I look at your heavens, which you made with your fingers. I see the moon and stars, which you created. But why are people even important to you? Why do you take care of human begins? You made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor (Psalm 8:3-5 NCV).
“Sexuality is a good and wondrous gift, a rich and diverse combination of relational, emotional, and physical interactions and possibilities.” In partnership with families, ECLC works to “protect and nurture children and youth and provide for their appropriate development,” including “how children and youth are supported and accompanied in their sexual and relational formation” (Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust, a social statement of the ELCA).
Raising sexually healthy children requires a combination of strong relationships, open communication and clear messages regarding values and expectations between parent and child. The church can be a great place to discuss human relationships, sex, and sexuality within the context of Jesus’ invitation to love God, our neighbors and ourselves.
What is the difference between sex and sexuality? How do the sexual images, message, information and disinformation in media and popular culture impact our beliefs and behaviors regarding sex, sexuality and relationships? How does a black-and-white understanding of biological sex, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, and sexual behavior fall short of God’s created goodness? Why do we sometimes think very little of ourselves when God loves and values us above all else in creation? These are some of the questions explored together by ECLC confirmation youth, parents and presenters every three years, during the full-day sexuality treat.
Sexuality encompasses nearly every aspect of our being, from attitudes and values to feelings and experiences. It is influenced by the individual, family, culture, religion/spirituality, laws, professions, institutions, science and politics. In addition to being a safe place for discerning how to live faithfully in a complex world, retreats provide confirmands and parents with opportunities to learn new and better ways to be in relationship with one another, and to communicate what can sometimes be awkward, uncomfortable, or challenging topics.
- Following a parent continuum where we ask the adults in the room, “How did you learn about sex?” Dennis Dailey’s Circles of Sexuality are introduced as a way to develop and understand a broad definition of sexuality.
- In addition to a breakout for kids (talking about our bodies) and parents (visualization about personal experience and key message activity), the Diagram of Sex and Gender is introduced as a more inclusive understanding of sexuality identity formation.
- A family resource packet, some of which is introduced and/or referenced during retreat activities, is filled with information, tools and support from It’s That Easy! and Advocates for Youth. Included in this packet is: Growth and Development, Ages Nine to 12 and Growth and Development, Ages 13-17. Also included: Resources for Families on Parent-Child Communication and The Sex Readiness Checklist.