Four Facts About Sex We Can’t Hush—FACT 3

“How far can I go?”

That’s the most common question youth workers hear when they speak to Christian students about sex. Young people in the church have heard Bible verses about “fornication” or “sexual immorality.” They’ve heard us teach that they’re not supposed to go “all the way.”

So how far can they go?

Funny. If we were teaching teenagers the explicit truth about sex… this wouldn’t even be a question. Furthermore, if young people understood how sex truly works, they might just be a little more careful to not set themselves up for failure.

It’s about time that we teach them that sex is more than just “a home run.”

#3: More Than a Home Run

This week I’ve been blogging about the need to tell our kids the explicit truth about sex:

Now it’s time for the third fact about sex that we just can’t keep to ourselves! Sex is not just “a home run.” It’s so much more. (Hold onto your hats… there’s no tip toeing through today’s subject matter.)

I’ve probably heard it a thousand times:

 “I know we’re not supposed to have sex. So instead, we just…”

Now fill in the blank with one of many various sexual activities. I’ve heard them all: make out, touch each other, have oral sex, have anal sex…

Shudder if you will, but adults don’t seem to agree what “sex” is either. Is sex just “intercourse?” Most Christian adults will agree that oral sex and “petting” (an awkward term) are each some part of sex, but what about physical touch? A boy groping a girl’s breasts over her shirt… is this sex? (You’ll get a divided response every time.) Is this kind of touch appropriate for Christian teens and tweens?

Our kids want to know. And frankly, no one is talking about it (probably because it’s so awkward).

No wonder our kids are confused. So many of us just teach, “Don’t have sex!” We give them the I Corinthians 6 verses about sexual immorality being wrong, and we leave it at that. We never even define sexual immorality. Interpretation is left up to the pubescents with their screaming hormones and undeveloped brains.

Let me be clear. When Paul tells us to “flee” from sexual immorality in that passage, he’s not just telling us, “don’t have intercourse!” Sex is so much more than just “a home run.” God created sex as a process that starts with a little flirting, usually kissing, consensual touching, and soon it grows with incredible momentum to “going all the way.” Sex is the whole process. We can’t skip the beginning stages. In the same way, we aren’t supposed to start the beginning stages and then just abruptly halt the process. When we try this… we fail miserably!

Setting Them Up to… Set Themselves Up for Failure
The blame rests with us. It’s our fault.

Young people today constantly set themselves up for failure because they simply don’t understand sex. The biggest reason that Christian young people don’t understand sex is because most Christian adults won’t talk about sex in explicit detail.

I’ve talked with literally thousands of students about sex. Whenever I meet teen moms and listen to their story, 99% of the time they tell me, “I had questions, but no one was there to answer them.” (I told two of these stories to you recently here.)

We need to teach our kids the unedited truth about sex.

God created sex as this amazing process that starts with a just a look. Guy notices girl, girl notices guy. Attraction. Eventually kissing. Kissing leads to embracing. Embracing leads to caressing. Caressing leads to skin-on-skin touch. This kind of touch eventually results in pleasuring each other by touching the breasts and genitals (some people are really feeling uncomfortable now). Sometimes this leads to oral sex…and eventually…intercourse.

Eew. There’s that scientific word again.

It’s amazing how many words, terms and analogies we’ve come up with to describe this process. Baseball is an analogy that was common when I grew up.

“Did you get to first base?” That was kissing.

“I went to second base.” That was touching above the waist.

“Third base.” Touching below the waist.

“Home Run!” Everyone agrees that this is “going all the way.”

The interesting question I like to propose to young people is, “Which of these bases is sex?” Or “How many bases are you supposed to round with your boyfriend or girlfriend?” I’ve rarely met a young person who doesn’t name a base.

Why Is It So Difficult to Stop?
Most students see sex as just intercourse. To them, sex is a “home run.” Sex is “going all the way.” To them, the other bases are fair game.

I always ask, “Then why is it so difficult to stop when you’re on second base?”

The fact is, the whole process starts when a guy and girl begin kissing each other. That’s the way God made it. It’s actually a very amazing gift. We need to remember that this isn’t something dirty we’re talking about here. In fact, when kids ask me, “Why is it so difficult to stop?” I always surprise them with my answer:

“Because you’re not supposed to stop!”

“Huh?”

God designed sex as a process. When a man and woman commit to each other in marriage, they get to enjoy an intimate act of passion with each other that is so special that it’s reserved for just the two of them together, no one else. It’s a bond between them…“a bond that happens to feel freaking amazing!!!!”  (Okay…you don’t have to add that part.)

