Why Aggressive Rhetoric Hurts Real Dialogue

By Jason Soucinek 

SONY DSC

I debated whether or not to write this post.

I’ve sat on it for some time. However, the further I think about the ramifications of this political cycle on the dialogue we have with one another the more I feel compelled to share.

I am worried that we’ve lost the ability to have civil dialogue.

And why do I care about this as someone whose profession is to share a message of sexual integrity? Because I’ve seen this same thing happen around the topic of sex education. One person shouts their view and then the other shouts their opposing view even louder.

A barking dog only attracts more barking dogs.

I’ve learned over time and mostly from my own mistakes yelling louder doesn’t make our message more accessible. In fact, it usually misses the very people we are trying to reach.

I’ve watched both up close and from afar how those in the same field as myself, on both sides of the sex education issue, spend more time fighting one another than helping the students they want to aid. They spend more time telling others what they are against. I for one am tired of this. I’ve always believed telling people what we are for works much better.

A year ago I had the opportunity to sit down with several people around the country who opposed the work and the message I share on sexual integrity. However, I was not met with hate filled dialogue. Why? Because I was willing to listen and engage the points they shared. I sat side-by-side and built relationship.

My posture dictated the nature of the conversation.

In 2000 the Boston Globe conducted a “public conversations project” where they asked three pro-life and three pro-choice leaders to sit down and have conversations around the issue of abortion. This conversation grew out of a need to deescalate the rhetoric which had grown to a fever pitch after a shooting of an abortion doctor in the area.

The amazing reality of these meetings is that they worked! Posture changed what was said and how it was shared. Everyone who sat at the table learned to treat each other with dignity and respect. In fact, genuine friendships formed.

I find this radical compared to the world we live in at the moment.

Violence through our speech and especially through our action should never be acceptable. If we are going to contribute to a more civil dialogue we need to be willing to model it.

As a follower of Christ, I want my work to contribute to a more civil and compassionate society. This does not mean I have to compromise on my beliefs. In fact, the individuals who participated in the public conversations project grew more convinced of their own worldview, not less.

Our love for another should not be dependent on our affirmation of their worldview.

I don’t want to be another barking dog when it comes to sex education, nor politics for that matter. However, I do want to stay true to my convictions. I think both are possible and without violent rhetoric or action. But we must be willing to listen and sometimes that requires sitting side by side rather than going toe to toe.

 

“Give Me Sex Jesus” Debuts on Vimeo

By Julia Feeser

give me sex jesus

Patrick and Bonnie, a married couple who appear in the film and saved their first kiss for marriage.

A few weeks ago, a documentary was released on Vimeo called Give Me Sex Jesus. 

Give Me Sex Jesus is a fascinating look at the rise of purity culture during the 80’s and 90’s and how this movement impacted young people growing up during that time. The film highlights the stories of several different people, all ranging in age, relationship status, sexual identity, and sexual orientation.

In popular culture, the lingering effects of the purity movement are just now coming to light as those who were teens during that time are now adults navigating their sexuality. I find myself reading article after article (mostly by women) describing how the purity movement negatively impacted their views of sex, caused a confusing amount of shame, and often didn’t accomplish the intended outcome of waiting until marriage.

I was someone who had some exposure to purity movements through a conference I attended with my youth group at 15 years old. During the conference (which included a lot of flashing lights and popular movie clips) I learned from an energetic twentysomething about why waiting for marriage to experience sex was the best choice I could make and would keep my “purity” in tact. After the conference, I received a silver ring I could wear as a reminder of the promise I had made to wait.

I ended up wearing my ring for a few years, finally taking it off my junior year of college. It wasn’t that I had decided not to wait anymore, but I realized the ring was really just a ring, and the promise I was making had grown into a deeper purpose rooted in obedience to Christ.

Even though I wore a purity ring, I always struggled with the idea of “purity” itself. The rules and ideas surrounding purity felt cheesy and naive, and not at all practical for real dating relationships. To me, to be pure meant my virginity was in tact and I would inexplicably be overwhelmed with the desire to run through a field of wildflowers wearing a white dress, not caring about boys in the slightest bit (but I cared about boys, a lot).

While I have experienced first-hand the struggles created by purity movements (both in my own life and the lives of others), I truly believe that the idea behind purity movements came from a Christ-centered place and somehow became less about honoring the beauty of sex and more about an attempt to manage sexual sin in the lives of others.

