Sex is one of the biggest topics of conversation on the minds of young people age 12-19.  If they aren’t talking about sex, it’s a good chance they might be experimenting with it.  So if this is one of the most talked about topics among young people, and they’re searching for answers about sexuality, then why are so many families and churches avoiding the conversation?  I don’t know all the answers to that, but being a parent and someone who has worked in vocational church ministry for quite some time, I think I know a couple of the most common reasons;

FEAR– we tend to avoid the things that cause us fear, and talking about sex can send many of us hiding in a corner pretty quick. Many parents and churches fear this topic because they either don’t have the answers, and/or they don’t want anyone else to know it they don’t have the answers!  Plus there’s the fear that if we engage in these conversations, our young people might just want to know more…and we fear more interest=more knowledge…and more knowledge=more sparked curiosity…and more curiosity=more exploring…and more exploring=looser boundaries and convictions…and this all could lead to….dancing…just kidding!  But we fear if we start the conversation, then we’re just opening the door to the bottomless pit of despair and anguish that we feel kids will fall into.  It might also be the fear of offense (at least within the church) that churches often come under from parents.  Every time I’ve talked to parents about an upcoming series to students on sexuality, there are some that feel it’s not the job of the church to talk about those kinds of topics.

I think there’s more to fear in not talking about sex and sexuality with our kids, then there is to fear if we do talk about it!

NAIVETY– Even in today’s culture, parents can often get wrapped up in the perception that their kids would never do anything that is ‘bad’ or that their parents told them to stay away from when they had ‘the talk’ at age 6.  I’ve heard countless parents make comments re: issues we would talk about in youth ministry, and when the ‘sex talk’ came around, parents would assert that it isn’t something their 14 year-old is struggling with or needs to hear.  “There’s other more important topics out there to discuss” would be something I would hear.  Parents, and even some church leaders, can become naive to the things young people face…even those who aren’t looking to get involved with sex, sexuality, dating relationships, are lured in and confronted with the concepts of sex and sexuality on an almost daily basis.  If your kid has access to: other kids, other adults, internet, TV, music…outside influence…then they’re having messages about sexuality thrown in their face everyday.

Just because it isn’t being talked about at home, doesn’t mean your kids aren’t getting the message from other sources.

Salt-N-Pepa at least had a couple of things right in their 1991 hit song Let’s Talk About Sex…there’s both good, and bad things to talk about!  There’s some awesome privileges and freedoms about sex, but there’s also some harsh consequences when we try to abuse the gift God gave us in sex and intimacy, and it’s intended gift between a husband and wife.  Even a four-hit-wonder group like Salt-N-Pepa knew that sex was a topic we can’t avoid talking about…because everyone’s talking about it…

Let’s talk about sex for now to the people at home or in the crowd
It keeps coming up anyhow
Don’t decoy, avoid, or make void the topic
Cuz that ain’t gonna stop it
Now we talk about sex on the radio and video shows
Many will know anything goes
Let’s tell it how it is, and how it could be
How it was, and of course, how it should be
Those who think it’s dirty have a choice
Pick up the needle, press pause, or turn the radio off
Will that stop us, Pep? I doubt it
All right then, come on, Spin

Now of course the culture is going to spin a different tune on what sex is and how it ‘could and should be’!  Just because we might want to delay the conversation…or in extreme cases eliminate it all together…doesn’t mean we can shut the voice of culture.  Our society tells us that sex is a fantastic demonstration of passion and intimacy between two people (and not everyone agrees on the gender specifics of the two engaging in the act!), and that having sex is a normal part of sexual and human expression.  What we never seem to hear about is the damaging consequences of sex outside of the boundaries that God set for our pleasure and well-being.  Check out the end lyrics of the song that resonate the extreme ‘downs’ that go along with the intense ‘highs’ of treating sex as a flippant way of engaging in ‘normal’ human relationships;

There ain’t a man alive that she couldn’t get next to
She had it all in the bag so she should have been glad
But she was mad and sad and feelin’ bad
Thinkin’ about the things that she never had
No love, just sex, followed next with a check and a note
That last night was dope

My question is this: if parents and the church aren’t talking about sex with youth (for whatever reason)…then who is? (because you can bet someone is!).  If we feel it isn’t an appropriate topic to discuss, within families and the church, then who/what is the appropriate voice…and when?

So instead of freaking out, why not take advantage of the tremendous influence parents and the church still has on our young people, and intentionally engage in the conversation?  One of the reasons I appreciate Jonathan McKee and his Youth Culture Window, is the intentional approach he has in addressing the issues that matter in youth and family culture.  I’d like to share 5 of his recent blog articles with you on the topic of sex, and how parents and youth leaders can walk through the ‘sex’ conversation with youth.  Obviously parents need to show wisdom and discern the age, readiness and appropriateness of the talk, but the important thing is that you start the conversation.

If we as parents and the church don’t take the initiative, satan will more than gladly allow us to defer to the influence of media, peers, culture, and deception to shape our kids views of sex.  If you have any thoughts on these articles, or on the topic of talking about sex with your kids, we’d love to hear them!  And if you’ve come across any solid teaching/resources on this topic…share the wealth please!

Shhhh!  Don’t Talk About Sex
Four Facts About Sex We Can’t Hush- Fact 1
Four Facts About Sex We Can’t Hush- Fact 2
Four Facts About Sex We Can’t Hush- Fact 3
Four Facts About Sex We Can’t Hush- Fact 4

**If you’re a church or school leader and looking for creative ways to communicate with young people and parents on this uber-important topic, I would suggest someone like Brett Ullman.  Brett is a good friend and colleague of mine who’s been speaking to youth and families for over 10 years on topics like media/faith/culture, sex and dating, biblical manhood, and self-injury.  Brett’s (coming spring 2012) would be a worth-while investment to bring to your church or school…so why not give him a shout and inquire about it before he starts getting booked up!?!

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