Sunday, September 09, 2007

Sex and the teenage Mormon

Ooooh, I am so excited. I have been in Young Women for more than three-and-a-half years, and next week I finally get to teach the "Power of Procreation" lesson.

In the past this has been handled by having the bishop come in and teach about it, usually drawing very heavily from the Boyd K. Packer talk in the manual. The talk has a lot of good things about it. But the "bring the bishop in" approach combined with the "read the talk aloud with a picture of Elder Packer on display" approach strikes me as unsatisfactory -- a way to teach the sex lesson without ever having to really talk about sex. Having a male authority figure teach it, especially, limits the presentation to a male perspective and tends to stifle any questions the girls might have.

I recognize that there are women of a certain age, probably both in and out of the Church, who cannot even say the word "sex" out loud. This I learned in my dear friend B's Deseret Book book club when we read "Purity and Passion" by Wendy Watson. The older generation there hemmed and hawed about "intimacy" and "relations" and really liked the "co-creating love" euphemism in the book. After we calmed down from our fits of laughter, the girls my age (late 20s to early 30s) were still wide-eyed with wonder. We had no idea the women in our moms' generation were like that even when their kids weren't around.

So here is what I am thinking. I live two blocks from the church building. I think I might bring my girls over here for the lesson. Just to be more comfortable and friendly and sit around drinking sodas and really talking, instead of lined up on folding chairs in the sweaty top-floor classroom where we're usually assigned. I want to use some of the points discussed on the recent ExII post about the RS Law of Chastity lesson -- especially the "sacred, not secret" parallel with temple ordinances. And I think if the temple is the appropriate place to talk about temple ordinances, then home is the right place to talk about sex.

I think I might invite moms. Just so I can't be accused of corrupting the youth. But will that stymie the discussion and prevent the girls from asking the questions they want to ask? What do you think?

I know for sure I am going to tell the girls that the law of chastity means more than girls being responsible for holding off the boys until they're married. I am going to tell them that girls have a sex drive, too, and that's how it's supposed to be, and they are just as responsible as boys are for keeping it under control.

I am going to tell them that chastity is a law to protect them not just from premarital pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, but from heartbreak, confusion and divided loyalty. I so believe that.

I want to tell them that sex is great in the right context. I might need help conveying that in a convincing yet appropriate way.

Though I don't know of any specific repentance situations in the class, we will for sure talk about repentance and forgiveness.

And we will talk about what to do if you become a victim of abuse, rape or sexual assault.

Just, you know, stuff the bishop might not always think about when he comes in to read the Boyd K. Packer talk in the manual.

What would you tell the Mormon girls about sex?

(I will delete any inappropriate responses post haste. Be respectful of both sex and Mormonism, and your comments will be welcome!)


Tammy said...

I do (or have done in my years of youth ministry) a weekend with high school girls on purity based on the book "And the Bride Wore White" by Dannah Gresh. She has a website if you want to check it out.

IMO it's more than about sex, but about self respect and a young woman putting herself on a pedestal, that she's worth the wait and worth finding a love that lasts with a commitment to go along with it before anything else happens physically. It's also about personal responsibility for modesty (in other words, watching dress, language including verbal and non-verbal to protect their male peers from the temptation of moving further and faster than is healthy or prudent. And it's about planning for the whole future which for most young women includes marriage and thinking about how they are treating the man they are to marry BEFORE they even meet him. Are they respecting and honoring him by the choices they make in the present?

Have fun Ana!!! It could be some great conversations! ANd I love the idea of inviting mothers. We always ended our time together with a triad tea... each young woman would bring their mom and an adult female mentor and the three of them committed to caring for their relationship and holding each other accountable for their thoughts and actions, not just in this arena but in the whole of life. The mother has support from another woman and the young woman has support in addition to her mother as well.

Tammy said...

MOre thoughts because I just can't help myself, lol! I love the idea of a relaxed setting to help them be able to get into the conversation a bit more. And one of the things that I discovered is that in sharing my story, and in how Hubby and I shared our life and love in front of them (we were always affectionate in a healthy way) they saw the good in it.

ANd another question... is there someone who has these convos with the guys??? I am assuming so but if not, it might be a good idea. I know for my girls it went a long way to making a commitment to purity knowing that the guys in the group were doing the same. They had THAT in common and in some ways, it was wonderful to see how they held each other accountable for their choices and relationships. Peer trust is huge on this issue... okay, I'll shut up and get back to cleaning my kitchen.

Kari said...

Ana, I would let the Mom's know ahead of time what the lesson will be about and give them an outline so they will be "informed" about what is going on.

If they have any questions or concerns they can talk to you.

And then have the YW Pres. also come and be a part of the "discussion" because it will be another "witness" should anyone accuse you of saying something you didn't.

Good luck! It sounds like a great plan and I think you will do a great job!!!

Ladyrunner said...

When I gave this lesson to the YW, I made sure they knew what chastity meant. And knew that we when say no necking, petting, etc they knew what it meant. Of course I kept the definitions brief and to the point. I didn't want any angry calls from parents. :)

I assumed they knew what an abortion meant, but found out later that night after the fireside they they did not. I heard one of my Mia Maids ask another Mia Maid what it meant. Clearly this girl was thinking about the lesson, but I learned to not assume the girls know anything.

Remember their moms are likely of the lot described in your post -- those who are ashamed/afraid to talk about it.

MaryRuth said...

I say no on the mothers... not that I don't love mothers... but when we invited them once it shut the girls up... they didn't ask questions... we're doing sexual purity for our Standards night in a couple of weeks and the parents will get to be at that... but I think in class the girls will feel more comfortable without the moms... just my opinion though...

And what to tell them? Tell them Sex is great, wonderful, fun, bonding and something to be enjoyed between husband and wife. But to start at too early an age causes all sorts of issues... besides, nobody besides my husband is going to get to see my thighs... nobody.

Good luck! I'm anxious to see what people post as I have to teach the same lesson in a couple of weeks.

The idea of doing it in your home is grea! Unfortunately not an option for us as we live too far away.

Good luck!

SalGal said...

I wish we'd had a lesson like this when I was in YW, many moons ago. These girls are so lucky to have you!

erin said...

(lurker from FMH)...i just taught this lesson to my beehives last week, and i too was very excited to do so. we usually don't have very much time to do our lessons so i had to make it short. nor do we live very near the church so it couldn't be done in my home.

anyway, i picked out pieces of Packer's talk and would read them and then try to discuss them with the girls. i normally can't get these girls to be quiet, but they were dead silent during this lesson. so the presence of their moms wouldn't have made a difference.

the main point i wanted to make was that sex isn't a sin. unlike murder, theft, and other sins, the only thing that makes having sex a in is timing. i've read too many horror stories about lds women who think that having sexual desires is wrong, even after marriage, that i didn't want them to feel this way.

we didn't spend much time on the "necking and petting" stuff other than to define it. my girls are pretty good girls, and they're only 12. we can do more of that when they're mia maids and laurels. i really just wanted to impress upon them that they shouldn't be ashmed that they have sexual feeling and/or desires. those things are God-given and great. but it's all about restraint. i did tell them that sex, when done between man and wife, is super fun. :) only because i remember my own laurel advisor telling me the exact same thing.

Ana said...

Just a quick thanks for all your suggestions!

I think the lesson went really well in spite of the fact that I decided to stay at church for it ... as usual I had giant piles of laundry in my living room and not enough time Sunday morning to get things together! So much for my visions of a comfy environment. But the content was still good. Maybe tonight or tomorrow I can type it up and post!