Give Me Sex Jesus highlights one movement in particular; True Love Waits. 

True Love Waits was an abstinence-based movement founded in 1993 that promoted sexual purity, which they defined as abstaining from sex, sexual thoughts, sexual touching, pornography, and actions thought to lead to sexual arousal. The main component of their program was the signing of abstinece pledges by teens as a symbol of commitment to remain “pure” until marriage.

True Love Waits came under criticism for a couple reasons.

First, a 2003 study of the results of this program found that 6 out of 10 college students who had taken the pledge had broken it. Second, True Love Waits (whether inadvertantly or not) created a culture of rigid sexual rules that reinforced that all sexual activity was deeply sinful and devalued the person engaging in this sexual activity.

However, even though True Love Waits has received a lot of flack over the years (some of it justifiable and some not), I truly believe that the original intention for True Love Waits and similar purity movements came from a desire to give young people the means to experience sex in the best and safest way possible: marriage.

Looking back on movements like True Love Waits, we now have the opportunity to grow from where they faltered; leaning into conversations surrounded waiting not through a set of rules or pledges, but purpose in Christ.

It is not about signing a paper card, hoping this signature will still be relevant to us through the years and relationships we encounter.

It is not about adhering to strict rules regarding physicality, but rather understanding ourselves and the holiness God has declared already exists within our desire to be physical.

It is not about a fear of what we may do wrong, but rather a freedom in knowing waiting for sex isn’t really about waiting for sex and more about obeying God’s design for sex because we know He made it good, and we long for what He has declared to be good.

You can watch the full documentary below:

Convincing Has No Place in Conversations About Consent

By Amy Juran

Consent

I was watching a spoof about sex ed by John Oliver the other night.

While a lot of the content was primarily humorous, I was very intrigued when they took a good chunk of the segment to talk about consent.  They showed some hilariously outdated clips about a boy asking a girl to have sex and the girl answering with various versions of “no.”  Each time, the boy responded with either a plea to reconsider, or an eye roll of irritation.

Though my views and opinions aren’t completely aligned with Oliver’s (to see what I mean, watch the spoof here *Graphic language and some content*), I was impressed by his reaction to the videos. Like me, Oliver was appalled by the fact that this girl was getting coached as to how to say “no”confidently, while no one was reprimanding the boy about being disrespectful of her wishes.  I think our culture has emphasized how to stand up for ourselves while failing to teach us how to recognize the signals we are getting from others.

When it comes to sex and physical intimacy, convincing someone to do these things should never be part of the scenario.

You shouldn’t have to talk them into being on board with something, nor should you take it upon yourself to interpret their words how you think they might have meant them. Under no circumstances does “no” translate to “yes.” Saying “no” isn’t being coy or playing games. “No” means no. Period.

And this goes for having sex, kissing, or holding hands while walking down the street; if one person isn’t totally comfortable with something, that is the final word.

An article from Love is Respect defines consent as “communicating every step of the way.”  Even if you have established boundaries as a couple, it’s possible feelings can change. It’s important to continue having open conversations even if you’ve been together for a while.

If you are the one who is uncomfortable with the direction that a physical situation is going, you must be assertive. Dropping subtle hints or passively protesting a behavior may not get the message across entirely.  Even if you feel that you are past the point of no return, you are never obligated to continue any activity you are not okay with.

On the other side, don’t ever assume that a behavior is consent to go further.  Even if someone is wearing suggestive clothing, or being flirty and forward, that is not code for what they are willing to do sexually.  Verbal communication is the only way to confidently know what both people are comfortable pursuing.

All of this talking and checking in can feel akward, but ultimately it will lead to the freedom that comes with confidently knowing the other person is comfortable. When no boundaries are being crossed or feelings being hurt, it can make relationships so much healthier and stronger.  It builds trust between both people, and completely eliminates the possibility of someone misinterpreting the other’s actions.

How have you handled conversations about consent? What worked well? 

How To Deflate Your Porn Addiction

This comes from our partner, XXXChurch, and highlights a serious issue and steps to free yourself:

deflateWhat we’ve learned from this DeflateGate controversy.

1. If you cheat or lie the truth will always come out.

2. It’s better to confess than get caught.

3. Your legacy matters.

4. Consequences are real.

Below are 10 Things you can do to deflate your addiction.

