TEEN SEX: The thought that your son or daughter is sexually active cuts Christian parents to the core. Biblical counselor Julie Ganschow describes the prevalence and dangers of teen sex, and she gives hope and help to parents. Her article appeared first here on The Biblical Counseling Coalition. It is used with permission.
Fourteen-year-old “Angela” (not her real name) sat in my counseling office at the request of her mother. Angela had been displaying some behaviors that caused concern and led her mom to investigate her daughter’s activities. While checking Angela’s cell phone, she was horrified to learn that Angela had been sexually involved with her 16-year-old boyfriend.
Angela is one of nearly half of all students in ninth through twelfth grade who have had sexual intercourse. Sadly, 14 percent of those students have already had four or more sexual partners in their young lives.
Our teens live in a sex-saturated culture.
Television and movies routinely show men and women who barely know one another having sex, and this promotes the idea that there is no difference between sex and love. It is critical that we communicate the message: Immoral sex is not “love,” it is only sex.
So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart (2 Tim. 2:22).
Dangers of Teen Sex
There are many dangers for a young person who becomes sexually active. Parents are most often concerned about pregnancy, abortion, and sexually transmitted diseases. However, with the marketing of vaccinations to prevent cervical cancer and medication to treat herpes, there is a mistaken view among some adults that teen sex is not a big deal. Nothing could be further from the truth.
In addition to physical issues that can result from sexual activity at a young age, there are significant emotional dangers. Teenage sexuality often leads to emotional distress, especially for girls. In a majority of teen sexual encounters, there is no “relationship” behind the sexual act being performed. Teens are taught that sex is little more than the satisfaction of a physical urge and that everyone does it.
The reality is they are not emotionally ready for sex. Teenagers already experience a complicated array of emotions from the hormonal changes taking place in their bodies. So when they become sexually active, it only makes those feelings more intense and confusing.
Sexually active teens often report having feelings of self-contempt and worthlessness. Angela eventually realized she had been withdrawn, depressed, and angry since becoming sexually active. One study involving 8,200 students, ages 12 to 17, found that those involved in romantic relationships had significantly higher levels of depression than those not involved in romantic relationships.
Angela grew up in a home where morality is valued. Her mom taught her to cherish her virginity, so giving it away while young and unmarried brought her tremendous feelings of guilt, shame, and loss.
Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body (1 Cor. 6:18).
Angela expressed a sense of being trapped into having to say “yes” to sex since that door had been opened. She described being pressured to have sex on every date she had with her boyfriend. Angela also told me she didn’t like sex, but didn’t think she could say “no” to him. She considered it to be meaningless and it had become a pastime, more of a social activity that she and all her friends were doing.
Over the weeks we met together, Angela realized that her view of sex lacked the sacred beauty and richness that God intends for it to have.
Angela learned that while she could experience the physical aspects of unity, sex outside of marriage would never contain the critical spiritual element– the oneness– that is present between a woman and her husband within the covenant of marriage.
All the wrong images and ideas about sex confront our kids from the moment they wake up until they close their eyes and sleep. Sexual messages fill their music, commercials, radio, computer, classrooms, peer groups, parties, music videos, movies, books, phone conversations, and even their drive down the highway. To counterbalance to these messages, parents must speak up.
Training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age (Tit. 2:12).
It should be part of the training that takes place in the home. Kids need to hear from their parents that God gave married couples the gift of intimacy to enjoy. Teach them that within marriage, a couple can have abundant, fearless love. Trust and commitment in marriage make it possible for both husband and wife to enjoy each other in a way that is devoid of guilt, shame, fear, and doubt.
Questions for Reflection
How can parents better engage their teenagers and help them navigate these difficult issues around teen sex? What are some ways to protect teens from the cultural and social pressures to be sexually active?
 Kara Joyner and J. Richard Udry, “You Don’t Bring Me Anything But Down: Adolescent Romance and Depression.” Journal of Health and Social Behavior 41 (2000) 369-391