Creating New Messages for Teens About Sex

I’ve encountered many men and women in Awaken Love classes that felt less than grateful for the messages they received as teens about sex from the church. Not only were the messages ineffective in helping them wait for marriage, they did nothing to help them embrace sex once married. So what can the church learn from the past that will help them create new messages for teens about sex?

The Past

Many women remember horrifying illustrations of flowers losing their petals, or an Oreo cookie passed around for people to spit on. The analogies conveyed that sexual choices outside of marriage ruined your life, but did little to communicate about God’s redemption, or the beauty of sex within marriage. Once kids crossed lines, life often spun out of control. Already ruined and filled with shame, girls figured they might as well just keep going.

“I Kissed Dating Goodbye” and father daughter purity rings left strong impressions. While they helped some stay pure, others felt the standards only made things worth. Lines impossible to hold, or already crossed caused many to give up trying. Worse yet, teens resorted to living double lives. The goal of purity and rules outweighed honesty, authenticity and even their relationship with a loving God.

I have no doubt that leaders in church had good intentions as they encouraged men and women to wait until marriage for sex, but I also think we can and must do better. Rather than just talk about purity, we need to clearly communicate the powerful gift that sex is in marriage. Instead of just telling kids they will be damaged goods if they don’t wait, we can share some of the natural consequences of choices made before marriage. We also must do everything to help kids integrate God into their sexuality. Rather than a list of rules we involve God in our choices. A relationship with Christ is the main focus, not coming to the altar unblemished.

What is God’s Design for Sex?

Rather than use scare tactics messages to reinforce the message, “Don’t Do It”, let’s help our kids understand what they are waiting for and why.

Mutuality

Teens must understand that sex is a beautiful, powerful gift from God. It is something to look forward to in marriage. Song of Songs illustrates mutuality in marriage – even when culture did not. Cultures message that sex is a need and a right for men is completely wrong. Husband and wife should redefine sex in a way that will work for both husband and wife in order to make sex mutually enjoyable.

Oneness

Our kids must understand that God created to unify husbands and wives. That takes great trust for a wife. Many messages tell us that men use women for sex. Boys that don’t push boundaries before marriage will help a wife trust that her husband cares more about her than sex.

Teenagers also need to understand the natural consequences of short circuiting the intimate connection that God intended during sex. When teens partake in the hook up culture they treat sex as nothing more than physical pleasure. Once married they will struggle to experience the intimate connection that God intended until , until they grieve the past choices they made and the things done to them.

Knowing

Teens need to understand that sex does not come naturally like it is depicted in media or porn. Great sex that lasts a lifetime requires intentionality and vulnerability. Each time you both show up and say, “what can I discover today?”

Experiences outside of marriage create challenges. Comparing the adrenaline driven sex outside of marriage can mask the satisfaction of real intimacy.

Rather than just teach that porn is wrong, teens need to understand the impact it can have. Porn can cause performance pressure that makes us worry and short circuit the natural responses of our body like arousal, erection and orgasm. We can also waste our time recreating something we’ve seen, rather than discovering our spouse. Past porn can make sex feel dirty, so we don’t enjoy the freedom that God intends. Keeping ourselves pure, is God’s good plan to protect us and our future spouse.

God can heal past experiences but it will take honesty and work. We should help teens understand the importance of getting healthy before marriage. When they seek healing in community, they can enter marriage open about their past committed to work towards intimacy.

Involve God

Not every answer about sexuality is simple or spelled out in the bible. Rather than give our teens a bunch of rules, let’s create new messages about sex that will equip them to make good choices and discern with God. They will use the skill not only use in singleness but in marriage, or any stage of life.

Masturbation is a great discussion to help teens understand how to involve God in their choices. After exploring what the bible says, or doesn’t say about masturbation, challenge them to come up with biblical principles that apply to their choices. Things like.. don’t lust, or you shall have no God before me, or not everything is beneficial… Even God’s character helps us discern. God created us for relationship with Him and with others. If masturbation is making us hide, or lie, then it is probably not beneficial for us.

Don’t make the choice for them. Help them involve God and keep involving God, because choices can change.

We must have the courage to admit we don’t have all the answers about sexuality for teenager, but God does. Challenge teens to pray, ask God, and have the courage to follow Him.

