No big idea.No reference verse(s).
A teenager and his girlfriend went to her house after school. Her parents weren’t home, but they decided to hang out in her house anyway. The two of them went upstairs to her bedroom to “talk,” sitting on her bed. Soon they were kissing. Eventually they were laying down. One thing led to another, and they ended up having sex.
The young man went to his youth pastor the next day and confessed, explaining himself. “We didn’t intend to do it. It just happened. We couldn’t stop! Why?”
The youth pastor wisely responded, “Because you weren’t designed to stop.”
This surprised the young man. “What do you mean? I thought I was supposed to stop.”
“Nope.” The youth pastor explained. “You weren’t supposed to start. Sex is like a train ride. Once the train starts moving, it’s not designed to stop short of its destination. And it definitely can’t slam on the brakes and stop instantaneously.”
(Sound bite) Many committed followers of Christ desire to stay sexually pure until marriage. Few know how to keep that commitment.
WHO IS TALKING ABOUT IT?
One of the biggest problems is the lack of good information. Who talks about this stuff? Where is a young person supposed to hear specifics on how to save themselves for the person they want to spend the rest of their life with, and commit to that person in marriage?
Are any songs encouraging young people to actually “wait for marriage?”
Let’s take a quick glimpse at the top of the charts:
Closer, by The Chainsmokers
Now you’re looking pretty in a hotel bar
And I can’t stop
No, I can’t stop
So baby pull me closer in the backseat of your Rover…
Side to Side, by Ariana Grande
Feeling like I wanna rock with your body
And we don’t gotta think ’bout nothin’
I’m comin’ at ya
‘Cause I know you got a bad reputation
Doesn’t matter, ’cause you give me temptation…
Bad Things, by Machine Gun Kelly
Nothing’s that bad if it feels good…
And we’re both wild and the night’s young
And you’re my drug…
Nails scratchin’ my back tatt
Eyes closed while you scream out
And you keep me in with those hips
While my teeth sink in those lips…
I think you’re probably starting to get the picture:
“I can’t stop”
“don’t gotta think about nothing”
“nothing’s that bad if it feels good”
No wonder so many of us are failing in this area. This is part of what makes saving sex so difficult. No one’s talking about saving intimacy for that special someone. Most the messages are just “indulge now” and “don’t think about consequences.”
So how can we actually save ourselves in such a sexually charged world?
Here are two disciplines that you might find helpful:
1. Be aware what you are soaking in!
It’s pretty obvious what message the world of entertainment media is preaching. We just heard a sample. So be aware what you watch and listen to, because it effects who you are.
Don’t take my word for it, in 2015 some researchers from the University of Central Florida tackled a project that didn’t win them any favors with the music industry. They sought to examine the relationship between sexual content in music lyrics and music videos, and the sexual behaviors of young people. In other words, “Do the lyrics of my music or the sexy images of the videos I watch actually make me more likely to have sex or engage in risky sexual activities?”
Earlier studies from The American Academy of Pediatrics had revealed…
“Teens who said they listened to lots of music with degrading sexual messages were almost twice as likely to start having intercourse or other sexual activities within the following two years as were teens who listened to little or no sexually degrading music.”
So these Florida researchers decided to embark on a similar study with college kids. The results weren’t surprising:
“Exposure to music containing sexual content is associated with engagement in risky sexual behaviors.”
Researchers particularly noticed a link between sexual content in music and “the participants’ age at their first sexual encounter, number of sexual partners in the past 12 months, rate of changing sexual partners, and condom use.” Bottom line: The more sexually charged music, the more risky sexual behaviors.
That’s just music. The research about the images we see yields similar results.
But you probably don’t need a doctor to tell you that if you’re listening to Nicki Minaj describe in detail which of her body parts she’s putting on some guy’s body parts… then you tend to think about sex more often. We don’t need to be putting ourselves in situations where we are inundated with sexual messages.
Which brings me to my next point…
2. Don’t put yourself in situations where the decision is already made.
Don’t set yourself up for failure. Let me say it another way:
If you want to save sex until the release date, stop watching the previews!
This isn’t just what we watch and listen to; this is the situations we put ourselves in. Like the story I shared just a few moments ago—of the young teenage couple who went up to her bedroom and ended up going much further than they ever wanted to go.
Sometimes the bad choices we make began 5 choices ago. Their mistake wasn’t the moment they decided to have sex—their mistake was probably 30 minutes prior when they walked into her house knowing her parents weren’t home. (Note: if you’d like to extend this talk to make it longer, you could briefly go through the II Samuel 11 passage and note the series of bad choices David made which led to adultery, then murder. Then just repeat the statement:“Sometimes the bad choices we make began 5 choices ago.”)
Girls, let me just say this. Don’t let a guy in your house when your parents aren’t home. I promise you, this is a huge temptation for guys. The lack of accountability is just too much.
Don’t set yourself up for failure.
Consider the words of the Apostle Paul to a young man named Timothy.
22 Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. (II Timothy 2:22, NIV)
Just because you stay away from sex does not mean that you are staying away from relationships. So, let us talk a little bit about that.
So, do you know the origins of Ariana Grande’s song Thank U, Next still in the top of the charts?
