” In 3 or 4 years, there are going to be a whole lot more people who don’t think it’s necessary to figure out if you’re gay or straight. It’s like, just do your thing.”
Before turning to the topic of sexual fluidity, it’s worth looking at the impact that online pornography has had on Generation Z’s sexuality in general. According to James Emery White in his book ‘Meet Generation Z’, 70% of 18-34 year-olds regularly view porn online. Moreover, he mentions that the average age teens first watch porn is 11 years-old.
Statistics show that teens are starting to view porn at a younger age, but they also show that they are becoming increasingly addicted. Pornography seems to be taking over the lives of many young people; it has negative effects on how they relate to friends and family…. not to mention the opposite sex.
“I remember the first time I saw porn, I was probably about six. I went to a primary school which was attached to a high school. There were always older kids…
“I’d say about nine, a lot of the boys at school were either interested in seeing porn, had seen some or were watching it a bit. You’d have to be pretty clueless not to be aware of it…
“The first thing I did when I got my laptop for the first time – I got it about 3 months before my phone – was go up to my room and look for porn.”
“It was exciting, like a bit sort of dirty, but mostly exciting, secret.
“The thing I couldn’t believe was how much there was of it. It’s like the more you look the more you find, and you can literally find anything…
“At first, I’d only watch a bit and then I’d slam the laptop shut and feel all scared. But then it was obvious – nobody cared and there wasn’t going to be the porn police showing up to arrest you and tell your parents.
“So, I kept watching more and more…”
“Instead of hanging around my mates at lunch, I’ll go home and watch porn. I watch porn every night. Sometimes straight from school. I just lock the door and put headphones on.
“We went to Greece last summer and I was panicking I wouldn’t be able to access porn. But, luckily the hotel had WiFi and I could. I had to be a bit more careful as we were sharing this apartment… “
“Do I think this has changed the way I see girls? Yeah. Sort of. I haven’t had a girlfriend and it seems weird to think about the girls I know doing the stuff I watch.
“Like, I do think about them in those… like, the porn scenes sometimes, you can’t help it. But it’s really hard to imagine doing it in real life. I don’t know if real life will be as good as porn films.
“Why? Because some people say that girls are never as dirty in real life as they are in porn. And like, when you watch porn films you can sort of put yourself in the position of the man, and he’s always the boss.
“I don’t feel like that around girls in real life so I don’t think real-life sex can be as good. Also, no girls in school look like the girls in porn films which is okay. But, I love how girls look in porn.”
Jared, 16 Southampton. Estimated 60 hours per week on devices. (Combi, 2015, pp. 186-189)
The impact of pornography on teenagers is being explored in more depth through emerging research. Want more insight into the impact of porn on teens? Channel 4’s documentary, ‘Porn on the Brain’ is a great watch for more info.
Sexting and Pornographic Images
Unfortunately, viewing pornography is not the greatest danger facing Gen Z. Young people are increasingly becoming – willingly and unwillingly – the objects of pornographic images and videos. La Trobe University’s Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society found;
Nearly 3/4 of 15-18 year-olds have sexted.
Half of 15-18 year-olds have sent naked or semi-naked photos and videos of themselves
84% have received sexually explicit messages by phone or email.
Sending these message and images has actually become a new form of courtship, says James Emery White. However, the physical damage and emotional damage from being an object of pornographic images/videos cannot be overstated. Especially when they are capable of being shared around friendship groups, entire schools and the virtual world!
Gen Z: Equality, Fluidity and Acceptance
Equality and Acceptance
Staying true to their core values of diversity and tolerance, rather than question the cause and effect of practicing multiple sexualities and genders, Gen Z adopts a stance of complete acceptance.
Gen Z are connected to many different people, cultures and value systems. This has contributed to Gen Z’s value of diversity, acceptance, tolerance and equality.
Among these cultures and subcultures, Gen Z have met people and have access to a variety of sexual practices and lifestyle choices. Potentially leading Gen Z to becoming more sexually fluid than other teenagers in the past.
Sexual and Gender Fluidity
James Emery White highlights a YouGov survey, carried out in the UK, which shows that;
“49% of young people, between the ages of 18-24, identified as something other than 100% heterosexual.”
James Emery White and YouGov Survey
These realities are not confined to sexual fluidity. Gen Z seems more than able to cope with a fluid sense of gender too. One of the major stories of Gen Z’s adolescence was watching Olympian, Bruce Jenner, transition to Caitlyn Jenner.
Today, most will have friends, or at least acquaintances, who are living out as a gender different from their birth. There is a real sense amongst this generation that;
“Sexuality should be set free from any and all restrictions and people should be allowed to follow their desires, moment by moment.”
Helena Horton, 2015
It is beyond the scope of this post to offer a depth of responses or applications. The purpose of this post is to help educate us on the perspective of Generation Z. One important conclusion is that it is very difficult for Generation Z to imagine that they can live a full and meaningful life without being sexually active.
Any discussion of a Biblical response must start with the questions of identity. If it is true that we are created by God, the reality is we are primarily spiritual – not sexual! We must help young people see that the Bible, and in particular the life of Christ, shows us that our primary satisfaction will come from our relationship with God and His people, not from our sexual expression.
Darin is a coach at heart. He loves to develop young leaders to become effective in their local ministries. Darin also serves as Head of Training as he oversees Reign Ministries' training programmes and resources. Darin has been discipling young people for 25 years and brings his love for young people into every part of our organisation.
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