The Philosophy of Sex

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Harrison Jones is teaching in a secondary school in Mbarara, Uganda, and is involved in many ministries in the area, including developing businesses, sports, Bible studies, fellowships, and a film group. Before moving to Uganda, Harrison worked as high school teacher, and volunteered as a Young Life and youth group leader.
 
Covering sex in youth ministries – it’s always a fun night.  The awkward squirms and breaking-ice moments will have the kids thinking for days.  For many of the students in the room, these sorts of discussions are the first time they have ever heard sex talked about in an intelligent way.  Most kids don’t know what “philosophy” means, but little do they know they have no philosophy on sex because the world never does either.  It’s always treated as the elephant in the room everyone knows about and is likely to feed, pet, and have fun with, but you don’t actually use your brain when it comes to sex, right?  If you did, that might mean you won’t be having sex right away if you actually think about it.

Talking about sex in youth ministries (from Sunday school to youth group to high school fellowships) is vital, but it is not the gospel and should not come first in our curriculum plans.  It is a major stone in life that students leave unturned and often have so many questions about, however, if the gospel is not clear in our ministries and we aren’t sure that the students could repeat it back to us first, I believe we have no business moving on to sex.  Paul obviously sees the life-giving worldview-changing heart-saving gospel of Christ as a priority (1 Cor. 15), even in a church that was so backwards sexually that they were having sex with their mothers and Gentiles were judging them for it.  It is very tempting for us in ministry to see a problem in our local culture and want to focus our time applying a spiritual ‘Band-Aid’.  But if you have ever watched ‘House’ or a good medical TV show, you’ll know that the symptom is not the same as the source of the disease.

A broken sexuality is something to weep over in our teenagers, but if we think we will fix it by quoting Hebrews 13 or 1 Corinthians 6 to them, we’re mistaken.  Paul says that we have no ability to keep the law apart from Christ, who perfectly kept the law.  Our disease is bigger than teenagers watching provocative movies, listening to sex-dripping rap music, or of course having sexual encounters before marriage.  Our disease is that we’re separated from God spiritually, and until we receive Christ’s grace, we won’t be reconnected to the only power that can pull us out of our sin.  Often churches can move on to practical living without considering how the gospel is the empowerment for that:  suddenly we will find ourselves teaching moral-deism (how to be a good person), not Christ, and with that comes a large percentage of people leaving the church because white-knuckle self discipline only lasts so long.  (Watch this short clip from Matt Chandler for more on Reaching the De-churched)

All that said, if the gospel is clear in your youth ministry, kids can awaken to wisdom on sexual matters at a very young age.  You can have an amazing platform for wisdom as a youth leader in light of how the gospel helps us to understand everything about ourselves, especially that we were created to have sex but the best sex is in a married, loving relationship.  It’s not that we’re Puritan 2.0’s, not allowed to talk about sex, and it’s not that we’re heathens, thinking about it all the time.  Christians should be happily in the middle: feeling comfortable talking about sex openly but knowing that it has its fences.
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