The following is an article written by Tim Houck of Truth Matters Ministries for parents of teens at Threshold as part of a series called, “Help, I’m a Parent of a Teenager“.
In addition to this article we are hosting a parent seminar with Sid Koop on Jan 23 at 7pm about helping your kids navigate the sexual minefield. Cost is $5 at the door. Email Tim Hamm at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
“Sexy Back” January 2011
That song by Justin Timberlake on his 2006 album FutureSex/LoveSounds became #1 on Billboard’s Top 100, was certified 3-times platinum, won a Grammy, a People’s Choice award, was his first #1 in the U.K.…and solidified Timberlake at the 2007 MTV Video Music Awards as Male Artist of the Year. With lyrics like ‘Get Your Sexy On’ and ‘If that’s your girl, better watch your back, ‘cause she’ll burn it up for me and that’s a fact’, it makes any parent cringe (not too mention turn the average dad into a modern day Rambo to protect his daughter’s honour).
If I were to ask you, what activities define teenagers today no doubt food, friends, adventure and sex would be some of the answers. It’s the latter that scares most parents. Take a look around and the casual sex revolution is in full view. Videos, music, pictures, clothing, language, all are influenced and influencing the momentum of teen sexuality. When it comes to teenagers and sex, a 2008 Project Teen Canada study found the attitudes towards casual intimacy and meaningful relationships merging…but maybe different than you’d expect.
“A significant majority of teens are saying that sex should be tied to significant relationships” (Dr. James Penner – Project Teen Canada). It also found that while 72% of teens feel it’s okay for two people to have sex if the ‘love’ each other, that number dropped dramatically to 38% if they just ‘like’ each other. Overall teenage sexual activity actually remained the same between 1987 (59% guys and 51% girls), and 2008 (59% guys and 50% girls). Surprised? I was.
While the visual exposure to sex related images in media, school and home has grown, teens view of sexuality has morphed. They are open about relationships in social media avenues like texting, Facebook, and chat rooms. They are also searching for unconditional love, purpose, and belonging…the core longings God has built into all of us. When it comes to sex and relationships, teenagers are more willing to explore their curiosities in plain sight. Their priority (real relationship) is more pure than their avenues of finding it (curious experimentation).
Thoughts from the Bible…
Sex isn’t a dirty word though it is warped in today’s culture. Sexuality is God’s gift to enjoy it…in a marriage relationship. Helping our teenagers understand biblical sexuality will help them make better and wise decisions for now and in the future.
From the get go, God designed us for intimacy, for bonding, for relationship. One step further, he designed us so that a man and a woman would love and compliment each other (“It is not good for a man to be alone: I will make him a helper suitable for him” – Genesis 2:18). Being alone, being single has its struggles. The Apostle Paul understood this and more. The church in Corinth struggled with distorted views of women, sex, and marriage like we do today. He also understood the drive within all of us for intimacy and romance when he said, “…it is better to marry than to burn” – 1 Corinthians 7:9).
Teenagers live in a world of singleness yet journey daily through the very visual, and very adult world of relationship. They want to be older, be viewed as older, and be treated as older. The most accepted way to do that? Emulate what they hear, sense and see the adults around them living, doing, and communicating.
In the bible, marriage is viewed as the norm, and sex within that marriage bond (Church edlers were married– 1 Timothy 3:2,12; Hold marriage with honour and the marriage bed undefiled – Hebrews 13:4). In society, marriage is held as an option (peak at top rated shows Sex in the City, MTV’s 16 & Pregnant, or the Gossip Girls book series), and searching for the right partner, the one who will compliment you mentally, emotionally, and physically is important. Before marrying take him or her for a test drive…don’t get hurt on your wedding night…explore! (D. S. Ploshay “8 Reasons to Have Sex Before You Get Married: Premarital sex isn’t a bad thing”).
What’s a parent to do? Mark Gregston’s advice is fundamental in building a relationship with your teenager that will help you listen, learn, and love your through the casual sex revolution.
- Communicate unconditional love…Be their biggest fan!
- Don’t tie your love to performance (what they did or didn’t do)
- Remember…outward appearances are expressions of deeper needs
- Invest in making your home a refuge and refreshment not a place of ridicule.
- Help your kids be real…which means being real in your own relationships
Dealing With Today’s Teens Workshop by Mark Gregston
Here are some conversation starters for you and your teen.
- “What do you think about being single?”
- Enjoy their response. Ask about their dreams & pressures. Listen – what they do and don’t say will tell you a lot.
- “I don’t expect you to be single for life unless that God’s design. So, what type of person would you want to spend the rest of your life with?
- Be prepared for one of two responses – a lot, or nothing. Either is okay. You’re paving the way to future conversations with your kids. Tell them what you looked for. Have fun.
- “Sex outside marriage causes damage and I love you too much to see you hurt. What kind of parent can I be to help you make good decisions?”
- If they ask ‘how will sex hurt me?’, below are some follow up thoughts
i. Physical – diseases, pregnancy (the child is beautiful – but likely to grow up without two parents putting higher physical demands on single parent and child)
ii. Relational – sex is intended for a man and a woman to share in marriage and create a bond and depth between them that exists no other relationship.
If their sexuality is tied to relationships, than your relationship with your teenager is significant. Be a refuge and a breathe of fresh air for your teenager. Purity is possible. And you can be key.
Good reads: “The Casual Sex Revolution” by Paul Robertson http://www.cpyu.org/Page.aspx?id=96909
“Sex and the Spiritual Christian” by Bob Deffinbaugh www.bible.org
“Sex Still Has A Price Tag” by Pam Stenzel www.pamstenzel.com
Good Workshop: “Dealing With Today’s Teens” by Mark Gregston www.heartlightministries.org
Until Next month…Blessings!