I am going to take a break from politics to talk about a subject that epitomizes why, as a church community, fail to communicate effectively with younger generation as it relates to orthodox Christianity.
Necessary for the continuing of the human race, sex is a beautiful and awesome thing that God has given us. Not just a tool for procreation, humans also have the distinction of having the ability to engage in sex for pleasure. And the rewards of experiencing this pleasure in the bonds of matrimony are great.
But what are the real rewards of experiencing this outside of marriage? The answer? Pleasure. That is it.
The downside? Pregnancy. STDs. Heartbreak. Not to mention the every tricky issues of consent and just being in poor situations.
Why then is premarital sex almost a given in our culture to the point that we talk more about being “safe” even in Christian homes more than abstinence?
Because abstinence is the wrong message.
What? Bear with me.
You see for years abstinence has been the go to for our youth group education. Wait until marriage to have intercourse. Because being a virgin was what was important! Of course, when I was in youth group that just meant that we had to come up with other ways to just get around the legalese of it. (FTR, for all those who said that Bill Clinton’s semantics on what sex was didn’t have an effect on culture…they were wrong.)
That message has largely unchanged. Being a virgin on your wedding day is the most important thing to achieve.
But what then? What else?
The church didn’t always address sex in this matter. And a LOT of the failings in the modern orthodoxy of the Christian church is a direct relation to how we fail to address this topic appropriately.
So how should we approach it?
We need to start talking about chastity in the church. You see, we are all called to seasons of chastity in our lives. Before marriage. When away from our spouses. We ALL are. Not just the teenagers in youth group. And chastity doesn’t just encompass abstaining from sex. There is more to guarding our hearts and minds than just guarding our…well…you know.
Right now, we expect chastity as a church from just those who haven’t put a ring on it. No wonder our children are rejecting that message. It only applies to them.
And that lack of continuity leaks into every area of our culture and church. Chastity means that it isn’t acceptable to flirt with your secretary and it means you need to guard your heart when online. You think the divorce rate in the church would be a little bit different if our standard for happiness wasn’t “sexual compatibility” and just “following your heart.”
On that note, don’t you think the discussion surrounding same-sex attractions would be different if the premise was that we are all called to chastity outside the confines of a Biblical standard of sexuality? I think it would. But we are seen as highly hypocritical when we don’t hold two adults in our congregations to the same standards we hold two of our teenagers…let alone two people who are struggling with same-sex attractions. And we should be seen that way. Because it IS hypocritical.
Not to mention the overall problems relating to a lack of self control. Credit card debt. Impulse. Overeating. All related to our inability to control our whims and urges. If we don’t have to control our sexual urges why should we have to control our other physical and mental urges?
A lot of cultural failures can derive from one or two failures in orthodoxy within the church.
So, maybe we need a little less “abstinence” and a LOT more chastity.