Teens also need to understand that God cares about all of them – even their sexuality. God can forgive and heal sexual sin just like he can other sins. More than our purity, he desires their heart. He wants them to fall in love with Him, and to fall down at His feet and receive His unfailing love when they feel broken. Create new messages for teens about sex by including messages about redemption.  Many will stumble, and God can help them get back up and give them a fresh start.

Responsibility

Too many times, we give teens someone to blame for their choices about sexuality. “If girls just didn’t wear those clothes”. “If he hadn’t slept with his past girl friends then I would not have had to sleep with him”.” If she hadn’t flirted with me, I wouldn’t have lost control.” Teens need to learn to take responsibility for their choices, regardless of anyone else’s actions.

Boys can learn to battle lust. They can turn their head and find something else to do. They can even control their mind and decide not to bring those images up in their mind to enjoy later. Affirm the courage for teenagers to reach out for help when they struggle with porn, questions about sexual feelings, or choices about masturbation. Boys can also be taught to protect and respect women regardless of what they wear or how they act. Waiting for marriage should be a goal for boys as well as girls.

Girls should be taught not to turn a boy’s head to feel important or noticed. They need to dress in a way that  they respect themselves and honor God. They must take responsibility for their own choices, but not for ones taken from them. Encourage them to reach out for help if they’ve been wounded sexually, or struggles with sexual addiction. Girls must learn not to put themselves in unsafe situations and must look out for their friends when they go out.

Final Thoughts

Have the courage to create new messages for teens about sex. Most have been exposed to far more than we realize. To gain their ear, we can no longer resort to simple answers of “Don’t do it” before marriage. Our kids need to understand what they are waiting for and how their current choices impact them. Messages about purity must be balanced with messages about God’s redemption. Rather than teaching our teens simple rules, we must equip them to discern God’s will for their life. We must value honesty and integrity more than purity. We all have sinned and fallen short, but God loves us and can give us a fresh start. Let’s help our teens start working towards sexual heath and wholeness today.

Specific Prayer that Moves You Toward Healing

Though I love to speak about sex now, that has not always been the case. In fact the first two years I taught classes, I felt so nervous that my lip quivered. Friends used to compare me to Moses because I looked so miserable. They figured I must have felt called by God. But God transforms lives even from ordinary circumstances.  I vividly remember the specific prayer that led to my healing.

The Realization

My church had asked if I would facilitate a women’s bible study on marriage. The first lesson focused on how our past impacted our present. I had always realized that my fear of speaking was deep rooted from a childhood incident.

I vividly remember my first-grade teacher calling role. Afterwards she asked, “Did I miss anybody?”

I timidly raised my hand.

“Yes, what is your name? “she said.

With as much confidence as I could master, I said, “Uth Inka.”

“What?”, she said.

“Uth Inka”, I repeated.

“What?”

“Uth Inka”, I slowly stated, fighting back tears.

My name was Ruth Lenker and I had entered elementary school completely clueless to the fact I couldn’t say my L’s or R’s.

Specific Prayer

Even though I recognized the impact of my past experience, I had never specifically prayed for healing from it.

That morning before I taught, I went and say by myself in the sanctuary to pray. And rather than just praying like I normally did for God to help me relax and calm my nerves, I asked God to heal me. I asked God to heal me from that specific past experience that held so much power over who I believed I was and what I could do.

Healing

In an instant, I knew that God had healed me. Even though I still felt the normal nervousness that comes with public speaking it was profoundly different. My lip didn’t quiver, my mouth was not parched, I felt calm, under control and even enjoyed myself.

Afraid to tell anyone lest I prove myself wrong, praying for healing of that specific experience has forever changed my life.

I sometimes wonder if God does not answer prayer because we do not pray specific enough. We might pray for healing but it feels too vulnerable to share what we need healing from. Or maybe it feels too painful to figure out what we need healing from.

I have had women in class that are on a journey of healing. Sometimes I sense they don’t really need any more clarity. They just need the courage to ask for what they specifically want…

God, give me freedom to share my body

Help me to trust my husband again

God, give me freedom

God, heal me from the memory of ….

I am not suggesting that if we just pray the right way, God will do what we ask. But there is something in naming it, claiming it, and believing that God is able. Even as God walks us through the process of praying specifically, some level of healing comes.

