The book industry is booming. However, as little as 10 years ago, the best-seller lists consisted primarily of novels and nonfiction for adults. Recently though that trend has started to change and the teen market for books has seen one of the biggest growth rates in recent years. Tween or young adult books are flying off the shelves and dominating best-seller lists all across the country.
The Christian book industry is a little different. A plethora of Christian books is available today, covering all sorts of spiritual topics for pastors and laypeople. However, the area where Christian nonfiction seems to be the weakest is for young adults or teenagers. Go to any major Christian book seller or publisher’s website and take a quick glance at what’s offered.
Or rather it’s books about purity, self-control, abstinence, wearing white, moving goalposts, kissing things goodbye, relationships, and many other hints and tips to avoid sex and wait until marriage. The teen sections in bookstores are dominated with titles covering this topic. These mostly are books of do nots. Where are the books of dos? Where are all the other books about other things that teens should know?
Please try to understand, this is not a condemnation of helping teens with lust and staying pure before God, nor is it an attack on all those books. Many are good reads for teenagers. However, it seems as if most authors and maybe youth leaders have lost the focus. Is the teen life all about sex? Certainly not. There are many other more important things that teens should be discussing and learning.
With sex it may have become more complex than what it really is. Sure, we are at war with our own bodies. Sure, there is still lust, and things you can do to avoid the temptations. There is a time and place for purity retreats, books to recommend, and even church studies for teens that cover the topic.
Maybe, just maybe, this topic (or any sin for that matter) can be combated all the time without even addressing it.
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16–17, ESV).
There are many instances where Paul challenged Timothy is his two letters to teach sound doctrine. In reading much of the New Testament there’s not much emphasis on tips and tricks. There’s a lot of emphasis on the gospel, correcting false teaching (by teaching true doctrine), and obeying God’s Word. The challenge should still be true for us today. Teach doctrine. Getting teens into God’s Word and obeying and living it should cover a wide range of things.
Teens may not be clamoring over books on sex and other similar studies on the subject as we may be led to believe. The Barna Group did a recent poll and asked teens what is what they would like to hear about in church. Number one? “To better understand what I believe.”
Think about this: If one obeyed God and His Word, would the issue of sex be a problem? Would any other issue? Yes, everyone still sins and can fall to temptation, but having a large amount of the Bible inside you equips you for every good work. The likelihood of success goes up. Way up. Notice that the success comes from the inside out and not vice versa. In a future post we’ll address a plan for teaching sound doctrine to young people. The balance is showing how God’s Word is relevant in their lives.
With our teens, hopefully the biggest three letter word changes if we teach sound doctrine.