Let’s Talk About Sex

I don’t know about you, but for me, trying to navigate the minefield of sex and relationships as a young Christian was, well, complicated! I was sincere about my faith, I wanted to live right before God, but I didn't always know what was and what wasn’t OK. I felt like the Bible was ambiguous about many things to do with relationships and I was crying out for some clarity.

So I would ask myself questions like, when is it ok to get into a relationship? Is it ok to see someone who isn’t a Christian? If I'm not in a relationship is it ok to kiss someone? And when I'm in a relationship, how far is too far? I would look to the Bible, I would talk to my friends in my youth group, I would try to find the answers, but I would feel so unsure. 

I could see that the Bible said a lot about marriage, but not so much about when it was OK to start a relationship. I would see that the Bible taught not to be “unevenly yolked with non-believers,” but I was a teenager with no plans to get married just yet, so was it OK for me to go out with a non-Christian or not? I understood that the Bible taught that sexual intercourse is exclusively for marriage, but what about, you know, the other stuff? So I read what the Bible taught about sexual immorality, but to be honest I didn't really know what that meant either. It seemed so complex, and the answers I was seeking so elusive.

But if it was complicated for you and I, then how much more so for our young people today? I didn’t have Snapchat, sexting or Tinder to deal with. And even the few things that were clear to me then concerning sexuality and gender, have become increasingly muddied today, even within the church. As I was saying… minefield!

But now you're the youth leader. And the day you signed up to be a youth leader was the same day you signed up to lead your young people through that very minefield. This is surely one of the greatest leadership challenges that we face as youth leaders, so how do we do it, and how do we do it well?

Before we get to that I’d suggest there’s something we don’t need to do, and that is to directly answer all the aforementioned questions that our young people are asking, but rather give them the biblical tools to answer those questions for themselves. Because whilst as a teenager I resented the fact that the Bible didn’t answer my big relationship questions explicitly, I have come to understand the Bible actually does something far more helpful. Instead of speaking directly to those questions it gives us a number of filters through which we can pass any relationship question, even in an evolving world, and still find clarity…

1. Is it Pleasing to God?

The reason you and I were never able to find a satisfactory answer to the ‘how far is too far’ question, is because the Bible gives no kind of framework for a life that seeks to get as close to sin as possible without actually sinning! In Ephesians 5:10 Paul writes, ‘find out what pleases the Lord.’ So instead of taking our relationship questions and asking ‘is it sin?’, perhaps we should be encouraging our young people to ask, ‘is it pleasing to God?’

2. Is it Worship to God?

According to Romans 12:1, our true and proper worship has nothing to do with the songs we sing and everything to do with what we do with our bodies. (Seriously, look it up!). If that’s true, (and it is, because it’s in the Bible) then perhaps we should encourage our young people to consider what they are doing with their bodies and ask, ‘can I offer this as a pleasing act of worship to God?’

3. Is it Wise?

The final filter is to change the question from ‘is it wrong,’ to ‘is it wise?’ And this slight tweak to the question leads to a dramatically different answer! For example, should a young person lie down under a blanket on the sofa with their girlfriend or boyfriend and watch a movie? Is that wrong? I guess not. But is it wise?

So here’s what we do. We encourage our young people to take their big relationship questions - How far it too far? Should I date my friend who isn’t a Christian? Should I send this provocative image of myself to my boyfriend or girlfriend? - and pass them through these three biblical filters: Is it pleasing to God? Is it worship to God? Is it wise? If we can help them to do that, to do that honestly, and to act on the answers they find, then we will have led them safely through the minefield.

Sound good? Then let’s talk about sex….

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Director of LIMITLESS

Tim Alford lives in Malvern with is wife Jen, son Tobijah and daughter Aria.

He is the National Director of LIMITLESS, the youth movement of Elim Pentecostal Churches in the UK and Ireland. He is a passionate communicator of the gospel, having spoken at churches, conferences, schools and events all over the world. Tim is the former frontman of [dweeb], a frustrated supporter of Arsenal, and has on more than one occasion been to the cinema in Star Wars fancy dress.


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