Recently I talked to a group of parents and the title of my talk was “Raising Teens in a Hyper-Sexual Culture”. This was a daunting activity as I researched the topic and was quite overwhelming. I thought about the culture of the 70’s when I was in High School, the 90’s when I was raising teenagers, and today’s culture and its impact on my grandchildren who are entering their teen years.
Teens and Technology
In preparation for the talk I looked at many websites. Some of the websites discussed electronic media, teen sexual trends, impacts of sexually transmitted diseases, and impacts on marriages. An article written by Kelly Wallace in 2015 said that pre-teens spend an average of 6 hours/day on electronic media and teenagers spend an average of 9 hours/day on electronic media1. This large amount of media time is leading to technology addiction and online bullying. The Center for Disease Control reported that 22% of HS girls had been bullied electronically in the previous year2.
The Medical Institute for Sexual Health discusses sexually degrading lyrics in music as well as exposure to pornography. It has identified these as influences for earlier sexual activity. Approximately 25% of teenagers have received unwanted images of pornography electronically3. In a recent College survey, 50% of the students who participated in the study said they had sent text messages with sexual discussions (sexting) while they were in High School4. Thirty percent of the students included photos and sixty-one percent did not know they could be charged with possession of child pornography4. In 2015, approximately 100 High School students in Canon City were investigated for sexting.
Teens and Sex
From a physical health perspective, casual sexual activity has resulted in a near epidemic of sexually transmitted diseases. According to the Medical Institute for Sexual Health there are 110 million people in the US who have sexually transmitted infections (STIs)5. Every year there are 20 million new cases of STIs and teenagers and young adults, 15-24 years old, account for 10 million of the new cases5. Additionally, every year 24,000 woman become infertile because of STIs5. These statistics overwhelm me. I can imagine significant heartache for each of these individuals.
The Center for Disease Control released a report in 2016 indicating that 41% of High School students had experienced sexual intercourse, which was a reduction from 54% percent in 19912. Twenty-one percent of the teens said they had consumed alcohol or used drugs before their sexual activity2. Eleven percent reported they had had at least four sexual partners2. I wonder about the long-term consequences of these activities. How will this affect their physical health, future relationships, or stability of a future marriage if they decide to get married?
Hope for Something Better
Our culture seems to portray a complete casualness towards sexual activity rather than a sacred intimacy (God intended) within the boundaries of marriage. What if we had a healthier view for our sexuality? 1 Corinthians 6:18, says that an immoral person sins against their own body. 1 Thessalonians 4:3 says that it is God’s will that we flee sexual immorality. I know that we have all sinned sexually in some way. God offers hope and forgiveness. God has a better plan as we move forward in our lives.
As my wife and I raised our children we worked to stay engaged relationally. Our goal was to attempt to model a healthier perspective of respect for others as well as teach the importance of waiting for sexual activity until marriage. We did not live it out perfectly, but hopefully we lived out Grace and Truth. Similarly, we desire the same for our grandchildren. We want to encourage and pray for parents as they raise teens in a “sexually charged culture”.
3Medical Institute for Sexual Health, “Effects of Porn on Adolescents”, March 2013
In 2005, Steve and his wife Jill began participating in WGA’s groups when one of their adult children disclosed their same-sex relationship. Over time, they joined the leadership team. Steve and Jill have been married for 38 years; have 4 adult children, and 8 grandchildren.
Steve retired from Raytheon after 33 years in 2012. Steve has a BS in Mathematics from CSU, MA in Counseling from Colorado Christian University and a Chaplain Certificate from Denver Seminary. In 2013, he joined the staff as a Chaplain and church liaison. He meets with individuals to provide spiritual direction, participates in discipleship counseling, facilitates small groups, and communicates with local churches concerning the ministry of WGA.
Steve and Jill attend an Inter-Denominational Church.
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