This blog post was adapted from Episode 5 of our podcast, DriveTime.
Just like our culture, the church also tells us many lies about sex. It’s important we say this upfront that not every church is guilty of these and many no longer speak in the terms that we share below. However, we must be aware of each of them because they can have an impact on the way we engage, and ultimately, the way we share the message of sexual integrity with our children. It’s also important to remember that these lies, if not corrected, can actually strip away the authority we are trying to garner as parents.
Lie #1: Having sex before marriage will make you feel horrible.
As someone that had sex from age 16 till 21, I (Jason) must say that it was full of pleasure. Did I, at times feel guilt? For sure. As a Christian, I believe the work of the Holy Spirit was convicting me of my actions. But it wasn’t until I was fully surrendered to Jesus that any of this began to change. This happened when I recommitted my life to the Lord, and I officially made the decision to start over. Although I’d heard one thing in the church, and knew something different by experience, I chose to continue growing in my faith. However, I’ve had several friends that made the opposite decision after having sex. For the longest time, they were told that if they had sex before marriage that they would regret it and definitely wouldn’t enjoy it. But you know what? They enjoyed it! And it wasn’t too long after when they began asking questions about their faith. They would say things like, “if I was told this was bad and that I wouldn’t enjoy it but I did…well, what else is the church lying to me about?” Yes, I know this can sound silly, but it does happen.
“When people aren’t hearing the truth about sex, they will seek answers somewhere else.” – Tweet this.
Adolescence is a period of life spent at the crossroads. It’s a time marked by overwhelming change, numerous questions, and searching for answers. But these crossroads are anything but quiet and desolate. Not sure which direction to take, our children and teens are presented with an abundance of confusing options and the noise can be deafening. Perhaps the signposts they choose to follow are the ones that are most attractive, loud, and convincing in response to their unspoken teenage cry of ”Show me the way!” This is why we need to be absolutely clear when we talk about sexual integrity.
Lie #2: Marriage will somehow solve all your problems.
Porn addiction…don’t worry marriage will solve it. Lusting over other individuals…don’t worry marriage will take it away. Singleness…well marriage will make life feel more complete. We can sometimes promise something about marriage that it was never intended to do. Remember, in scripture marriage is never a promise, it’s a possibility.
Further, I think we have a growing number of marriages built on feeling. Somewhere along the way, we’ve come to believe that the guide for all of our decisions, convictions, and priorities is our heart. “Follow your heart” we’re told, “and everything else will fall into place.” If it “feels right” or “feels good,” then “just do it.” The opposite is also true.
Our feelings will tell us what commitments to avoid or break. The fallout is severe as we grow up trusting feelings as the pathway to self-fulfillment. We all may know someone who has justified a decision to divorce by saying, “I just don’t feel like I love them anymore.”
Next, there’s our growing love affair with ourselves. Sociologist, Dr. Jean Twenge, studied the rapid rise of narcissism in our culture for the last few decades. She concludes that today’s children and teens are the most narcissistic generation. In his sermon series on marriage, Timothy Keller says that self-centeredness is the main problem and enemy of any marriage. Since marriage is about submission to another person, it’s no wonder that fewer and fewer young people are eagerly entering into or staying in a marriage.
Marriage doesn’t solve our problems. If anything it can shove them in our face. We need to be honest about marriage being a place where we are refined and grow in our walk with the Lord, and with our children.
Lie #3: Singleness is a plague.
Since so many of our children will potentially spend a great deal of time single, it is incredibly important that we talk honestly about this. We haven’t done this all that well in the past, as singleness is often either missed altogether or merely spoken of as a brief moment that passes before you marry. Since married people are the ones calling the shots in most churches, they also remain central to the life of the church. Meanwhile, single people are relegated to the margins. In fact, for every book written on singleness for Christians, another 298 are written for our married population.
We need to prepare our churches and our children for the time they will be single. One great way of doing this is by understanding (and communicating) the simple truth that we are all built for relationship. We are not meant to do life alone… relationship is literally built into our DNA. We need to communicate that living out God’s design for sex and relationship doesn’t happen in a bubble, and our homes and churches should be places where the lonely come to find community. Being single can be lonely… but the remedy, if there is such a thing this side of God’s plan, is to learn over and over again to do this: to recognize God’s presence embodied in the community of faith! May our homes be this space as well as our churches.
DriveTime is a tool for you as a parent to get equipped, so you can better engage the world your son or daughter inhabits.
Check out further discussions around ‘Lies The Church Tells About Sex’ on our podcast, DriveTime. Available now where ever you get your podcasts, or right here:
Jason Soucinek is the Executive Director and founder of Project Six19. Dedicated to talking honestly about matters of sex, sexuality and relationships. Jason has spent more than a decade engaging audiences of all ages and backgrounds.
Walt Mueller is the founder and President of the Center for Parent/Youth Understanding and has been working with young people and families for over 35 years.