Reason #4 – Young Christians’ church experiences related to sexuality are often simplistic, judgmental.
“With unfettered access to digital pornography and immersed in a culture that values hyper-sexuality over wholeness, teen and twentysometing Christians are struggling with how to live meaningful lives in terms of sex and sexuality. One of the significant tensions for many young believers is how to live up to the church’s expectations of chastity and sexual purity in this culture, especially as the age of first marriage is now commonly delayed to the late twenties. Research indicates that most young Christians are as sexually active as their non-Christian peers, even though they are more conservative in their attitudes about sexuality. One-sixth of young Christians (17%) said they “have made mistakes and feel judged in church because of them.” The issue of sexuality is particularly salient among 18- to 29-year-old Catholics, among whom two out of five (40%) said the church’s “teachings on sexuality and birth control are out of date.””
Wow! Aside from the snickers from some of my younger youth group members, I would expect that sexuality in a Christian context would bring some pretty interesting discussion to the table. Perhaps somewhat awkward but never-the-less interesting! I would think that most groups invovling the younger people of the church don’t often discuss sexuality in any fashion. Perhaps another well-guarded topic the Church avoids? I remember eons ago (yes it was a few decades) when I was youth member in a Brampton Anglican Church that sexuality wasn’t talked about it was just instilled in us that sex before marriage was wrong and you had better be a “good” kid. So much for deep, theological language and non-judgemental discussion.
These days I truly believe young people have a depth of sexual knowledge those of us in older generations were not privy too or perhaps just never spoke of. Those of us in leadership roles need to be able to rationally discuss the issues and questions that young people face today when it comes to their sexuality. We need to be able to talk about traditional and non-traditional relationships, sex, values, self-esteem and other questions as it pertains to our younger members of church. It’s not about answering questions but about bringing opportunities for young people to learn, question and evaluate from a Christian perspective. To give them support and the ability to make good, healthy decisions that are helpful to them as young Christians. We need to look at the secular input, the peer pressure, the socialization and commercialization youth face today. Sex is no longer taboo for many youth and even the institution of marriage is questioned. We have a tension between what Christian young people want, what they think the Church espouses and then all the questions that go with that tension. We need to be able to have an open conversation about sexuality and what it means to a Christian teen in this day and age without being judgemental. So once again, communicate! Be open to discussion, debate and questions. Listen, challenge, accept and talk. The church has the ability to move forward and be relevant, to be deep and meaningful. Don’t pass up this as a great youth ministry opportunity because the topic is considered hush hush.