There are few things more exhausting and enlightening that teaching the sixth commandment to a seventh grade Confirmation class. I recently spent hours of class time working to help my students understand what a “sexually pure and decent life” looks like in today’s culture. While I desire for them to have a Godly perspective of their sexuality, I am constantly amazed by how many worldly ideas about sex and sexuality have already become ingrained in their minds. They exhaust me with questions and what if’s that I would never have even considered when I was in middle school. Even the vocabulary they use is more advanced. They know more about sex at 12 and 13 than I did at 16.
It’s no wonder really. Messages about sex and sexuality are everywhere, around them all the time. The boundaries of culturally appropriate sexuality are being pushed further and further back from Biblical, God-pleasing sexuality all the time. Recently, popular teen show Gossip Girl recently put a huge publicity push behind a sexual threesome between regular characters in the show. The already hyper-sexualized show felt the need to up the ante, even on the heels of a much talked about guy on guy kiss. In anticipation of the episode, the Parents Television Council sent a public letter to CW affiliates. Part of that letter said the following:
“Gossip Girl routinely depicts teenage characters engaging in promiscuous and consequence-free sexual behavior, and that’s bad enough. But will you now be complicit in establishing a precedent and expectation that teenagers should engage in behaviors heretofore associated primarily with adult films? Behaviors that not only increase health risks, but which are emotionally and psychologically damaging to participants, as well? I certainly hope not, and I’m sure members of your community and parents of children who watch your network expect more of you.”
Even though the PTC is not a Christian group, I have to agree with much of what they say. Having seen this show several times, I can attest to the not just worldly, but nearly ridiculous perspective worldview this show attempts to project about sexuality. Characters have sex with people as if it were a handshake, with no discernable physical or emotional consequences. The show works under the premise that sex is an easily tradable commodity everyone uses, frequently with different partners in and out of marriage, for entertainment, for social gain, even for monetary gain. Even the idea for the threesome on the show came from a fictional article in a college paper which noted that having a threesome is one of the top 15 things every student should do before they graduate from college.
Our culture doesn’t seem to be too turned off from this idea, which as the PTC points out, used to be relegated to adult films. The series’ viewership was up 20 percent from last week: 2.4 million viewers versus 1.95 million, per Nielsen statistics. Interestingly enough, the show lost viewers in its final half-hour when the threesome took place. I went looking for the video on Youtube the next day and found a version which used Britney Spears’ new song “Three,” a song about having a threesome, as the background music. Clearly the idea is hitting the cultural mainstream.
I think it goes without saying, but I will anyway, a threesome is FAR outside of God’s divine plan for our sexuality. What concerns me more is not how clearly this violates God’s Law, but how it is sneaking into our cultural norms for sexuality. No longer can we assume that this is a sin only needing to be addressed with adults in specific circumstances. If we want to combat what the culture tells teens about sex we have to address this issue with younger and younger students. We can no longer pretend this is something they don’t know about. Rather we need to be proactive in our explanations of why God has called us to purity, rather than the cultural norm for sexuality.
If we are on top of our culture’s ever changing ideas about sex, we have the advantage of teaching our teens how God perceives something like a threesome right as they first begin to understand it. I would rather be talking about it now than trying to take apart a deeply ingrained, warped, worldly view of sex later on in life.