This in response to Chris' comment on my Valentine Post.
The advantage human beings have over other animals is the separation of sexual pleasure and reproduction. No other species, as far as I am aware, uses safe sex as entertainment.
Nevertheless I am convinced sex belongs best within a committed, permanent relationship. I know not all my readers will hold this view. Going for extreme physical intimacy without emotional intimacy devalues sex. It is a life-uniting act and I feel is best kept special.
Christian educators will often teach that there should be no sex before marriage. They teach young people to wear 'True Love Waits' wrist bands and T-shirts. Then they mix up marriage and weddings. Culturally we have changed our attitude to marriage. The way society in our part of the world does marriage these days is to move in together. We have made weddings so expensive, that people commit, share homes, marry their goods and bank accounts, even have children and then save up for a wedding ceremony. Somewhere along the line the bonking commenced (before the children came along presumably).
So teaching a youth group about sex is good. A Christian perspective would be that it is special, life-giving, life-enhancing and more valuable if reserved for people who have comitted to each other for the long haul. It can wait for the wedding if you don't buy into the lie that the wedding must be expensive. Two friends of mine had a gloriously imaginative wedding last year using seasonal flowers, home made decorations and a bring and share meal. It cost about £16,000 less than Bride magazine recommended spending. Hooray.
Don't lose too much sleep over sex waiting for the wedding night. It might. Lose lots of sleep before giving away your virginity. It is a great marriage present.
Now what about intimate relationships between Christians and non-Christians? Again young people are terribly wounded by the 'Don't do this' approach to youth ministry. Help them discover truths. Ask, 'What might be the disadvantages of making a long-term relationship with someone whose fundamental world view is at odds to your own?' Then, 'What might be the advantages?' Let them work it out. Is it different to a Tory marrying a Socialist? Football lover marrying a sport-hater? If so, how?
I guess as an opening to any youth group series I would ask the young people, 'What issues would you like us to deal with?' This may be the trick you missed.
My own technique has always been to ask lots of questions and give many alternative answers to questions I am asked myself. As a follower of Jesus and a seeker after truth I am proud of that.
I would always introduce the Bible, with the guarded opening that we will find a very strange cultural world - a world where leaders should have only one wife but a different standard is acceptable for ordinary people (1 Timothy 3:2). A world where kings have 700 wives and 300 concubines and are still described as wise - the only problem for the Bible's authors is if those wives lead him astray to their foreign gods (1 Kings 11:1-6).
But it is a world where sex is precious and sexual immorality is hated. In Genesis 1 God declares loneliness as the first thing that is 'not good'. Having partnered up man and woman (it's a story remember not history) he then says, 'Have lots of sex.' That is what 'Be fruitful and multiply' means. Everything else the Bible says about sex is attached to a warning or a negative. Sexual immorality is never clearly defined in the Bible so we run the risk of defining it as 'sexual practices we don't like'.
Good resources? Well I contributed a chapter to Sex and the Cynics for Damaris last year. Buy it here.
It is about the best thing I've been involved in and looks at the way sex is portrayed in the movies and the media. It makes you think really hard.