Final Thoughts

So take the time to wrestle with your past. Find a friend or a counselor to help you through the process. Host an Awaken Love class and tackle some of your sexual baggage with friends. Know that God is with you and though He loves you just as you are, He loves you enough to want more for you. Your past might shape you, but it does not have to control you.

Authentic Intimacy – A Great Resource and Podcast

I have always respected Juli Slattery’s ministry Authentic Intimacy. She is a trailblazer in all areas of Christian sexuality – from marriage, to singleness to navigating issues like LGBTQ. In the past I’ve written about her book Rethinking Sexuality, but she offers many valuable resources –  books, webinars, podcasts and conferences. This year I had the honor of sharing  about my story and Awaken Love on her Java with Juli podcast. 

Juli and I have amazingly similar stories. Both of us experienced a spiritual awakening that woke us up to the importance of sex in marriage.  We both started ministries addressing sexuality by creating studies to help wives embrace their sexuality. Neither one of us ever expected to teach on sex and definitely did not go looking for it. But God called us into it. Though we face challenges we know that God is doing a work.

I highly recommend you check out Authentic Intimacy and the resources they offer. While you are at it, take a listen to my podcast with Juli, When God ‘Wakes Up’ Your Love Life.”And if you find it helpful, share it with a friend.

 

 

 

 

 

Cultivating a Soil that Receives God’s Truth About Sex

When I read The Bible, I constantly filter everything through the ministry that I do with Awaken Love. Though I know the bible exists to help us know God, it also holds many truths for living out our faith and our calling. In Matthew 13, Jesus tells the parable of the farmer that scattered the seed. Jesus is helping the disciples learn that not everything is in their control when they tell others about Jesus. Some will receive Him, and some won’t, depending on the kind of soil.  I find the parable helpful as I follow my calling of helping others embrace God’s truth about sex. Some soil is hard, some is rocky, some is filled with thorns and some soil is fertile. All I am responsible for is speaking God’s truth.

Hard Soil

Some seed falls on hard soil, like a footpath walked on over and over. The beaten down surface cannot even absorb water without much back breaking labor. So, the seed never sprouts.

Wounded people covered with walls of protection cannot hear the truth about sex. They have shut themselves off, lest they face their past. Receiving the truth about sex will require them to chip away at hardened hearts to expose painful memories. They might have to turn their lives upside down and experience pain, grief, or regrets. Allowing themselves to feel will cause much pain, but will also create much joy and  real intimacy.

Shallow Soil

Some seed falls on shallow soil. Though the top is fertile, underneath is covered with rocks. The seed quickly sprouts, but without deep roots, a little dry weather causes the young sprouts to wither and die.

Many women quickly embrace God’s truth about sex. Initially filled with excitement, they can’t wait for things to change. But creating intimacy requires vulnerability, honesty, courage and persistence. Embracing God’s truth about sex will require that we remove the rocks – the lies that we believe, the baggage that impacts us, and the patterns that have formed. We must not only understand God’s truth but takes steps of action to change our reality. If we want to create intimacy then we must let our spouse know all of us, and have the courage to know them – even their brokenness. If  they don’t let their belief run deep, a little adversity will quickly cause them to just give up and stop trying.

Thorns

Some seed fell among the thorns and weeds. Though the seed quickly sprouted and grew, with time the weeds choked it out.

Some women not only embrace God’s truth about sex, but start putting things into action. Excited by the new growth they try new things, start communicating with their husband, and experience a new level of intimacy. But when the newness has worn off, life creeps back in – phones, computers, kids, ministry, work. Without the reminders of class, they stop planning new things or even finding the time to connect on a regular basis. Worries begin to seep in and they wonder if they really did receive healing from their past. Maybe they just weren’t made to enjoy sex. Maybe sex is not that big a deal.

Fertile

Some seeds fell on fertile soil and grew tall and strong.  They even produced new seeds – 30, 60 or even 100 times what was originally planted.

Some women embrace God’s truth about sex and grow deep roots. Even when they face challenges, they fight for their sex life and don’t give up. They keep learning about their spouse and exposing more of themselves. Working on their sex life improves other areas of their marriage too – communication, emotional intimacy, and feeling like a team even through the struggles. They don’t hide or keep secrets from each other.

Embracing God’s design for sex not only impacts them but it impacts others. They constantly talk to their kids about sex to help them navigate culture and look forward to marriage. Friends know who to go to when they have questions about sex. Even at church they constantly look for opportunities to share the truth about sex. Working on their sex life, not only impacts them but others.

