What's the Line?
Updated: Mar 26, 2021
When youth ask questions about sexuality, they want to know where the line is between right and wrong. Can I look at porn and still be ok? Is masturbation wrong? Where is the line in a dating relationship when I have gone too far? Our society is happy to answer all of these questions for today’s youth, and the answer they usually provide is, "What is right for you, is right for you. You do you."
Let's be honest, this is an answer that most of Gen Z will celebrate because we love to hear what we want to hear. We need to explain to our kids that our opinion and their friend's opinion are not what matters. The opinion that matters is God's. God is the one who created them; he made them sexual beings. If they genuinely want their sexuality to express their love for Christ, then only his opinion matters.
As we help our kids navigate the ramifications of their sexual choices, we need to encourage them to ask four critical questions.
1.) What does the Bible say? 1 Peter 2:11 says, "Dear friends, I warn you as temporary residents to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls."
If you are a child of God, you are a temporary resident on earth. It would be best if you did not make decisions based on what the world does. When Peter wrote this passage, the Christian community was learning to delight in the word of God even though it came at a price for them to do so. We need to do the same in our own lives.
While the Bible does not directly answer many of our sexual questions, it does state some sexual activity is not acceptable to God. Let's look at those: Sexual activity outside of marriage (1 Cor 6:18-20, 7:2), adultery (Matthew 5:28, Hebrews 13:4), prostitution (Proverbs 7:4-27), lust ( Mark 7:21-22, Ephesians 4:19), and inappropriate joking (Ephesians 4:29, 5:4). You may notice that some of these passages go against what is politically correct or socially acceptable today. We need to remember God's word doesn't change and rely on what the Bible says rather than relying on current cultural interpretations.
2.) Is it consistent with God's design for sexuality? It's easy to question God's will in our lives, but one verse I think is essential for this is 1 Thessalonians 4:3, "God's will for you is to be holy and stay away from all sexual sin."
Sexual sin is anything that twists or abuses sex and our identity in Christ. We love to distort our reality to conform to what we want. Example: Many women would not watch porn but found reading and watching 50 Shades of Grey perfectly fine.
When you wonder if a particular sexual act is right or wrong, ask yourself this question, "Is this thought or action putting sex, my identity, and anything else above God in my life and what he wants?"
3.) Is this beneficial? We all love clear-cut rules, but many of the issues teens struggle with today are not explicitly mentioned in the Bible. Example: The Bible says to wait for marriage for sex, but what about everything leading up to sex? Is it ok to make out, engage in oral sex, masturbate, touch each other, and fantasize about what you would do? For this, I suggest we reference Paul in 1 Corinthians 10:23-24, "You say, I can do anything, but not everything is good for you. You say I can do anything, but not everything is beneficial."
It's vital to communicate to our youth that while there is no clear line in the Bible for many of today's struggles in a relationship or actions leading up to sex, many choices we make may be harmful to ourselves and our significant other. Even if you have not had intercourse with the person, connecting emotionally and physically with someone without that commitment (i.e., engaging in oral sex, masturbating, porn) can be harmful to both parties. God does not set rules and regulations before us to control us or to be mean, but to protect us and others, keeping us safe from emotional, physical, and spiritual harm because he loves us as his children.
4.) Who can I look to for wisdom and guidance? A big piece of our life is learning to be wise and discerning in our decisions. When you feel unable to decide what to do, take it to God and ask for wisdom and guidance. An example could be in the form of creating a positive web of influence within your own life. These are godly people who will hold you accountable; mentors who care about you and love you and want the best for you. We can utilize these relationships that speak in our lives whether we’re an adult or youth.
We all need people in our lives who will let us ask honest and challenging questions. How many married people do you know that would say they were immensely grateful they slept around? Or how many singles have honestly said porn and masturbation benefitted their lives? Finally, how many engaged couples do you know that would say that going too far in their relationship was the best thing for them and that relationship?
The answer is most likely none, but having those real conversations with others who have walked those roads can offer truthful insight, wisdom, and remind us of God's truth while holding us accountable when we struggle. There is beauty in brokenness and connection in healing. It's in isolation that we convince ourselves that we are the only ones struggling with these issues. When we are vulnerable and lean into those relationships as adults and as youth, we do not have to do life alone.
All this to say, the purpose of this blog is not to scare you, shame you, or make you feel guilty as a parent. Remember, nothing is too big for God. Even when overwhelmed, remember God is with you, and other Christians walk and struggle alongside you. Be bold and nonjudgmental as parents when discussing sex with your kids. Try empathizing with statements like, "That's a sensitive question. I'm sorry you are struggling with that. Let's look into this together."
We are all strangers in this world because this world is not our home. We're temporary residents. Let’s be committed to God and walk our journey together with him.