Youth Culture Window
You’re watching your favorite TV show as a family, and when you walk into the kitchen to refill your iced tea, a commercial for the 50 Shades of Grey movie appears, leaving you with the caption, “Are You Curious?”
Your 11-year-old turned to you and asks, “Mom, why do so many people want to see that 50 Shades of Grey movie?”
I guess the commercial was right. He was curious.
Which is the best answer:
A. Because people are evil and are going to burn in Hell.
Answering Tough Questions about Our Sexually-Charged Culture
B. Because the color grey is really popular right now. How about them Mets?
C. Because sex is awesome.
Most parents have experienced something like this. Our sweet little innocent child who shouldn’t even be thinking about sex asks us a question that knocks us off our feet.
In my brand new book on the subject, More Than Just the Talk, I share a story of when one of my daughters came home from school in 5th grade, threw her backpack on the couch and asked me, “Dad, what’s a blowjob?”
My son, who was in 9th grade at the time, dropped to the floor in hysterics.
How should we respond in these situations?
Rule No. 1: Don’t Freak Out.
Think about it for a moment. Anytime your kid comes to you with a question, especially a private or embarrassing question… you should celebrate! The number one place young people usually go for answers today is Google. Why? Because they know Mom and Dad will freak out.
So don’t overreact. Welcome the question and remember—your response this time will either help or hinder the possibility of them coming to you next time.
When my daughter dropped that bomb on me, I did what all good parents do in this situation. Stall! One of the best ways to do that is ask questions.
“Tell me more about where you heard this so I can better answer the question.”
My daughter was happy to oblige. “Oh. Tyler was talking about it at school.”
We had heard countless stories about Tyler and let’s just say this wasn’t surprising at all to hear Tyler was the one who brought this up. (And don’t all our schools have a ‘Tyler’?)
“Well,” I said, “A blowjob is an intimate sexual act that a man and woman can do together. God created all kinds of intimate acts for a husband and wife to enjoy together. Sadly, some people don’t wait until they’re married do this.”
Ashley asked, “So do you and mom do it?”
Awkward pause. (I share the rest of this story in my book.)
The same is true of how you react when you see the 50 Shades of Grey commercial. If you start frothing at the mouth as you rant about the evils of our culture… chances are your kids aren’t going to bring up the subject of sex around you. After all, you communicated it pretty clear: it’s “evil.” Which leads me to my next piece of advice…
Rule No. 2: Don’t Make Sex Naughty.
I don’t know how it happened. Maybe it’s a side effect of our puritanical roots. Possibly it’s an attempt to grasp at morality in an overly sexualized culture. Regardless of the cause, many of today’s believers in the United States have stained God’s gift of sex, making it hush-hush, giving it a stigma.
That’s what we’ve learned, so we tend to not talk about the naughty thing too much.
Think about this for a second. Sex is rampant in our culture, it’s a huge desire for young boys, it’s a huge pressure for young girls . . . and we don’t talk about it! This breeds ignorance in the Christian community. The one subject kids would really like to talk about . . . we hush . . . or only talk about it once for thirty minutes at youth group on Valentine’s Day weekend. The rest of the year, we stifle it and hope they don’t think about it.
Newsflash: They’re thinking about it frequently. They’re hearing about it repeatedly. They’re seeing images of it on display daily: the magazine covers staring at them at the checkout counter of the grocery store, the music videos playing on the TV’s at Target, the 50 Shades of Grey commercials during your favorite TV show.
All this focus on sex from society stimulates thoughts and questions . . . thoughts and questions they have to keep suppressed because they don’t want to feel naughty. This creates a negative spiral. When parents see sexual images and hear sexual messages in entertainment media, our response is usually to turn it off or say something negative about it.
“We can’t watch that movie, it has sex in it.”
What do kids hear? Sex is naughty.
“Don’t listen to that song, it’s about sex.”
What do kids hear? Sex is naughty.
Is your car naughty? Are you ashamed to have a driver’s license? Well, the Center for Disease control revealed that automobile accidents are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens. That’s no joke! Nothing else kills more of our kids than cars. So why do we drive cars? Shouldn’t we ban all cars since these crashes are taking lives?
I think you get my point. Cars aren’t bad, but when people speed, text, drink, fall asleep at the wheel, or drive unsafe in any way . . . people can die.
Similarly, sex isn’t bad, but when people go outside of God’s design . . . people can literally die. So should we ban God’s gift of sex altogether? Should we hush any conversation about it?
Christians need to stop treating sex like it’s evil.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you should encourage your kids to go to the 50 Shades of Grey premiere, watch porn, or stream raunchy music and listen to Lil Wayne bragging about his exploits with his “ladies.” (He uses a different word.) Far from it. But let’s not confuse sexual perversion with sex.
Sex is amazing!
Sex is God’s gift to married couples.
And Sex Matters. (The title of my brand new book to young people.)
Sex is not only extremely enjoyable, it bonds a husband and wife together. There’s nothing bad about sex between a husband and a wife.
Movies, TV shows, websites, music videos, and songs often include sexual content and images because they know people enjoy sex and are curious about it. Sadly, much of the sexual imagery we see and hear in entertainment media isn’t God’s design. It’s about people who indulge in sex outside of marriage. It’s about someone who is lusting after someone they’re not married to. It’s perverting God’s original design for sex. It’s putting the wonderful private act of sex on display for others to watch, so something beautiful is distorted to be nothing more than lust.
When we encounter perversions of sex, we should point them out as just that.
That’s too bad. I really like Jess, and this is a cleverly written TV show, but she just keeps hooking up with guys she meets in bars with no apparent consequences. Sadly, when people have casual sex with multiple partners, they risk a high chance of sexually transmitted diseases, and most likely will endure deep emotional regret. If she’d save sex for the person she marries, she’d find it to be an amazing gift worth waiting for.
Some parents might even add:
If this show continues to communicate these lies, we probably shouldn’t watch it. I’d hate for you to get the wrong idea about sex. Sex is a great part of the marriage relationship.
We might want to reflect on what messages we do communicate about sex.
“I hate all the sex in these shows. We aren’t going to watch that filth!”
“We aren’t going to listen to songs with those dirty sexual lyrics.”
What do our kids hear? Hate . . . sex . . . filth . . . dirty. Bottom line: sex is naughty.
Is it too much of a stretch to consider our kids might even conclude:
When I’m having these sexual thoughts that I struggle with . . . I’m naughty. I better not say anything because I know how Mom and Dad will react.
Learn to be more specific in your objection to inappropriate sexual content. Don’t freak out. Don’t make sex naughty.
Imagine a world where parents created a comfortable climate of calm, continual conversations with their kids about sex. Imagine homes where kids came to their parents for questions on the subject. In a world overflowing with lies about sex, imagine young people having access to equal rations of the truth.
Are you creating this kind of climate in your home?
Where are your kids going for answers?
Jonathan McKee speaks to parents and leaders internationally and is the author of over a dozen books including the brand new More Than Just the Talk and Sex Matters. Both books are IN STOCK NOW.
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