While studying the 7th commandment, I read Paul Tripp’s Teens and Sex: How Should We Teach Them? (Phillipsburg: P&R, 2000). This is one of those great little booklets in the Resources for Changing Lives series (excellent pamphlets to put in your church library or to buy, read, and let others borrow). In this one on Christian sexuality, Tripp points out some failures in the church when it comes to the topic of sex (from pages 2-3).
“As Christians, we say that sex is a wonderful gift from God, yet we are strangely silent on the topic and uncomfortable in the rare instances when it is discussed. This leads to a lack of sexual balance, a lack of sexual openness, and a lack of clear, practical sexual education. Sex tends to get placed outside the boundaries of the normative Christian worldview.”
“Is it surprising, then, that the typical teenager assumes that Christianity is ‘sex-negative’? That is, basically, against sex? The church has been perceived this way for a long time, and it is surely the perception of many teens today.”
Later, Tripp talks about what happens when the church doesn’t give clear, open, biblical training on sexuality – the people clam up and view sex in a negative way, and since the church is “hush-hush” with no answers or positive discussion, they end up getting their sex ed from the world.
“We cannot live with the ambivalence of the church and allow the world to guide our teens in this or any other area. The Christian community, from the home to the organized church, must be prepared to act, to educate, to guide, and to restore” (p. 6).
Tripp goes on in this booklet to examine the Bible’s teaching on teens and sexuality and he ends with a “game plan” so to speak, on how to talk about sex with teens – putting the Bible’s teaching into practice. This book should also be read by older folks who may have a “Victorian” view of sex. And if I can expand on Tripp’s fine points, I would say that when the church is “hush-hush” about sex, Christian husbands/wives are as well, which normally leads to stifled intimacy (due to lack of communication – cf. 1 Cor. 7.5).
By the way, I always appreciate these RCL booklets because they are God-centered and Bible-focused – it is counsel centered on the gospel.