I know our culture has shifted away from a biblical view of sexuality. I know that many teenagers are having sex. I know that things are radically different for our kids than they were for us.
I know all this and more. Radically shifting values about sex (and the negative impact these shifts are having on the strength of our families) are the reason I wrote The Talks. Our kids need guidance, and parents are the ones who must guide them.
But I didn't know it had come to this.
The "this" I refer to is the article that middle school minister extraordinaire Chris Trent forwarded me yesterday.
The Huffington Post published an article entitled "When Your Teen Wants to Have Sex in Your Home." You should read it. Like right now. If you doubt that our culture is moving away from any semblance of health and wisdom regarding teens and sex, the article is truly eye-opening.
To summarize briefly (which I shouldn't have to do because you have already taken a minute to read the article), the writer applies the same stupid logic to sex as some parents do to drinking: "My teens are going to drink, so I would rather them do it safely. I will therefore buy alcohol for my kid and their friends and allow them to get hammered in my home." Forget any values-based objective of training your kids to see the foolishness of drunkenness (and the illegality of underage drinking) and enabling them to embrace these values for themselves. No, our kids will drink. It is pointless to plan for anything else.
In the same way, the author of yesterday's article suggests that we live in a world where teens inevitably are going to have sex. They are powerless to resist. And if our kids are having sex, wouldn't we rather they have sex in the privacy, safety and comfort of our homes?
Forget the fact that most 16-year-olds are self-centered to the point of being borderline narcissistic (and thus unable to offer a mature, selfless love to another). Forget the fact that parents are trusting kids who can't remember to take the trash out to practice safe sex (even if there is such a thing). Forget the fact that every sexual partner before marriage increases a person's likelihood of divorce later in life. No, let's forget all that. Let's encourage our kids to invite their partners to sleep over.
Note that this article wasn't published by some unknown writer on the fringe of society. It was posted on Huffington Post, a website that the Guardian ranked as the world's most powerful blog just a few years ago.
This is the direction our advanced society is headed. Sadly, I think there is little we can do about the culture as a whole. The momentum toward removing any higher or better standard to our corporate behavior is just too great. People have been trying to legislate morality for years, and it hasn't been all that effective.
While the impact I can have on the culture is limited, the influence I can have on my kids is immense. Likewise, the influence you have on your kids is powerful. You have 18 years to equip them to think differently from the world; to train them to see the wisdom of trusting that God's ways are best; to lead them to embrace values that will give them a life of joy and purpose.
Sure, we are Imperfect and Normal Families, and your kids have Imperfect and Normal Parents. There are times we will mess up. We will get it wrong. But we cannot stop. We must keep counting on Christ to empower us. We must keep looking to Scripture to guide us. And we must keep trusting in the grace of God to sustain us when we fail.
Don't settle for what the world has to offer. Don't encourage your kids do it either. The only way our kids will learn to act and think and believe differently from the world around them is if we teach them how. So let's get going. Our kids are counting on us!
Barrett Johnson is the Minister to Families at Johnson Ferry Baptist Church in Atlanta. He is also the founder of INFO for Families and the author of The Talks: A Parent's Guide to Critical Conversations about Sex, Dating, and Other Unmentionables.
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