I worked at my church in Irvine, CA to run the Junior High Ministry for the summer. Due to budgeting reasons, our church had to let both our Junior High and High School Directors go. This was a huge blow to everyone involved in the programs as well as students, like myself, who have left those ministries. I was hired to run the program for the summer months until I left to return for college or a new Junior High/High School director was hired to take on both ministries.
The first week I was back home, our Junior Highers were in the midst of a lesson series called “Guy Talk Girl Talk” which divided the guys and girls into their respective groups so they could talk about issues relevant to them as Junior Highers. We spent weeks discussing friendships, relationships with parents, family problems, changing schools, puberty, and more often than one would expect, Sex and relationships.
The most impactful week, however, was the week where we decided to switch things up. Instead of the male leaders accompanying the male students and the female leaders talking to the female students, the roles were reversed: male students met with female leaders and female students met with male leaders to get another perspective. I was petrified I wouldn’t be qualified to answer questions that this group of squirrely boys would ask me, but I was pleasantly surprised.
This week at Unplugged we talked about Sex and I felt a similar anxiety coming into this conversation as I felt months ago in our youth lounge back home. Would I have anything positive to contribute to the conversation being that I am a 19 year old protestant virgin female? I fit the mold. I felt like the poster child for Christian family planning. I have not had sex and, currently, I’m not planning on doing so unless I’m in a committed relationship.1 Better yet, when I arrived at Unplugged, I found out that I would need to lead a table group.
Not to skip over all the good stuff, but at the end of the discussion I feel more confused about sex than I ever have before. Not naïve. Confused. I was in a fairly serious, committed heterosexual relationship for a year coming into college – I am not naïve. However, this discussion made me reconsider all of the “rules” that I have employed throughout my teenage years and recent transition into adulthood.
There is a lot of middle ground between doing nothing and having sex. Anyone who has been in any form of a physical relationship understands that. What makes any of those actions “Better” or “more acceptable” to do before marriage than sex? Why is it that we, as Christians, can be so judgmental about who is a virgin and who is not, yet we approach adultery with forgiveness and, many will remain in a committed relationship with one who has coveted and indulged in an adulterous relationship? Isn’t adultery a sin? I know far more people who have been heartbroken and devastated by a spouse or significant other cheating on them because said person refused to have sex than I know people who regret when and how they lost their virginity. We, as a culture, lust and covet far more than we love as Christ loves. Weren’t we called, above all else to love one another? Maybe it’s just me, but I think God has a lot of bigger fish to fry than to condemn someone for having sex within a loving, committed relationship.
Needless to say, Tuesday night’s conversation did not create a desire within me to run out and completely change my morals and actions. However, it challenged me to call into question my beliefs about sex and relationships just as I call every other belief into question on a regular basis. I challenge all aspects of my faith to reflect what God’s plan is for my life and what I interpret his word to mean. I don’t make impulse decisions or decide to change my opinions on the fly just because; rather I want to make informed, Christ-centered decisions for myself. I want to be engaging the word and educating myself, changing my beliefs to reflect the changes I am experiencing as a person of faith. I think that a relationship with Christ is a dynamic experience that fluctuates and changes constantly. Why should my views on sex be stagnant and concrete, unwilling to be changed by new knowledge or understanding? Why should a topic so complicated be treated as such a simple choice?