Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Bible Belt and Babies

The news report was one to turn your head. “U.S. states whose residents have more conservative religious beliefs on average tend to have higher rates of teenagers giving birth.” In so many ways that just doesn’t make sense! Everything inside us says that the more religious states should have a lower rate of teen births. After all, other studies have shown that religious participation serves as a deterrent to sexual activity. So what is going on here?

I was one of those kids who grew up in the Bible Belt, participating in “religious activities!” In my tiny little town there wasn’t a lot going on, so church was the center of activity for many of us. We had a wonderful youth choir, we went on retreat and camps, in general had a great time together.

A few years ago I was having a conversation with a friend from those years, and we were discussing what our church had taught us about sex. Both of us agreed that the message had been very clear. “If you have sex, at the very moment of penetration, the ground will open up and you will plunge into the center of hell.” There was no mistaking the message. It was there!

But neither of us could ever remember any conversation about sex.


The message was there. It was hanging in the air and we took it in with every breath. We were at church for Sunday School, worship, Sunday Night church, Training Union (now you know I grew up Baptist!) choir, Wednesday night activities, Youth Group. We were there after school many days, just to hang out. We were there all the time, but we never ever talked about sex.

Which may very well explain the problem. Churches aren’t talking about sex, or contraceptives, or sexuality, or relationships. The message is “out there;” it’s just never verbalized. And in that strange world of the teenage brain, the message goes something like this:

I know I shouldn’t have sex. So there is no need to think about contraceptives, because if I bought a condom, or took the pill, then that would mean I was planning to have sex, which makes that premeditated sin. But if Friday night when our parents are out of town and we have a few beers and “just get carried away,” then that isn’t as bad.

No it doesn’t make logical sense, but then we are talking about romance and hormones and the teenage brain—not a “logical combination.” (But then, often times it isn’t a logical combination with adult brains either!) That is why we must be talking with our teens about sex. It is a task for parents, for schools, for caring adults, and yes, for churches. Our teens need and want some direction, some idea of how to maneuver through these turbulent years. They want to know about sex, but even more about relationships and values. And is there anywhere better for that conversation than our churches, temples and mosques?

The Campaign has resources—both written and personal—to help you with the conversations! During this month, and every month, let’s talk with our youth about what is important. It is a message that is too important just to let “hang in the air.”

by: Rev. Don Flowers, Immediate Past Board Chair and Pastor of Providence Baptist Church
Contact Don:

No comments:

Post a Comment