By guest blogger, Shannon Bond.
The purpose of this blog series was to discuss how teens can develop as sexual beings without being sexually active. Having accomplished the purpose, some questions deserve appropriate attention.
- Can this type of sexual education really work?
- Is this type of sexual education appropriate in the context of a spiritual community?
- When is the proper time for this type of sexual education to start?
Concerning the first question, I would answer that it can. If, as Christians, we consider growth in Christ a realistic goal of religious education, and we believe that sexuality and spirituality are inseparable, it follows, then, that a holistic, biblical approach to teaching sexuality can work.
Is this type of approach appropriate in the context of a spiritual community? This question does not have a “one size fits all” answer. Certainly, community provides encouragement, accountability, and correction. However, teens may not be mature enough to be open about their sexual development in a communal setting. Age and maturity are factors in making this determination. Without the community, though, teens may find it easier to succumb to sexual temptation. My assertion is that community is important to both spiritual and sexual development, but local factors will determine how to organize the community.
When is the proper time for this type of sexual education to start? I believe that this type of education actually starts in early childhood. If parents and church workers wait to discuss sexuality until the onset of puberty, sexuality has again been divorced from spirituality. However, if the spiritual education of children is more transformative than informative in purpose, then this approach to sexual education builds upon a firm foundation. Especially important, I think, is finding age appropriate ways to engage children in spiritual disciplines. On some level, many of the personal disciplines involve abstaining from something. The Bible states that the parents are responsible for their children’s spiritual education, not the church. Therefore, parents are to model self-sacrifice and lead their children in doing it as a part of their spiritual education. To expect teenagers to abstain from sexual activity having never practiced abstinence on any other level, I believe, is setting them up for failure. However, if parents model abstinence in the spiritual disciplines as sacrificial worship to God, then it is conceivable that their children could learn, through example and through experience, the link between abstinence and worship. From this foundation, teenagers may find it easier to choose sexual abstinence.
If a teenager commits to be faithful to their future mate by remaining abstinent until marriage, will current methods of teaching abstinence give them both the holistic understanding and the tools to do it? The possibility does exist, since God works through imperfect people and imperfect means to accomplish His will. Yet, if there is still a disconnect, what are youth workers, parents, and seminary professors going to do to address the challenge? Hopefully, this series has take steps to address this challenge, but the work is far from complete.
Shannon Bond is in his first year as the youth minister at First Baptist Church in Bangs, TX. He is married to the former Stephanie DeBoom of Copperas Cove, TX and has three children: Raegan (6-year-old daughter), Sydnie (4-year-old daughter), and Joey (2-year-old son). He is a student at Logsdon Seminary in Abilene, TX. Before becoming a youth minister, Shannon spent 13 years as a teacher and coach.
Posted on July 1, 2008