Monday, June 29, 2009

True Intimacy

Real intimacy is the result of letting another person see who you are. But if you don’t feel good about yourself and your identity, you will keep yourself hidden and never achieve intimacy. Only a person with a relatively good sense of security and identity can fully enter into the experience of intimacy.

We can never enjoy the full potential richness of a meaningful relationship—for which we were created—without becoming intimate with at least one other person. Again, I am speaking primarily about psychological and spiritual intimacy, which is the result of being open and transparent. It is more a matter of communication and sharing than of any kind of grand passion. When two people confide in each other about their innermost dreams, hopes and thoughts, they are “being intimate.” True intimacy involves being able to remove all the masks and disguises we hide behind, without fear of rejection, and be known and loved for ourselves.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Fear of Intimacy

Today we see people getting involved in sexual activity, often promiscuous sexual activity, for the simple reason that they don’t understand what true intimacy is. Sexual experience becomes a substitute for intimacy. We use phrases like “making love” and “being intimate” in talking about sexual intercourse. Yet most sexual involvements, outside the loving commitment of marriage, express very little genuine love or closeness.

Not only do many people misunderstand what real intimacy is, but they are afraid of it. Why do people fear intimacy? Because intimacy inevitably brings vulnerability. Emotional sharing requires self-disclosure, and for many of us the idea of opening up our innermost selves is a scary prospect. Many young people repeatedly share their bodies because they are afraid to share themselves. They participate in countless “one-night stands” because they are afraid to be vulnerable. Most teens and adults mistake the ecstasy of an orgasm for the intimacy of love.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Searching for Intimacy

One reason adolescents rush into sex is the attempt to find intimacy in a relationship. Kids want to feel close to another human being, to make an emotional connection, and to feel especially cared for. Many young people mistakenly equate physical intimacy with emotional or relational intimacy. Getting close in bed or in the back seat of a car makes them think they are really starting to get close.

The excessive sexuality among adolescents indicates our culture’s inability to experience true intimacy. A young person who has been involved sexually with various men wrote: “It is far easier to ‘bare your bottom’ than to ‘bare your soul.’” Emotional contact is the goal; sex is often the means. Obviously, a physical act cannot help someone reach an emotional goal. But for an insecure teenager hungry for intimacy, it seems plausible.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Seeking Acceptance

When young people seek acceptance, they will do what other people do in order to be like them. They have to perform, to do the right things, to live up to the standards of those whose acceptance they seek. Some may do it through joining gangs, others by being top athletes and keeping up with the crowd and others by fulfilling the sexual desires of a boyfriend/girlfriend or date.

Suffering from a poor self-image brought about by lack of acceptance of them as unique individuals, teenagers may grab for the first thing that resembles security. Often this means sex. Kids so desperately want love, acceptance and care that they will violate their moral values to get it. And when a young person discovers acceptance brought about by pleasing another person, regardless of how shallow and fickle that acceptance may be, it leads to a cycle of seeking security in performance and trying to impress others.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Searching for Security

Our needs are compounded by the breakdown of the family. God intends for our inner needs to be met by Him first, then by other people. In times past, even without a relationship with God, people could find relative security and significance within the family. They had at least one place where they could be themselves and not have to perform.

But that is not true in most cases today. Rather than being a haven from the world, for many teens the family setting is a place of discord and unrest, a place where spouses are put on a performance basis, knowing they will be discarded if they do not continually please the other. Any element of security the family may have held is removed, since people within the family are not loved for who they are, but rather for how they perform. Kids growing up in that kind of environment lack acceptance and security which leaves them with an unhealthy sense of worthlessness. They don’t feel free to be themselves. They believe that if they were, no one would like them.

People feel vulnerable because of poor self-images: they feel they’re not pretty, too short, too tall or not fully developed. They feel there is something wrong with them if their parents are divorced or because they are adopted. Some adolescents even feel vulnerable because they haven’t had intercourse or because they think it’s wrong to feel sexual. Their security is gone and their firm foundation is gone, because the safe haven of their family has been corrupted with performance-based love.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

What’s Love Got to Do with It?

People throughout time have tried to understand love, define it and experience it. If our young people can’t adequately define love, how in the world can they know whether they are in love? They can’t. If they can’t define love, how can they know whether they are being loved? They can’t. If they can’t define love, how can they even know whether they are in a loving relationship? They can’t. The confusion about love weakens a young person’s resolve to wait for sex.

Our society, to a great extent, has stopped passing biblical morality on to its kids. Without clear standards of right and wrong, teenagers are left to find their own standards. Many come up with “love" as the justification for sex. But they don’t know what love is. I took a survey of 4,000 college students at Campus Crusade for Christ conferences, asking them to write their definition of love in two minutes. When I examined all the cards they turned in, I found that only seven of these Christian students were able to give a definition. No wonder so many Christian kids are getting involved sexually in the name of “true love.” They have no idea what they’re getting into.

Monday, June 15, 2009

If You Love Me

The pressure line is: “If you love me, you will have sex with me,” or “If you love me, you’ll prove it.” Sex is never a test of love. The true nature of love is seen in how we treat people (1 Corinthians 13:4-7). The result of this pressure is that the person pressured begins to feel that his or her willingness to take the next step into sexual involvement becomes a test of true affection or love for the other—not trust, respect, caring and sensitivity.

