Posts from Christian bloggers regarding what they were told about sexuality in the church at a young age inundate my Google Reader. Elizabeth Esther, Sarah Bessey, Rachel Held Evans – all sharing the effects of perceived damnation should one have sex before marriage.
I agree wholeheartedly with the messages of these posts. Churches that pick and choose sins to elevate and condemn are spiritually abusive.
But what about the message I shared?
In my youth ministry years, the job description included taking kids away for a weekend retreat to discuss “God’s plan for their sex life.”
That’s a lot of pressure for a woman in her late 20s. Shoot – that’s a lot of pressure for anyone.
You want to reach the youth. You want to please the parents. You want to convey the beliefs of the church you work for while making sure your own views aren’t compromised.
Absolutely, priority number one, you want the kids to come away with a healthy, confident view of themselves and future life partner all without scaring the hell out of them.
Did I succeed in doing this? Pretty doubtful after reading viral blog posts and comments from people around the country.
I remember idealistic feelings I possessed after each completed retreat. “True love does wait! After our discussions, I’m sure they will view media in a different light. Of course their desire is to keep pure until the wedding night!”
I spat out a ton of information in those 48 hours of teenage lives. Did I remember to let them know that God loves and cherishes them no matter what? That there is nothing they can do that would cause God to turn away? Unquestionably, unconditionally, nothing?
The “wait until marriage” rule isn’t made to punish. God’s rules are made to protect. He’s our Dad. It’s what parents do.
Children break rules. It’s what we do. But it doesn’t make us bad. Or cause us to be unloved. And really good parents will never shame their offspring.
God is a really good parent.
I apologize from the depths of my soul if any of my youth came away disgraced after that sexuality retreat.
I’ll let you in on a secret: 28 year old me was just as messed up in the head about sex as you were at 13. At 16. At 18. 42 year old me isn’t that much better.
Praise Jesus that only He is to whom we need to answer. Not our parents, not our churches, not our friends, not strangers that leave comments on blogs. Just Him. And the best news is:
…neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:39