Yesterday, I wrote about the scorn that Tim Tebow and Lolo Jones are experiencing because of their public decision to abstain from sex until they are married. As is quite evident, our culture is extremely sexualized. There are shows and movies that are devoted to nothing more than people having sex. Pornography has become increasingly prevalent, even commonplace. These things are no longer considered shameful. Our society has made sex the barometer for how a relationship is faring.
With that in mind, how do we, as youth ministers and parents, show our students that sex is worth waiting for? Here are some ideas:
- Teach your students the truth about sex. Too often, sex is portrayed as being Shangri La, this wonderful, marvelous, can't-live-without experience and your life will not be complete until you've had sex. In reality, this is often far from the truth. Without going into too many details, sex is often not like what is portrayed on television or in movies. Students also need to know that life will go on even if they haven't had sex yet.
- Don't scare your students about sex. When I was growing up, there was an entire cottage industry devoted to scaring students into not having sex. We were given tons of facts about pregnancy, STDs, and sexual assault. It was the equivalent of the Scared Straight program. However, as we all know, teenagers often believe that they are bulletproof. We don't need to scare our students with the scary details of premarital sex. We need to be open and honest about the realities of sexual behavior outside of marriage.
- Teach your students what the Bible says about sex. Christians have a bad reputation for being anti-sex. People outside the church think that Christians hate sex. This couldn't be farther from the truth. We need to teach our students that sex is enjoyable, but that there is a very serious reason to wait. It has nothing to do with the possibility of an unwanted pregnancy, an incurable disease, or a lifetime of regrets. No, the real reason for abstaining from sexual activity before marriage is found in 1 Corinthians 6:15. Paul tells us that when we become believers, we are united with Jesus in His body. Our bodies are now His body. Paul goes on to say that when a person has a sexual relationship with someone, he becomes united with that person, essentially becoming "one flesh." We need to teach our students that when they have a sexual relationship with anyone other than their (future) spouse (after marriage), they are uniting Christ's body with that person.
- Be there for your students. If a student makes a commitment to wait to have sex until marriage, there will be times of difficulty. There will be times where they are ridiculed, just as Tim Tebow is often ridiculed. There will be times where their hearts will break because a boyfriend breaks up a relationship because the girl will not have sex. As youth pastors (and parents) we need to be there to offer comfort and a listening ear.
- Pray for your students. Spend time praying for your students to be strong in the face of temptation. It can be difficult for a student to say no, especially given all of the messages that are constantly bombarding them. Also pray for them as they deal with the inevitable heartache that will arise from their decision to wait until marriage.
Sex can be a wonderful thing. It is a gift that was given to married individuals for both pleasure and reproduction. Like any gift, though, it is for an appropriate audience, so to speak. We need to make sure that our students understand that God is not anti-sex, but that He has created it for a particular reason and we need to help them understand that reason. Doing so will go a long way to helping them wait for sex. Even when it is difficult.
What are you doing to help your students wait until marriage for sex?