I was 14 when I was first pressured to have sex with my boyfriend. As a young impressionable woman without the moral guidelines of the Bible, I allowed romance movies and novels to provide the lens through which I interpreted the meaning of sex. It was clearly 1) always passionate and 2) the best indicator of true love. When my boyfriend confided to me that another girl was promising him sexual favors if he broke up with me, I knew what I needed to do in order to keep him.
It was not romantic or passionate. There was no great revelation of our everlasting love for one another. It was embarrassing and depressing, and I felt betrayed by the lackluster event that it turned out to be. I vowed that summer never to be used in that way again. While I was not abused, I was broken and disillusioned.
My years of working with teenagers has reminded me daily of the confusion that swirls around this act. Though it is created by God for the bringing together of two in a physical and spiritual union, there is perhaps no other act that has brought such pain and devastation to so many. I work with young people, and girls have confided in me about pressure to send nudes and engage in oral sex (even at school). A big change I have noticed is there is not even a pretense of relationship anymore. Requesting sexual favors falls in the same category of asking to borrow someone’s pencil or pen.
I am amazed at how many girls simply comply. It saddens and angers me until I remember myself so many years ago, looking for love. Many of these very teens are professing believers too. They feel guilty for engaging in sexual activities but have zero understanding of what biblical sexuality is about.
It’s easy to see how the world gets sex wrong. They have relegated it into the land of needs, like food or water. If someone iconsents, there is no reason to abstain. We see the fruits of this thinking: lives destroyed by sexually transmitted diseases and abortion. We see a whole generation of adults who’ve been burned by the hookup culture and the lack of connection they experience.
However, equally destructive is the church’s stance, or lack of a stance, on sex. We have done well to communicate its rightful place within marriage, but we have not gone the extra steps to help unravel the complicated knot of sexual desire and responsibility.
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