Everyone wants to hear about sex.
Let me first say that over the years I have grown more and more distrustful of things that are new. My bud Mickey seems to share this growing tendency of sticking to the old, faithful, tested parts of culture. Whether it involves music, food, art, theology and yes, even sex, I tend now to look at the old way and distrust the new ideas.
Sometimes the new ideas are good. But I am suspicious of them.
Our modern dilemma: how do we keep teenagers and young adults from having sexual relations before marriage? Actually, it’s not a modern dilemma. Its a conservative Christian modern dilemma. Moderns who aren’t worried about what the Bible says about extra-marital sex (most of society) have no issue here. The answer is safe sex, responsible sex, sex with someone who loves you and respects you.
But in the Evangelical culture, this doesn’t work. Rather, much emphasis is put on urging young people to abstain. Purity rings, Josh McDowell rallies, abstinence campaigns and all other sorts of great efforts are being put into urging youth to abstain until they are of marriageable age: somewhere between 21 and 30, I suppose.
As anyone knows who has spent some time in a church youth group, the success of such efforts is rather limited, and it looks to me like the results are slipping further and further the more permissive the culture becomes.
So how do we get teenagers to stop having pre-marital sex? Do we simply chuck the belief that there’s no problem with it? That’s the modern solution.
No, I think there is a true, workable solution. But it isn’t popular and won’t be embraced any time soon, I suspect, even by the conservative Christian culture, because we are all just too modernized.
The way to prevent teenagers from having pre-marital sex is for them to be married while having sex.
Back to my earlier thoughts on embracing the old ways and distrusting the new. We’ve all heard about grandma and grandpa or other older folks who got married when she was 16 and he was 18. I’m interviewing a woman for a book right now whose grandmother was 14 when she got married.
One hundred years ago, it was the norm for teenagers to get married. Waiting past 18 was less common.
Now let’s get right to the point: when your hormones are a’raging, especially for teens who are in their sexual prime, it’s a lot easier to abstain for a handful of years when you can see the light at the end of the tunnel. If you pass puberty at 13, you can live with waiting five years to express your passions. But ten to fifteen is nearly impossible.
Five years was really the longest back in the day. A sixteen-year-old girl, very common, was waiting maybe three or four years. An 18 year old man maybe just as few. I think they may have passed puberty a year or two later back then as well (due to hormones in the chicken today or whatever).
Bottom line: our culture, our conservative Christian culture, is laying a burden on modern teenagers that is unrealistic and unfair.
But I don’t see the problem changing because our reasons for delay are based in the modern, secular, anti-life premises expounded by our secular, Modernist cohabitators of the planet.
One hundred years ago, the country believed that children were a blessing, large families were an economic boon, and that we should have as many kids as possible and get started as soon as possible. A decade or two later, Modernists convinced America of an earlier debunked Ma
lthusian school of thought: that overpopulation is a real threat. Also, having kids destroys your “quality of life” and teens should wait and become self-actualized and fulfilled before entering into the “drudgery” of bearing children.
Christians today, no matter how bible believing, aren’t buying the bible’s message about having lots of children. But they are closely examining the passages on sexual relations. Meanwhile, America is beginning to lose its economic dynasty to nations like China and India, all because of demographics and birth rates. Margaret Sanger assured us children make us poor, but Solomon tells us, “A large population is a king’s glory, but without subjects a nation is ruined.” (Proverbs 14:28).
So, I think I have the answer on teenage sexuality. But it won’t become a solution any time soon.