When a man gets alone with his wife and starts running his fingers through her hair and telling her she’s beautiful…it starts! Kissing, embracing, touching…it all progresses. (Here comes the explicit details that Christians are afraid to talk about.) The man’s penis gets hard, sometimes a result of a simple kiss, a nibble of the ear… a touch. Why? He’s so excited, and he wants more! God made it this way. The more the woman is caressed and touched, her vagina becomes wet, preparing for what’s about to happen. All this touching and caressing builds excitement, and soon neither can help themselves any longer. He longs to be inside her, and she longs for more. (Wow, this sounds like a harlequin novel!)

At this point I like to throw in a little surprise when I’m talking with young people about sex. I usually say this:

“And at this point, before they go ‘all the way’…they both stop, shake hands and walk away.”

Kids always just stare at me like I’m insane. So I go on.

“Nope. That’s not what happens, is it? In actuality, it would take a tornado or a herd of buffalo to stop what was going on in that room between that man and that woman. And why?

“Because sex was already started. The process of sex started with a touch and a kiss and eventually built to this amazing climax when the two finally ‘go all the way.’

“This is what sex is, the whole process. Not just ‘going all the way.’ More than just ‘a home run.’ The fact is, you shouldn’t even go up to bat with someone you’re not married to. This whole process is to be saved for marriage.”

Students always appreciate my honestly.

Yes! I always get students asking me, “So you’re saying that kissing is wrong?”

Again, the answer to that question is explicit. If I’m just talking to guys, I’ll be explicit, but with a touch of humor to lighten the mood.

“Anthony, the answer to that is probably in your boxers. If you’re at your grandma’s birthday party and the whole family is gathered around the table. Your girlfriend gives you a kiss on the cheek when you bring her a piece of cake… then you’re probably okay. But my guess is that if you’re alone with your girlfriend on the couch making out, the process of sex has probably started. If ‘Little Anthony’ is standing at attention ready for battle, that’s a good sign that the process has started. That’s why it’s a good idea for you not to kiss your girlfriend without your grandmother in the room. Little Anthony is scared of Grandma.”

It’s painfully obvious that this is one of the reasons that young people fail sexually. They put themselves in situations where they “start the sexual process” and then can’t stop.

I love to have students talk about these type of situations that they put themselves in. I come up with hypotheticals.

“Your parents are gone and your boyfriend comes over to your house to ‘study.’ Good idea, or bad idea?”

“You and your girlfriend are alone, lying on the couch watching a movie. She’s laying on you. Good, or bad idea?”

I ask them to reflect on past situations. When was it difficult for you to stop?

Sometimes there are kids there who haven’t put themselves in those situations yet. It’s good for them to hear the other kids share their stories and experiences. It’s good for them to set some guidelines before they get into these situations.

It’s funny. Whenever I teach this whole “sex is a process” to students, they always say, “I’ve never heard this before.”

Why are we so afraid to tell young people this truth?

Tomorrow we’re going to learn a 4th and final fact about sex that we just can’t keep to ourselves…

* * *The-Sex-Talk

If you liked Jonathan’s candid approach to this subject, you’ll really enjoy his books, MORE THAN JUST THE TALK, and SEX MATTERS and others on Jonathan’s Recommended Books page.

 

About Jonathan McKee

president of The Source for Youth Ministry, is the author of over twenty books including the brand new If I Had a Parenting Do Over, 52 Ways to Connect with Your Smartphone Obsessed Kid; Sex Matters; The Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket; and youth ministry books like Ministry By Teenagers; Connect; and the 10-Minute Talks series. He has over 20 years youth ministry experience and speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for youth workers and parents on his websites, TheSource4YM.com and TheSource4Parents.com. You can follow Jonathan on his blog, getting a regular dose of youth culture and parenting help. Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.
[Are you getting this daily blog in your email inbox?] If not, it's real easy-go here.
This entry was posted in Parenting, Sexuality, Youth Ministry Planning. Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to Four Facts About Sex We Can’t Hush—FACT 3

  1. Jeremy May says:

    Jonathan,

    Thank you so much for posting about this topic. I agree that it is not talked about enough. I have been asked to speak to a youth group at the end of March about purity and this information is very helpful. I really appreciate your willingness to hit this topic head on.

  2. Linda says:

    Fantastic job with this! it’s hard for us adults to say but i think often times it’s hard for the teens to hear – especially if they aren’t used to such open honesty in sensitive subjects. Whether they follow this understanding or not, i do believe they appreciate our honesty and willingness to share with them. We definitely need to do this more! Thanks for the great tips!

  3. Chris says:

    You have made it painfully obvious that I need to share this with my youth. I might even do a monthly series spending a lesson on each fact. Thank you sooooo much.

