The email was frantic. The mother didn’t know what to do. She was in panic mode.
Her son was just 9 years old and she didn’t think it was yet time to talk to her son about sex. Yet, she had just found out that he had been looking at pornography on the ipad for months. As the story unfolded, the woman learned from her son that at first he had stumbled on it, but then he went looking for it.
She was beyond upset, thinking of the innocence lost. Her son was embarrassed and filled with shame and confusion.
My husband works for a wonderful Internet safety software company called Covenant Eyes, and he receives emails and phone calls every day from parents who realize they are a day late and a dollar short when it comes to educating and protecting their kids.
This article is not about this woman’s technology mistakes. Should she have put restrictions in place on the family iPad and other devices? Yes, of course. But that’s another article for another day.
Are You Ready the have The Talk?
This article is about why we, as parents, should not be afraid of telling our kids “too much, too soon” when it comes to sex.
Don’t misunderstand me: there are proper ways to teach kids about sexuality. But the enemy of their souls is not sexual information in general, but false or abusive messages about sex. You, as their parents, are the guardians of the information they receive.
The fact is, when parents are afraid of saying too much too soon, they often end up saying too little too late.
There are 3 primary reasons why parents should not put off talking to their kids about biblical sexuality:
- Kids are sexual beings. This doesn’t mean kids desire to have sex. What this does mean, is they are born as gendered beings. Their sexuality is stamped on their bodies. Curiosity about what it means to be male or female is as natural as the day is long.
- Kids are learning abusive information about sex earlier and earlier. Maybe you homeschool your kids. Maybe you don’t have TV. Maybe all your kids playdates are heavily supervised. Kudos to you. But false message about sex are nearly impossible to avoid, even in the most protected environments. You can’t walk around a mall, drive down a highway, or stand in a checkout line without sexual media showing up.
- Godly sexuality is a window to see the goodness of God. If you shelter your children more than most parents do, you can probably get away with postponing certain sexual discussions. But don’t postpone these discussions because you believe sex is scandalous. Yes, it is a mature subject that should be handled in a mature way, but it is something God calls good. Our sexuality—our maleness, our femaleness, God’s purpose for the family, the way God creates life in the womb, the oneness of marriage—these are windows to the wisdom and goodness of God.
Information about sex does not rob a child of innocence. As Dr. Paul C. Reisser wisely states, “Innocence is a function of attitude, not information.” If a school-age child understands some of the specifics of sex, when they understand it is an act that expresses love between husband wife, an act that can begin new life, that child retains his or her innocence. However, Dr. Reisser, states, “A child who knows very little about sex can already have a corrupt mind-set if he has been exposed to it in a degrading, mocking, or abusive context.”
3 Strategies for Biblical Education
Talking about “sex” is more than just the birds and the bees conversation. Good sex education includes a whole host of topics: what it means to be male or female, what it means to be created in God’s image, God’s purpose for marriage, God’s mandate to be fruitful and multiply, proper boundaries between men and women or between child and stranger, etc.
How do you bring these subjects up?
1. Let the Bible break the ice for you.
There’s no better place to start talking about sex than with the Bible in your lap. Simply read the Bible without trying to “sanitize” it. There are many, many stories in the Bible that address the subjects of sex, marriage, and intimacy.
Think of just the first book of the Bible. Without even leaving Genesis you can cover topics like the origin of marriage, the origin of men and women, the mandate to have babies, monogamy, adultery, polygamy, homosexuality, rape, incest, and a host of other subjects.
Granted, how you talk about topics matter. Talking in a way kids can understand is important. I highly encourage you to use a family-oriented Bible study to help you with these things. My husband and I have written a couple family devotionals all about teaching kids about sex—they are biology-lesson-meets Bible-studies:
- The Talk: 7 Lessons to Introduce Your Child to Biblical Sexuality (for kids 6-10)
- Changes: 7 Biblical Lessons to Make Sense of Puberty (for kids 8-12)
2. Let the natural world break the ice for you.
It’s hard to avoid the subject of sex when the natural world is so full of sex.
For starters, there’s your child’s own body. Very early lessons about sexuality include proper names for body parts.
Then there’s the animal world. Nearly every creature with a backbone has sex to reproduce. Do you ever catch household pets or animals at the zoo “in the act”? Use the moment to teach.
Praise God together with your kids when you see a pregnant woman—praise Him for the little life in her womb.
When you see your child, their older siblings, or older friends going through the changes of puberty, use it to spark a discussion about what it means to become an adult man or woman.
3. Let current events break the ice for you.
In a recent interview we did with Joe Dallas of Genesis Counseling, he gave us some great advice about how to handle tough or taboo sexual topics.
One of the greatest ways we equip our kids to be able to defend the faith is by talking about it regularly. And here, of course, the newspaper gives us ample opportunity to do that. Some of the best talks I have had with my sons about [sexuality] came because I picked up the newspaper and said, “Hey boys, what do you think of this?” And that opens up the door for discussing current issues.
This is solid gold advice. Of course, we don’t want to throw our kids to the wolves, but there’s nothing wrong with taking them to the zoo see the wolves.
If you see a thought-provoking news story about a taboo sexual topic, just bring it up around the house and ask them to comment on it—giving only the details you think are pertinent. First, it will get them talking about what they think, giving you insight into their thought processes. Second, it will allow them to apply what you’ve taught them to real world situations.
Raising Sexually Savvy Christians
In today’s culture, the church’s sexual ethics are quickly becoming one of the distinguishing marks that makes Christians stand out from the rest of the world. This is a good thing. God has called us to sexual integrity. But in a world full of sexual sin, one of our most important callings as parents is to raise our kids to avoid sexual temptations and also embrace a joyful picture of why God calls sex good.
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