What Bruno Mars is Teaching Teens

Bruno-Mars-HD-WallpaperMusic is powerful. Music has a way of shaping peoples believes, identity, and behavior. This is especially true of teenagers who are striving to find out how they fit into the world around them. Many teenagers turn to music to find out what they should believe, who they are, and how they should act. This is why it’s so important for parents to be aware of what music their teenager is listening to.

One of the most popular artist right now is Bruno Mars. Bruno Mars has been around for sometime, but recently is putting out some big hits. This past weekend he performed at the Super Bowl where he sang a few of his hits. As I have listened to Bruno Mars on the radio and even went back and watched his halftime performance I am reminded of a powerful theme he is teaching teenagers through one of his songs.

Sex is the ultimate human achievement. In his song Locked Out of Heaven, Bruno Mars sings, “Cause your sex takes me to paradise. Yeah, your sex takes me to paradise. And it shows, yeah, yeah, yeah. ‘Cause you make me feel like I’ve been locked out of heaven. For too long, for too long .Yeah, you make me feel like I’ve been locked out of heaven. For too long, for too long.” Sexual themes is not new in music and tends to be the focus on a lot of popular songs. In this song, Bruno Mars makes it seem like sex is the ultimate goal. That having sex with that special someone will be the only way to find true satisfaction. That is why so many teenagers so quickly give up their purity because they believe true happiness will come with having sex with that someone they “love.” God created sex and it’s not a bad or ugly thing. In fact, it’s a very beautiful thing God gave us as a gift. However, God did create sex to happen only within marriage between a man and a women. When sex is taken out of that context it gets messed up and it no longer brings joy as God intended. In fact, sex outside of marriage usually brings shame, guilt, and heartache. This is my fear with teenagers listening to this song and letting it shape their behavior. Sex is not the ultimate achievement. It was never intended to be. We were created to find satisfaction in God, our Creator, not sex.

Teenagers our living in a highly sexualized culture. Sex is viewed as something we can enjoy however we want and when we want. Teenagers need to have a right view of sex, but they will not get that from the culture. Parents, how are you teaching your teenagers about sex and making sure they are viewing it the way God intends?

 

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What Miley Cyrus is Promoting to Your Teens

Miley_WeCantStop

Music has always been a powerful force in shaping culture. Music is a powerful tool in teaching people morals, beliefs, and attitudes. Teenagers more than anyone are shaped by music in their culture. Teenagers are in a period of life where they are asking questions about life, forming beliefs and worldview, and choosing what behavioral patterns to follow. This is why music is so important to teenagers. It gives them a voice and helps them form opinions about the world around them.

This is why parents need to be careful about what kind of music they are allowing their teenagers to listen to. I’m not suggesting we boycott “secular music” and only listen to “Christian music.” That distinction has never been a good one anyways. We must look past the genre or style and see what exactly teenagers are learning from a particular artist or song.

Recently, Miley Cyrus has released a new song that parents need to be aware of. My fear is that when most parents hear that their teenager is listening to Miley Cyrus they may feel no need to ask anymore questions because what comes to their mind when they hear Miley Cyrus is the Disney Channel star Hannah Montana. Unfortunately, Miley Cyrus is no longer a cute, little Disney Channel star, but a young woman who is not ashamed to be outright sexual, confrontational, and offensive.

Cyrus new song “We Can’t Stop” (along with the music video) is teaching promoting things, attitudes, and behaviors to your teenager that are not consistent with what God has revealed in His Word. Click here to read the full lyrics to this song.

Sexuality and Promiscuity. This song is full of sexual references and behaviors. Lines such as “Bet somebody here might get some now” and “To my home girls here with the big butt shaking it like we at a strip club,” Cyrus is not ashamed to promote sex and sexual behaviors. This song, like many others, tears apart the Biblical purpose and beauty of sex. Instead of sex being something reserved for marriage between one man and woman as a way of pleasure and intimacy with each other, sex is now something you do for fun whenever you want and with whomever you want. It’s not about intimacy anymore, it’s about recreational pleasure.

Drugs. This is something many listeners may not catch at first, but Cyrus makes mentions of drugs and drug use a few times in this song. In the second verse she says, “And everyone in line in the bathroom, trying to get a line in the bathroom.” Get a “line” is a slang way to saying snorting powdered drug. There is another time drugs show up in this song, but in a very interesting way. In the song Cyrus says, “So la da di da di. We like to party. Dancing with Miley.” Sounds ok doesn’t it? Dancing with Miley. However, when the song first came out many people thought Cyrus was saying “Dancing with Molly” (aka MDMA, ecstasy). I normally wouldn’t have an issue with this because this isn’t what the song actually says. I’m not going to get up in arms about what I thought our “heard” Cyrus say. However, she responded by saying this when she was asked about that line in the song:

If you’re aged ten [the lyric is] Miley. If you know what I’m talking about then you know. I just wanted it to be played on the radio and they’ve already had to edit it so much…I don’t think people have a hard time understanding that I’ve grown up. You can Google me and you know what I’m up to — you know what the lyric is saying (click here to read more).

