We Have to do Better

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Following on the heels of “The Trouble with Teenagers” blog post from last week, I’d like to talk about another terrible disservice we have done to people between the ages of 13 and 19 and also society at large through the use of a word. This week’s word is sex.

The Back Story

The back story on this topic began with a post on Thought Catalog entitled, “I Waited Until My Wedding Night To Lose My Virginity And I Wish I Hadn’t.”

Actually, it began long before that with the modern practices around encouraging girls to pledge to remain virgins until marriage. Practices which include purity rings, public ceremonies and even Purity Dances. And these are all good things.

(Although I’ve always wondered why don’t we don’t put the responsibility of maintaining the purity of relationships on the young men. Hmmmm…)

Anyway, back to the “I wish I hadn’t” blog post. In it, the author describes what I would call a totally wrong perspective on sex taught to her by her church, parents, community, etc. Wrong perspectives that led to a nightmarish wedding night, a sex-less marriage, a rejection of God and the Bible and bisexuality.

And I quote: “I couldn’t figure out how to be both religious and sexual at the same time. I chose sex.”

That’s tragic.

We’ve Missed the Point

I’m writing about this topic because it’s one of my personal soap boxes and there are several reasons why:

  • First, I wasn’t raised in a Christian home and long before I knew Christ, the die of porn and sex problems was cast. This has caused me to think on this issue from all sides and I believe I’ve learned a lot.
  • Second, it frustrates me that our Churchy answers to this topic are some weird mix of, ‘don’t, unless it’s okay to do’ with little guidance at all. Guidance on the “don’t” side is basically that it’s wrong to even THINK about such things much less talk about them. And guidance on the “do” side is often a wink and a rude comment about a wild honeymoon night.
  • Third, we’re living in a world obsessed with sex and it’s not going away! Our weak or nonexistent answers are of no help to anyone and here’s the thing: we serve the One who created sex.

Which brings me to why I believe we’ve missed the point. Oneness.

Sex is primarily about the physical joining of the Masculine image of God with the Feminine image of God into oneness.

“Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” – Mark 10:9

We Have to do Better

We are doing our young people and the world a HUGE disservice as we fail to:

  • Understand that we’re powerfully drawn to the opposite sex because of the desire (need…) for Biblical oneness. This is why our world is obsessed with sex and it’s not going away.
  • Comprehend that Biblical oneness is one of the most powerful forces in creation. It literally binds two humans. “And Adam knew Eve his wife…” – Genesis 4:1. The responsibility for it’s proper management and stewardship falls on us all.
  • Teach that every aspect of this powerful draw and powerful force is from God for His glory. Read the Song of Songs. Hollywood has NOTHING on Scripture.

Sex isn’t bad. It isn’t even good in the sense of a “treat”, or benefit, or “sugar on top” of a happy marriage. It is so much more and we owe it to our kids to let them know.

For more on this subject, I highly recommend another blog post here.

photo credit: shesthereasonfortheworld via photopin cc

The Trouble with Teenagers

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According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the term “teenager” was first used in 1921. Makes me wonder what we called this group of people before then.

A Seven Year Free for All

Back when Jill and I were a childless young couple attending Belmont Church in Nashville, we heard a guest speaker one Sunday morning. We will forever remember two key points he made that day.

He spoke about the terrible disservice we have done to people between the ages of 13 and 19 and also society at large through the use of the word, “teenagers.”

Though we had never thought about it, we had to agree that the word gives these people permission to know nothing, do nothing, rebel against authority and make huge mistakes with drugs, alcohol and sex for seven years. It also tells the rest of society that any other expectation is a waste of time and effort.

Don’t believe it? Check out these quotes on the definition of teenager from UrbanDictionary.com:

  • User Rodney Basil writes that teenagers are, “Human beings who are unsure whether they are adolescents or adults.”
  • l1011tristar17 believes that teenagers are, “People who are treated like children but expected to act like adults.” and that “Teenagers are common victims of ageism.”

And btw, both of these writers ARE teenagers.

This seven year free for all mentality removes any and all expectation of responsibility, accountability or maturity for everyone involved.

In his book entitled, The case against adolescence: Rediscovering the adult in every teen, Robert Epstein, former editor-in-chief of Psychology Today says that, “teen turmoil is caused by outmoded systems put in place a century ago which destroyed the continuum between childhood and adulthood.”

Beer, Cars and Bullets

The speaker we heard that day also pointed out our society’s “rites of passages” into adulthood:

  • The legal ability to buy and consume alcohol
  • The legal right to drive a car
  • The right to join the military

As a study of African rites of passages states, “The transition to adulthood is exceedingly difficult in Western societies because there are no systems of adulthood rites to systematically guide and direct the young person through this important stage in his or her life cycle.”- http://www.manuampim.com/AfricanInitiationRites.htm

What We Did

Based on that talk, Jill and I avoid using the term teenager whenever possible. We didn’t raise teenagers, we raised Young Adults including the 18 year old who’s still at home. This meant two things:

  • They understood that they were responsible for their relationship with the Lord.
  • We expected them to take responsibility for the decisions and mistakes made while moving towards adulthood. We were there as council and support and notice I said mistakes! Mistakes are how baby’s learn to walk and that never changes whether we’re 13, 19, 52 or beyond.

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We also held a “rite of passage” in the form of a blessing ceremony – which was suggested by the speaker we heard that Sunday morning.

When both our kids turned 13, we had celebrations that included adults speaking expectations and advice into their lives (yes, the photo is from Kayce’s). Not only did this set the tone for the next 7 years and beyond, it gave them both a moment where they KNEW they had passed from being a kid to a young adult.

These may sound like small adaptations, but they have made all the difference.

photo credit: chuckp via photopin cc

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