1) Prepare for discomfort.
Let’s be honest, if you’re going to learn to live without porn and masturbation, you’re going to experience discomfort on many levels. Some people are so addicted that experiencing sobriety leads to withdrawal symptoms (like depression, irritability, etc). If this happens, it will be especially important to press through the pain. God will provide much-needed strength as you learn to persevere through the trial and temptations ahead. (Forest Benedict)

2) Practice self-forgiveness.
Many people can receive God’s forgiveness but are unable to forgive themselves. Feelings of shame and self-criticism can surface constantly for those addicted to porn, and many people think that beating themselves up will lead to change. Ironically, the truth is that self-criticism and shame play key roles in perpetuating addiction. Thus, learning to relate to yourself with the kind of grace that God extends to you will contribute to a victorious year. Forgive yourself for past choices and when you go astray next time, and then forgive yourself again.  Then get back up ASAP and keep moving forward. (Forest Benedict)

3) Don’t trust willpower.
Will power always fails eventually. Trust the tools and people in your life to keep you accountable. (Dave Willis)

4) Find at least one person who you can trust with everything.
It feels so natural to hide our struggles in order to appear like we have it all together. As long as your junk stays hidden though, it will fester. It will continue to control and torment you until you deal with it. Luckily, God has given us a plan for bringing that junk into the light: “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed (James 5:16).” It’s a simple plan, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Be courageous though. Find at least one person who you can share your junk with so that nothing in your life remains hidden. Dig it up, talk about it, pray about it, and bless on another as you share your victories together. (Stephen Kuhn)

5) Keep stats.
Take note of the times when you’re tempted to watch porn the most. Is it when you’re stressed? Is it when you feel insecure? Is it when you’re bored? Knowing your “triggers” can reveal a lot about the root of your interest/addiction. It can also help you to figure out what you should do in place of porn. Stressed? Exercise. Insecure? Pamper yourself. Bored? Watch an appropriate movie. (Shellie R. Warren)

6) Understand what “Fleeing” really looks like today.
If porn and masturbation are a temptation for you, avoid porn gateways. Let’s be real: who can watch a two-minute soft-porn sex scene in Game of Thrones without lusting? If sexual temptation is your struggle, then don’t play dumb and go see 50 Shades of Grey. In fact, take a realistic peek at the times you’ve failed in the past and retrace your step to locate lusting gateways and “triggers.” The apostle Paul didn’t say, “be a little bit careful” of these things… he said “RUN AWAY!!!” (Jonathan McKee)

7) Recognize your God-given nature.
Embrace, accept, and celebrate the fact that God has created us as sexual beings and that the desires that come with this aspect of ourselves are to be honored. Honoring our desires does not mean denying them (that is a form of dishonor). Rather, honoring our sexual desires means lining them up with God’s intent for them – to draw us into committed, loving relationships with God, with others, and even within ourselves (Matthew 22:34-40). (Randall Ajimine)

8) Start asking the right questions.
When you feel tempted, locate that temptation within your body and ask yourself, “What am I medicating?” The truth is that “acting out” isn’t the problem – it’s the medication for the real problem. Let 2015 be the year where you plunge below the surface, shed the guilt and shame, and start asking the deeper questions about yourself. (Seth Taylor)

9) Change your outlook.
Stop dwelling on the negatives and start focusing on the positives. What’s good in your life? What could be even better? Then ask yourself how porn use or masturbation is limiting you in these areas. Stop making it so much about why you need to stop these negative things and more about why you want to increase these positive things. Envision a better life and then go for it. Knock down those things that are stopping you from the full realization of what life has to offer by taking advantage of the tools and resources you have available to you. (Carl Thomas)

10) Do it one day at a time.
Any lifestyle change begins with a daily commitment to live differently. Don’t focus on having to abstain forever. Focus on living today free from porn. You can do it. Then, you can wake up tomorrow and do it again. One day at a time you will overcome. (Dave Willis)

x3watch.pngWhatever you do, you can’t do it alone. You need people in your life to help you, to love  you, and to hold you accountable. If you want to go fast – go alone. If you want to go far – get accountable and open. Download X3watch Premium today for the BEST online accountability software and filtering solution.

5 Thoughts on Sexual Integrity

Bells have started ringing once again in the hallways of America’s schools. By now kids have worn out their new back-to-school clothes and the sniffles are starting to invade the hallways of our homes. And with the start of the school year we are starting to get back into the swing of things here at Project Six19. Something we will talk about a lot this year is how to engage in the conversations on sexual integrity as both parents and as youth workers. Here are five things to consider as you engage this subject with your son, daughter, or student.

