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Sex Education: Why The Church Needs To Speak Up

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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.

Posted by Elisha Lawrence with
in Growth

Why Racism Is Hell on Earth

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The recent scenes in Charlottesville, Shelbyville, and our hometown of Murfreesboro were examples of real-life, in-your-face hell on earth.

As white supremacists marched down the streets with Confederate and Nazi flags, screaming racial slurs and hailing Hitler, we saw the antithesis of heaven:

You are worthy to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
because you were slaughtered,
and you purchased people
for God by your blood
from every tribe and language
and people and nation.
You made them a kingdom
and priests to our God,
and they will reign on the earth. (Rev. 5:9-10)

The tree of life was on each side of the river, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree are for healing the nations, and there will no longer be any curse. (Rev. 22:2-3)

This gathering of nations—from the Greek root word ἔθνος, where we get the word “ethnicity”—is what heaven looks like now, and gives a glimpse into New Jerusalem’s eternal population.

Eternity will not be white faces marching to destroy colors through the Nazi flag of death. Instead, it will be faces from every single hue being healed by the tree of life. Jesus’s blood has redeemed people from every ethnicity, and every ethnicity is and will be represented in God’s kingdom.

Regarding race and culture and nationality, diversity is heavenly; uniformity is hellish.

But this raises the most critical question: what should we do about it?

On the one hand, the most important thing has already been done. Ephesians 2 says that God is right now destroying racial and ethnic division through the cross.

White supremacists are not original.

We’ve seen this sort of evil and hatred throughout American history and the histories of nations throughout the world. They fancy themselves as revolutionaries and heroes, but they are stale, generic villains. The arc of history bends away from them.

Their legacy will be summed up in one word: defeat.

On the other hand, this has massive implications for Christians. Matthew 28:18-20 says that we’re called to make disciples of all nations.

I used to think of this as merely a call to “evangelism”—telling lost people about Jesus. However, it has become more and more apparent to me that this also must be paired with 2 Corinthians 5:11-21: Christians are ministers of reconciliation.

This ministry has countless implications, but a clear implication is this: making disciples of all nations and looking toward eternity, when all tribes and tongues will worship together, means breaking down walls of racial and cultural divisions.

As new creations, we are called to mirror eternity in this life. One foundational way to preview eternity is to intentionally seek justice and equality for people of every nation, tribe, and tongue. If there are no walls in eternity, there should be no walls right now.

First, then, we should admit our biases and blindness.

As Christians, we are fundamentally called to be humble, teachable, peacemaking, wall-smashing, ministers of reconciliation. So our first instinct should be to listen, not to shut our ears and throw out insults and dismissive platitudes.

If we can’t recognize that systemic issues in our land — a land whose unifying moments (Emancipation Proclamation, desegregation, voting rights, and Affirmative Action) were merely legal concessions and not intrinsically built into our foundation — then we’re just not ready to listen to those who feel the most hurt by it.

We don’t have to agree on every nuance or policy or logical conclusion, but there should be a baseline recognition of the apparent historical and ongoing separation in our country. The Christian call to pursue unity isn’t optional.

Don’t point the finger; lend an ear.

Second and relatedly, we should put this into action by not huddling up with people like us, waiting on God to sort it out later.

That would be easy. Instead, we should fight tooth-and-nail against the temptation to be comfortable and monolithic. The cross of Christ demands that we press on to the point of shed blood to love our brothers and sisters of all races and ethnicities.

Our churches should be as diverse or even more diverse than our neighborhoods (imagine Sunday morning at your church being the most diverse gathering in your neighborhood each week!).

Our dinner tables should likewise have regular seats filled with those who don’t look like us.

As Russell Moore so aptly puts it, in the fight for racial reconciliation, “We’re not getting anywhere if we gather in church with people we’d gather with if Jesus were still dead.” The death and resurrection of Jesus mean that sin and death are dead—taking hatred and division to hell with them.

To my white brothers and sisters: don’t merely post on social media about your frustration about race relations in our country.

Don’t let your actions be relegated to hashtags and retweets. True reconciliation happens around dinner tables and in marching lines. True empathy comes not only from watching another iPhone video but from putting your arms around someone whose skin doesn’t match yours.

True friendship comes not from a Twitter follow or a Sunday morning sentiment but from a lifelong commitment to co-suffering and co-laboring.

True love doesn’t happen with a half-hearted apology, but with an open mind to be an active part of the solution.

Though personal relationships are the most important, it would also help to read some books on race by black authors. Let their perspective help shape the narrative for you.

For example, read Life and Times of Frederick Douglass by Douglass and United: Captured by God’s Vision for Diversity by Newbell.

Racism is hell on earth. But we as Christians are called to pray for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven.

You may feel like only one friendship, or one conversation is a waste, but it isn’t. Nothing you do in this life is inconsequential.

God works through even the smallest steps, however awkward and heavy they may seem. As Dr. King said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Make your anywhere count.

Posted by Brandon D. Smith with

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