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Im Waiting 28: Porn, Technical Virginity & Christian Teens

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This week, we continue our conversation with Matt Clinton of Fellowship of Christian Athletes. FCA is so much more than once-a-week meetings for Christian high schoolers. Matt uses his own past experiences to show teens that God isn’t looking for technical purity. God wants a heart sold out to Him!

Leslie Salazar Carrillo, Im Waiting: At Im Waiting, we’re hearing about “technical virginity” these days. The Center for Disease Control recently stated that on average, 68% of teens are not engaging in sexual intercourse. Which is great. However, statistics show that oral sex is still at 50%. Now, many Christian parents say, “Oh… but that doesn’t include our kids. That’s reflective of those other kids out there.” But, the truth is that within the Christian community, the statistics are the same.

Because Christian teens are taught that they should hold their virginity dearly… and they do, but they are striving for “technical virginity”. I hear a lot of teens saying things like, “Well, we’re only having oral sex, and the Bible tells us not to have sex, and oral sex isn’t really sex, so I think God is okay with it.”

So, what I am constantly repeating these days is, “God is not looking for technicalities. God is looking for purity of heart.”

Matt Clinton, Fellowship of Christian Athletes: I think that all of us are really good at justifying what we want. I heard a pastor say once, “If you’re asking ‘where is the line’, you’re asking the wrong question.”

And I can relate. I’m a very typical man and I’m not proud of how I always led my wife before we were married. We didn’t have intercourse, but I know that I didn’t do a good job at leading her and instead, I led us into situations that were really not very honoring to her. Now, we’ve been forgiven and redeemed, thank God… but, as young people, we ticked all the boxes for a young Christian dating couple – we volunteered at church, we both knew Jesus Christ… but the struggle is real!

So, what I have learned is that too often, we assume when we hear good Christian kids saying the right things and looking the part, that they are being completely transparent. The truth is that for Christian couples today, dating is tough. It’s tough for them, and it’s tough for us as mentors.

But, what I like about Im Waiting and the things that you do is how you emphasize that sex is about so much more than the physical. You don’t hesitate to talk about the emotional aspects of sex and the attachment that occurs.

One of the lies that I believed when I was a teenager was that pornography only affected me. Boy, was I wrong. Not only was I wrong in engaging with porn, but I was wrong in all my selfish assumptions about it.

Wrong!

So, today, I get to tell the guys I mentor, “When you use porn and fantasize about those women, you take those images and expectations with you into your marriage.”   I get to tell guys what porn does to their minds, and their unrealistic assumptions of what sex with their wife will be like.

Image: ROD ANDERSON

Image: ROD ANDERSON

On the other hand, I tell them, “Hey, I appreciate that you’re not sexually active, but I promise you that if you are engaging with porn, it has its own lasting results that you will have to deal with eventually. Believe it or not, you are giving your heart and your mind away, even to these two-dimensional images. Sure, you’re avoiding the risks of pregnancy and STD’s, but there is so much more to sex than that!”

And I had no clue when I was younger. I had no idea what the process was going to be like to work through all that now that I’m married.

Leslie: You know, I hear a lot of people having a hard time understanding what you and I do when we talk to students. It’s not like we’re trying to suck the fun out of people’s lives. Whatever decisions they make is completely up to them and we don’t stand in judgment at all. We’re simply educating them with science.

The hard truth is that for ever action, there are consequences – some are much more life-giving than others.

And, speaking of science, I love when science backs up what we’ve been trying to say for so long. For example, it was recently announced that a boy’s average age is 7½ when he is introduced to porn. Typically, it’s unintentional. But, it’s something that parents today need to be aware of and be ready to have appropriate conversations about.

Because another hard truth is that pornography is not a victimless industry.

I know people who have come out of the sex industry, who worked as prostitutes, and they are fully aware of how much energy is put on stopping human trafficking in regards to prostitutes on the street. But the truth is that many prostitutes start out by doing porn. Far too many girls are trafficked in, put in front of a camera in a “safe” environment, and before too long, they are out on the streets.

Porn leads to sex trafficking. It’s NOT victimless. And if you engage with it on your computer or phone, you are also engaging with the trafficking that goes along with it.

Another question (one very related to all this) we often get is, “Is masturbation okay?”

You see, when you masturbate – especially while engaging with porn – you’re bonding with a mental image. And that bond does not go away. This image that you are bonded with does not have emotions, expectations, joys, sorrows, or needs of its own. Therefore, It’s all about you. All this cements in your brain the definition of sex as being self-centered and narcissistic.

Matt: That’s science. You’re educating properly. And that blows my mind!

I know a guy who has struggled with porn for several years. Meanwhile, he has had opportunities to date girls, but after learning that they had sexual histories, he was struggling with how to deal with their past sex lives. I had to tell him, “Dude, I hate to break it to you, but your past isn’t altogether much different. Scientifically, the mental, chemical and relational connections you’ve made with the porn models you fantasize about aren’t much different than someone who has actually, physically had sex with another person.”

Of course, there are differences, but there are also a whole slew of measurable similarities. This is part of the struggle that simply goes unnoticed and undiscussed… until they end up in marriage counseling.

Leslie: And the truth is that overall, guys are created to be visual; while women were created to be more emotional. That’s part of the problem with porn – guys are visually drawn to it, but then their ability to connect emotionally with their wives is handicapped, since they’ve never had to emotionally deal with the girls on the computer.

Although, porn is rising among females.

Matt: Right… at surprising rates. Largely because it’s so accessible. And, I don’t know how to combat that. Even my five-year-old is just a couple clicks away from porn. Not even intentionally – just clicking from one cartoon to Googling another to BAM… there it is! It’s a daily fight, but it can be won.

Leslie: I love that science proves us right. If nothing else, it makes us sound “less crazy”. The facts are there:

Porn re-wires the brain. For instance, when a man views porn, the same part of the brain is activated as when he uses a hammer, wrench, or some other tool. Therefore, the mental re-wiring that happens associates women with something that is meant to be used for a particular purpose, and that’s it.

Then, even when the guys are married, it’s difficult for guys to re-wire their brains to the way God intended and recognize their wife’s needs.

This is just part of Matt and my discussion regarding how science offers definitive answers regarding the destruction that pornography causes – especially in teens. Matt is so good at addressing these tough issues with high schoolers, and we will continue discussing these tough topics and more next week!

Related Podcasts

I’m Waiting 31: Helping Your Kids Set Boundaries By Setting Your Own This is the eighth and final installment of our amazing interview with Matt Clinton of Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Parents – you are more of a model for your kids than you’ll ever know! Matt g...
Im Waiting 30: Teens, Sex, and Social Media with Matt Clinton Matt Clinton of Fellowship of Christian Athletes desires to partner with parents in pouring into their kids to help them navigate through their teenage years. Leslie Salazar Carrillo, Im Waiting: T...
Im Waiting 29: Doing Good vs. Leading Well with Matt Clinton Matt Clinton of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes is a great teacher. He effectively shows kids in practical ways how society is taking God’s original plans SO out of context. This week, we con...


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