Thanks to Phil, Sally and Matt for the links and helpful follow up thoughts to my post below. This is my comment to their comments but I thought I’d post it instead. (Is there an unspoken blog etiquette about this sort of thing?!!)
I realised it would be remiss not to include here mention of what seems to me to be a beacon among the various attempts to help young people take their sexuality seriously, and that’s ‘Romance Academy’.
For those who missed, or were unable to see, the BBC programme about it, Romance Academy involved a group of 12 teenagers, only one of them a Christian, taking a pledge of abstinence for 15 weeks. During that time they met as a group with two outstanding youth workers who helped them to explore issues of sex, sexuality, dating and intimacy. The outcome was amazing as most members of the group changed their behaviour and many went on to lead a new group for another 12 teenagers. The key to this success revolved around the quality of relationship among the group, and with the youth workers – creating what quickly became a very loyal community. The other clear strength was the open and sensitive way in which the leaders helped the young people to explore the issues. The young people didn’t feel ‘preached at’ (except for a bit of a near miss on a visit to the USA) or patronised by shrill govenment campaigns.
We hope to run RA here soonish.
Perhaps my conclusion, about making a difference one life at a time, is actually a bit unrealistic. The only way young people will have the strength to choose differently from their peers is to be part of a community that shares, embodies and lives out a different set of beliefs which is clearly where RA succeeded.
The original RA proved it’s effectiveness with non-Christians, which suggests it should also work with a Christian group. Would this be enough of a right of passage, I wonder?
Picking up Sally’s point about attitudes to casual sexual relationships and the observed breakdown of marriage, I still detect what seems to be an aspiration for marriage among young people, whether Christian or not. This even extends to some young people who have experienced the divorce of their parents (perhaps as a reaction). I posted about this a wee while ago.