By guest blogger, Shannon Bond.
A biblically grounded sexuality redeems the physical body. Because of misinformation and a lack of instruction and guidance, students lack a biblical image of their bodies. Parents often feel as if they lack the skills and vocabulary to talk to their own children about sexuality. As the children enter puberty and their body starts the maturation process, many of them believe lies about their bodies.
One lie is that personal body image is an indicator of one’s development as a sexual being. The student whose body matures at a faster rate — who looks more like the girl in Seventeen magazine or the guy in the music video — is the one who is elevated to the status of “hottie” or “stud.” Students who do not develop as quickly feel inferior and may take drastic steps to correct their body image. Girls are particularly prone to eating disorders when they feel that their body image does not measure up to the “standard.” Guys may avoid taking showers in gym class for fear of being ridiculed for being less developed.
Another lie that students believe is that some of the changes that are happening to their bodies are dirty. Boys who have nocturnal emissions may think such thoughts. Girls may think that their period is disgusting and gross. These natural occurrences have the possibility of wreaking havoc on a student. The enemy is quick to pounce on these opportunities at tearing down student’s self-image. Poor self-image leads many students down a path of self-destruction, as they look for anyone who will make them feel good about how they look.
Youth workers and parents combat these lies by explaining God’s view of the body and its beauty. Psalm 139:13-14 says, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well” (NIV). Youth workers who personalize and contextualize these verses for students will do much to correct distorted body images. Furthermore, girls in particular require teaching and mentoring in inner beauty. Proverbs 31:30 says, “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised” (NIV). First Peter 3:3-5 says,
“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful (NIV).”
Therefore, teenagers are encouraged to see their beauty as both internal and external, within a biblical concept. Helping girls in particular to see the lies behind the media messages about beauty will help girls to build a solid self-image.
For teenagers, especially girls, who feel physically unattractive, reassuring hugs gives positive examples of healthy touching, which conveys a sense of worth to them. It also helps them to distinguish between healthy, loving touching and unhealthy, possessive touching. Richard Foster writes, “Singles should welcome the touch, the hug, the warm embrace. These are essential ingredients in our human sexuality, and it is not wise to cut ourselves off from them.” A problem arises when a teenager cannot distinguish between healthy and unhealthy touching. When self-image is low, unhealthy touching can lead teenagers to seek worth in a relationship that initially promises to give it, only to find that it steals it instead.
Furthermore, youth workers and parents combat these lies by explaining that the natural maturation process is just a part of becoming an adult man or woman. Instead of hiding in embarrassment, teens can celebrate that God’s gift is growing and maturing in them. Stephen Arterburn writes, “Nocturnal emissions kick in naturally in response to your normal, natural sperm buildup. This means that the fixed part of your sex drive will more or less be taken care of by God’s natural relief valve.” Yet, this occurrence can be quite disconcerting to a young boy. A weekend mother/daughter or father/son retreat can be a good way for mothers and fathers to talk to and reassure their daughters and sons during this time of transition into adulthood. Reassuring teens that natural physical development is a good thing can help keep a positive self-image intact, is good for developing the parent/child relationship, and is helpful in helping them in their journey into adulthood. Bar mitzvahs and bat mitzvahs serve a similar purpose for Jewish teenagers.
In addition, teens will need help understanding how their body reacts to sexual stimuli. Boys need help recognizing how visually driven they are and need help developing tools for avoiding lustful thoughts and actions. Girls need help recognizing how touching makes them react sexually and emotionally. Both need help understanding that these feelings and urges are natural and need not be repressed, but taken captive to the will of God.
- Richard J. Foster, The Challenge of the Disciplined Life: Christian Reflections on Money, Sex, and Power (San Francisco: Harper Collins, 1985), 154.
- Stephen Arterburn and Fred Stoeker, with Mike Yorkey, Every Young Man’s Battle: Strategies for Victory in the Real World of Sexual Temptation (Colorado Springs, Colorado: Water Brook Press, 2002), 130.
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 June 19, 2008