Is this awkward for you? Because it is for us.
Sex isn’t something we talk about often. It’s the giant elephant in the room of every Student Ministry, not because students snicker anytime someone mentions the fabled 3-lettered-word (S-E-X), but because of the sheer scale of the topic. How do you even begin? Is it even that important? Is it something the Church (much less a Student Ministry) should even address?
The answer? We must.
Here’s why we can’t stay silent about sex.
age of exposure in a digital world
It’s easy to point to smart phones and curse them as evil devices and sole perpetrator of sexual impurity in today’s world. But truth be known, children have been stumbling upon adult magazines in “secret” hiding places, flipping through late-night adult channels, and watching soft-core sex scenes in Hollywood movies for decades. So let’s just be upfront in saying that modern technology isn’t creating a new problem, because childhood exposure to sex is no new thing.
But the ease of access to it is a new thing.
And that’s where the smart device comes into play.
Some sources say that the average age of first exposure to pornographic images is 11 years old. (Guess what the average age of our 6th graders are? You guessed it. 11 years old.)
But other studies are showing that children as young as 8 years old are regularly encountering pornographic and other sexual images.
Yes, you read that correctly.
Eight. Years. Old.
The age of exposure to sex in our world is becoming frighteningly younger and younger. And guess what the driving force behind these young ages are? Smart devices and the ease of access to the internet and social media platforms. No longer are children having to look in secret hiding places to find sexual material. It now finds them. And the images that find a Senior in High School are the same images that find a 6th Grader.
We can’t afford to stay silent about it.
the stats are shocking
If you live in some sort of Christian vacuum, it might be easy to dismiss the pervasiveness and sheer influence that sex and pornography has, but a quick glance at our society reveals the shocking status of our world.
60 to 70 percent of men and 30 to 40 percent of women younger than age 40 use porn yearly, and the number is growing. (PT)
Porn sites receive more regular traffic than Netflix, Amazon, & Twitter combined each month. (HuffPost)
35% of all internet downloads are porn-related. (WebRoot)
34% of all internet users have been exposed to unwanted porn via ads, pop-ups, etc. (WebRoot)
At least 30% of all data transferred across the internet is porn-related. (HuffPost)
The most common portrayal in porn are women acting as teenagers. (Jon Millward)
Recorded child sexual exploitation (“child porn”) is one of the fastest-growing online businesses. (IWF)
The world’s largest porn site received 33.5 BILLION visits during 2018 alone. (FTND)
98% of porn users (ages 13-17) say porn has no effect on relationships. (Barna)
The number of Christians viewing pornography virtually mirrors the national average. (Barna)
As frankly as we can put it, we must stop minimizing the staggering reality that sex (or more specifically the broken perspective of sex as seen through our culture and pornography) is an overwhelming force in our world that is affecting this generation.
We can’t afford to stay silent about it.
Students need a healthy and Biblical perspective of sex.
If you’ve made it this far, then you’ve seen the fact that our culture is highly vocal, highly persistent, and highly focused on the topic of sex. The same cannot be said about the Church. While most students are almost daily hearing the opinions about sex from peers at school, commercials on television, articles on BuzzFeed, and random people on social media, there has been a horrific lack of guidance from the Church to help students navigate these waters.
Because the voices of culture are so loud and the voice of the Church is generally silent on this issue, it makes sense that students believe 3 basic cultural lies about sex:
Cultural Lie #1: There are no boundaries to sex (with the few exceptions of rape, pedophilia, bestiality, and incest).
Biblical Truth #1: God instituted sexual intimacy to happen only within marriage as part of His design of the family (Genesis 1:28).
Cultural Lie #2: Mutual agreed sex with any partner(s) you desire is perfectly normal and healthy.
Biblical Truth #2: Not only is sexual intimacy designed to take place only in the context of marriage, once we are married, our bodies literally belong to our spouse. Paul also instructs spouses to meet one another’s sexual needs and to be together regularly so as to protect ourselves from falling into ungodly lust and extramarital sexual activity (1 Corinthians 7:3).
Cultural Lie #3: Pornography is a normal part of life, and a harmless alternative to sex.
Biblical Truth #3: Sexual desire and fulfillment for any person (physically, emotionally, or digitally) outside of one’s spouse goes against God’s design for sexual fulfillment, and is sinful (Matthew 5:28, Hebrews 13:4).
Culture has no problem being a very loud, persistent, and unhealthy voice in our students’ lives about sex. And we do them a disservice to their hearts and souls when we neglect the reality of their world. We can’t afford to stay silent about it.
The Bible doesn’t avoid it.
We might be going out on a limb here, but our assumption is that most of our audience believes the Word of God, and lives in a home that encourages reading Scripture.
And so if the Bible (and yes, even Jesus) has such a clear and persistent voice regarding sex, then why do we do so much to avoid the topic? Do we just cross our fingers and hope students don’t read Song of Solomon until they’re 25?
The Bible is nowhere near silent on the topic of sex. And if we want our students to be proactive in studying the Scriptures and letting the Word of God penetrate their hearts, then we must acknowledge the fact that they will (and should) be navigating parts of the Bible that tell stories of sex (2 Samuel 13 is a crazy one FYI), and give explicit warnings against sexual immoralities. We must partner alongside students to help them navigate these areas of the Bible, not just hope they accidentally don’t flip to the wrong chapter.
The Bible isn’t silent on the issue of sex, and so we can’t afford to be silent about it.
jesus is the healer of sexual brokenness.
In the wake of such sexual perversion in our world, there is a generation left in its path feeling broken and shameful. Why do we need to address the issue of sex? Because we don’t believe sexual brokenness is the end of anyone’s story.
1 Jesus returned to the Mount of Olives, 2 but early the next morning he was back again at the Temple. A crowd soon gathered, and he sat down and taught them.3 As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd.
4 “Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?”
6 They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. 7 They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” 8 Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust.
9 When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman.10 Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”
11 “No, Lord,” she said.
And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”
- JOHN 8:1-11
In her moment of deepest vulnerability and shame that came through her sexual sin, Jesus showed this woman the one thing society would not – mercy.
You see, our culture is very loud about the appeal of unbridled sex. But what it has failed to do is mention the shame, disappointment, bondage, and guilt that follows. We cannot be silent because students come through our doors every week feeling the same weight of shame, disappointment, bondage, and guilt. We cannot be silent because the only remedy for sexual brokenness is found in Jesus.
Sure, statistics show that nearly 75% (or more) of our students are actively engaging in some sort of sexual sin, but that’s not the totality of why we need to be vocal about sex.
We can’t stay silent about it because 100% of our students need to know the beauty of Jesus and His design for every aspect of our lives – yes, even sex.
We can’t afford to be silent anymore.
We have a lot of work to do. So let us begin.
In this article, we have linked many articles and resources related to the information of this blog. Please take additional time and navigate these resources about sex and it’s correlation to students.
LOVE LIES SERIES
Starting on February 13, we will begin a series entitled “Love Lies” where we will navigate the topics of love, dating, sex, and other issues related to relationships. Please know that the information will be appropriate and relatable for all 6th-12th Grade Students, and that students will go into Life Groups following each message to further discuss these ideas with their Life Group Leaders and peers. (Each Life Group is separated by grade and gender).