It’s all about having fun and doing what you want. The whole idea of this song is doing whatever you want because it’s your party, house, and mouth! Cyrus promotes fun and pleasure as the end goal and doing whatever you want to get there is ok. In Cyrus own words, just remember “only God can judge ya.” Which I find very interesting because I’m not sure why if only one person could judge you, why would you want that person to be God? I’d much rather someone else judge me, not the ruler and Creator of this world. However, Cyrus, like many others, use this phrase as a justification to do whatever they want.

Are these things and behaviors we really want our teenagers to be taking in? I tweeted the other day that this is one of the trashiest songs I have ever heard. I’d encourage parents to take a listen and view the video. What are your thoughts on this song?

6 Things to Remember When Teaching Students About Sex

word-sexOne topic I think we should continually address in student ministry is sex. Sex is an amazing gift that the enemy has taken and used for evil. Our students live in a culture that is saturated with sex and the pressure to engage in sex before marriage is huge. Our culture sees sex as a recreational activity and our students are buying into that lie. Our students need to understand what sex is and how God has design sex to take place between a man and a woman.

Both our middle and high school ministries did a series on sex and relationships this past month. It was a great series and I believe we communicated God’s truth about sex and relationships well. I hope every student pastor does at least one series a year on the topic of sex. It’s extremely important and our students need it. Here are a few things I believe are important to remember when teaching students about sex.

1. Be bold. Talking to students about sex can be awkward. It’s not only awkward for you, but at times it’s awkward for the students (especially if your teaching middle school students). Break through the awkwardness by being bold. Don’t be afraid to use the word “sex” or other words that come up in a conversation about it. Students have heard all the terms about sex and associated words, you’re not going to say anything they probably have not heard.

2. Keep the Gospel central. When teaching students about sex make sure the Gospel is clear. There are a few reasons this is extremely important. First, you don’t want to teach students that just being a moral person in regards to sex is ok. Many students believe that staying a virgin until marriage is the ultimate Christian teens goal. So instead of striving after Jesus they strive to reach the standard of being a virgin. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but the goal is not just to be a virgin. A student can still be a technical virgin, but still commit sexual immorality according to the Bible (more on that in a minute). Second, many students in your group will have already lost their virginity or have messed up sexually in some other way. These students need to hear the Gospel! They need to hear Jesus still loves them and He wants to forgive them. They may feel dirty, used, and broken, but God restores and wants to redeem their failure. One last thing, please be careful with the “dirty rose” illustration. Watch this video for more on that from Matt Chandler.

3. Define sex Biblically. One of my biggest pet peeves is when people define sex as just intercourse. According to Scripture sex is more than just intercourse. In Ephesians 5:3 the Greek word for sexual immorality is pornea, which covers all sexual activity outside of marriage. This includes heavy making out, oral sex, friends with benefits, and masturbation. Those are things that most students don’t consider sex. So if they do all of those things, but stay a virgin they think they are fine, but that’s a lie! God says sex is any form of sexual activity outside of marriage. Define sex Biblically when teaching students about it.

4. Have a time for genders to be both together and separate. Don’t be afraid to teach about sex in a mixed group. In fact, it may be a healthy thing to address sex with a mixed group of students. However, it’s also good to have a time where guys get with guys and girls get with girls to talk in more detail about sex. Have a balance and try and do both.

5. Address current trends. Make sure you relate the topic of sex to current trends in students culture. Help students see what God says about sex relates to how they use their bodies, social media, and other things. Hit things like sexting and Snapchat. Talk about how sex relates to social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. Take the truth of Scripture and help students apply it to their current culture.

6. Lastly, equip the parents. As good as it is for us to talk about sex with our students, the parents talking about it to them is more important. Encourage parents to have conversations with their student about sex. Help them do this by giving them whatever resources you can. Tap into things like CPYU and Focus on the Family for great resources on this topic. One of the things we did was offer a parent seminar for our parents about technology and how it’s being used by our students (click here to listen to the audio of that seminar).

Again, teaching students about sex is important. I hope these simple reminders will help you next time you address this issue with your students. If you have more additional thoughts, feel free to leave them in a comment below.

