Hooking-Up: A Primer for those in Youth Ministry

I posted the below for Leadership Network’s Book Blog because I think it’s an important book for those in ministry, especially if you are working with college students, or any students in general. “Hooking-up” is not simply a college phenomenon and anyone working with youth knows that. I’ve sat and listened to stories from youth pastor friends that I would find unbelievable if they were coming from anyone else than people that I know. “Hooking-up” is beginning before Junior High, and often as early as 5th grade (and I know people have stories of younger). This book grabbed my attention because though everyone knew that “hooking-up” was pretty much a college rite of passage in some circles, few talked about the effects of that sexual encounter. Now, Miriam Grossman, M.D., goes into detail about her encounters with women on college campuses. And it’s not a pretty picture.

I will be posting more on this issue at this site, as well as our new youth ministry site, Collection of Crumbs, which is a collaborative effort between those thinking theologically about Junior High, High School and College ministry.

Before you read the post below, let me ask you a few questions:

  • Is the “hook-up” culture prevalent in your ministry?
  • What are some of the effects of this culture in your ministry?
  • How, or do you approach this subject openly with your students?

Unprotected: A Campus Psychiatrist Reveals How Political Correctness in Her Profession Endangers Every Student

I’ve been slowly reading through Miriam Grossman M.D.’s new book, Unprotected, and I’m having a hard time finding the right adjective to describe my thoughts…depressing, enlightening, sad. One of the reasons that I picked up the book was because I have been working with college students for almost ten years and I (among many others) have noticed the affects of the “hook up” culture in college circles.

“Hooking up” is nothing new in college, and in fact it’s even made easier through social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace which allow you to find “hook up” partners at the touch of a button. But now for the first time in many years, those in the medical, psychological and religious fields are taking notice of some of the long lasting effects of this sexual encounter. Dr. Grossman who has been working with college students for over twenty years, and the last ten working as a psychiatrist at UCLA’s Student Psychological Services, wrote this book out of her experiences of working with thousands of college students, and more specifically women on college campuses. Miriam writes,

“Now young people are advised to use latex, and have a limited number of partners (as opposed to unlimited?). There is a tacit approval of promiscuity and experimentation: one study of college students speaks of ‘primary and casual sex partners.”

She goes on to say that,

“More relevant to my patients at this stage in their lives is that oxytocin is released during sexual activity. Could it be that the same chemical that flows through a woman’s veins as she nurses her infant, promoting a powerful and selfless devotion, is found in college women ‘hooking up’ with men whose last intention is to bond?”

As a college pastor this is a necessary book as I interact with students who live in a “hook up” culture. And for the first time in many years, Grossman from a psychiatric perspective is confirming what Christian teachers have been saying.

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