Let me set the scene for you: I was a first-year teacher, straight out of college, freshly married, and getting into the groove of educating burgeoning young minds. Spring rolled around, the birds sang in the trees, the bees buzzed in the flowers, and I found out that I was supposed to give “The Talk” to the middle school girls. Yikes. I was handed a decades-old sex ed. video and a TV with a built-in VCR and wished good luck. I faced that room of young girls and pressed play.
Three minutes later, after judging the quality of the film and the looks on the faces of the girls, I hit that square “stop” button. And we talked. Honestly. Openly. Turns out these kids had questions, and most of them didn’t have a great source for real answers. Biblical answers. Answers about God’s gift of sex and what was going on with their bodies and what they were feeling and thinking. Unfortunately, most of these girls’ parents had hardly broached the subject with them, and many of the girls felt like the topic was taboo at home. Most of these girls were growing up in Christian homes with two loving parents who had solid marriages. Then and there I vowed that when I had kids, a newbie teacher was not going to be the one to teach my children about sex. Sixteen years and four kids later, I can honestly say we’ve had many great godly conversations about sex and marriage and hormones and armpit hair in our household, and God has blessed our home and our family through these discussions.
Sex is a good gift from a good God. The pleasure of sex is echoed throughout the entire Bible. Sex is also a powerful gift to be enjoyed only as God instructs, and there are many warnings of misuse and abuse of that gift in the Bible as well. God didn’t shy away from the topic of sex, and neither should we. In this day and age, if you’re not talking to your kids about sex, you’re the only one who isn’t.
So how do we talk to our children about sex? Here are a few ideas to alleviate the awkwardness and invite some great and healthy discussions into your home:
- Make conversations frequent and honest. The idea of gearing up to have “The Talk” with your kids once and then never mentioning sex again is garbage. This cannot be a “one and done” conversation. Most of us were probably raised that way, but most of us were also raised on margarine, and that doesn’t mean it was the right way. If we have to tell our children 87 times to turn off a light when they exit a room, what makes us think they’ll listen to one sex talk and glean all the goodness we want them to glean? It is far better to have several shorter and more natural conversations whenever a subject or a question arises, and the world will give us plenty of fodder for discussion. We have tried to create a safe haven in our home for our kids to ask us questions, and then we answer them in age-appropriate ways as they grow and mature. There will still be nervous giggles and blush-filled moments, but by having more conversations, with dads and moms talking to both sons and daughters (one-on-one follow-ups if necessary), it will get more natural and normal and less awkward and taboo.
- Use alliteration: god, gross, or gift? We can err in two basic ways in how we view sex and in how we talk to kids about sex. We can portray sex as a god; this is often the worldly view of sex, which places this pleasure above the capital G God. Sex becomes an idol, something sought after at all costs, something to be won. If we don’t talk to our kids about sex openly and often, they will learn this “sex as a god” view from the world around them. Another way we can err is by giving kids the impression that sex is gross. Unfortunately, this is often the error Christian families fall into, perhaps as a kneejerk reaction to the overwhelming glorification of sexuality in our world. We do this sometimes simply by implying that sex is something we don’t mention, or making kids feel ashamed of their feelings and thoughts. Instead, we need to communicate to our kids that sex is a beautiful gift that God has given to a man and a woman within the bonds of marriage and that God wants to bless us with his good gifts. Remind your kids of God’s promises; also, don’t forget to remind them of God’s gift of forgiveness if and when we stray from God’s will for us.
- Model servant love in the home. Actions speak volumes. Obviously, we shouldn’t model everything; some things should stay in the bedroom. But a dad who treats Mom respectfully and thinks of her needs and puts her first . . . the kids can see that. A mom who honors Dad and tells him she is proud of him and puts forth effort to make him feel loved . . . the kids can see that. Those actions and attitudes translate back and forth from the bedroom to the living room and kitchen, and the kids are watching. Talk to your kids about respect and honor and servant love in and out of the bedroom. And model that for them. Work on your marriage, because that will help their future relationships.
God’s design for marriage is amazing. God’s gift of sex is beautiful. God’s idea for the family unit is awesome. All this has been marred and distorted by the world and sin, but by God’s grace we can still try to raise our kids to know how God wants to bless us with those good gifts, and we can try to prepare them for future relationships with the best chance of enjoying those gifts in a godly way.
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:1,2)