before they were married.
Our generation and the ones to come have no such choice. We can leave our TV on, walk back into the room two minutes later, and find a couple laid out in bed right before our eyes. A “family friendly” PG movie can include its fair share of innuendos and insinuations. Magazine racks that grace every checkout line at Walmart have half-naked women on the cover and advertise that their magazine contains “154 Secrets to Giving Your Man a Wild Orgasm.”
I’ve been exposed to these things since I was 13. I wasn’t ready and I didn’t care to learn about it then, but my generation does not have the choice of when or how much or whether or not we want to learn about sex.
So what choices do we have?
We can choose how we want to learn about sex, and how we want to teach the generations to come. Learning from the world isn’t an option for those who want to follow Christ, and naiveté isn’t an option for, well, anyone really in today’s culture. But the Bible speaks about sex quite a bit (off the top of my head: Genesis 1:28, Genesis 2:25, Proverbs 5:15-19, Song of Solomon, John 8:1-11, 1 Corinthians 6:12-7:5, Hebrews 13:4) and countless numbers of couples and individuals within the church have something to say — advice, stories, testimonies and pitfalls. We don’t have to be blind, and we don’t have to just trust what we read, hear and see from the world.
The problem is that while the truth about sex has been shut up, locked in and glossed over in the church, the lies have been released to run free and take their prey. Who do we expect everyone to listen to? Do we really expect this generation to listen to half-truths and vague teachings when they have constant access to instant gratification? No wonder more and more teens are falling off the map when it comes to this.
I don’t want anyone to hear me as having a complaint against “those people over there” in the church. I am a part of the church, and I take responsibility for the ways we have failed in this area. But I’m also going to start taking responsibility for finding a way to fix it.
I’m not suggesting a graphic sermon series on sex or that teens and young adults dictate the Sunday School curriculum. I am suggesting that we teach what the Bible says in the right context at the right time. If this generation doesn’t learn about sex from the Bible and the church, they’ll learn it from somewhere else. They have Cosmopolitan, they have the Internet, they have Sex in the City. Porn is a $14 billion/year industry, so readily available, it’s scary. They know what they’re waiting for, but they need to know why they’re waiting. It’s not our job to compete with the media, but it is our job to replace its lies with truth, because we, as Christians, actually have it.
What if we, as the church, taught that it is the family’s responsibility to educate their children and teens about sex and love? What if then, youth leaders and mentors taught teens about how sex cements a marriage relationship, how promiscuity can ruin your life, and how statistics show that those in marriage relationships are way happier with their sex lives than those who are sleeping around?
What if teens felt comfortable talking to these mentors about stuff they’ve heard in the high school locker room? What if there were a comfortable place for singles to share their struggles, where they wouldn’t feel bad for having a sex drive? What if we had mentoring for victims of sexual abuse and taught them that they are not used goods, that there is nothing wrong with them, and that sex is a positive thing in the right context? What if waiting was less about denial and more about respect?
What if we taught young adults about healthy and unhealthy expectations for sex so that fewer newlyweds would be blindsided and left to fend for themselves in a world of sexual unknowns? What if we had a group for engaged women about how to prepare for sex — emotionally, spiritually and yes, physically? What if we had a Q&A time with married couples to talk about what sex should look like in the context of marriage? What if churches had kid-free date nights to encourage couples to keep their romance alive?
I have seen some of these things taking place in the church and its something to get excited about and encourage. This is possible. This is starting to happen.
It is an interesting thought — teaching younger girls about sex. It’s even more interesting to think that they could probably teach me a thing or two. True, they could teach me what they’ve seen in Sex in the City, what they’ve heard from their friends, or the 154 tips in Cosmo. But I have something to teach them — that most of the stuff in Cosmo is a lie. That having a good sex life with your husband is way better than the sum total of all the hook-ups you could ever have. That it’s okay to want sex, and that healthy expectations are a must.
We can say that we’ll let younger generations find out about sex when they’re “out of our jurisdiction,” but the church will be worse off for it. The next generation will get Sex Ed way before Mr. Feeny thinks they’re ready.
The choice is now ours — are we going to let them learn lies from culture, or the truth from God?
—Whitney and Erin