As The Reality Project Director, I am able to walk into 25 mostly public high school classrooms and teach the sexual health unit of their required health course.
Our message is counter-cultural and unique, opposing what most entertainment and societal worldviews are influencing and pushing aggressively for right now. The fact that we are able to do this at all without major backlash or ridicule is almost unfathomable.
What is even more amazing is how students openly, warmly, and with favor receive our message. In light of increasing polarization in our culture, especially concerning topics like sex and relationships, it is astounding to see students hungry to learn.
Our message is not about safe sex but about how to make healthy relational and sexual decisions. Nevertheless, we find young people desiring to know more than just how to put a condom on a banana or use contraceptives and birth-control.
As important as these things can be, young people are eager to know something deeper and more meaningful. A core message of our presentation is that sex is a big deal. Most students don’t believe that. They spend the majority of their day consuming media that portrays sex as a purely physical act that exists to obtain personal pleasure.
So why are the young people we speak to so open, eager, and honest about the message we are sharing with them in health class? I am baffled by the positive response we get from teachers and students. We constantly hear that teenagers don’t want to be told what to do, especially if we are trying to encourage something other than instant gratification.
I think the answer is simple, and it came to me as I was driving home after teaching all day at a local high school: These young people are hearing something that they don’t hear much, if at all. Truth.
Jesus said this about truth in John 8:31-32, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
That must be it! The truth they are hearing in our presentation is helping them see a better way to approach sex and relationships, a way that leads to freedom. What much of the world calls freedom, God’s truth reveals as bondage to the desires of the flesh. Instead of controlling our desires, our desires control us. This can lead people to deeper places of bondage and despair.
It is a hopeless and meaningless message because it teaches that what we do doesn’t really matter, and we can be nothing but a slave to our desires. God’s truth in contrast is a message of hope, a hope that brings freedom. It is a message that what we do matters because we as individuals matter to Him.
This is the innate desire of every young person we talk to in these classrooms, even if they aren’t yet connected to it. They are made in the image of God. They are created for something more, something different; therefore, they are hungry for something more and something different. We are able to speak the truth, which sheds light on those who are living in a culture that is full of confusion, deception and darkness, which keeps them from seeing their own value.
They are not just a body with impulses and instincts. Their life is not just a random accident, but made with purpose, meaning, and hope. This is the message we share: that every part of them is incredibly and unimaginably valuable.
This is the message of Christ and the message of the Scriptures, even though we cannot always be explicit about where these truths come from. It should be the message of each and every Christian when interacting with and loving those who are living in deception, confusion, and sexual brokenness. Not our truth, but Christ’s truth, which can set them free. This is the message that we all desire and need to hear, the message that these young people receive so openly.
– Micah Rydmark, Director of The Reality Project