When I was a sophomore in high school, a senior girl took it upon herself to tell me about her sexual experience. She knew that she was speaking to someone who was notoriously naive and inexperienced, and I could tell that she relished the opportunity to educate me in these few minutes at the end of a study hall. I’ll never forget her telling me:
Of course, we don’t have sex when I’m on my period, because I don’t want to get pregnant!
I smiled and nodded, wondering how a girl could get to be 18 years old and sexually active with so little understanding of how procreation actually works. She honestly thought that the week of her period was her most fertile week of the month. By some miracle, she made it out of high school without getting pregnant, but it wasn’t because she was being smart about it. She had obviously been misinformed, probably by another girl or her boyfriend, all because their parents assumed that kids find out how this stuff works SOMEWHERE, and they were personally far too embarrassed to bring up the subject with their kids.
To top it off, this girl had no notion at all that what she was doing might be the wrong thing. She certainly didn’t seem to think having sex with her boyfriend was something to keep quiet about. She was proud of what she was doing.
That was back in the early 90s, which were utterly wholesome times compared to the world that our kids are now growing up in. Internet pornography has changed everything about our culture, and our children are more vulnerable than ever before, to experience abuse, unexpected pregnancy, sexual addiction, and unhealthy and damaging views of sex.
Christian homes should be the most open, honest, and comfortable places for kids and teens to learn and ask questions about sex. Let me make my case, Christian parents. If you are embarrassed to talk to your kids about sex, get over it. Here’s why.
The world is already teaching our kids about sex.
It’s teaching them that sex is casual. Selfish. It says that sex is purely physical. That it means nothing. That it is about feeling good and getting what you want and nothing more. The world tells our kids that they are sexual objects. That they are only worth as much as another person’s level of sexual desire for them. It says that if they aren’t having sex they’re worthless, and that if they are having sex, they’re sluts. This world tells even our youngest little ones that they are defined by their physical attributes. It tells them that they exist for sexual pleasure and that they are even identified by what kind of sexual desires that they have.
As Christian parents we MUST be the very first people in our kids’ lives to educate them about sex. We need to explain from the beginning what God created it to be. About the sacred beauty of marriage. And, we need to work to de-emphasize the all-encompassing sexual obsession of our culture. The only way we can do that is by talking honestly about sex with our kids, from younger-than-you-think ages. It’s our job to place sex in the proper context, to provide our kids with a God-centered view of themselves and what sex was created to be. If we don’t teach our kids about sex, plenty of other people with a completely different set of values and an opposite worldview will gladly step up to do the job.
Pornography is coming for our kids.
The pornography industry wants to get our kids hooked, like it got so many boys in my generation hooked. It is a huge, insidious machine that wants nothing more than to continue raking in billions of dollars at the expense of families everywhere. If you think your kids are immune, that they “would never look at that,” then you are sadly mistaken. As Christian parents, we should already be talking about pornography before our kids are ever exposed. We should be warning about the dangers of the internet, and we MUST install internet filters on ALL devices that our families own. If we aren’t doing this, we’re throwing our kids straight into the waiting jaws of the pornographers.
We are pro-life.
We may sign every pro-life petition that comes our way. We may constantly preach about the sanctity of life. We may donate money to a crisis pregnancy center. But, if we aren’t talking to our kids about sex (not just once, but throughout their childhood and teen years), then we are truly failing to live out our pro-life views within our own family. We can’t send our children out there with no sense of what sex was designed to be and with no real knowledge of how their bodies work or how reproduction happens. We MUST be open with our kids and acknowledge how strong sexual desire is and how hard it can be to wait until marriage. We need to instill in our kids a reverence for marriage and for their future spouse, and above all, we must show our kids that holiness is a life-long pursuit that includes the difficulty of denying ourselves sexual pleasure until marriage. A huge part of the pro-life movement is and should be sex education. It starts with us.
Sexual orientation isn’t a given.
In this strange culture that our kids are growing up in, many will begin to question their sexual orientation or even be told by others that they are gay. They need to be able to talk to us when these questions come up. We should be there to reassure them, to guide them in working through their fears, and to constantly be streaming the word of God in their ear, always leading them back to the holiness and goodness of God. The last thing I want is for my children to feel like I am not where they can turn if these feelings come up. I want to be the first place they run to, and I will be if we have a long history of talking openly about sex.
If we start young, we can easily keep the conversation going.
If your child is a teenager and you haven’t opened up a conversation about sex, just do it. It will be awkward and weird, but don’t miss your opportunity to influence him, here and now, while you have him in your house. Invite him to share his struggles with you, and give him godly guidance, even if he doesn’t act like he wants to hear it. He needs to hear it.
But, if you have younger kids, you have a golden opportunity to open this conversation during a phase of life when they aren’t self-conscious and embarrassed. Start small in age-appropriate ways, and begin an open-ended, on-going discussion that leaves plenty of room for questions and honest talk. And, don’t stop talking. Just keep it going. Check in every once in awhile. Ask questions about what she has heard. Find out if she has questions to ask you. If you are especially feeling awkward about it, talk in the car so that you don’t have to look each other in the face. You may both talk more easily that way.
As Christian parents, we want to disciple our kids and lead them in the ways of God. We can’t fool ourselves into thinking that sex education isn’t a huge part of discipleship. Sexual sin is dangerous and rampant, and it always has been. We can’t help our kids deal with the incredible pull of sexual desire unless we talk about it. Will it feel awkward? Maybe, at first. But, it’s nothing we can’t handle. Sex shouldn’t be a dirty word in Christian homes. If we want our kids to think biblically about sex and about their own worth, then we have to teach them what the Bible says about it, one conversation at a time.