Speaking of sex and God

The headline in the latest Education Week caught my attention: “Abstinence Programs Don’t Work, Largest Study to Date Concludes.” The article went on to say that students who participated in sexual-abstinence programs were just as likely to have sex and had the same number of sexual partners as those who did not take part in the program. Both groups had a median age of first intercourse of 14 years and 9 months – yikes I said to myself as I recalled my state of maturation when I was 14.9! I began to ponder why abstinence programs didn’t seem to be making a difference in student behavior. I also began to consider why some teens I know are keeping their vow of abstinence before marriage. What is different in the lives of the teens who are abstaining?

Barna’s research has found that Christians with a well developed Christian worldview, are more likely to have their beliefs impact their behaviors than the general population, including evangelical Christians. One of the best places to develop a Christian worldview is within the Christian school setting. I would love to see the data in the report mentioned in this article disaggregated by students and their connection to a Christian worldview. I do believe that students who have a more mature development of a Christian worldview and see the connection between their beliefs and actions would show a more positive abstinence rate result. If the concept of abstinence is not connected to a larger worldview that helps students see themselves as imagebearers of God and their bodies as temples of the Holy Spirit, it is easy to understand why abstinence is ineffective. In other words, if as a student my stand on abstinence is grounded in a larger belief system or worldview, then I have larger reasons for remaining sexually responsible.

When meting out consequences for the misbehavior of middle school students in a public school, they used to ask me, “Why should I be good?” In the absence of being able address that question from a spiritual perspective, the best answers I could come up with were limited and not as compelling. Rob Bell states in his latest book, Sex God: Exploring the Endless Connections Between Sexuality and Spirituality: “And when we begin to sort through all of the issues surrounding our sexuality, we quickly end up in the spiritual, because this is always about that…you can’t talk about sexuality without talking about how we were made. And that will inevitably lead you to who made us. At some point you have to talk about God.” I really appreciate his thought that we live between the animals and the angels: “When we deny the spiritual dimension to our existence, we end up living like animals. And when we deny the physical, sexual dimension to our existence we end up living like angels (a being with a spirit but without a body.) And both ways are destructive, because God made us human.”

We desire in Christian schools and churches to show kids who they really are in God’s eyes. They are imagebearers of great worth as Bell reminds us using Paul’s statements from the book of Ephesians: “…they’re blessed, chosen, predestined, given, redeemed, forgiven, included, marked, been made alive, saved, raised up, seated with, created, brought near; they are fellow citizens, they are members, they are being built together.”

Sexuality is a precious gift, a gift God designed to be saved and given exclusively to the person with whom one chooses to enter into the sacred bond of marriage. If we are able to help our students connect how they are viewed by God with how they live their lives, I cannot help but believe that we will see a more positive abstinence result.

Other links I have run across recently which may be of some help with understanding our students better are:

(Girls growing up too fast) Sexualizing Girls: Liberals and conservatives can agree that this is no good at all by Mona Charen, National Review, February 23, 2007.

Sexually Active Teenagers Are More Likely to Be Depressed and to Attempt Suicide by Robert E. Rector, Kirk A. Johnson, Ph.D., and Lauren R. Noyes on The Heritage Foundation website, June 3, 2003

Carolina-led study examines sexual content of several media, affect on teens’ sexual behavior, University of North Carolina, April 3, 2006.

A Cock-and-Bull Story: Explaining the huge rise in teen oral sex.

After Hours on Campus: The Sexualization of the American College by Vigen Guroian, Breakpoint, March 27, 2007.

Sex in the Body of Christ: Chastity is a spiritual discipline for the whole church

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13 Comments

Filed under Biblical worldview, book, encouraging the heart, image of God, kids/culture

13 responses to “Speaking of sex and God

  1. Alyssa De Groot

    I agree that we need to teach abstinence in Christian schools with the support of the home and church. Not only does the school push for abstinece but the parents must be promoting the same thing. I know that it might be assummed that the parents agree with abstinece but to make it clear the school must communicate how important it is that abstinence be pushed in both the school and church. Also I agree with the idea that a frim Christian worldview needs to be educated into the students. On a public campus don’t settle for teaching safe sex but push for abstinece education so that from that one can plant a seed towards knowing that we are God’s imagebearers.

