Talking With Teens About Sexuality, by Beth Robinson & Latayne C. Scott
[Note: This book was provided free charge by Bethany House Publishing in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.]
In general, I think it can be said that talking with teenagers about sexuality is awkward. A great deal about adolescence in general is awkward for teenagers and everyone who has to deal with teenagers, and sexuality is something that also tends to be awkward for everyone. And if this has always been true, and there is no reason to think otherwise, talking about sexuality from a godly perspective in the contemporary age is certainly awkward. To the authors’ credit, they do their best at making this a feasible task, but the book seems pretty awkward despite its efforts. This cannot be blamed entirely on the writers or on others who engage in the task of trying to communicate matters of truth about sexuality to young people who have a lot of what they suppose to be knowledge from all kinds of corrupt and unreliable sources, but has to do with the subject and the nature of talking about it in the first place. Insisting on a conversation creates awkwardness, especially because it is not something that comes about naturally, in the moment, where the context and the desire of people to listen and hear is at its highest.
This book is about 200 pages long. The authors begin with a discussion on getting real about the subject of sexuality (1). This is followed by a look at God’s view for sex (2), which is faithful to the biblical intent. Then the authors turn to a discussion of the developmental state of teenagers (3) as well as how teens relate to others (4). After that the authors discuss how it is that one is to talk about the subject of sex (5) as well as the issue of intimacy and boundaries (6). After that comes a discussion about understanding relationships (7) as well as the issue of sexual abuse and violence (8) as well as social media and technology (9) and how these issues affect the way that sexuality is understood and practiced by contemporary youth. After that there is a look at the dangerous effects of pornography on the mind of teen boys and girls (10), the disorienting nature of contemporary sexuality (11), and the understanding of gender issues in the contemporary world (12). The book then ends with unplanned and unexpected matters (13), the balancing act that people have to undertake when they talk about these matters (14), as well as some recommended resources and notes.
What is awkward about talking about sexuality in this book and most cases? Most of the time it is awkward because the conversation is forced on someone by someone else. Any time one wants to talk when one of the other parties does not want to participate, one is setting up awkwardness into the dynamic as a whole. Many young people think that they know things that they in fact do not know, and the fact that they think they know makes them less willing to take the counsel of those people who do know because those people are older, not very cool, and have old-fashioned ideals that are supposedly obsolete in contemporary culture. These are powerful issues, and the authors do address these issues as part of the content of the book. Yet at the same time the authors fail to understand fully how it is that these matters shape how it is that one can indeed have conversations about awkward and uncomfortable matters. How is it that one can set the proper moments as well as demonstrate oneself as an authority on subjects of importance, as well as knowing the way that people may seek knowledge.