First, it’s not about saying NO. Often we think that when we talk about abstinence, sexual purity, or as we say it, sexual integrity, we are training our youth to speak in the negative. However, I think we miss something important when all we do is teach our youth to say, ‘no’.

This generation desires to know what they stand for, not against. If we don’t do a good job pointing out all the reasons for waiting, then someone else (our culture for instance) will point all the reasons not to wait. This is not only important semantically but also logically. Often times the church culture we surround ourselves in can be more about sin management. However, as a Christian, choosing to wait should not be a primary decision, but secondary one as a Christian. It should come out of our desire to say YES to following Christ which means saying YES to scripture which leads to a particular way of living.

Second, be clear with your values. Sometimes we think we’ve clearly spoken what we believe only to find we haven’t. Or, and this is common, we just expect our kids to know what we believe. Well, yes, that last statement could be true if we learned through some sort of osmosis or vulcan mind mold. But as of this writing I am not aware of anything like that. So words and living our life in a way that reflects these values is our best way of communicating these truths.

Live out LOVE. This is a phrase we’ve been kicking around the office this summer. Sometimes our expectations go un-communicated. However, if I’ve never spoken my expectations then how can I ask for those things to happen? Often our biggest disappointments come from unmet expectations. Therefore, be sure to share yours with your son, daughter, or student. Then make sure your life also reflects the expectations that you are holding others to.

Third, we are not the sum of our past choices. This is important for both parents and teens to understand. Parents need to be careful not to lay down the law based on their own hurt or pain. Understanding past mistakes, knowing you are forgiven, and clearly being able to articulate why you believe your choice was a mistake is one thing. Teaching or sharing a value that you believe only because of your own pain, hurt, or shame is another. When we discuss a subject as sensitive and as important as when and where we choose to have sex, we need to be aware of how it is shared. Most times our past experiences influence this discussion.

I also share this because we might have students that have already made a different decision. Or even worse, that decision was stolen from them. We need to make sure that when we are sharing our values we also let our sons, daughters, and students know there is nothing they can do to separate them from the grace and forgiveness found through Jesus Christ.

Fourth, we are also not the sum of our future choices. Shame is one thing but pride is another. Shame communicates that I am a mistake. Pride communicates that I am without mistakes. Both are detrimental to our emotional and spiritual health. Even though our students might be making a choice to wait does not make them better or even more ‘pure’ than the next person. They are simply making a choice that is best for their sexual health. And yes, they are honoring God with their bodies which is an incredible testimony to the culture we live in. But let’s be sure we recognize this does not make us better than anyone else.

Finally, where we find our identity is where we will find our choices. In his letter to the Philippians Paul writes, ‘Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel.’ (Philippians 1:27) When our identity is cemented in something or someone our choice will pour out from that one source and others will notice. When we are speaking to our sons, daughters, and students, Jesus Christ should to be the one place, one choice, one relationship we need to be pointing.  Identity can be found in so many things in our culture but none are as powerful as the transforming power of Christ.

Hannah Montana is Dead

Miley on SNLIn fact, Miley Cyrus declared that she murdered her on Saturday Night Live this past weekend. And from the looks of her recent antics on the VMAs, SNL, and just about everywhere in the social media sphere I would say that runs truer than ever before. Hannah Montana is dead and we are not going to get her back.

I’ve not spoken about Miley yet mostly because others have done a good job of breaking down what they are observing. If you want to read some good explanations of what we see happening with Miley I suggest reading a blog from a good friend, Walt Mueller. His post last month on Miley and her recent transformation can be found here. He also writes some on the VMAs here. Which includes an excerpt on the realities of the world that Disney has brought us through their legion of former Mickey Mouse Club members (Justin Timberlake, Brittany Spears, Christina Aguilera) and TV show break outs (Selena Gomez, Amanda Bynes, and Miley Cyrus).

What strikes me most about Miley is not just her transformation, but the overall trend among today’s young pop stars to one up one another sexually. I just learned this weekend of Rihanna’s newest video and song, ‘Pour It Up’, which promotes stripping and has her simulating sex acts throughout the video. It makes Britany Spears new video for her song ‘Work B***h’ tame compared to Rihanna’s video and Miley’s videos for her recent songs ‘Can’t Hold Us’ and ‘Wrecking Ball’. Now this is nothing new. However, the level at which they are upping their game is. It has moved from scantily clad to almost nothing. From a few sexy dance moves to having sex with the floor.

