There has been a tidal wave of brain research in recent years; I owe a lot of my own learning about it to Mark Oestricher‘s study, books and presentations. What’s been fascinating is that generations of assumptions have turned out to be wrong as they finally started doing scans on healthy adolescent brains. One of the major assumptions, that the development is largely finished by adolescence, has been completely disproved. Instead, it turns out the brain doesn’t finish growing, developing, and locking into its patterns of thought and reasoning until the mid-twenties.
On a separate but connected note, one of my frustrations as a ministry leader in college, and now a youth pastor for the last decade or so, is the issue of pornography and our culture at large’s attitude that it doesn’t hurt anyone, and in fact can be a healthy outlet for young people’s sexuality. It’s fairly straightforward from a faith perspective that sexuality is something God desires for us to protect and reserve for the marriage relationship. What’s fascinating to me is the change in tone in recent years from the secular scientific and health community on the negative effects of porn on people in general and adolescents in particular. It turns out that God’s plan not only helps the marriage relationship, it in fact protects us from potentially significant damage.
The following are a series of TED talks that really highlight the issue; I showed clips from the two embedded below last Sunday when speaking with the teens on the topic of pornography. The first one is from Cindy Gallop, which is pretty explicit in what she says – I wish she had communicated her point, that pornography is fundamentally impacting the way adolescent boys and girls are approaching sex and what they are learning/being taught, without being quite so blunt. You can see it here.