I was leaning into one of those orange Gatorade coolers wiping out the night’s Kool-Aid when she walked into the church kitchen. All the other kids had left, but she usually stuck around so I could take her home.
Most of the other girls her age had missed church that night, and I asked where they were. The answer I got was not what I was expecting. It was not even really what I had asked.
She concentrated on a large cardboard box as she talked. She had control over the straight lines of the pencil in her hand, unlike the reality of the things she was telling me.
“I guess they gone ahead and done it,” she said shrugging her shoulders, avoiding my eye contact.
Innocence kept her from using the word “sex”, but she made her point clear without it. Rumors of pregnancy lurked into her story, but that was just gossip. What she did know was that they had done it. That much they had told her.
The girls she talked about were her age, 12. They liked to tell people they were 13, though, because it made them sound more grown-up. And I knew them.
Gone ahead and done it. I lost sleep over the way she had worded that for a week. The thought of these girls, my girls, deciding to “go ahead and do it” before their 13th birthday disturbed me. I cried for them. And prayed. The brokenness of the world suddenly seemed burdensome, as the weight of sexual sin settled heavily on my heart.
I thought back to when I was 12. Growing up in church culture, I learned that sex was a big sin. Maybe that was not what was being taught, but that is what it sounded like.
The “don’t”s being preached came loud and clear, so it was easy to infer that sexual sin was worse than the rest. Self-righteousness danced so closely with judgment that the two intertwined, making it seem like there was redemption only for the little sins.
Sin is gross. The church should be repulsed by it. God is! But as much as the church hates sexual sin (sex outside of marriage, homosexuality, pornography, lust, etc.), the church should hate pride, greed, idolatry, and other sins that are sometimes harder to see behind the thick walls of calloused hearts.
The church culture’s habit of classifying sins by degree of severity may not seem like a huge deal, but it is. Indirectly, both those in and outside of the church hear salvation preached on the basis of works. This is not the Gospel.
What my 12-year-old friends choose to do with their bodies does not make them any less valuable than you or me. Their smiles light up rooms and their laughter is contagious.
They display their creativity through their hairstyles and wear clothes as colorful as their personalities. They are not “dirty” and they haven’t been “stained” any more than anyone else.
Are there consequences to their actions? Absolutely. However, the root of the problem is seeking satisfaction from anything other than God. And I do that every day.
God hates my sin just as much as He hates theirs and in His eyes the motives behind the things I do are just as vulgar as 12-year-old girls having sex.
– Jessica Herren, Contributing Writer