What Students Are Looking for In Sex and Relationships

Made To CraveA few weeks ago we finished a series in our middle school ministry called “Made to Crave.” The whole idea of the series was to explain to students that we all have a desire for intimacy and we try and fulfill that craving through sex and relationships. What we find is those things still leave us feeling empty. The reason we are left feeling empty is because that craving can only be fulfilled by a intimate relationship with Jesus. God created us to crave Him and only He can truly fulfill us. I finished off the series by talking about three things students look for in sex and relationships that can only truly be found in Jesus. I want to share those three things and a few thoughts I shared with our students. So here are three things students crave that can only be found in Jesus.

1. Love. The most obvious thing students are looking for in sex and relationships is love. They want to find someone that will love them unconditionally. They crave that type of love. Unfortunately, the unconditional love they are craving cannot be found within human relationships. Sure, two humans can love each other, but it is still stained by sin. The unconditional love students crave is love that can only be found in Jesus. The Bible uses the Greek word agape, which is unconditional love that can only come from God. It’s a love that’s deeper and more real than any love two humans could ever have between for each other. Paul shares about this incredible love in Romans 8:38-39“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

2. Acceptance. Not only are students looking for love, but they are also looking for acceptance. So they run to sex or a relationship because they want to feel accpeted. They want someone to love them and accept them for who they are. But because they fear someone will not like them for who they are, they change. They change their looks, what they wear, how they talk, who they hang around, and sometimes abandon their Christian faith, all for the sake of being accepted by someone of the opposite sex. They also will go to extreme lengths to cover their flaws and mistakes. Deep down they just want to find acceptance. This acceptance they are looking for can only be found in Jesus. Sadly, even when people get married acceptance is still at stake. That’s why some many couples get divorced, even Christian couples! One of them does something wrong or starts to act differently and the other person no longer accepts them.

In John 8 we read about a woman who was in adultery that Jesus accepted. The Pharisees brought her to Jesus and pointed out her sin. But what did Jesus do? He accepted her, the flaws and all. He didn’t condemn her, but accepted her and told her to go and sin no more. He didn’t make her change who she was or clean up her act before He accepted her. Students crave this kind of radical, real acceptance and it can only be found in Jesus.

3. Security. This is a big one. Students crave security and they try to find it in sex or a relationship. But what they find out is that even in those things there isn’t real security. If anything, their is a false security. Again, divorce is proof that security cannot even be found in most marriages. Students want to feel safe and secure so they give their bodies to someone else thinking that will make them feel safe. As if that person will love them and nothing can change that. Or they enter a relationship and find their security in that, but that all changes when the other person decides to end the relationship. Jesus offers total security within a relationship with Him. Jesus said in John 10:28-29, ““I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.” 

Students are craving love, acceptance, and security. The bad news is they are running to sex and relationships to try and find these three things, but at the end of the day they are left empty and still searching. Jesus offers students love, acceptance, and security in a personal relationship with Him. The Gospel reminds us that we sinners and entered this world separated from God. But God sacrificed His own Son so our sins can be forgiven and the wrath of God absorbed. Christ took our sin and gave us His righteousness so we can be loved, accepted, and secure in a relationship with the One who created us. Point students towards Jesus!

Click here to listen to the audio of this entire message.

Teen Sexting Infograph

Last week I ran across a very eye opening infograph about sexting on Youth Ministry Media’s blog. I want to share that infograph here on my blog to help inform parents and other youth workers about the popularity of sexting among our teenagers. Sexting is basically using standard text messaging to have sexual conversations as well as sending semi-nude or nude pictures to someone. With popular apps like Snapchat sexting is becoming more popular and easy for our teenagers to engage in. Here are some major things that stand out to me about the infograph on sexting below:

86% of sexters never get caught. Many parents and youth workers may say sexting isn’t a problem with their teens, but if this stat is true than they probably do and you just don’t know about it! Teens that sext usually don’t get caught.

53% of teens that sext are girls. This one blew my mind. Everyone thinks it’s the teen guys who struggle with lust and porn so it would only make sense they are the ones enaging in sexting the most. But it’s the girls who are leading the way in sexting! We must not target only the guys when it comes to this issue. Teen girls are just as, or even more, engaged in it than teen guys.

Teen Sexting Infograph

So what should parents and youth workers do with this information? First, don’t assume your teens are not sexting. Don’t wait until they get caught to have the tough conversations with them. Talk to them about why sexting is wrong and the devastating consequences that can come from engaging in it. Second, protect your teens. Don’t give them a smart phone (or regular phone for that matter) and let them have free reign. Set up boundaries and rules to help protect them from things like sexting. They may not like it at the moment, but as they grow up and walk with Jesus they will be grateful.