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Why Young Christians Aren’t Waiting

September 29, 2011

Here’s a link to a very interesting article about young Christian believers and sexual ethics:

“Why Young Christians Aren’t Waiting Anymore”

In seminary, in an ethics class, I wrote a paper about this very topic and arrived and some of the same conclusions as this article did.  Namely, the biblical witness of sexual purity (which is often contradictory at best) before marriage was written in a time when women were married immediately after puberty and men were married only a few years after that.  Nowadays, young women and men are not marrying until their late twenties and even early thirties, and studies are indicating that the average age of first marriages in the US is ever-increasing.

The argument that “kids these days” are having sex more and at a younger age because the culture is saturated by sex more so than ever doesn’t hold a lot of water for me.  Culture has ALWAYS been saturated by sex.  Always.

I remember that when I wrote my paper, I put up what was known as an “IM Away Message” – a communication tool very firmly ensconced in the late ’90’s and early part of the 2000’s!  It read, to all my friends who cared to read it, “I’m writing an ethics paper on pre-marital sex and would love your thoughts.”  My favorite response, which I used as the opening line of my paper, was from a college friend.  She replied, “I have lots of thoughts about pre-marital sex.  I’m not any of them are appropriate for your paper.”  The point was that for unmarried young people, the topic was crossing their minds.  I don’t think that was a surprising finding.

I believe what we need to do a better job at, as a society, is educating our young people about the potential consequences of sex, physical and emotional.  Often they understand the possible physical consequences, but have absolutely no idea about the emotional side of things.

What are your thoughts?

Fr. Ryan+

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. September 29, 2011 4:22 pm

    I would like to read your paper!

  2. Lisa Miller permalink
    September 29, 2011 6:10 pm

    As a single parent of a 19 yr old male, I can tell you that it’s much easier to talk to kids about avoiding the physical consequences than about the emotional consequences. Not that I haven’t tried… I agree with you that it’s just the way humans are designed. As parents, teachers, and role models, it’s better to acknowledge that and deal with it, as best you can, than to bury your head in the sand. I would like to read your paper, too!

  3. Jane Schmoetzer permalink
    September 29, 2011 11:19 pm

    I don’t think this is limited to “young Christians,” Ryan. Each wedding I’ve officiated, without exception, has been a marriage between two people already living together– and that included a couple in their 50s. I think the major cultural difference, in addition to the trend toward later marriages, is that there is little or no detectable cultural stigma attached. To the contrary, the default assumption seems to be that two people who have been in a relationship for any significant length of time will inevitably be sexually intimate.

    That said, you are wholly right about the need of some opportunity for discussion and teaching about the emotional/spiritual impact of sex. We have not done well with that, and need to do better– in our society and even more so in the church.

  4. September 30, 2011 12:47 am

    Eric and Lisa – I’ll have to see if I can find that paper, but I can make no promises…I’m pretty sure all those sorts of things didn’t survive the move to PA.

    Jane – I certainly don’t think it is limited to “Christians” either; that was just the title of the CNN article. And to be clear, my paper wasn’t limited to Christians at all. The Lutheran church put out a great, and I mean great, six week course for older youth groups/high school Sunday school that I used as a Lenten study in my previous parish. I can’t recall the name of it right now, but it was very good and the kids got a lot out of it. I think the reason for its success was its authenticity; it did not assume the room was full of virgins.

    -R

  5. Jane Ellen+ permalink
    September 30, 2011 10:31 am

    Do you still have that program? Or can you tell me where to find it? I’ve got a batch of high school kids here for whom that could be really helpful.

  6. October 4, 2011 11:10 am

    Jane – It was called “Free in Christ to Care for Your Neighbor: Lutheran Youth Talk About Human Sexuality” I’m pretty sure it’s still available.

  7. Jane Schmoetzer permalink
    October 4, 2011 2:31 pm

    Found it, and passed it along to my youth coordinator. Thanks!

  8. Michael Scott Richards permalink
    October 8, 2011 11:01 pm

    When I was maybe 11 Mom would say: “Sex makes babies”. That became the instinctive truth. Its about fear. Fearing a cross one cannot bear is a great stay from temptation. Once in the midst of teenage intimacy ..long long ago…I was stopped nearly cold by her invitation . Feeling the fear..I refused. But she had no fear. Having no fear of the power of God , that is dangerous. That is what youth should understand. “Sex makes Babies”. Intimacy however will happen and I think we aught not be squeemish about how avoid that one procreative act. I feared and was wise, now she has a beautiful family. I could have changed her life into chaos. . Marrying well, She brought her daughter to me . She was so beautiful and secure in every way. Intimacy with wisdom and fear, its a policy for joy.

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