It isn’t often that you hear about sexuality being discussed at length in church, in fact the general perception out there still seems to be that “church people” regard sexuality as a taboo subject, something to be expressed within the context of marriage and not otherwise discussed (with the exception of the teenage purity campaign and an additional list of “don’t”s for all ages).
Schools cover some aspects of sexuality, primarily anatomy, reproduction, and sexually transmitted infections, but this form of sex education is still not comprehensive. Many teens end up learning quite a bit from their friends, from exploration, and from the internet (which as many of us know is rampant with unhealthy images and misrepresentation. Though there are a few good sites out there, they aren’t necessarily the ones our teens find.) Many teens experience consequences that will impact them deeply, including unplanned pregnancies, infection (some curable, some permanent, some deadly), and the emotional trauma of engaging in acts of intimacy for which they were not ready and/or with a partner who does not value them.
Our response is to embrace sexuality education as a vital part of our youth ministry. We believe wholeheartedly that God intentionally created us as sexual beings and that our sexuality is therefore a gift from God, meant to be developed and cared for with understanding and purpose. We teach a series of courses with specially trained teachers utilizing a comprehensive curriculum thoughtfully researched (including timely updates) and written by Rev. Linda and Richard Goddard of CLER Ministries.
This winter we are teaching the “Just Say Know” course for high school students. This 20-hour course addresses all aspects of sexuality from a faith-based perspective while still being scientifically accurate and culturally relevant. We teach not only the science and mechanics of sexuality, but also the emotional impacts and spiritual purpose. We allow teens to ask questions in an anonymous, welcoming environment, and research factual, thoughtful answers that are presented without shame or judgment.
We explore relationship and dating issues, providing tools for our teens to identify healthy vs. unhealthy relationships. We also provide tools and information to help our students decide where and how to set boundaries in relationships so that they are equipped to make the healthiest decisions for themselves in regards to their self worth, their human relationships (both current and with their future spouse), and their faithful relationship with God.
This ministry has proven to be invaluable to our teens, and is one of my greatest passions in youth ministry. I welcome your questions, and if you feel inspired to help support the continuation of this ministry I have ideas and welcome conversation.
With hope and gratitude,