By: Elisha Lawrence
I grew up in a Christian home. My father is a pastor to this day. He is a God-fearing, faithful man who I deeply respect.
My mother loves the Lord and regularly sacrificed her life for my siblings and me. They were great parents.
I went to Christian school. I went to youth group every week. I grew up in a thoroughly Christian environment. I was first exposed to pornography in the sixth grade at a friend’s house, a friend from my Christian school.
Our parents had no idea, and we didn’t tell them. Thanks to the grace of God, I didn’t know about internet pornography, and I wasn’t exposed to it. However, I found racy pictures in Sports Illustrated or ESPN the magazine.
Thanks to parents who wouldn’t allow it, I didn’t see any moves with sex scenes. However, I watched shows where women were primarily depicted as objects for men’s pleasure.
I grew up in a relatively sheltered home, but my sexual education was undoubtedly not sheltered. This is not an indictment of my parents. They loved me and did their absolute best to keep me from sexual sin.
My father shared about his past and warned me of the consequences of sexual sin. And my parents protected me from so much that could have worsened my condition. And yet, my sexual education primarily came through 6th and 7th-grade boys, television and magazines.
My guess is if you grew up in the church, your sexual education was similar or possibly far more extreme than mine.
Many reading this may have been victims of sexual abuse. Many reading this may have been exposed to hardcore forms of pornography at a much younger age.
The average age of exposure to pornography is somewhere between 8 and 11 years old. We live in a different era than the one where I grew up.
Dial-up internet is a thing of the past, and with it, unfettered access to technology with the internet makes sexually explicit images far more accessible. 60% of 10 and 11-year-olds have smartphones. 92% of teens are on the internet daily, and 24% are on it almost always.
Pastors and parents, please do not be naïve regarding your children’s sexual education. Messages about sexuality are everywhere…in the tv shows we watch, the billboards we drive past, the ads in the mall, and the Instagram feeds we scroll.
If the Church isn’t saying anything about sex, you better believe the culture is.
This is where sex education isn’t just about what pastors are saying to their congregations or what parents are saying to their kids…it’s about our sexual education too.
Have you heard about the Church Too Movement?
In the wake of the Me Too Movement where countless media personalities were accused of sexual misconduct, church leaders have been indicted for similar sins.
The fall of these evangelical leaders reveals significant cracks in the sexual education of the Church as a whole.
Why does the Church look so much like the world in this area?
Why aren’t we marked with the holiness of the Lord in our sexual lives?
Shouldn’t the world be able to look at the Church to see the beauty of sexuality?
Sadly sexuality is an area where the Church has been silent. And that cannot happen in the world we live in today.
What I am proposing is that as Christians, we take our sexual education very seriously. This is not just about our children.
Even as adults, we need to realize the miseducation (it’s a word…I looked it up) we’ve undergone and try to remedy that now. To help you in that process, here are some things I’ve been learning about sex and sexuality which are vital to counter the sexual misinformation surrounding us.
Sex is a gift of God created by God
The Bible talks about sex. I know, it’s crazy, but it does. And guess who invented it?
“This is why a man leaves his father and mother and bonds with his wife, and they become one flesh.” (Gen 2:24) When Paul references this passage in 1 Corinthians 6, he says it is referencing sex.
When God designed the first marriage, he gave to it and all subsequent marriages sex as a gift. It is one part of a close friendship between a husband and a wife. And it’s a good thing. Sex is not evil. It wasn’t created evil.
I grew up thinking it was evil, that it was wrong. I had never heard about it as a part of God’s good creation with intent and a purpose. It was a dirty thing, not a God thing. But in reality, sex is tied to God. He gives it meaning.
If we don’t start here, we end up throwing the baby out with the bath water…and ain’t nobody doing that with sex! So we have to realize that God is the creator of sex and He has a beautiful, wise plan for sexuality.
Put simply; sex is meant to enhance a permanent relationship.
Pornography is the primary sex educator
When we don’t talk or think about sex at Church, we still talk and think about sex. It’s impossible not to in our culture.
Sex sells everything…from pubescent cologne to bad fast food. It’s in every television show, even if a sex scene doesn’t take place. You don’t have to see a sex scene to be told something about sex.
A fish doesn’t realize that it’s swimming in the water, and I think it’s easy to overlook how sexualized our society has become. And the answer isn’t to wall ourselves off entirely from the world. But we do need to examine some of the foundational ideas about sex and sexuality that we’re adopting without even realizing it.
In the book Divine Sex, a family therapist Jill Manning is quoted as saying “the pervasive power of pornography has made it the primary sexual educator of today’s adolescents.” Sadly the statistics back her claims….the 4 billion dollars spent per year on video pornographic outweighs that spent on football, baseball, and basketball.
90% of male 18-year-olds have seen pornography, and 60% of female 18-year-olds have as well. And what does this do to our minds?
Porn is designed to create addiction.
A pleasure chemical (dopamine) is released in our brains when we watch pornography, which reinforces that behavior. We end up wanting that same feeling again and expecting to receive it through watching porn. “Repeated exposure to explicit imagery creates a one-way neurological superhighway, whereby a person’s mental life becomes oversexualized and narrow.”
When you watch porn, you fuel a desire to watch more porn. But the depiction of sex in pornography is not real. It dehumanizes, it hurts actual people (both the user and those involved in the porn industry), and it renders users incapable of genuine relationships.
Porn is a terrible educator regarding sex. Even non-religious groups have begun to attack pornography because of its destructive consequences (fightthenewdrug.com).
Church and parents, if we don’t paint a picture of healthy sexuality as our children grow older and the members of our churches continue in unhealthy patterns, they will destroy themselves.
Determined persistence with people is desperately needed in sex education
I have been a college minister for nine years, and I’ve walked with lots of young men who have incredibly distorted ideas about sex and sexuality.
It is a long hard journey to delve into people’s sex lives. But that’s precisely what we need to do in the Church and with our children.
We need to consistently talk with people about sex and what they believe about sex. We need to preach about sex and God’s vision for sexuality. We need to exalt God and His glory to show that His vision for sex is the best and most beautiful way to live. And we need to patiently endure with people who are profoundly struggling to navigate this sexualized world.
Sex is a beautiful thing, but when taken out of God’s intended context, it has disastrous consequences. The Church is the place where sexual education should be most prominent. It should be the place where sexual healing is possible.
This means we need to foster an environment of confession and repentance. It also needs we need to foster a climate of boldness and speaking the truth in love.
God wants people to experience freedom from sexual sin. Church, we need to be the hands and feet of Jesus in this area, and that means we have got to say something about sex.