So I was asked to speak about Self Image and Sex tonight at a church.
Just to let you in a little secret, I don't talk about these things. Not in a "it makes me uncomfortable, and I have 12 year old's sense of humor so I can't talk about it", but in a "I haven't found an appropriate stage for this conversation, so I don't want to talk about it" kind of way.
People joke that as a woman speaker, this is what I should be speaking about, but it's never been my thing. I don't promote this talk in any of my PR, but I also won't say no if someone really wants to me to do it.
Until now. I think I found my limit and I will say no from here on out.
This is what I realized tonight.
The church shouldn't address the issue of sex with a wide audience of students. I just believe that each of those students are coming from such a different place and the topic is so broad that it is impossible to communicate what you want and address the actual topics the students want and need to know about. Then you are left with a broad and general response to something so deeply personal. Thus the church really hasn't addressed any issue.
Students are ranging from not even being interested, to maybe working up the courage to talk to the person they aren't even sure how they are feeling about. You might even have students who have committed their first kiss being on their wedding day. Then you have the students that want to hold hands and sit on each other's lap and they get excited when the person they like is around. Beyond that you have students who are feeling pressured into intimate touching, or oral sex and sex. On the even darker side you have STD's, rape of all kinds, sex parties, abuse, abortion, teen pregnancy, porn, masturbation, and sex trafficking.
That's just the physical stuff. What about guilt, shame, abandonment, low self esteem, excitement, fear, joy, fulfillment, adoration, love, lust... the list goes on.
Now what about the media, social pressure, peer pressure, movies, music, TV, magazines, and all the things they have to say, persuade, or lead you to believe about the issue. Shouldn't we shed some light on those issues?
All these issues are wrapped up on in just one word... sex. I didn't even touch body image.
So how in our right mind can we as adults in the church expect to communicate effectively about this issue to a large audience of students (and maybe their parents) on this very intense, deeply complicated issue?
We do it one on one or in very small groups that are made up of same sex and age or experience, which seems kind of unlikely.
Tonight I tanked as a speaker. I felt all over the board, I felt shallow and surface, two things I HATE being when I am on stage. But I looked out at the audience and saw little boys. Truly, little boys who just want to play cops and robbers, and grown up girls with makeup and pierced ears. I saw parents and little girls who still play with barbie, and the middle school jock who is too cool to care or listen. I looked out and thought, each of you needs something different. Each of you has different experiences and questions, and now I am going to be that chick who says, wait until your married, period without even digging deeper.
I heard that when I was younger, and when the cute boy looked my way, I didn't care what they said in church.
So how do you effectively talk about sex?
I don't know. That's why I'm not going to anymore. I'll leave it to the experts. Unless you want me to come to an intense personal low key weekend retreat where I get small group time with an other adult and students, then I'll do it. We'll get to the real stuff quick and bring Jesus along with us.
Man I really didn't do well tonight and that is hard for me to accept, but I know it's because this issue is too big for one session, and that's all I had.
Now that my rant is done, please understand that anytime we as believers can encourage young people to abstain from sex outside of marriage, I think we should. Do I believe that God works even in my weakness and my perceived failure, absolutely. If these are the only times that churches can orchestrate a time to talk about sex, then take what you can get. But might I suggest, pick one or two of these issues to pin point and dig deep. Group your kids to be with other kids their own age so the topic is relevant to them. Set this time up for success for them.
But why don't we all just embrace the fact that maybe we could talk about it more in our daily life with the young people who trust us. They have to get their information from somewhere. Be their source of information and trust and respect. Hear their issues and lift them up in prayer. Guide and counsel them in the way of the word. And love them even when they make mistakes. Or encourage them in wise choices.
Three days later: Its been interesting to see people's response to this post. Just to clarify, I am fine talking about sex, I just need to know what piece of this huge complicated puzzle you want me to address and to what specific group of people. I am not uncomfortable talking about sex or talking in front of large groups, this evening did reveal to me though how broad and wide the range of this issue is and how we can't communicate all the things the students need to know in one night. I was finally able to put words to my frustrations. I am thankful for that, but wish I had been in a better mental place when presenting and had already sorted all of this out. If you end up talking with students about sex, make sure you know where they are coming from first, and figure out what they are needing to know.