My job (pastor and high school teacher) and age (I’m 26) both mean that I have an inside track to what’s really happening in the world of kids. They trust me and let me see the things they usually hide from adults. As one who thinks he has a pretty good feel on today’s youth (both inside and out of the church) it always amuses me to see Christian leaders react to the continued sexualization of our media.
It is obvious that they have no idea what these kids are already watching and doing. Trust me, it’s worse than watching a sexually-charged movie.
I have two theses that I’d like to explore about sexuality (particularly among Christian youth):
1) Christian youth are (about) just as sexually active as non-Christian youth.
It’s built into our DNA, people. If you think there is a significant difference in the sex life of an average Christian young person and the average non-Christian, then I can’t help but think that you are (either intentionally or unintentionally) hiding your head in the sand. Now, if you defined “Christian” as a “very committed Christian” then I’m guessing there would be a difference. But your numbers and sample size would drop even more significantly – most who self-identify as Christians don’t meet the average pastor or priests’ definition of “committed.” Further, I’m not sure that this is all that big of a change from earlier history. The narrative we’re often sold is that “back in the day” kids were so pure and innocent and now we have corrupted ourselves into a sexualized hell on earth. I agree with the premise that the media has changed significantly, but I’m not convinced that kids actually behave all that differently. Then again, I wasn’t alive 50 or 80 years ago… I am just imagining that kids have always been curious and a good portion of kids are sexually active (and the ones who aren’t are not restraining based on choice, they just can’t find a willing partner – – – trust me… this again is a very real thing in the world of Christian youths).
For older readers of this blog – would you agree or disagree? Was there plenty of sexual activity at the High School / College you attended as a kid? Would there have been even more if there were more opportunities or willing partners? Was there a significant difference between the average “Christian” and the average non-Christian?
2) The reason Christian youth do not embrace a healthy view of sexuality is related to our lack of proper theological teaching.
I teach 9th graders and every year I survey them about what they have heard about sex outside of marriage. Every year I hear the same thing: they’ve been told it’s against God’s will and that dangers abound: unplanned pregnancy, STD’s, emotional damage, etc. Unfortunately, they either usually have the second reason over-emphasized to them and/or the first reason left unexplained.
Guess what: everyone (Christians and non-Christians) know the dangers of sex. It’s a simple risk-reward calculation . . . and most human beings usually decide its worth the risk. If we teach our children the same things about sex, we shouldn’t be surprised if we get the same results.
Instead, I suggest that Christian youth need to be taught to think theologically about sex. Why is it outside of God’s will for creation? What happens, spiritually, during sex? What does it mean to be united to Christ and how does that relate to sex? Only when our youth truly understand the spiritual implications of sex (instead of just telling them loudly that it’s against the rules), might we see a difference in their behavior.
Do you agree or disagree?