  2. Jeff Roon

    I believe that in order to lead students in making the correct life choices, we must teach ideas of abstinence in our schools. Communicating ideas to students that they must wait until marriage for sex is vital in helping them grow. By teaching students in a Christian school there must be constant ideas about Christian worldviews and how those ideas should be present in all our lives. Abstinence is something that is becoming hard to come by in our world today, but I think that by teaching students that we are creatd in the image of God they will be able to understand that God deemed sex only for marriage. It is a special gift that He created for two people to share in the bond of marriage and that’s it. We must continute to teach students that abstinence, not the idea of “safe sex”, is the way we honor God and truly show His image through our lives.

  3. Christine Marchione

    I agree that students who have a strong Christian worldview are more likely to abstain from having sex. Sexual-abstinence programs should be taught in Christian schools. I also feel that teaching our Christian teens to abstain should not solely rest on the school. These same beliefs should be talked about at home with the parents. Teens need to know that by having a strong faith in God means to practice abstinence until marriage. Teens need to remember that sexuality is a precious gift.

  4. Mike Vasilievas

    I agree that abstinence programs should be talked about in schools. It is important for students to know this information and abstain from having sex. I also believe students who have a Christian world view will abstain from having sex more than other teens. I also think that abstinence should be taught a long with all of the bad things that can come from having sex. These bad things should be STD s and other problems that come from having sex early in life. I think the more bad things students are taught about from having sex, the less likely they will go out and do it. I also think students need to hear these things from other sources, such as, parents, churches, and the community. Having sex is a precious gift and students and anyone else need to realize that and not abuse it.

  5. Jana Boss

    I have heard and thought a lot about this subject. Going through grade school and high school already have really shown me a lot of things. I think that in many instances, kids are going to have sex if they want to. It doesn’t matter how they were raised or how often they were told not to. At that age, you are going to do what you want to do. I definitely think it helps to stay on the kids and keep reminding them about it. Don’t let the kids get in those situations where it is easy to happen. They should be taught this at school to. It is better to have it coming from more places then just their parents. I think that the friends that kids hang out with make a big difference too. If they are hanging out with older people then they are going to learn more that they probably wouldn’t have. It is also important to have a worldview and to know what you believe in. It will help you when you get stuck in sticky situations.

  6. Jill McIntyre

    Sex is a very sticky subject when it comes to middle school children. As a teacher it is our responsibility to look after the well being of our students, but at what age are students mature enough to get a serious “sex talk”. I am in full agreement on the whole abstinence program and believe strongly that it should be taught in schools. However, I do not think that the situation of pre-marital sex should be completely ignored like it will never happen. I am not even going to propose a way to approach the subject of safe sex with middle school or high schoolers because that is something I would never be prepared to do. Although I do believe that students are going to hear an abstience program and completely ignore the idea and I feel those students need to know that they have ways to be safe. While so many schools are simply ignoring the fact that there are students are going to choose to partake in the act of sex, there are many young men and women becoming fathers and mothers far too soon. I know a girl who got pregnant at 15 because she did not know that she could use a condom. Now, she should not have been having sex in the first place, but if she would have been informed she never would have had a child when she was still a child herself.
    I am not even beginning to say that I am an advocate of pre-martial sex. I am, however, saying that students need to be taught how to be safe if they do not chose to abstain.

  7. Gloria Toscano

    I believed that abstinence programs should be talked in Christian and public schools.
    These programs help the students to know the importance of abstain from having sex, by providing some advises about sex, aids and abstinence. This message is for Christian youth and non Christian youth. Talk about sex is so powerful; because it is being misunderstand, misrepresented and it had a bad reputation by the world we are leaving. U.S. adolescents are becoming sexually active at increasingly earlier ages. This problem is affecting Christian adolescents too. Aids are the consequences of having sex before marriage with one or many partners and to protect us God send many ills. This is a way to stop somehow this sin. AIDS-human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is most likely to be transferred through sexual contact. Parents need to talk to their children about abstinence, sex and the consequences of it. Students from high school do no like to hear about it, but it is necessary to prevent them from the consequences of having sex.