  4. Blake says:

    As I was reading the end of this post about how kids respond that they have never heard of “sex as a process” it made me realize that part of that is the fact that there are probably many adults who don’t think of it as a process either. It is one of those things that you know without thinking you know so you don’t think about it. Thanks for helping to bring this thought process to the front of my mind.

    • It is interesting. Many people don’t talk about this process, and most people don’t get this detailed. After all, it’s awkward.

      I had my 16-year-old daughter read this post before I posted it last night (she had me edit out several uses of the word “penis” and “vagina,” as well as replacing the word “intercourse” with “go all the way” at times.) She said something very interesting. She said, “Dad, I’m so glad that you actually tell them how far to go! You tell them not to start the process.” She went on. “I’ve heard so many people talk on this subject and they always ask the question ‘how far can you go’, but they never answer it. You do. And you make it really clear right here!” (and she pointed to the paragraph about Anthony getting a kiss from his girlfriend in front of his grandma).

      I found that intriguing. As I was writing the “Anthony” paragraph I was thinking, “Someone is SURELY going to complain about this part and tell me that my phallic references were unnecessary!” Funny. That explicit paragraph was what really made it clear to my daughter.

      Hmmmmmmm.

  5. Amanda Solheim says:

    Hey, Jonathan! Thanks so much for that artice! As a 23yr old, I never heard it put that way. I used to think sex was dirty in my early teens, because it’s in the media so much, then I went to a Girls of Grace concert, and started learning how sex was a gift! I’ve always heard, and has become my “secular” answer when that comes up, is that it’s not just physical, it’s emotional. The thing I’m still confused about, (and yes, I’m starting to get pretty uncomfortable) is where is masturbation in this? I’ve not heard much about whether it’s ok to please yourself, or, if it’s like sex, or if it’s just not necessary at all! Insights on this, please? I’ve heard it’s completely normal, I’ve heard you should, so you know what you like, or that everyone does it. Just not heard much Christians talk about this, maybe like it’s more taboo than sex? Thanks so much, again! 🙂

  6. Amanda Solheim says:

    What I meant is, if it’s like sex, and should be saved for certain times of your life? (Which frankly sounds ridicoulous after I type it, but it’s a form of intimacy.)

  7. Amanda, thanks for your honesty. I’ll tell you my honest two cents:

    The Bible never mentions masturbation. So we have to look at what the scripture says about sex as a whole. What we do know is that sex (this whole process) is meant for marriage. It’s an amazing gift for a man and woman to enjoy. We shouldn’t try to get a sneak peak and enjoy sex before marriage (fornication), or outside of our marriage (adultery). In addition, we shouldn’t lust after someone that’s not our spouse.

    So what does this Biblical truth tell us about masturbation? (Realize, there has been endless debate about this, and no matter what I say here, people are going to disagree. Oh well… here goes.) Yes, masturbation is a very normal “struggle,” for lack of a better word. If a guy is watching porn and masturbating… it’s a clear sin. He’s lusting after people that aren’t his wife. What if he’s not looking at porn? Well, what’s he thinking about? How many people masturbate while thinking about knitting a sweater? It doesn’t happen. Let’s be honest, lust is usually a big part of masturbation. Yes, I’ve heard the arguments that sometimes girls don’t lust, they just like the tickle and enjoy it like they’d enjoy a self massage. I don’t really know how to address that. And who am I to judge anyway? Bottom line, we know that we shouldn’t lust, and we know that we shouldn’t jumpstart this sexual process before we’re married or outside or our existing marriage. I think most people, if they’re being honest with themselves, know when they’re violating that.

    While we’re already talking about this embarrassing subject, let me mention one more thing. Is it wrong for a married person to masturbate? (like you said, to get to know your body and know what you like?) Again, go to the scriptural truth we know from scripture. Are you lusting about someone other than your spouse? If so, not good. If it requires thinking of Brad Pitt to get you excited, you probably shouldn’t do it. On the other hand, are you thinking about your spouse and getting to know what you like (females are very complicated beings with many triggers) so you can please him better? If this is the case… good for you.

    I hope this quick answer is a small help. Like I said, entire chapters have been written on the subject.

    • Casey Leigh says:

      I really loved the article about sex being a process…it totally makes sense. However, I completely disagree with your comments about masturbation. I don’t think it’s acceptable in any situation, married or unmarried, thinking about your spouse or not. Imagine how you would feel if you walked in on your husband/wife who was masturbating. You’d feel extremely hurt. You’d feel like you’re terrible at pleasuring them, so they have to resort to pleasuring themselves. Masturbation has no place inside a marriage (or outside of one). Sex could be described as a total gift of self– in Genesis when Adam sees Eve, it is said that “they become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). Masturbation is not a “one-flesh” union — it is a completely selfish act that is very capable of destroying a marriage. Whereas sex between married couples seeks to be a gift of self, masturbation is simply pleasuring oneself without desiring to make a gift of yourself.