Sex, it seems, still sells. Only it looks like we need more of it to notice any difference.

Many of the videos we are able to watch on YouTube today we could have never dreamed of watching 15 years ago without calling it soft porn. In order to stand out in todays pop culture you have to sell your sexuality. And at a younger and younger age. Which means making your video pornographic. It’s no wonder why we are seeing pre-teens and teens engage in sex earlier and earlier.

I remember having a conversation with a parent a few years ago about Miley. She beamed at the fact that she was a believer in Jesus Christ and was waiting until marriage to have sex. She expressed how happy she was that their was a female that her pre-teen could look up to and model her life after. At first, I shared her excitement but then I started to think about the long history of artists like Miley that have done the same thing. Jessica Simpson, Mandy Moore, and Britany Spears at some point confided in their desire to wait. They sold their purity to break down the fear that parents might have and used their virginity and innocence to gain trust. But around the age of 18 that changed. They moved from an innocent role model to a sex symbol. However, I don’t remember a former child star going so far so quick as Miley.

When Miley said that Hannah Montana was dead on Saturday Night Live I felt those words hang in the air. Miley is right. Hannah Montana is dead. But it’s not just Hannah Montana that I mourn for in this current state of our culture. It’s what this statement symbolizes for me as a parent, for the teens I work with and the world we live in.

PlanBChildren and teens are exposed to more sexually provocative messages and sexually mature messages then ever before. Many long before they are ready. Our social media coordinator at Project Six19 was with his 3-year-old daughter recently at Walgreens when he saw a Plan B package for sell next to the candy. If you’re not familiar with Plan B it is emergency contraceptive. It was not found behind the counter or in the pharmacy but right there near the M&Ms. Not only do we have to talk with our kids younger and younger about their bodies but now we also have to talk to them about things like this…long before they are ready. Then place the fact that we have to teach our children that todays favorite childhood celebrities might be tomorrows sex symbols means one thing.

Yes, it does look like Hannah Montana is dead and all the innocence that came with her.

As I reflect on Miley’s comments, her actions and those of her counterparts, and the Plan B cartridge on the candy aisle, I don’t blame anyone in particular. We’ve all contributed to this. We buy Miley’s music, watch Rihanna’s videos and buy Plan B for our teenagers so that they can skip the reality of the consequences of the decisions they made without realizing that we may just be creating others. No, I don’t blame anyone but I think it is time we start recognizing what is happening and taking responsibility where we can.

First, we’ve got to take some responsibility for this demand for the sexualization of the young men and women who feel like they have to bust free of this prudish image by flaunting their birthday suit in front of millions. Miley, Britany and Rihanna are no less valuable then you or I. And it is not just women. Daniel Radcliffe who you might remember for playing the part of Harry Potter is also getting into the mix and moving from child actor to adult by posing nude in several of his recent endeavors. It seems like it is a calculated career move. One that none of them would make if it didn’t pay the bills.

However, we must remember one fact. They were each made in the image of God just like you and I. Our sexuality can be a beautiful and wonderful force if in the proper context. But it can also be a tool for manipulation.

Second, GK Chesterton once said, “when we go knocking on the door of a brothel what we are really looking for is God.” Our deepest longings for sex, food, things, or whatever it is that we crave is really just a longing for God. We see this throughout Scripture. It is the reason I rejoice in the redemption story that all of the Bible points to and our opportunity to step into it through our relationship with Christ. I think there is a lot of longing happening in the stories of each of these individuals. As well as those that participate in their success by watching, viewing, and sharing their videos, music and movies.

Finally, let’s recognize that there is something holy that we are seeking when sexuality is placed before us. So often we want to place rules and restrictions around sex and relationships as Christians but I don’t think they work unless it is an act of obedience. That is why we must use the power of sex as a catalyst for discussions on the one that created this great gift and point individuals towards God. Only then can they understand the beauty of their body, the gift of their sexuality and where it is to be shared.

An Open Letter to My Son, Kaleb

father-sonAs many of you have probably noticed I haven’t blogged a whole lot this summer. Rather, I’ve not blogged at all! The reason being that my wife, Emily and I welcomed our son, Kaleb, into the world on June 15. Since then life has been filled with changing diapers, sleeping when possible, waking up in the middle of the night to feed, burping and spit up, playing with him, watching him get tired and fall back asleep, then repeat…thus turning us into zombies for the first month of his life. In fact, I now believe that when we talk about an eminent zombie attack what we are really going to have to ward off are tired parents who are only looking for a nights rest without crying and poop.

