A recent conversation with a teen proved again how normal sexual promiscuity has become. Having been through several failed intimate relationships, she shared with me what it’s like to be a teen in the mainstream evangelical churches today.
Two or three of her church friends are virgins, and intend to protect their virginity until marriage. The rest are sleeping around and started as young as age 12 and 13. She shared bluntly and graphically what she had done, and what her friends were into, and even how they talked about it.
She struggled with anxiety, depression and suicidal tendencies, guilt and shame. She still believed in Jesus, still attended church, still wanted what is right, but is trapped in her story. Fourteen is too young for this. We owe it to our kids to give them a better future by walking them through their developing years. It is not fair to them if we don’t teach them appropriately.
Another young woman contacted me yesterday, sharing her story in detail, of being abused in a Conservative Mennonite church, time and time again, by an older female. The abuse carried on for years before she had the courage to say something and before she stopped it.
Children should not have to live with the pain and trauma of guilt and shame. These years should be sweet, fun and innocent. A time of maturing. Whether it is abuse, like the second story, or by choice–albeit uninformed choice–like the first story, these years should not be consumed by sexual perversion. (Yes, I still use that word. I know it offends some, but the abuse of what is good and right and true, is still perversion, even in 2012.)
Every now and then people tell me that my sensitivity in the area of sexuality has more to do with my strict religious upbringing than anything else. They tell me that teaching sexual purity, and abstinence before marriage, is out-dated, and unrealistic. And in today’s culture it’s ‘normal’ to be sexually active.
The last part is true. In today’s culture it is normal. And if I would not see people in non-religious settings grieving that loss, I’d probably believe this to be true. Few people teach on it, or support and encourage abstinence, openly.
*Kamille, an international model in her late twenties, sat in front of me, album in hand, with tears in her eyes. She had just shared with me pictures of various photo shoots in USA, and should have been overjoyed and so proud. The pictures were gorgeous.
She ran her fingers over the album, outlining a photo. Her regret? She wished someone had told her the truth about life, sex, her body and marriage. Maybe, just maybe, it would have saved her the current heartache and grief.
She was abused as a child and made some pretty bad choices in her teens. When we spoke, her marriage was falling apart. They simply were not able to trust each other, because past lovers played havoc with their minds and memories.
In the process of trying to rescue her marriage, Kamille had fallen in love with her female counsellor, and become more certain than ever that her marriage would not survive. She didn’t even love the man–she loved a woman.
Kamille told me that she knew the truth, based on God’s Word, but in her mind it was too late. (She was not a professing believer, but was learning the Bible through friends.) She felt too much damage had been done and she could not retrain her mind and let go of what had transpired.
What intrigued me most was when Kamille told me that she believes if she had known the truth about sex, it would have changed the course of her life. And though she regretted her life, she didn’t have the will to change.
“If I could change one thing,” she said, “I would have saved my virginity for marriage and not have all those memories.”
Kamille was wealthy. And incredibly beautiful. She appeared, on the surface, to ‘have it all’. But below the surface a battle raged. She struggled with anorexia and bulimia. She told me she fantasized about having other lovers–including her female counsellor–and her self-esteem ran dangerously low. She felt trapped and victimized by her own desires and shamed by her story.
Each of these stories are very different in cultural context. From a mainstream evangelical church, to a conservative Mennonite church, to an atheistic/agnostic background. Yet each of these women carried the common thread of guilt, shame and regret, in one form or another.
The desire to be informed, equipped and protected is universal. Culture, upbringing and life experience will influence our feelings and desires, and even how we recover, but they cannot change how we are wired.
Before our birth, before our conception, God says He knew us. He created us with a desire for Him and truth, for a connection with our Creator, to function within His design for us. When we move outside of that design sexually, whether by force, by choice or by ignorance, something in our spirit knows something is not right, that is not what we were created for. And that awareness triggers grief and depression.
We are a generation who desperately need to know truth, and teach truth. The years of silence have brought destruction and it is time to reclaim and redeem.
We can hand out condoms til we’re broke, and teach kids how to put them on, using bananas to illustrate–the way they do in school–and we can foot the bill for abortions. We can tell them it’s normal and it’s okay to explore, experiment and be sexually active. We can disregard their broken hearts, and cast them aside, by making the surface ‘acceptable’.But nothing in the world can heal the broken hearts, undo the damage, the trauma and the emotional aftermath, except the truth.
Only truth, only Jesus, can bring healing to that inner place. And we are the messengers of that hope–His hands, His heart, His feet, and His voice in this generation.
What will you do to bring redemption within your sphere of influence?
New King James Version (NKJV)