      You also said lust is a big part of masturbation, which it is. Even if you’re thinking about your wife/husband when you’re masturbating, you’re lusting after his or her body and focusing only on the physical and what their physical body can do to you, since they’re not present with you. You have no emotional or spiritual connection with them, which happens during sex between married persons. Since those emotional and spiritual elements are not present, you’re reducing your husband/wife to a single element of themselves–their body. That, in a word, objectifies them, and makes them less than the human being they were created to be.

      • Casey, thanks for sharing your opinion. I told you that people would disagree. I think your points are very valid, I won’t argue with them at all.

        I will clarify one point though, the only way I think that a wife should masturbate would be with her husband’s permission. And I can vouch for almost every man alive that a husband would not be offended, hurt, or jealous in any way if his wife wanted to think about him and discover her pleasure centers to enhance their physical pleasure during sex together. Again, only my two cents. Probably not worth much more than that.

  8. James says:

    I can’t help but laugh and yet on the inside I’m crying. I’m one of those people who wishes I had heard this stuff when I was teen. I remember getting into many awkward conversations at the worst times possible (i.e. right before street evangelism) about sex, human anatomy (I didn’t know what a hymen was), and many other things. It made me angry that people were so bashful about the subject because I could tell that it was an important subject and therefore it made no sense why we felt embarrassed to talk about it. To my shame, I got a little bitter that people were so afraid to talk about it that I began to intentionally make awkward situations with the topic of sex.

    Now in my second year of college, no longer a virgin and having dealt with many other sexual struggles (lust, porn, emotional bonds with former sexual partners, and so on), I feel like this information needs to be tattooed on my back… When I have kids I want them to be unafraid to talk about any aspect of sex without shame. I don’t want my son to be embarrassed to have to ask why a bloody cloth was hung in the window. I don’t want my daughter to ask why women can’t be circumcised. Still, I’m afraid that there may be a cyclical effect at play. My parents couldn’t talk about it with me except to tell me I shouldn’t have sex until I’m married and that led me to find the answers elsewhere. Now I can hardly talk about sex without either being crass (I’ve gotten into trouble for preaching about sex and using “dirty words” without realizing it) or very methodical/scientific. How are young people going to relate to me when it comes my turn to speak the truth if I can’t seem to find the happy medium between crass and boringly scientific?

    • Thanks for your honesty James. I really appreciate your comments. Keep praying about how to communicate this topic with honesty and grace. I think of Jesus telling his disciples to be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves. We need to constantly find that balance. Keep up the good work!

  9. Charles says:

    Sometimes one partner in a marriage has no interest in sex, or is unable to have sex. Usually it is the wife. Also, especially for a man, it may be difficult or impossible to gain an erection, or have satisfaction with their partner for the reasons just given. Masterbation may be the only outlet. The other partner may be thankful that his/her wife/husband can find satisfaction in that way. (I know we’re discussing talking with youth about sex, but it seems this subject fits here.)

  10. Chico says:

    Jonathan, great stuff, as always. Whenever I’m speaking to teens, I try to take the stance of pulling no punches. You don’t have to be graphic to be honest and I don’t want to tap dance around issues. If you ask me a question, you’re gonna get the truth (seems like I remember reading about someone saying something about the truth setting us free?). I think that’s why I enjoy your resources so much. You’re just honest with teens and I believe that’s all they really want.

    I would be curious as to what you would say to “Anthony’s girlfriend.” Being a guy who used to be a teenage boy, I know how boys think about these things. Girls, not so much.

  11. Wes says:

    Another thing that I have found effective is explaining many of the chemical/biological/hormonal triggers that are being tripped as you start the process of sex. The endorphins, norepinepherine, adrenaline, and several others I cannot think of right now…anyway, it explains why once started it takes an act of God or a parent walking in to stop you once started.

    If you are “disciplined” enough to stop the process part way through, that too has negative consequences as well as it teaches your body to stop the process and can make it difficult to close the deal once you are married. I am guessing this is more true of women than men…

    Needless to say I always ask the group how close they want to be to the edge of a steep drop-off. You only have to worry about falling if you are playing too close to the edge. Stay away from the edge and you have no worries. Unfortunately it seems the majority of even the “good church kids from solid families” will buy the cultures lies and fail to learn from other’s mistakes.

    I have 5 kids of my own and daily I pray that God protects their hearts and their purity and that they learn to value that as He does.

    Wes