During this time I’ve prayed often for our son. It has only been two and a half months but I’ve already gotten to see him grow so much. His personality is starting to show and his smile continues to change any bad day into the very best. To say that he has me wrapped around his finger is an understatement. I am thankful he can’t talk yet because if he asked for anything his mom and I would have a hard time saying no. As I’ve prayed, I’ve thought often of his future…the people he will spend time with, those that will invest in him, future love interests and heartaches. Obviously I can’t share any of the things I would like to about love, sex, and relationships at this time in his life so I decided to do the next best thing…I wrote him a letter for when he is 13.

Dear Kaleb,

Without a doubt the world you now live in looks different then when you came into this world 13 years ago. I can remember hearing how different the world was for my parents when I turned 13. They talked about how much the music had changed (I had MC Hammer, Madonna, Prince, U2, and Michael Jackson. They had the Beatles, The Rolling Stones and Elvis Presley), or how technology was beginning to shift the ways we communicate (We had just got our first nice computer that was the size of giant microwave and weighed close to 50 pounds and although the internet was still not widely used, we had a dial up connection.) and they pondered how these new changes would impact me as an adult. I do the same as I write this letter to you.

As a 13 year old I thought pondering how the world had changed from one generation to the next was stupid. But, now that I am an adult and your father, I recognize the need to reflect on this very thing. I do so not because I fear the changes that will occur, but rather because I want to know how best to lead you in this ever-changing world. This letter is as much a reminder for myself as a word for you. I want to parent out of a deep desire to see you think critically, recognize beauty, and see God even in the most secular of artifacts. I desire for you to have a faith rooted in Jesus Christ, and to live the life I only wished I could have as a teenager because I was too afraid to be myself and live out my faith with conviction and courage.

So here is my attempt to share some thoughts I wish someone would have shared with me when I was younger.

No Matter What You Have Done I Probably Won’t Be Surprised

Remember, I am the “sex-guy,” the person responsible for coming into your middle school and high school to share a message on healthy relationships, media education and choosing to wait to have sex. I’ve spoken to thousands of teens and young adults in the church and one thing has happened over all these years. I’ve stopped being surprised by what I hear.

Pornography runs rampant throughout every campus I’ve visited. Whether it is a middle school, high school, college, or church, there are individuals who look at porn…and often. More and more of your peers have started to have sex earlier and earlier so I would not be surprised if you already know several of your classmates that have already had sex or are close to having sex. And I’ve seen the impact all of this has on relationships, classroom performance, sports involvement and life at home. It never has a positive influence.

I’ve learned one truth in all this time: our deepest cravings for power, money, alcohol, sex, recognition, and release are really misguided longings for God.  This doesn’t mean that what your peers, or what you, have done is okay. But I do know that within those thoughts and behaviors, there was really just a desire to be found in the one who created you.

Sex Is Not Everything That Our Society (and Church) Often Makes It Out To Be…

Sex sells. Or, at least that was the phrase that we often heard throughout my life. Movies proclaim its pursuit as the absolute most important thing in becoming an adult. They say it is the one thing that separates you from remaining a boy or becoming a man. Every decade has its “coming of age movie” whether it is a John Hughes movie from the 80’s, or one of the American Pie movies of the 90’s, or SuperBad of the 2000’s, sex and the loss of one’s virginity is the central theme.

However, in the same breath I can also talk about the church and how virginity is also a central theme. Only the message there is dead set on protecting one from the loss of virginity rather than the giving away of it. And if you choose to wait then God will bless you with awesome sex…mind blowing….body altering….sex. Or, at least that is one way it could be said.

Here is my issue, son. Both groups put too much emphasis on the wrong thing. Your virginity is not what is most important to you or your sexuality. Losing your virginity will not make you any cooler. You will still be a boy who desperately wants to be a man but lacks the character or patience needed to be a true man that loves a woman for more than her body, and himself for more than what he does with his.

Nor will keeping your virginity make you any more holy. Unfortunately, there are some that wrongly believe the first question that God will ask us when we meet Him face to face is, “Were you a virgin when you got married?” Choosing to wait for sex until marriage is about more than just our virginity.

