The Theology of Sex

Rooted Blog editor Liz Edrington kicks off our new series on the Theology of Sex. We’ll address the question of why and how we approach and address sexuality in light of the gospel in our ministry to students. Stay tuned!

Sex! Yep- it’s what gets their attention… (that and food).
There is no question that our kids are being bombarded by messages about sexuality every day and in any number of capacities. They regularly watch ads on TV which use sexuality to sell products, they watch shows which make sex into a commonplace way of relating in casual relationships, they read magazines which offer advice on ways to use their sexuality to lure potential partners into relationship, and they exist in a culture which says, “Hey, sex is no big deal.”
So, as I see it, there are few topics as important to address with our kids in the church because they are relating to sexuality (their own and the world’s portrayal of it) whether anyone likes it or not (which I say because there tends to be a lot of denial in the parental realm). And the great thing about it is that it really is a universal topic which can be a platform for so many of the crucial truths of Christianity and ways of relating which Jesus offers.
Before we can dive into offering our kids teaching, advice, or really anything deep in relation to sexuality, we’ve got to come to terms with the ways we relate to it ourselves. We all bring our broken selves to the table- hopefully recognizing that:
A) There is a proper design to the intimacy of sexuality, and that is within marriage (Genesis 2:24).
B) We are all the same in our sexual brokenness because it is in our hearts and minds and not just our actions (let’s take Jesus seriously in Matthew 5:27-28).
C) We really are all forgiven by, in, and through Jesus for our sin (Romans 3:23-24) and we need to look to His Word (scripture and the Living God) for help at every step in relating to one another in love, honor, and faithfulness.
Folks, let’s face it, it’s probably going to be awkward to broach the topic with our kids (unless you have that gem of a student who brings the issues & questions to you), but it is going to be worth it. Humor can be helpful here. Honesty, vulnerability, and relationship with our kids are fundamental to any kind of ministry we do- and teaching on sexuality is no different. Our kids must know they are loved and met just as they are (and not left on their own), and everything we do should reflect that. We must use wisdom and discernment in how we share of our own lives and experiences (considering where we are with our own relationship to the Lord and sexuality), and I think it incredibly valuable to tackle the topic as a team or in a partnership when possible.
Hopefully any topic on which we teach allows for the message of the gospel to be conveyed, and certainly the lies of culture and the world yield countless platforms for this. The lies the world is telling our kids about sexuality are no different. We don’t need to swing to the opposite side of the spectrum then making the biggest deal imaginable out of a subject which should find its rightful place among other subjects of scripture; but we should be aware of the particular significant connections sexuality has to relationship, love, identity, and sin (I Corinthians 6:12-20). And we should be cautious about talking only in abstractions to our students; they have very concrete questions and situations to address, and we are here to walk alongside them in those and to point them to our Living God who has the best for them. Let us also remember that there is no shortage of abuse or unhealthy relating to sexuality which plagues the lives of our students. The message of God’s gift of intimacy in the form of sexuality must be coupled with the message of God’s forgiveness and redemption of the very broken ways sexuality has been twisted.
Let us pray for and with our students regarding this, for Heaven’s Sake!

Liz Edrington serves as the Fellowship Groups and Young Adults Director at North Shore Fellowship in Chattanooga, TN. She received her M.A. in Counseling from Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, FL, and she has worked with students in one form or another since 2002. She is an emeritus member of the Rooted steering committee, and she's the author of a 31-day devotional for teenagers called Anxiety: Finding the Better Story (P&R Publishing, 2023). Pickled things delight her, as does her snuggle beast, Bella the Dog.

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