For Sam and her friends growing up in Australia, sharing naked images of themselves with their boyfriends was just a normal part of teenage life.
“It was less boys asking us to send images and more just our peers generally saying that this was a good idea and this is how you grow your relationship which was completely false but it was almost like you were uncool if you didn’t,” recalls Sam, who is now in her early twenties.
Pornography consumption, which has become ubiquitous within our society, is one of the biggest factors behind the hyper-sexualisation of culture that is causing considerable harm – particularly amongst our young people.
One 2017 Australian study indicated that 87% of all 15-29 year-olds had viewed porn with the median age for first exposure as low as 13 for boys – but for many it’s much younger.
It was this secret that was eating away at my heart.
“I was exposed to pornography by a neighbour at 7 years old,” shares former YFC Missionary, Nathan. “And from there that become a dominating factor in my life, even after I became a Christian… it was this secret that was eating away at my heart.”
Both Nathan and Sam have joined other young Aussie Christians to courageously share their stories in What's Normal – a new Christian resource developed through YFC.
The What’s Normal course empowers young people to question what they accept as normal and to make positive changes to their own life and the culture around them.
Featuring video testimonies, discussions and biblical teaching, it's been designed for churches and christian schools to open discussion around these big topics with their youth and young adults over ten weeks.
“I’m hoping that this course will be the starting point of a conversation that continues,” says program director, PJ Bedwell.
“Even as we were filming the videos, all the young people we talked to repeatedly said 'no one ever spoke to us about this stuff’, aside from a list of do-nots."
“So we need to get more comfortable talking about these topics and opening dialogue in a way that’s shame free, where people feel safe to share where they’re at, and together we can call each other higher.”
We need to get more comfortable talking about these topics
The course covers various topics impacting youth including: screen time, pornography, relationships, sex, body image and mental health. And, as PJ shares, it’s unashamedly centred on the hope the Gospel offers to all.
“Whilst we have engaged with experts and done extensive research to deliver the What’s Normal program, it’s strength is based in simple, biblical teaching about the power that Jesus has to set people free,” he says.
The What’s Normal resource is now available for individuals, schools and churches to licence and use via whatsnormal.org.au.