Most of you have probably read or heard of Pilgrim’s Progress, John Bunyan’s classic allegory about the life of a believer. It begins when Christian, a resident of the City of Destruction, reads a book that tells him that his city will soon be destroyed. After receiving instructions from a man called Evangelist, Christian flees the city and begins his journey toward the Cross.
He hasn’t gotten very far when he meets another fellow by the name of Pliable. He tells Pliable about the coming destruction and the rewards awaiting anyone who flees for the Celestial City. Pliable, not surprisingly, goes right along with Christian — that is, until they fall into a bog and things aren’t so easy anymore. At this point, Pliable turns tail and leaves Christian to struggle on alone.
“If we have such ill speed at our first setting out,” complains Pliable, “what may we expect betwixt this and our journey’s end?”
You know, I’ve had students and 20-somethings ask me basically the same thing when it comes to sex. And you know what? They’re right.
Our job as parents, siblings, pastors and mentors is to spur this generation toward wholeness and conviction, and that includes sexual purity. But if we give them the wrong reasons, they’ll find themselves mired in discouragement when the going gets tough. And it will get tough -- more so for this generation than almost any other.
In her soon-to-be-released book Guardians of Purity, Julie Hiramine, founder of Generations of Virtue, lays out the hard reality of what our teens and young adults face: 90 percent of kids will have viewed online pornography by age 16. And the typical teenager spends almost two hours a week intentionally looking for it. And the internet isn’t the only danger zone; a sex scene now appears on television every nine minutes. And one in three teenage boys admit to having nude pictures sent to them on their phones.
And the consequences are expected: The majority of high schoolers have sexual intercourse by graduation, and almost 80 percent of guys say they feel pressured by society to find a girl who’s willing to have sex. As a result, one in four young people will have contracted a sexually transmitted infection before turning 20, and a third of girls will get pregnant as well.
Now look, I’m a dad. I know the knee-jerk response to all of this: Shut down the internet and the TV. Take away the cell phones and the iPads. Lock your kids in the house; scare them straight with horror stories about STDs and pregnancy.
Wrong solution. As I point out in today’s "Two-Minute Warning," fear tactics fail. Besides, the medical world is coming up with more and more effective ways of preventing STDs and pregnancy all the time. And even though more people than ever are getting infected and pregnant, sex appears safer and safer by the world’s standards. If we encourage our teens to base their sexual ethic only on consequences, we’re setting them up for compromise and heartbreak.
There are better ways to talk to your children about sex. And more than just talk, there are ways to get involved in their lives, to strengthen family time, and to help them grow in their faith. That’s the approach Julie Hiramine lays out so well in her book Guardians of Purity. And she includes practical suggestions. So get a copy. Right now you can pre-order at our online bookstore at BreakPoint.org. Click on this commentary and we’ll link you to it.
And while you’re at BreakPoint.org, check out my "Two-Minute Warning," where in addition to fear tactics I give two more wrong ways to talk about sex. It’s part three in our series about God’s response to sexual brokenness. More than 10,000 people have viewed parts one and two online — and they’re making tons of comments. Join the discussion. I’d love to read what you have to say.
As the host of The Point, a daily national radio program, John Stonestreet provides thought-provoking commentaries on current events and life issues from a biblical worldview. John holds degrees from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (IL) and Bryan College (TN), and is the co-author of Making Sense of Your World: A Biblical Worldview.
BreakPoint commentary airs each weekday on more than one thousand outlets with an estimated listening audience of one million people. BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today's news and trends via radio, interactive media, and print.
Publication date: July 26, 2012