Carrie's Relationship Tips
Hey Church, Stop Teaching Abstinence
I taught abstinence for many years, trained 100’s of speakers nationally, and developed abstinence curriculum. Recently, I even had the opportunity to produce a technical module for Federal abstinence grantees. Abstinence is a necessary and valuable message in every healthy society. But, as the church, we have the distinct privilege of living and teaching something even more powerful, profound, and effective. What I’m referring to is the relationship model for sexual integrity. Let me put this in context.
Physical sexual activity before marriage is incredibly tempting. The complexity of male and female fertility along with the natural drive to become one with someone of the opposite sex is the most powerful design feature in the human person. And the ability to procreate another human being of equal value is the most significant behavioral outcome. Saving physical sexual expression for marriage, which is the only relationship with the full measure of provision and protection for everyone, is the appropriate message to affirm and communicate alongside a student’s parents. However, this message must be placed in the context of the bigger questions teens are asking: Who am I? Am I ok? What is my purpose?
These questions are part of the teen’s identity search, and they are directly connected to their sexual decision-making. Our culture, including the church, has defined sex primarily as a physical act. This focus has greatly limited the power, purpose and potential of the biblical blueprint for sexual integrity. Here are a couple examples of how to approach sexuality in a different way that helps teens answer these big life questions.
- Sex means being male or female. In Genesis 1:26, God creates human beings, and in verse 27, He differentiates the sexes, in part to reveal a glimpse of His own nature. Sex is the core nature we are born with that is written throughout our entire human frame encompassing our fertility, brain wiring, and our body design. The male body is distinctly and intentionally male, just as the female body is uniquely feminine in its design. Sex is not what we do, it is who we are. If God made you male, it was intentional, spelled out in every cell of your body and not a choice, act, or feeling! When you understand your design, value it, and live in agreement with it, you are successful, whole, and powerful. For instance, testosterone in little boys causes them to take risks, climb trees, spit, and find sticks to fight the bad guy (Who ever told them there was a bad guy?J). When we understand God designed them intentionally this way, we are less apt to stop boys from being, well, boys. Boys should get to run, jump, get dirty, and learn to be warriors. This is a simple example of profound truth. Men in our culture should not feel they need to apologize for being male. Instead, they should gain the respect they deserve to accomplish what God has designed them to do! This powerful message resonates with all young men.
- The human person has five aspects: physical, intellectual, social, emotional, and spiritual. A person who is healthy and whole expresses their sexuality through all five aspects. When a man or woman understands the power of their design and expresses it through all five aspects, they are living with sexual integrity. They are whole and integrated with their sexuality. Sexual integrity is living in agreement with God’s intentional design. For example, a young man has a male nature that can be seen and expressed physically through many different outlets, including sports. Intellectually, he can also use his mind to express the power of his intellect and utilize his unique “male brain wiring”. He will act masculine in his social skills, and when he is appropriately male socially, he will be a gentleman; strong and protective. (Chivalry is not dead when young men see the power of it!) A young man should also integrate his male nature through his emotions, which thankfully does not mean acting like a girl! Finally, his spiritual expression will be uniquely manly as well.
When did you understand that you were a man or a woman? Would understanding this sooner impact your choices? I contend it would. For most men, answering the man question is key to their behavior. Teaching the relationship model for sexual integrity begins with teaching students to honor their design and “be” who God intended them to be. It addresses the identity questions that are so strategic to successful decision making. My examples have been with men, but the same is true for young ladies. When the discussion of sexuality is broadened and students understand how unique they are, how “fearfully and wonderfully” they are designed, and how many ways they can walk out their nature through the five aspects, the “no” to physical sexual expression until marriage doesn’t seem so difficult. The message is bigger and better and so are the results!
Bless you as you lead the next generation!
President, The Legacy Institute
If you need resources to help you communicate this broader, more effective approach, Legacy is now selling the popular high school foundation series, “You Are Designed For A Great Story” for $99.00 instead of the regular price of $179.00! Now is the time to get it!