I was scheduled to speak to the youth at an Iranian-speaking church in southern Turkey. The “youth” in this case were young people between the ages of 14 and 30. I usually speak to adults, not young people, but I had agreed to speak to this group on “It’s Worth the Wait.”
As the group gathered, I saw only one person who seemed to be a teenager. Some of the others could have been under 30, but I suspected many of them were older. I was right; all but the teenager and two of the others were not members of the church “youth” group but church leaders in training — the class Manfred and I were to teach that week. Why no youth? The church’s youth leader said they didn’t want to come because “we already know everything about sex.”
Really? In a culture in which sex is a taboo subject? When only a handful of the adults in my class the next day had ever been taught anything about sex by their parents, or their teachers, or their church? When a registered nurse in the class told me privately that she hadn’t told her 13-year-old daughter anything because she didn’t know what to say?
What might teens not know about sex, even when they think they know everything? In our super-sexualized culture some may have sex on their minds a lot of the time. Some may just take for granted that sex belongs in a dating relationship. But do our teens ever think about sex? Really think about the meaning of sex, about what is right and wrong, about the potential negative consequences of casual sex and multiple sexual partners (and not just in terms of disease or unintended pregnancy)? Of how God views sexual relationships and how he intended us to use his gift of sex? These are the issues we’ll consider together in these posts.
A college student interviewed by Washington Post journalist Laura Sessions Stepp has a message for parents: “One thing I’ve come to appreciate post-adolescence is that you’re eager to give us the very best. One critical way to do that is to engage more fully in our lives. Listen to us, your children, as we transition from child to adult. Address our sexuality in a truly interactive conversation.” Are we talking with our teens?