Last weekend, I attended the Youth Specialities Conference. Hopefully, in the next couple of days, I’ll be able to provide a review of the event. But, I’m happy to say now, overall, that I really enjoyed the weekend. I thought the worship was good, the speakers were insightful, and there was a true sense of community.
I spent one afternoon listening to the teachings of Chap Clark, a professor from Fuller University. I was impressed with Chap’s insights regarding junior high students. He claimed, and I agree, that the number one question junior high students want to know is: Do you like me? It’s almost as if our younger students have these little tentacles protruding from their head, sensing out whether or not they feel liked. And, unfortunately, these tentacles do not allow for cognitive responses or reasoning, only emotional responses.
So, I wasn’t too surprised this morning when I came across this article. Research shows that abstinence programs are not working. Big surprise. Our youth are so intent, in my opinion, on being liked that they will do anything, including sex, to be accepted. We’ve mentioned before that sexuality is a gift from God that needs to be treated appropriately. But maybe we haven’t spent enough time reflecting on why youth are so sexually active. If there’s such a strong desire to be accepted, which there obviously is, how can we encourage our youth to find other ways to be liked? And, what is the role of parents and the church? I’m thinking of hosting a one hour session for parents on the realities of adolescence and sexuality. It’s an issue that cannot be ignored, but must be openly discussed, both in the church and at home.
I was especially shocked this weekend when Chap showed a documentary from HBO entitled: Middle School Confessions. Has anyone seen this? I think I may show it to the parents of my youth. We have to understand that our youth are driven by affect. Their only concern is how they feel in the moment, there is no logical thinking. But, I’m convinced that cumulative messages, through youth ministers and parents, regarding the gift of sexuality, can help youth make wiser choices.