Mom, Dad... What's Sex? An excellent new book from Jessica Thompson and Joel Fitzpatrick

My generation of American church youth participated in True Love Waits rallies and purity Bible studies. Even though it wasn’t explicitly taught, we got the impression that if we kept our pants on, saved ourselves for marriage, and never kissed until the pronouncement then we’d experience marital bliss. But the trouble is sex can’t carry that much weight.

In the book of Ecclesiastes, the Teacher writes about his own grand search for meaning in life. He searched for significance in work, in material treasure, in aesthetic beauty, and in sexual relationships. He says, “I acquired… a harem as well – the delights of a man’s heart” (2:8). If the writer of this text was King Solomon (and I believe it was), then he’s employing quite the understatement. According to 1 Kings 11:3, he amassed seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines. “I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure,” the Teacher writes (2:10a). But was this enough to satisfy his deepest longings? No, he concludes, “Everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind” (2:11).

God didn’t design sex as a way of meeting our deepest spiritual needs.

God did not design sex as a way of meeting our deepest spiritual needs. He designed sex to be an expression of a loving marital relationship (Gen. 2:24-25). And he designed the marriage relationship as a signpost that points to something more – the deep love and mystical union between Christ and his bride, the church (Eph. 5: 31-32). When a married couple experiences the joy of sexual intimacy, God intends for them to be reminded of the greater joy they’ll one day experience when they’re united to their bridegroom Christ in glory. “Even the single person who is celibate,” writes Joel Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson, “is declaring with their life that they are waiting the union they will experience in the consummation of all things.”[i]

So, rather than holding out a great sex life in the future as the great hope and moral motivation for our kids, we must instead hold out Christ for them. Teach your teens that while sin gives temporary satisfaction, our great hope is found in God, whose love is better than life (Ps. 63:3). An orgasm gives pleasure for the moment, but God’s love and presence brings eternal joy. Teach your kids to look up and cling to the Savior who loved them even in the midst of their weakness and sin (Rom. 5:8).

As Thompson has written beautifully elsewhere:

Tell them that believers in him have his record of being the only sexually pure one to ever walk this earth. Teach them about the free grace of forgiveness that he extends to everyone. Teach them how much his love is better than any sexual experience they will ever have. Open their eyes to the beauty of the Lover of their soul.

One tool that may help you is the excellent new book by Jessica Thompson and Joel Fitzpatrick entitled, Mom, Dad... What's Sex? A Gospel-Centered View of Sex and Our CultureThis new book provides families with a clear vision, a winsome apologetic for the Bible's sexual ethic, and practical guidance--everything from social media to porn to same-sex attraction. But to just say that would miss the point. Joel and Jessica's goal is to celebrate Christ, who enters the hot mess of our sexual brokenness and brings redemption. Get this book and let it guide your family conversations. 

And as you remind your kids about the good news of God’s love, believe it for yourself. Show them a life lived in his love with confidence that Jesus is the only solution to our brokenness and the only pathway toward purity.

 

Family Friday Links 4.20.18

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Daniel Im the Founder of NewChurches.com and the Director of Church Multiplication for LifeWay Christian Resources he is also the Teaching Pastor at The Fellowship, a multisite church in Nashville. Daniel wrote a blog entitled Trends of Kids Ministry. Daniel writes, "Kids ministry is really hard work. You have to build and train an army of volunteers that serve faithfully. Although kids ministers get into kids ministry because they love kids, the reality is that they work with adults more than they work with kids. This means reaching both parents and volunteers. In order to do this effectively, pastors need to partner with kids ministers to capture the parents and help them realize the need to disciple their children at home. Kids ministers need the whole church to rally behind the idea."

Ligon Duncan at Together for the Gospel conference last week had a fantastic sermon about The Whole in Our Holiness. He ties in our need for holiness and our following the commandment of loving our neighbor. Ligon says, "If we would have just obeyed the commandment to love our neighbor, racial tensions would be in a very different place." I recommend you check out this sermon as we raise the next generation to love all people. Ligon also shared a few resources at his blog for youth ministry. Check out those Youth Ministry Resources.

J. D. Greer is the lead pastor of The Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina and he wrote for the Gospel Coalition last month a post about What Your Kids Need From You. J. D. wrote, " Love is not enough. The Bible teaches us that our kids have more than a behavior problem; they have a heart problem. They are spiritually dead. And no amount of our love can change that."  One of the most helpful pieces of parenting advice I ever received was this: Be their dad, not their pastor. The pastor is always busy telling them what is wrong with them; a dad is just excited about who they are. You can’t force the affections of their heart to grow. Only the Holy Spirit can do that, and he does it in the security of unconditional love. If you focus on your kids’ hearts and not their behavior, it’s going to change everything—including how you discipline, how you pray, and how you celebrate success."

