Love Month: It’s Time for "The Talk"

February 17, 2010

You’re old enough now to know what I’m talking about.  Trust me, this is just as uncomfortable for me as it is for you.  But I’d rather you heard it from me than in the locker room.

A lot of churches in America have a sudden interest in sex.  Suddenly, they’re throwing off the shackles of old-fashioned prudery and making sure that all good Christians are getting it on. 

The problem for churches is, all the wrong people are getting it on.

Although churches want to be hip and edgy and “relevant” by featuring sex talks, they’d rather the kids in the youth group simply avert their eyes and ears and not do that really fun thing that all the adults are talking about.  But they are.  It’s peculiar, like how parents spend the first four years of a child’s life talking to him about poop, and then chastise him when he talks about poop as a five-year-old. 

It’s really hard to convince married adults that sex is awesome while convincing their children that sex is terrible, and they’ll be much cooler if they’re virgins like the Jonas Brothers (well, not anymore.)  Everyone knows that a lot of American teenagers, both Christian and non-Christian are getting all kinds of pre-marital funky. 

It’s easy for pastors and parents to find something to blame for all this undue shaking of groove-things.  The internet is evil.  Porn is everywhere.  Girls have words printed on their butts.  Lady GaGa’s songs are too catchy.  Abercrombie turns kids into hookers.  Public school sex ed has live, coed demos of condom use as the final test. (Which they don’t, but don’t try to convince some homeschooling parents otherwise.)

Know what I think?  I think the church doesn’t know what to think about sex.
It seems like a simple enough thing to figure out.  But I think the church can’t even figure out what it really truly thinks about sex, much less how to tell teenagers that it’s evil and wrong and they’ll destroy their lives if they do it.  Even though some pastors want to make church sexier, the church is still pretty lame when it comes to the subject.  I can’t remember the last time I heard a pastor give a really convincing reason to not have pre-marital sex.  Apparently, most teenagers haven’t heard a good one either, because even the sacred bond of their virginity pledges isn’t strong enough to hold them back.  The rest of us didn’t need a “pledge”…somewhat because there were no takers anyway.

Yes, it’s really hard to get virgins to think it’s cool to be virgins.  But even if a pastor can come up with a top ten list of reasons it’s awesome to be a virgin, no one can agree on where the line is.  Which base is still “virgin” territory?  Some people don’t even kiss until their wedding day.  These are important questions to teens who are anxious to try out their new public school sex ed skills.

Then you throw in words like…masturbation, and all bets are off.  No one knows what to do about that one.  I’ve heard pastors say it’s perfectly natural, and others who say it’s a form of homosexual behavior, subject to all the hellfire of Sodom.  If you’ve never heard that one, let it sink in.  Seems like the most logical Christian compromise would be to say that it’s natural and healthy to…masturbate…but just to be safe, you should feel guilty anyway, because you will indeed go blind and a kitten dies everytime you do it.

Most pastors paint a picture of “God’s plan” for love, which naturally is sex between a married couple.  Of course, very little of how we live today is God’s original plan.  Sure, Mary was a virgin.  (I think Joseph had to have been a virgin too.)  But they were teenagers.  Maybe Joseph was 20.  They were ready to get married and start having babies because their bodies said they were ready.  Their bodies didn’t tell them to live with their parents until they were 18, and then spend four years getting an education, and then get a soul-crushing career to pay for their exhorbitant education costs, and then date someone seriously for two or more years, and then get married and then have babies a full ten to fifteen years after their bodies first wanted to have babies.

Today, getting married right after college is a wee bit soon for many people.  Getting married during college is totally abnormal, and getting married right after high school is major life FAIL to most people. 

Young adults have an uphill battle to climb in “saving themselves” and it has as much to do with our culture’s extended childhood, and our desire for money, as it does with the evils of the internet.  And you know, I don’t hear a lot of pastors echoing Paul’s encouragement to go ahead and get married rather then “burn.”  Once you start marrying teenagers, people tend to mistake you for an insane cult.  But until we start marrying kids off at age 15 again, I think we’re going to have Christian fornication.

What’s the answer?  I don’t know.  Quit being lame about sex, I guess.  Come up with concrete answers and convincing reasons to avoid sex.  Pastors think the adults are the ones in need of sex ed, but I think the adults with kids probably already know what they’re doing – hence, the kids.  Do we teach kids “don’t do it, but if you do, be safe?”  If you’re a parent, do you think you’ve done a good job at the “talk?”  Are your kids still virgins?  I’m sure they’ll love you broadcasting such information.