God is concerned with your heart. Kaleb, your virginity, if not spoken of in the right context, can be a source of pride rather than an opportunity to glorify the Creator. Virginity, as a stand-alone virtue, is not enough.  This is why my desire for you is to live with sexual integrity.  And sexual integrity cannot fully occur unless you are in a relationship with Christ. For it is “In Christ” where your identity is given and determines how you love yourself, and those around you.

Sex Is Powerful!

You might think this defeats my first point but it doesn’t. Although sex is not everything that the media tells us and virginity is not the end-all most important thing about you, sex must be placed in its proper context. Then, and only then, can we celebrate its beauty and power.

At the core, sex is about creation. It is about the two becoming one. And it is about the desire to be known. What other act in life can you say does this?

The reason our culture spends so much time talking about sex and relationship is because we are searching for something. We are looking for meaning and purpose. We are looking for release and then to be filled with something new. That is why you see our culture talking about sex in such idolatrous ways.  

Sex needs to be placed in the context it was intended. In the marriage relationship.

This will be counter-culture from everything you hear but it is the boundary found in Scripture over and over. Genesis, Exodus, Song of Songs, 1 Corinthians, Ephesians, and Hebrews all clearly communicate the power and beauty found in sex and the place it is intended to be enjoyed, in the covenant of marriage. Again, for good reason. It is meant to be an act that not only brings pleasure but also has the power to create….relationship, connection, and life. can all be found in this one act.

 My hope is that you use sex to create, not destroy.

 Your Mom and I Want To Be Google In Your Life.

There is absolutely no question you can ask us that is off limits. If it is a real question, it deserves a thoughtful response from people that love you. I don’t want you to have to go online, by yourself, to seek answers.

My prayer and hope is that we are the safe people in your life you can come to us with any question or contemplations.  We cannot force you to believe what we hold to be true, but we can, and hopefully already have, taken the time to speak from our own experience, knowledge and wisdom.  Our hope is to always share these in a loving and safe environment that welcomes dialogue on some of the most difficult, yet also the most important, topics.

You’re at an age where you are going to know everything…or think you know everything. I will be at an age when I know I don’t know everything…not even close. In fact, the older and older I get, the surer and surer I become of fewer and fewer things. However, of those things I am sure of…I am definitely sure.

Something I learned when I was working with a large corporation was that when a customer asked us (an employee) a question that we didn’t know the answer we were supposed to say, “I don’t know but let’s find out together!” This has been a powerful statement in my life and I hope it can be in yours too.

There are going to be many questions you have about life, love, relationships, sex and God. Some of them your mother and I will be able to answer.  The ones we can’t answer though we want to discover with you.

The Jesus Of The Gospels and In Scripture Can’t Be Found on Twitter or Facebook…or Whatever Form of Communication You Use Now.

I want you to know who Jesus is, really know Him. That is not going to come from a 140 character tweet or some Facebook post. My desire is that you learn to do exactly what the Bible invites you to do…meditate on and retain its words. ‘I have hidden your word in my heart’, says the psalmist, ‘that I might not sin against you’ (Ps. 119.11). Jesus said, “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given to you.’

Remember, the only product these social networks sell is you. You are its product, delivered in large quantities to advertisers! The medium is designed to keep you constantly surfing, constantly skimming, constantly clicking. This is not how you need to be able to think in the real world. You need to be able to concentrate and critically observe the world around you. This requires context and patience.

The Jesus found in the Gospels is found by reading the Bible in its entirety. Creation, fall, redemption, and new creation are only understood when you read the Bible from Genesis through Revelation. It’s here that you will find a Savior that radically loves you, is seeking you out, and He is the only one that will truly fill your soul with any meaning.

You Have A Team That Is Cheering You On!

I saved the best for last and this is also probably the most important. You don’t just have your mother and I. You have grandparents that love you deeply. Your aunts and uncles have been dedicated to being in community with you from the time you were born until now. We’ve also been fortunate enough to invite close friends into your life that have loved you as their own flesh and blood.

Through community you will be exposed to new experiences and unforgettable lessons. In community you will know that you have more than just your mom and I to seek advice and wisdom. Out of community you will grow and become a man.

You might think you can’t do it (enter manhood) and will be afraid to express these feelings to me. That is okay. I hope, however, that because of the community that surrounds you that you will always have someone to tell how you are feeling.

The community we’ve welcomed into our life is a safe place. May it also be a place that helps launch you into the next part of your life!

Your Loving Father