This past week, I stood in a church, in front of 250 teenagers and their mentors. And can you guess what I did? We talked about sexuality. I mean, come on! Can you use words like erection and orgasms in such a setting??
Well, I did. And guess what. So did they!
We began the conversation about these three main topics:
- God created sex…
- Sex is good…
- Gender differences matter…
These topics are loaded and charged with pre-conceived thoughts and assumptions–especially when one is in church. But these teenagers risked having discussions with their mentors about sex. Not only that, but they also wrote down real questions and bravely dropped them in a white bucket.
During this lag time between writing their questions and my retrieving them from the bucket, I was hit by a wave of emotion I could not define. In fact, at one point I felt compelled to hug this tall kid that shuffled up, threw in a question, and almost challenged me not to answer it thinking his question was way too far out there.
I did restrain myself, at least in the hugging.
Two days later, sitting cozy in my favorite chair, cradling a cup of tea and my journal I finally found the name for the emotion I felt that night. And, do you know what? It took my breath away. I was beyond humbled by their raw, open vulnerability.
Is God really interested in how many guys I have been with?
Can God make my pain go away?
These questions were their words, their honest, honest, honest words. This was their engaging, forming thoughts and risking actually saying these questions out loud. And…they were trusting me.
Am I crazy because I think about boys all the time?
Can masturbation hurt me?
As I stood there with these questions, I realized, dear parents, that I was holding something that is a part of your teenager, the one that you have loved, nurtured and continue to daily pursue. Parents, you may never get these questions and see this vulnerability of your teenager in this way — and this truly humbles me.
Why did God give us these hormones and not want us to act on them?
Does God know what is going on with the Internet? TV?? Pornography?!?
Twenty-five minutes and the Q&A was over. I desperately wanted to turn the time back because there were so many questions I hadn’t had a chance to answer yet! Yet, I had to remind myself that this is a process and there will always be more…
From my night with these amazing teens and mentors, I believe only more deeply, that teens really do desire to have answers and be equipped with knowledge about their sexuality. Perhaps we’ve been under estimating their ability and willingness to learn about sex.
What if we, as the adults in their lives, learn how to make space to help them find the words that are swirling.
I have great hope for these teenagers and I believe they can learn to find truth, even in the world that we think is overwhelming.
- God did create sex, on purpose
- Sex is really good and super healthy for the body, when the right boundaries are in place
- Gender differences really do matter and can offer us great insight
Thanks to the teens and mentors in the Next Generation program at Open Door. I loved talking with you and being amongst you. Maybe we should talk again sometime…