Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Hey Church, You Lost Me! Part 5.


We've been exploring a new book on the decline of church participation among young adults: "You Lost Me: Why Young Christians are Leaving the Church," by David Kinnaman, president of the Barna Research Group.

The second part of the book examines the six most common descriptions of the church given by young adult church dropouts: overprotective, shallow, antiscience, repressive, exclusive, doubtless.  

Today, we'll look at the fourth: repressive. 
"The story of a generation and sex is complicated and layered too, filled with judgment, rules, old and new media, hypocritical religious leaders, values turned on their heads, a world saturated with sexual images, and double lives trapped between soul and pelvis."
Kinnaman observes we are caught between two narratives about sexuality: traditionalism and individualism.

The individualist approach allegedly celebrates personal choice freed from the constraints of bygone societal or religious norms. Ironically, however, there has simply been a reversal of norms: "today young people who do not conform to social expectations are prudes, quaint anachronisms from a bygone era."

He explores several outcomes of the individualist approach to sexuality, including this interesting claim:
"The women's liberation movement, which ran parallel with the sexual revolution of the 1960s and '70s, sought to achieve more leverage for women in our culture…unfortunately, the positive goals of women's lib were soon bound up with individualism's approach to sex. One could easily make an argument that the real winners, in the aftermath, have been men, who are no longer bound by traditionalism's demands for commitment in sexual relationships."
Kinnaman challenges the church to imagine how "repressive" can turn to "relational."
"Rather than saying that sex is taboo (traditionalism) or that sex is about me(individualist), the relational approach to sexuality says,sex is good and it is about us."
Kinnaman raises good questions about how the church can address a host of matters related to sexuality:

Marriage - how can we reclaim marriage as a communal, not just personal, covenant?

Gender - how can we mentor young women to become confident Christ-followers who are honored and respected in the church? How can we shape young men to become strong, compassionate servants of God, their family, and their friends?

Sexual Orientation - how can we engage in meaningful dialogue, reflecting our relational priority even when we disagree with others?

Birth Control and Reproduction - how can we help the next generation think through reproductive decisions from a communal, relational perspective?

How about you?  What are the messages you hear or infer from the church regarding sexuality?  Here's a humorous example: 

 "Sex is dirty; you should save it for the one you love."

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