If he’s still around he would be in his late 40’s. I wonder if his attitudes about sex and sexuality have changed. I met him when he was in high school and sitting front and center as I was the guest speaker on his youth group’s fall retreat. His posture, facial expressions, and finally his little grunt of disapproval let me know that he wasn’t at all in agreement with what I was teaching the kids in the room about God’s good design for His good gift of sex and sexuality. I was communicating the difference between the cultural script and the Bible’s script for sex.
In the moment, I very kindly and graciously decided to engage him in conversation. “It sounds like you disagree with what I’m saying about God’s good order and design for sex and sexuality,” I said. He quickly responded with an answer indicating his belief that what I was teaching was old, outdated, and on the wrong side of history. Assuming a kind posture once again, I asked him to share with me what he believed was the way to think about and act on sexual desires. “It’s like any other appetite in life,” he said. He went on with a rather straightforward explanation: “When I’m thirsty, I get a drink. When I’m hungry, I eat a burger. And when I’m horny, I get laid.”
I appreciated his honesty and went on to explain the difference between his understanding by offering the better. . . or best. . . way to think about sex and sexuality in ways that honor the purpose and place for sex as designed by the One who made it. I’m not sure it stuck with him, but I’m hoping that over time it finally did.
That moment three decades ago came to mind this morning as our CPYU Together In The Word Facebook group continued our 2023 journey through Tim Keller’s God’s Wisdom For Navigating Life daily devotional on the book of Proverbs. We’re in the midst of week on sex, today reading these words from Proverbs 30:18-20: “There are three things that are too amazing for me, four that I do not understand: the way of an eagle in the sky, the way of a snake on a rock, the way of a ship on the high seas, and the way of a man with a young woman. This is the way of an adulterous woman: She eats and wipes her mouth and say, ‘I’ve done nothing wrong.'”
Looking at the same passage yesterday, Keller told us in his devotional commentary that “the first three pictures in this passage are of one penetrating into the realm of another. When the way of a man with a young woman is added, it is clear that these are poetic images likening sex to wondrous things like soaring or sailing. Then verse 20 is jarring. Sex is likened not to flying but to sloppy eating. This is sex as no big deal, nothing special, nothing to get all breathless about. It’s just a minor high we enjoy a bit, just something people do.” Sounds a lot like my young friend’s attitude.
This morning, Keller took our group back into those same three verses under the heading Sex As Appetite. He tells us that in today’s world, we’ve trained ourselves to take physical pleasure without the full personal commitment of marriage, ultimately separating body and soul. Sex becomes a sloppy physical encounter from which we walk away wiping our mouths.
So, how should we think, teach, and practice regarding sex? This paragraph from Keller is a good one: “Sex should instead be a way to both display and deepen full trust. It is a radical, unconditional, deeply personal means of self-donation. It is God’s create way to say to someone else, ‘I belong wholly and exclusively to you.’ If you use it to say that and mean that, as times goes on it will enable spouses to indeed become more indissolubly one and each other’s. If you don’t use it like that, you’ve turned it into groceries. It will be routine, then boring. There will be no wonder left.”
Here at CPYU we are passionate about pushing back on the cultural narrative wherever and whenever it strays from God’s good design for anything and everything, misleading our kids, de-forming our kids, and mis-shaping our kids. We have to get this right. To that end, I want to point you to a few resources we recommend that can be helpful to you in our home and church. Youth workers and parents, these resources are for you! . . .
First, we’ve put together this free downloadable teaching tool, God’s Plan For Sex and Gender: 10 Teaching Points For Home and Church. This little handout is something that should be in the hands of every parent and youth worker. Please take some time to download it and check it out, and then pass it around.
Second, we can’t be more enthusiastic about some of the new resources coming from our friend Christopher Yuan and his Holy Sexuality Project. If you don’t know Christopher and his story, you need to check it out. Recently, he has released a 12-part video series, The Holy Sexuality Project, for use in the home and church. I’ve watched the entire series and can tell you that this by far the best that’s out there. Our church is currently considering using the series in a 12-week parent/teen Sunday School class. I can’t wait! Here’s something that will make it particularly attractive: it’s only $20!
Third, we invite you to join us for our upcoming CPYU Symposium on Traditional Biblical Sexuality in a Changing Youth Culture. We have a few spaces left. You can learn more and register here.
Finally, I invite you to listen to the latest episode of our Youth Culture Matters podcast where I interview Christopher Yuan about biblical sexuality. I’ve had a few people tell me that this might be the best YCM episode ever. You can listen below. . .