Cultivating Your Soil

I love to garden but sometime the soil is not ideal. If the surface is hard, I use a pick ax or shovel to loosen it up to let water and nutrients in. Rocks must be removed to let the roots grow deep. Pulling weeds becomes a constant battle that gets easier with persistence. I add nutrients on a regular basis to encourage growth and keep the soil loose. With hard work, courage and persistence I create a beautiful garden.

We can change our soil too.  Regardless of your past experiences, you can experience healing, but it will take hard work. You will need to remove the coping mechanisms and protective walls to open your heart to the truth. Steps of actions and faith will let the truth sink in deep. You will need to guard your time together and intentionally plan dates, or even just going to be early. Make hard decisions to care for your marriage. Create fertile soil by surrounding yourself with others that value marriage and intimacy. Spend time connecting with God and get your strength from Him. God will not force us to embrace His truth but He will be with us every step of the way.

How do you tend your soil?

Understand God’s Intention About Sex

I have met all kinds women in Awaken-Love classes. Many have healthy marriages, but just as many have real struggles.  Some women hate sex or have a husband dealing with porn. Every once in a while, a woman in the midst of real crisis attends. An affair or porn has devastated her marriage, and she and her husband are trying to rebuild. Though the road is not easy, they inherently understand that embracing God’s gift of sex is part of the answer to create the intimate marriage they desire. Regardless of where women are, what they’ve been told, or what they’ve experienced – even if they are separated and their marriage might not survive – they need to understand God’s intention for sex.

Learning God’s Intention

Many women walk in on the first day of an Awaken Love class as strangers, secretly carrying wounds, disillusionment, and confusion. Stifled by the silence surrounding the topic of sex from their family and church, they courageously jump at the opportunity to find answers. Over the course of six weeks, as they learn what God wants for them, their views, mindsets, and attitudes on sex are turned upside down.  Women wrestle to cross the chasm separating them from where they are—feeling dirty, disappointed, duty-bound, drained, or disinterested—to the place where they can begin to believe that sex is an awesome gift from God to women, as well as men.

Armed with God’s truth about sex, women understand what direction to move or even what boundaries to set as they navigate brokenness. As I share about God’s intention for sex, sometime the tears stream down a woman’s face because she has never experienced anything remotely close to intimacy during sex. Sitting through class is hard, but she begins to see God’s vision for her, and it gives her hope. God is a good God. He intended for marriages to experience extravagant, intimate connection during sex.

Uncovering the Lies

During class, we talk about the reasons we feel the way we do about sex. We recognize that our negative ideas and attitude come from somewhere, and we go searching for those sources. We talk about the messages we received about sex from our families, churches, schools, friends and culture. Every lie, or wrong message the world has told us about sex gets dug up.

Slowly, the pieces of the puzzle begin to fall into place. We begin to see how we got to this lonely place. Women listen to each other’s stories of shame or regret and somehow, we find that we don’t feel so alone. We create a judgement-free zone to gently help each other move toward God’s design for our sex life. Through community, prayer, and God’s grace, women begin walking toward freedom. It is an amazing thing to watch.

I have grieved alongside wives as they shared their husband’s struggle with porn. I have felt the shame men and women carry from porn, erotica, or masturbation. People that grew up in the purity culture struggle to believe that God wants them to enjoy freedom and passion in their marriage bed.  Living in a broken world feels hard and complicated Yet uncovering the lies and dealing with our baggage is an opportunity for growth and for change. It invites us to understand the healing of our heavenly Father and see Him work miracles. As we bring God into our conversations about sex, we find freedom.

Final Thoughts

We need to understand the battle. The battle is not won by white-knuckling or denying our sexuality. The battle is won by creating what God wanted for us—intimacy – to be known. Rather than hanging onto isolation and shame, we must courageously share our story and create opportunities for others to share theirs. In Awaken Love classes, regardless of your past, or your present, you stories will be received with compassion and grace.  Just like Jesus did, we speak truth in love, extend grace, and offer hope and healing.

We all have had different experiences, and our own unique journeys.  Even if your marriage is a mess, God wants you to know what real intimacy looks like.  Regardless of the health of your marriage,  I pray that God has something for you as you learn about His intention for sex.

