The BIG challenges to our children

(this entry presents new material)

We begin with a graph showing the percentage of young people from ages fifteen to twenty-four who have had sexual intercourse.

The statistics for the high school years are sobering. At fifteen, about 25 percent of both young men and women have already had intercourse. By age eighteen, about two-thirds have had sex. At the age when many kids are completing their first year in college, three-fourths have had sex. The percentages continue to climb through the college years.

Research shows astonishing rates of oral sex, anal sex, pregnancy, homosexual experimentation, abortion, and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in high school and college populations. The statistics are alarming.

A quick summary of the devastation of sexual sin in the U.S.

  • 25% of 9th graders are non-virgins
  • 65% of 12th graders are non-virgins
  • 1/3 of college women have an STI
  • there are 900,000+ teen pregnancies per year
  • there are 250,000+ teen abortions per year

Parents need to understand that there are new challenges and new enemies facing American teenagers today that are different and more formidable than those that many of us faced when we were growing up. Our quick summary:

  • Re-defining “sex”: with all the flood of sexual information available to young people today, the boundaries of what constitutes “sex” is increasingly blurry and a wild Friday behaviors are subject for experimentation
  • Internet pornography: the incredible array of sexually explicit material available on the Internet, and through all sorts of digital and electronic media, is staggering. “Sexting,” the exchange of sexually explicit pictures through cell phones, is becoming extraordinarily commonplace.
  • Cyber-predators:  What parent does not fear the predators that prowl the Internet making connection with children? “Last year, one in five kids aged ten to seventeen received an Internet sexual solicitation” (CBS News, 2004).
  • Normalizing sexual abnormality: There is a tremendous movement not only to normalize and affirm homosexual identity and conduct, but also any number of other “sexual variations” and “the preferences of sexual minorities.” There is more gender confusion and confusion about morality today than perhaps any time in history.

As a parent, you might think “well I don’t have to worry, because kids who grow up in the church are totally different!” Well, are Christian youth any different?  The sad answer is, all too often, not at all. Mark Regnerus, a Christian who is on the sociology faculty of the University of Texas, recently wrote a book entitled Forbidden Fruit: Sex and Religion in the Live of American Teenagers (Oxford, 2007) summarizing his research in this area. He documented that teenagers from Christian homes often exhibit sexual behavior indistinguishable from their nonreligious peers. Why would this be? His answer was intriguing:

“I give most weight to the clash of cultures that evangelical adolescents are experiencing: they are urged to drink deeply from the waters of American individualism and its self-focused pleasure ethic, yet they are asked to value time-honored religious traditions like family and chastity.”

Regnerus also describes the sexual ethic that is commonly shared among many youth today, including many Christian youth. The key elements are that sex is okay as long as you

  • Don’t pressure or be pressured into sex
  • Don’t sleep around too much (reputation)
  • Only YOU can decide is sex is OK
  • Sex is best in a long term relationship (that is, for many children, any relationship that lasts more than 2-3 months)

Too many Christian young people believe this is an acceptable sketch of sexual integrity today.

But we want to close the section on a positive note. God’s truth, and biblical truth, and even the “data” are on our side. Take courage as you think about. You and your kids, because you can point them to a bright future in which they can enjoy all of God’s best.:

  • Devastation of STIs: the radical spread of sexually transmitted infections in today’s world points to the fact that our bodies were meant to be shared intimately with one other person in life, and a person who follows this pattern of purity never has to fear contracting a sexually transmitted disease
  • Growing loneliness and alienation: in a world of ever greater sexual experimentation and the explosive growth of sexual information on the Internet, the result seems to be epidemic levels of personal loneliness and alienation. The research continues to suggest that the highest levels of personal satisfaction and contentment are in traditional man-woman monogamous marriages, and this is what you are preparing your children for
  • Negative results of cohabitation: while the common wisdom in secular society is that cohabitation is great preparation for marriage, dozens and dozens of research studies suggest that cohabitation leads to poorer outcomes for the relationship (higher levels of abuse, lower levels of stability, lower sexual satisfaction, and so on) and poorer outcomes for children that are parented by cohabiting couples
  • Highest sexual satisfaction in faithful couples: many research studies show that the couples that experience most enriching and rewarding sexual satisfaction are faithfully married couples
  • High correlation of sexual satisfaction  with religious faith: several studies that have looked at religious faith and its impact on marriage have suggested that couples with high levels of faith compatibility, particularly couples that pray together, experience better sexual satisfaction