It's frightening to see on Australian news hundreds of young women coming forward about being sexually assaulted in high school. These same women and their peers are calling for better education on consent and issues about sex. More and more people are being exposed to sex at an earlier age and it's distorting our understanding of what it is and our value placed on individuals versus our needs.
I think many of us see church as a place not to go to for advice on sex - not always because that its views on sex and sexuality are wrong, but often the way churches communicate their views put so much guilt on people that they're afraid to return.
People turn to the internet for sex education.
I don't have any statistics to back up my statement, "People turn to the internet for sex education", but it shouldn’t surprise us because the internet allows freedom and anonymity for anyone to ask any questions they like about sex. There's no shame and repercussions - just clear our browser history after.
But it's doing more harm than good as we begin to hear lots of voices of victims speaking out against their abusers.
Youth Ministry can play a vital role in educating young people about sex.
Youth pastors and leaders can create a culture where we model healthy boundaries in relationships, as well as creating a safe space where young people can ask questions and share about their experiences.
Start with educating leaders.
I think it begins with intentionally training our leaders what modelling healthy boundaries in relationships look like and how to create a safe space for young people to ask questions.
It's learning about asking permission before taking someone's photo or being aware of how our words impact others. It's also looking into our own relationships and past relationships. We need to work through our issues first so that we can be a better role-model to those we lead.
The Bible teaches us respect for others and their dignity.
The creation account speaks clearly about God's views on all people. Genesis chapter 1 verse 27 says, "So God created humankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them."
In God's eyes, men and women are equal, and they should be treated with respect and dignity because we are all made in the image of God. Women and men shouldn't be treated as objects to be laughed at or to do what we want for our own desires. Pornography - whilst some may be doing it willingly - strips the person of their dignity when we watch it for our own gratification.
Sexist remarks are demeaning and have no place in society. This also extends to murder, racism and all forms of discrimination - these are all wrong because every person carries the image of God and as such we need to see each other with equal respect and dignity.
There are many stories in the Bible that condemn sexual behaviour that forces someone against their will, and there are also many passages that teaches us how to treat others properly, for example, being patient and loving one another.
We can make an impact in young people's lives.
Young people are crying out for help and we can be there to journey with them through this difficult, messy and sinful world we try to navigate in. We shouldn't present ourselves as experts with all the answers but we can be youth leaders who care about the young people we minister to and we want to help them see what God's heart is for how everyone - including ourselves - should be treated.
Rachel is a pastor, preacher and writer. Based in Sydney, she’s a fan of literature, sport and the arts. Check out her website rachellhli.wordpress.com