What are you reading? Leave your links in the comments below! 

Kids and church, part 2: Sound doctrine, food for God's lambs

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Jesus commanded Peter, “Feed my lambs,” (John 21:15). Once we see the necessity of the church feeding those who are young in faith and young in age (see my previous post), the obvious question is: What do we feed them? When a shepherd is seeking to feed his little lambs, he seeks the lushest pasture. He wants to help these lambs grow up to be big and strong. When it comes to feeding those who are either young in the faith or young in age, the answer is simple--though it's hard to carry out. The answer is doctrine. Our doctrine, that is, our theology or knowledge of God, should always be growing. With each passing year, we should know God better, know him more deeply, know him more personally. We need to grow in our understanding of who God is so that we can better understand how to follow him faithfully.

But doctrinal study is a difficult discipline for seasoned believers to grow in, let alone those who are young. And yet it is necessary. When I say that the lambs need doctrine, I don’t mean that they simply need to memorize definitions and theological concepts. What I mean is that they must understand those concepts and how to apply them. This is where it gets hard. Here's what I mean. Shepherds take concepts that are, by their very nature, complex and difficult to understand, and we seek to make them simple. Teaching complex realities simply requires creativity with our teaching methods while remaining faithful to the truth. It has been my experience that this is a difficult balance to maintain; I often err on one side or the other. The balance is necessary though.

Here are two ways to get it wrong when teaching doctrine.

Most of the time it’s not so much the difficulty of the ideas or concepts we are trying to teach that is the problem. Rather, it's our lack of preparation. We may be easily frustrated when students don’t understand what we are communicating and assume the problem is on their side. But if we're honest the problem is ours. As teachers, we haven't dedicated the time to fully understand theological concepts ourselves, so we're not ready to convey their meaning.

Another way we teach doctrine wrongly is when we "dumb it down" in order for youth or children to understand. This does an injustice both to the doctrine and our students. As teachers and preachers, we need to keep the truth simple without simplifying it. We should never change the truth to make it more acceptable or intentionally leave out harder concepts (e.g. the Trinity, or the atonement) that may take more time to digest and understand. Yes, this is hard, but it's what we’ve been tasked to do. As teachers, we must be faithful with the whole counsel of God.

Here are a few ways to teach doctrine well.

Instead of dumbing down truth, we should break it down. Instead of simplifying truths, we distill them by teaching doctrine in chunks and by making sure our definitions are clear.  

And, after breaking down doctrinal truths into digestible chunks, we must also help help young lambs put the pieces together. We need to help youth see how individual truths connect with the bigger picture, the grand narrative of Scripture. When we do this well, we help kids see that the individual doctrines are simply windows through which we view our big God, and we lead them to worship and glorify the God of doctrines.

Finally, it's important to remember that no truth has been fully learned until it has been lived. Young ones don't need to simply memorize a definition that is divorced from practice. They need to work doctrine into their experience. In order for this goal to be accomplished, we teachers must both understand the material we are teaching and understand how this doctrine applies to our students. This requires one major thing. We must know the sheep. Proverbs 27:4 says, "Be sure you know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds." There's a principal there for teachers. We must know our students personally and lead them to apply doctrine where they live. We must make it personal for them so they can understand the truth experientially. We must help those young in age or faith to see how specific doctrines apply to their particular stage of life.

May God help us shepherd them well.

Family Friday Links 4.13.18

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Here's what we've been benefitting from online this week:

Todd Jones had a post on the Stoked on Youth Ministry site about having the mind of Christ. It reads, "The passage (Phil 2) goes on to describe that attitude; one of humility that is marked by serving others, regardless of the “position” or status He held. That is exactly what we need to do." Humility and sacrificial service should be big parts of any believers ministry. No matter your position of leadership, these should our mindset.

Gospel-Centered Parenting had a post on the praying parent. It reminds parents, "Pray. Pray as a first response not a last resort." When we are focused on behavior, prayer doesn't seem like it will help. When we focused on the heart, prayer is only option we have.

J.D. Greear had a post on his site about weakness and where true strength is found. He wrote, "You see, feeling inadequate is not a hindrance to being used by God. It’s actually a prerequisite to being used by God." This is a lesson that all believers need to learn, if they desire to be useful to God, especially leaders.

What have you been learning from online reading? Leave us a link in the comment section to check out.