“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and that you are not your own?” -1 Corinthians 6:19
When we moved to Odessa, my first job was to listen to this community. I met with community leaders and asked, “What are the strengths of Odessa? And what are the struggles people living here are facing?” One of the consistent themes that emerged is alarm that our teen pregnancy rate in Ector County is three times the national average.
Our public schools currently offer three hours of sexuality education to our students in the 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, and 10th grades. It is not enough to combat the sexualized messages of the media world we live in, help kids value theirs and others’ bodies, and give them the information they need to make smart choices. Of course, we hope that parents are also talking with their kids. But we have written two doctoral dissertations at my house and still struggle to find the right words to have meaningful conversations about healthy sexuality with our kids. We aren’t the only ones. A recent survey of Ector County teens by UTPB’s First 5 program who have experienced a pregnancy said they did not get “the talk,” and if they did parents simply said “don’t do it.”
Because parents need support, and kids need more help, and schools cannot do it all, our church is offering “Just Say Know.” It’s a weekend event June 3-4 for middle schoolers. Parents attend the opening and closing sessions where they can hear from kids what they are learning. Kids get to hear that we trust them with all the information they want, including anatomy, contraception, and internet safety, and that we will help them make healthy decisions. And why would a church do this? Because we are able to educate kids in an atmosphere that gives us freedom to tell them what sex is for in the first place. We can take back sex from the American marketing machine and the internet porn sites. At church, we can teach kids these essential truths:
1. God made your body and said you are “very good” (Genesis 1:28).
2. God made you a sexual being and that is good, and enjoyable, and right. You are a sexual being for the purposes of procreation, bonding with another human being for life, and for pleasure and fun. (Genesis 2:24, 25)
3. What you do with your body can honor yourself, others, and God. You can make choices that build your self-esteem and secure your future, and we want to help you do that! (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)
Ector County needs our churches’ help to share this message far and wide with teens and parents in our community. You can help by inviting a family to participate in Just Say Know. Register at fccodessa.com/register/