  8. Bill DeRuiter

    Even 10 years ago, this topic wouldn’t really have been talked about. We now realize the growing number of teen pregnancies and the rise of STDs. Having constant contact with these kids for around 8 months, we have a responsibility to protect and educate these kids. I don’t think there is any real disagreement here, the only options are safe sex and no sex. Being in a public school you can suggest no sex or absitnance, but make sure that safe sex is a for sure thing. In a private school we can go the moral high ground and tell the kids that they need to wait for marriage to engage in that activity. Sex is only bad when used other then what God had intended it to be used for.

  9. Nicholas Swies

    I believe that people control their own actions and that their environment has a lot to do with the actions people take. Students should be taught and informed about sex and why abstinence should be presented in many different occasions. Students should be taught by more than just their parents they need to hear it from each other as well as many other different sources. People choose to do what they please, but if they are informed ahead of time there is a better chance to alter their thinking. A students peers and friends significantly impacts the decisions that they make. Students must be informed of the consequences of their actions and the effects they can cause. Having sex is something special that should not be abused.

  10. John Wolters

    Dan you state,
    “Sexuality is a precious gift, a gift God designed to be saved and given exclusively to the person with whom one chooses to enter into the sacred bond of marriage. If we are able to help our students connect how they are viewed by God with how they live their lives, I cannot help but believe that we will see a more positive abstinence result.”

    I couldn’t agree with U more! We need to teach our children and students that we all bear the image of our maker in everything we do. Rob Bell states it beautifully in his book “Sex God”……
    “Sex is not the search for something that’s missing. It’s the expression of something that’s been found. It’s designed to be the overflow, the culmination of something that a man and women have found in each other.” That can only be found marriage.

  11. Kristin Swanson

    I agree 100% with the previous comments, especially the comment from one of my favorite pastors, Rob Bell, “Sex is not the search for something that’s missing. It’s the expression of something that’s been found. It’s designed to be the overflow, the culmination of something that a man and woman have found in each other.”
    However, I can remember problems in my public school district when the “sex talk” was being taught in fifth grade. Parents had the choice of pulling their students out of the classroom while teachers discussed with the boys and girls about sex. I also remember several classmates pulled out because their parents did not like the idea.
    This is a topic, public schools and private schools have to address to students. But, my question is, what is the right age or grade level to have the “sex talk”? When is it appropriate?

  12. Becky Neil

    I believe that abstinence should be taught in public and private schools. However, I do not believe that only abstinence should be taught. Like Jana said, what kids are taught only goes so far. The final decision is up to them. Although I am a firm believer in teaching abstinence in schools, it would be a lot more effective if the parents backed up that belief system as well. The kids also need to be educated with ways to prevent situations that would result in sex. Most importantly, there should always be someone available to counsel the girls about having and maintaining a positive body image. I believe if a girl really has a positive body image and a firm relationship with Christ, then sex isn’t an option in her life. People need to realize that sex is a gift from God for HUSBAND AND WIFE, not for our own pleasure before marriage.

  13. Taryne

    I believe that sexuality is a maturity based decision, and 14-year-olds should not be involved in that. That is why abstinence is taught in schools because children should not be testing it out. They say to wait till marriage, because you are more mature and ready to be with your partner for the rest of your life. Like some of the previous comments stated, I do believe that you can only get so far by teaching abstinence in schools, some students will listen, some coming from homes where the parents don’t care, or some coming from homes where that is never mentioned. No matter what is said it is ultimately up to the person to make the decision to have sex or not to have sex. Yes, maybe it will prevent them for a little while, but in the end it is their decision, pressured or not. It is not just the parents and teachers that need to talk to the kids about it, because most of the pressure or ideas come from friends who are doing it. That is where most kids believe it is ok to do it, because their friends are. These kids need to be informed the consequences that take place if something was to happen and to be told that sex is a special thing and shouldn’t be abused like Nick said.

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