Shocking Teens Before They Shock You

Cody Ray Charland

Student Life recently released a new resource called "Morf". It's a magazine for parents, youth workers and pastors. It's got a great modern design and an earthy smell. 

In its inaugural publication, Andy Braner wrote an article dealing with how adults are treating the topic of sex with teens. He tells stories that revolve around honesty as the best policy for both parties. Even when it's a fifth grade son encountering the topic for the first time on the playground. 

I vividly remember from high school the shock teachers would express when they would encounter the private lives of teens. Yet at 25, I've often experienced that same feeling when hearing the truth from teens. Lets just put it out there; for some reason, sexual issues are strangely uncomfortable in the intergenerational context. 

But hearing about sexual trends and habits shouldn't be a surprise. It's happening in all generations. The discussions need to happen before, not after "it" happens.

I'm guessing this approach would shock a lot of teens.

Unfortunately, we're cuturally in a season of damage control. These conversations are typically about the outcomes and aftermaths, not the plans or hopes. When we leave it up to a generation to define sex on their own, we need to be prepared to hear the outrageous, scandalous, and the shameful. If we don't prepare them well, the least we can do is become a safe and restorative place. Our relationships need to be strong in preparation for whatever storms may come. As Braner says, "We have to build a rapport with our kids so that when dating (or sex) becomes the issue, they'll listen." 

Hard questions: 

  • Have we sincerely/seriously defined what's sexually appropriate? Teens can handle these conversations, but can we? Clarity defuses confusion. Why aren't we shocking teens before they shock us? Are we willing to have conversations about confusing or "gray" areas of sexuality, or what may seem like gray areas to our students?
  • Along with culture (until fairly recent changes in cultural expectations), most churches have idolized marriage as the ultimate goal for every person. But this is not the "only" biblical ideal (1:Corinthians 7:26). How, or why aren't, you talking about singleness? Our students need to know that staying single and celibate is tough, but it could be the life they are called to. How are we helping them navigate that lifestyle?

Published Nov 21, 2011
Cody Ray Charland

Cody Ray Charland is a second year MATM student at Fuller’s Pasadena campus. He holds a BA in Physical Education from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. As Project Assistant with the Fuller Youth Institute, he handles social media, and helps with writing, technology, and research. He was formerly a Young Life leader as well as Youth Pastor at Port City Community Church in Wilmington, NC.  Cody enjoys the outdoors, all things Tar Heel, and barbecue. 

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