When the engagement between pop singer Ariana Grande and Saturday Night Live (SNL) comedian Pete Davidson didn’t work out, SNL made a joke about it in a commercial on November 2nd, 2018. So, Ari responded where people work out their differences today: Twitter. After a few sub-Tweets and a little throwing shade, some lyrics emerged. And then literally within one day, Ariana launched a song titled Thank U, Next on November 3rd, just a half hour before SNL aired.
Instead of ranting about her exes in the song, Ari reminisced about past relationships, shared the lessons she learned, then shared her secret for moving on. It’s after the first chorus:
Spend more time with my friends
I ain’t worried ’bout nothin’
Plus, I met someone else
We havin’ better discussions
I know they say I move on too fast
But this one gon’ last
‘Cause her name is Ari
And I’m so good with that (So good with that)
There’s the secret.
Then she goes on to explain all that “Ari” has taught her:
She taught me love (Love)
She taught me patience (Patience)
And she handles pain (Pain)
That sh*t’s amazing (Yeah, she’s amazing)
I’ve loved and I’ve lost (Yeah, yeah)
But that’s not what I see (Yeah, yeah)
Just look what I’ve found (Yeah, yeah)
Ain’t no need for searching, and for that, I say
Thank you, next… thank you, next…
I’ll let you decide whether it’s empowering or perhaps a little vain that she was able to turn to “Ari” who “taught me love, taught me patience” and how to “handle pain.”
I’d like to simply ask the same question to Ari that Doctor Phil would ask her if Ari was sitting right there on his couch, and that is, “So how’s that working for you?”
I think many people respect Ari for her message of self-empowerment. She didn’t let her “exes” bring her down, instead she moved on and depended on herself.
Anyone who has experienced a breakup knows that they can be painful. Sometimes they can even bring us to an unhealthy place. But are these our only two options:
- An unhealthy dependence on others
- Forget everyone else, I just need me!
Are these our only two choices?
Let’s dive a little deeper.
AN UNHEALTHY DEPENDENCE ON OTHERS—He/she’s my everything!
[Leader note: Use a personal story or story of a friend you know who experienced an unhealthy dependence on others. Here’s my story I share in this moment:]
Myself and Katelyn
Some of us have experienced relationships like this. If you have, your gut reaction is to gravitate completely away from this kind of behavior.
Fleeing a bad relationship is not a bad thing. But it’s not a license to go somewhere else unhealthy. Many people coming from unhealthy relationships overreact and swing to an equally unhealthy place: “Forget everyone else, I just need me!”
AN UNHEALTHY DEPENDENCE ON ME—Forget everyone else, I just need me!
This is a pretty popular trend right now in this “me-focused” world. I’ve heard it expressed many different ways:
“I’ve just got to think about me.”
“I’ve got to be true to me
“I’ve got to do what’s right for me.”
It’s good when we steer ourselves away from unhealthy relationships where we let someone else control us. But we’ve swung the pendulum too far when we retreat to an equally unhealthy place where we become self-focused or self-absorbed. The person who says, “I’ve just got to think about me” often hurts the people around them. This kind of thinking is merely considering ourselves before others, which is the polar opposite of what scripture teaches us. In the book of Philippians, Paul tells us:
3 Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. 4 Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. 5 You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. (Philippians 2:3-5, NLT)
[Add personal story of when you became “me-focused” or you saw someone self-destruct by becoming “me focused.”]
So how can we avoid either of these polar extremes in our relationships?
The key is our relationship with God.
A HEALTHY DEPENDENCE ON GOD—God, I depend on you!
(Big Idea of Talk) Healthy relationships don’t depend too much on others or too much on self; they completely depend on God.
The book of Proverbs communicates this well:
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
do not depend on your own understanding.
6 Seek his will in all you do,
and he will show you which path to take.
7 Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom.
Instead, fear the Lord and turn away from evil.
(Proverbs 3:5-7, NLT)
The author of Proverbs warned us about “depending on our own understanding” or being “impressed with your own wisdom.” Instead, trust in the Lord, seek his will, turn away from evil.
How do those words compare to those of Thank U, Next?
“Cause her name is Ari
And I’m so good with that
She taught me love
She taught me patience
And she handles pain
That s**t’s amazing”
“Seek his will in all you do,
And he will show you which path to take.
Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom
Instead, fear the Lord and turn away from evil.”
I don’t want jump to conclusions about Ariana Grande from her lyrics, so I hope that she is simply trying to express that she’s grown and learned from every past relationship and will take that wisdom into future relationships.
The wisdom I see missing in her song is humility, and that’s the essential ingredient in our relationship with Christ—the realization that we can’t survive on our own; we need to trust in God to carry us through.
This is good news if we’re experiencing tough times right now. Hurt happens. And relationships do break up. When they do, we have a choice. We can pout and tell ourselves, “I got this! I just need me. I’ll just care for myself.” Or we can come to our Creator and say, “God, I can’t handle this, please take it from me. I surrender to your will.”
Honestly, this only becomes difficult for one reason: it requires humility. It requires admitting we don’t have the answers.
That’s very hard for a “me-focused” world.
(Repeat Big Idea) Healthy relationships don’t depend too much on others or too much on self; they completely depend on God.
Interview Questions for Amy and Steve Wilch:
– Based on everything you know now and have experienced what wisdom would you give your PRE-DATING self?
-Based on everything you know now and have experienced what wisdom would you give your DATING self?
-In a world/culture where marriage is becoming more and more uncommon and even irrelevant, why is marriage worth it?