High school ministry and a sex series go together like a horse and a bare-chested Vladimir Putin: it just makes sense.
All of our students are either dabbling, curious, or actively engaging in sexual activity, which means the church needs to be part of that conversation. Alex Beaverson wrote a great blog post that outlines our program for the 3-week series. Here I am going to comment on the content for each message.
Week 1: The Broken Image
The big idea: we were created in God's image which should be all the value and worth we ever need in life. But we live in a society that is constantly telling us that we aren't pretty enough, strong enough, good enough, or worth anything unless we look a certain way. It is only through Jesus that we discover we are a new creation, no longer bound by the cultural expectations of today. The old is gone, the new has come.
Here is a condensed outline:
- Intro: love letters in the 90s --> Song of Solomon 1:1-6
- What is beauty? It is constantly changing.
- We are created in God's Image: Genesis 1:26-27
- The problem: we have a broken image. Explore that ways culture has manipulated our view of image. (Think snapchat, tinder, pornography, Cosmopolitan, Instagram selfies, etc.)
- Principle: are we OK with a society that is in fundamental opposition of the world God created? Jesus came to restore humanity to its original design (2 Corinthians 5:16-17)
- At this point I brought up a female student and interviewed her about her journey with an eating disorder and constant struggle with body image. Her vulnerability easily made it the best part of the message.
- Close: our body image has everything to do with our sexuality. And when we try and live up to unrealistic ideals for our body, our sexuality will naturally struggle.
Week 2: Is it Really Ever Just Sex?
The bid idea: sexual activity is never just a physical act, it has emotional and spiritual implications. When we neglect to understand the holistic implications of our sexuality, we engage in sexual activity that will cause deep wounds in our soul without even knowing it.
- Intro: we modeled "vulnerability" by playing Never Have I Ever with our staff and volunteers.
- 1 Corinthians 6:15-16
- Image bearers (call back to last week) are not meant to be united to anyone beyond their spouse. I spent some time unpacking the biblical understanding of "being united." (John Mark Comer has a great 3-minute that you could show if this seems daunting.)
- The point here was to articulate our value. When we know our value, we don't devalue ourselves (or others') by spreading our sexuality thin.
- Someone asked the question: how should high school students date?
- I took time here to help students understand the dangers of a "hook up" mentality. I read an excerpt from this article from Harvard.
- 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
- You are designed to become one with one. When you give yourself to another, you give a portion of yourself away. From that point on you are no longer only yourself. If/when you break up, you can never regain that portion of yourself again. You become less than one.
- 1 Corinthians 6:18
- So what do we do? Flee. Run. Establish every boundary necessary to avoid sexual activity.
- I addressed the question every students asks: how far is too far?
- The two ways to answer this is to talk about how its the wrong question. Jesus cares more about the condition of your heart than your physical actions. Or to give actual boundaries. I did both.
- Answer: anything below the neck is off limits!
- Principle: determine the story you want to tell. I had students imagine them sitting down with their future spouse and having "the talk" about past relationships. What story do you want to tell? Work hard every single day to create a great story.
- We closed by interviewing a couple of leaders in our ministry who are engaged. We discussed the boundaries necessary to build a relationship with God at the center.
Week 3: Being Single and Sexual
The big idea: before we can have healthy dating or marriage relationships, we must learn how to have a disciplined relationship with God.
- Intro: explored the cultural beliefs about single guys and girls.
- The tension of relationship. In this section I juxtaposed several bible passages that create a tension about being married. Clearly I went through these very quickly.
- Genesis 2:18
- 1 Corinthians 7:8
- 1 Corinthians 7:1-2
- 1 Corinthians 7:8-9
- Matthew 19:10-12
- 1 Corinthians 7:32-35
- 1 Corinthians 7:17
- The problem: we all desire love. And for most high school students that leads us on a sexual journey causing great damage. We cannot become a slave to our sexuality. We must learn how to control our sexual desires and place our sexuality back underneath the banner of God.
- Principle: marriage is not the point of your life. Who you are as a follower of Jesus matters more than the people you date.
- The response on night 3 was the best moment of the entire series. I led us through a guided prayer and asked students to identify with one of these three types of people:
- Who has allowed themselves to give in to society's broken image of our bodies? (wk1)
- Who has engaged in sexual activity and is in need of healing? (wk2)
- Who has become a slave to their own sexuality and needs freedom? (wk3)
- Response: How I ended the prayer was the most important part. I asked every student to stand and then directed them to one of our leaders standing in the back. When they got to the leader (which 100% of the room participated), they said which one they were struggling with and received prayer. It was incredible.
I would conclude with this encouragement if you are considering doing a sex series: you may think that its too late to have this conversation with your students. And in some ways it is if it hasn't happened before (or with their parents). But this was never meant to be a one-time thing, we must have open dialogue about this from the stage at church, within a safe small group, and in one-on-one conversation. If we are committed to seeing high school students live great stories with their lives, we must walk alongside them in this battle to understand their sexuality.