“You’ve come a long way, Baby.” This cultural phrase suggests positive forward movement. When we apply it to the increasing sexualization of society, do we see positive outcomes?
Has sexual “liberation” made our lives better, healthier, more empowered? In what ways has it impacted our youth, specifically Gen Z?
Want more Gen Z insights? Check out Josh McDowell’s research here.
Sexual Freedom = Happiness?
Gen Z (also known as iGen), are currently between the ages of 6 and 24 years old. These youth have been influenced by society to view sex, sexuality, and now even gender identity, as critical aspects of their personal “happiness.”
There are so many directions we could take in this post, but let’s ask a single question, “Does sexual freedom actually make us happy?”
If sexual exploration and experimentation are so “affirming,” why does Gen Z admit it feels incredibly lonely, lost, depressed, and stressed out? Wait, sex isn’t making life better?
A study from 2000 found that teens viewed 143 incidents of sexual behavior on network television during prime time viewing hours each week — with little of it morally affirming. How, after 20 years of this messaging, might we demonstrate that we have “come a long way”? Perhaps this popular Google search term — “Become Sexually Irresistible” — could be one measure.
If sexual freedom, as society suggests, is the yellow brick road to empowerment and good vibes, shouldn’t we find Gen Z creating their best lives as they curiously explore?
Sexual Freedom = Bondage?
Research statistics confirm that, for many, sexual curiosity and engagement has led to significant pain and bondage:
>> Studies show that one in seven teens are actively sexting, sharing sexual content and photos via texts, social platforms, secret chat rooms, and live-streaming websites. Many then experience the nightmare of being controlled, bullied, and sexually trafficked from “sextortion.” When our teens (and even pre-teens) believe they need to sexualize their bodies, it should “wake” us to the fact that they’re desperately seeking validation where society has placed value.
>> Society champions the porn industry, asserting that viewing porn is “normal, harmless, and fun.” For many, it’s the start of a spiraling addiction. 64 percent of young people between 13-24 admit they regularly view porn, and many find they can’t stop. Many also admit the addiction makes it impossible for them to interact in real relationships in healthy patterns. Healthy relationships are a necessity for a healthy society.
>> Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 20 million new cases of sexually transmitted diseases infect Americans each year, with half of the infected between 15 and 24 years old. In one U.S. survey, 24 percent of teenage girls tested were found to have an STI. Sexual infection rates across the U.S. indicates the upward trend isn’t slowing down. As half of the eight most common sexually transmitted diseases aren’t curable with available drugs, infections are easily shared with each new sexual partner. Will every sexually active person become infected?
Gen Z has been raised in a world that promotes sexual “empowerment.” Many find the promised “liberation” actually comes with chains.
There are many good reasons that God asks us to live to His standards. Though Gen Z might assert that being asked to curb their sexual exploration and experimentation limits their personal choice and freedom, we can help Gen Z to:
Compare media messaging about sex with how it’s playing out in real life among their peers.
Get clear on the personal safety and control they give up when they sext and participate in sexual activity. This downloadable Sexting Handbook link by The Common Sense Media is a helpful resource.
Embrace what God says about their bodies, including their worth having nothing to do with their sex appeal.
Do you know a young person who could benefit from your loving wisdom and God’s ceaseless love?
Let’s help to connect these youth with churches and groups that will guide them in building empowering lives they will fully enjoy. Our own Resolution Movement, as well as these organizations, focus on helping youth to break the chains of unhealthy sexual habits, addiction, and shame. Let’s help Gen Z to live in the freedom God wants them to enjoy!