Ecclesiastes 1:9 says, “What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.” The often-quoted words of Solomon stand true today. Sexual immorality is not a new topic.
Temptation of Sexual Immorality
The world has known of it since the days of Genesis. This generation of teens is not the first to experience the temptation and pressures of sexual immorality. But are they walking in a time of different and maybe even greater pressure?
Same Command, Different World
“Flee from sexual immorality.” 1 Corinthians 6:18a
The command remains the same, but the world is different. Teens today face the tension and temptation on an almost constant basis. The pressure from peers that we have talked about for decades lives on; but today the ease of access created by a world that is ever-connected opens doors and opportunities nonstop.
Outside voices and expectations are louder today and permeate deeper into the crevices of teen culture and innate belief. The longstanding perspective of teens feeling guilt, shame, or even questioning whether sexual immorality is right or wrong no longer exists. We live in a “do what feels good” culture that teaches teens to empower themselves by following their desires alone—sinful or not.
Sexual Immorality At Their Fingertips
Today there are apps and social media galore to allure and give access. There is no hiding in a world that is always visible and expecting your life to be displayed in pictures and clever sayings that are 140 characters or less. The number of likes your photo receives is far more important than anything else. How can you possibly have a life if it isn’t documented for the online world to see?
Their pressure is not to just live; but they must do it in perfect fashion. If they don’t have a boyfriend/girlfriend, obviously they are not worth anything according to the world. If they aren’t participating in sexual activity, how could they possibly be happy or keep that significant other (the culture tells them). There is no understanding or belief that their bodies are valuable but rather they are just one notch to be used in climbing the ladder of popularity and acceptance.
The desire to belong, to fit in, and to be loved and accepted is an ever-growing monster in the heart of a teen that drives actions and gives birth to belief that satisfaction comes in fulfilling sinful desires and giving the voices around them the role of god to proclaim their truth. These desires become their idol with stronger powers than many of us realize.
They Are Not Exempt
In ministry, we are often tempted to hope and even pray that our students would simply make it through. We can even stoop to hoping that they will only make “small mistakes”. And in that we forget that even teens are called to holiness, needing to turn away from sexual immorality. Even teens are called to deny themselves and walk in godliness. First Corinthians 6:18b-20 applies to them as well.
This generation is not accepting of mediocrity or middle-of-the-road religiosity. They either believe it or they don’t. They do not mindlessly accept something and try to live their lives by it. When it comes to sex, simply saying “Don’t do it” might not be the answer. Jesus taught big truth; why don’t we?
How do we walk with them through the deafening expectations from a sinful world filled with people who do not naturally walk towards holiness?
They Need You
We as believers are called to flee, but also to go. There is a generation in desperate need of truth. There are teens across this world that need you to aggressively pursue a friendship with them in which you share the beautiful truths of Christ’s gospel and the satisfying reality of self-denial and pursuit of the only One who fulfills. They need to hear your voice. Also, they need to see your life. They need you to teach them about forgiveness. How are they to know what mercy and grace are if we do not teach them through both their difficult and triumphant days?
It is an incredible thing to see teens pursuing the Lord. They can remind us daily of God’s presence in their lives as they run hard after holiness amidst seemingly insurmountable pressure. May we trust in the God who is greater than our desires and this culture filled with sexual immorality. Ask the Lord to renew your hope and set firm your belief that he is greater and worthy of the praise of this next generation.