Discover the Power of Words for Excitement

Just like God designed men to get excited by looking at a woman’s body , He designed women to get aroused through words. Women can read a romance novel with a juicy scene and suddenly we can’t wait for sex. It is similar to how God designed men’s eyes to arouse them. But just like men need to reserve their eyes to feast on their wives, we need to reserve our words for the marriage bed. In fact, we need to cultivate the use of words in our marriage bed. Instead of escaping into a book when our own sex life becomes stale, we must learn use  the power of words to create the sex life we want.

Words have been a huge area of growth for my husband and me.  We have gone from literally not saying a word during sex to freely expressing our needs and our delights. I am so thankful that my husband took my needs seriously. He could have minimized my desires, thinking words can’t be that big a deal. Or he could have used excuses like, that not who I am, or it is too hard. Men, it takes courage for your wife to visually share her body with  you. It will take courage for you to learn how to create excitement using your words. But trust me, learning to use your words is a powerful way to make your sex life mutually enjoyable.

I have had nights when I literally told Jim, “I need your words more than your touch.” With my mind in so many different places, I knew Jim’s words could engage and excite me for sex much faster than his touch. Don’t discount the power of words.

Realizing the Power

I remember the first time I realized just how much power words held. My husband was on a business trip for 2 weeks and I was determined to push the boundaries to connect while separated. While lying in bed with my laptop early in the morning I could feel the silky sheets against my skin and missed my husband terribly. So, as I lay there visiting with my husband I began to type using the instant messaging system on Skype,

“like what you see?”

After a bit of confusion, he replied, “uh, yeah”.

“want to see more?”, I teased.

I could see his eyes light up as he gathered his response.

“Tell me what you want…”

As we typed back and forth, we didn’t yet have the courage to speak the words out loud, but we knew there was something more for us to learn. Instant messaging began our journey of tapping into the power of words.

Growth

The need to incorporate words in my marriage bed was driven by my desire and not my husband’s. Rather than nagging him or voicing my disappointment, I created games and scenarios to reinforce how powerful and fun words could be. If you need ideas then check out my article on Using Our Words During Sex, or Using Words to Fuel Passion. 

Our sex life has thrived because Jim was willing to stretch and grow, and he has witnessed the change words have made both for me and for him. The twinkle in my husband’s eyes bears witness to his enjoyment of our words.

Sometimes, more than touch, I need my husband to take me someplace using his words. Words can turn vanilla sex into steaming hot sex, even though we are in the same bed, wearing the same outfit and doing the same things. Words can transport me in a way that touch cannot. They communicate a presence and a connection beyond the physical that integrates your mind and soul.

How have you discovered the power of words?

Understanding Sexual Fantasies

Fantasies allow us to experience pleasure during sex in the midst of boredom, conflicted feelings, or even painful memories. Though fantasies are complex and not simple to understand, let me at least give you some basic insight. I like to think of fantasies in three categories. Dreams, Fantasy to Orgasm, and Ingrained Fantasies.

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Three Ways to Last Longer During Intercourse

Many men gauge their sexual prowess by how long they last during intercourse. The truth is that lasting longer does not necessarily guarantee satisfaction of their wife. They might last for hours and she still might not orgasm during intercourse. But regardless of whether a man is able to give his wife an orgasm during intercourse, better ejaculatory control will help him stop worrying so that he can actually connect sex. I want to share three specific powerful ideas that will empower men to trust their bodies, let go of worrying, connect more with their wife and last longer.

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Include God in Your Conversations About Sex

Conversations about sex and God rarely take place together. Somehow we have separated our creator from one of the  most powerful experiences He made for us. Yet God has a lots to say about our sexuality and any hard topic that the world challenges us with. When I made my list about what I want to communicate to my kids about sex, many of the truths involved God. Don’t depend on your church to talk about sex or other hard topics with your kids. Include God in your conversations.

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Start Talking to Your Kids About Sex Today

When I speak to moms groups about sex they often ask, “When should I start talking to my kids about sex?” They are probably hoping for a little more time to prepare. But none of us have more time. Culture, media, schools and porn are educating our kids everyday about sex. If you want your kids to have a biblical view about sex and other hard topics, then you can no longer remain silent.  One of the most important choices we will make as a parent is to start talking to our kids about sex, today.

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