Usually the two discover later that what they thought were feelings of love were only charged up sexual sensations and now they must live with the consequences. The “I love you” of one person can be significantly different for another. Sex is often given in the name of love with the anticipation of marriage and commitment. But for the partner, sex might simply be saying, “You’re someone very special,” with no anticipation whatsoever to marry.

That pressure line, “If you love me, you’ll have sex with me,” should be considered in the light of the following replies by teens:

“OK, prove how much you love me by understanding and respecting my feelings.”
“Love or no love, anyway you slice it, it can result in a baby and that does matter.”
“I love you. But I’d feel better showing you in another way.”

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Love and Sex are Confusing

It is no wonder teenagers become confused about love. Teenagers are in the process of maturing, contending with hormone changes and establishing their own identities. And at the same time they are trying to figure out this force called “love” that baffles and defies definition even by adults.

So what they think is love then becomes a justifiable cause for premarital sex, perhaps more so than any other reason. Even Christian teenagers, lacking a solid understanding of love, may be firmly convinced that unmarried people who are “in love” can engage in sex to express their intense emotions. They look at love and sex as being synonymous. Much of this confusion is encouraged by television, videos, movies and peer pressure. It can cause a young adolescent to feel acute pressure to have sex when he feels he loves someone. The confusion is compounded when the other person says “I love you.” The sad conclusion many teens reach is, “If you don’t have sex with me, you don’t really love me.”

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

God’s Love

From beginning to end, the Bible shows us God’s definition of love, the only accurate definition available. Love is an attitude we have, resulting in action that makes the security, happiness and welfare of another as important to us as our own. This type of love is selfless, considers others more important than ourselves, and seeks to guard and strengthen the dignity God has given each person. It is a reflection of God’s love for us.

Unfortunately, since we as a society have lost sight of God, we have lost the understanding of His love. As a general rule, we have reduced love to one of two things: (1) a warm feeling or (2) a positive response to a relationship that makes us feel good. Both of these are self-directed, not outer-directed and stand in juxtaposition to the biblical model.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Searching for Love

Maybe some kids don’t know much about being in love. But they still reach out for it in ways that bring them heartache. The following story, shared with me by a heartbroken teenager, painfully illustrates this point:

It was near Thanksgiving and I was babysitting. My boyfriend said, “Mind if I come over?” Well, one thing led to another, and in a strange house on an old beat-up sofa, I was no longer a virgin. Virginity gone, innocence gone, the floodgates of immorality were now open. In poured masturbation, promiscuity, marijuana, speed, a couple of acid trips, crabs and a few bouts with gonorrhea. Love and acceptance were all I was looking for. How could the world be so rotten? I hadn’t found love. I’d found casual sex with all kinds of strings attached. Acceptance? No one really cared. They were too worried about getting burned themselves.

All she was looking for was real love, not a cheap imitation with all kinds of consequences

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Why Don’t Kids Wait to Have Sex?

One reason kids don’t wait until marriage for sex is that, without knowing the difference, they are trying to meet several different needs with only one solution. Kids don’t realize that they are attempting to meet emotional needs through sexual activity. They don’t realize that they are substituting sex for relational needs—and usually at a high price. Like the rest of us, adolescents are created with the need for love, security, intimacy, companionship, affection, spirituality, etc. When these needs go unmet—as they do occasionally for everyone—some kids turn to sex. They are hoping to fill the void they feel with sex.

Quite often they lack the skills to even recognize the true deficit in their well-being. Without being taught to understand God’s ordained role for sex in a committed marital relationship, they use it as a cheap substitute for a variety of different needs. And they may go from relationship to relationship trying to fill the void, never realizing that the answer can’t be found in someone else.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

It’s “Simple”-- Just Listen

Parents need to focus on their kids and listen to them. One of the most powerful ways to build a relationship is to listen. You have to know what is going on in their heads. In some ways it is no different from establishing a friendship. When you listen to someone, you are telling that person that he or she is important to you. As you and your teenager become more important to each other, you will want to spend more time together. When you feel you are reaching this point, begin working on some activities together.

As the relationship and trust are gradually (or sometimes quickly) reestablished, the rebellion will become less of an issue. Your kids don’t have to hurt you now because they like you, and may even love you. They don’t have to rebel against what appears to them as your stupid rules any more because now they know you love them and have their best interest at heart. They don’t have to have sex with someone now just to be rebellious—they trust your judgment more—even if they don’t understand it perfectly.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Sex as a Form of Rebellion

Sex as a form of rebellion signifies faulty relationships within the student’s family. However, concerned parents can take some initial steps to reestablish the relationship. First, there is one basic principle a parent needs to remember: Rules without relationships lead to rebellion. If you are not nurturing a relationship of love, acceptance, and affirmation with your child, he or she will throw your rules back in your face in some form of rebellion!

Second, back off on as many rules as possible, especially grounding. Let the kids know you want to rebuild mutual trust. You are still in charge, but you can’t show your kids you trust them if they have no opportunity to prove themselves trustworthy. You need to exercise caution, however, because a sudden switch from rules can lead to anarchy and could confuse the situation. Relationships that have eroded over the course of years won’t instantly change and kids won’t respond just because you expect them to do so.