Wednesday, November 07, 2007

    God's Gift of Sexuality Revisited

    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.



    Brian said...

    I imagine anyone who has worked awhile with youth can testify that they think more with their emotions than their "brains." It turns out that the reason for this is physiological -- the area of the brain that produces emotions develops most fully in the adolescent long before the brain centers that control logical thinking and decision-making (these may not be fully developed until the early twenties). So unlike a healthy adult, they have a great capacity to "feel" without an equal capacity to discern.

    I'm Nigel. said...

    Do you know of anyplace online where the "Confessions" film can be purchased?

    Jacob said...

    Hi Nigel,

    Unfortunately, the film isn't available for purchase. For some reason HBO won't release it. But, it seems to play about once every two months on HBO.

    jeremy zach said...

    You liked Chap huh?

    Good stuff!! Chap argues that a jr/sr high student has to ask three fundamental questions:
    1. Who am I?
    2. Where do fit in this world?
    3. How do I matter?

    Brian said...

    I think the big challenge here is to help youth answer these questions for themselves from a faith perspective before the secular/consumerist culture answers the questions for them.

    Randy said...

    the Created to Be Me summer camp program developed by Linda Goddard specifically for 8th graders (on the cusp between middle school and high school) is a solid approach to awakening teens to God's gift of sexuality. the program began in the Southwest (Texas and New Mexico for non-DOC's reading) but is being adopted by an increasing number of our regions.

    Krsjn said...

    I think there's a logical gap in the argument. I'll freely accept that the number one question asked by teenagers is "Do you like me?" but I think it's then a huge leap to say that "Our youth are so intent, in my opinion, on being liked that they will do anything, including sex, to be accepted"

    I'll also accept that the two things may well be connected, but I also think that there's a completely independent strand to it. We have hugely powerful drives, one of which is for sex, which is much more powerful when you're a teenager. It may be connected with a desire to be liked at some point, but it's also completely independent to some degree.