It’s amazing how sheepish parents can get about the subject of sex—especially around their children. At a recent conference, I spoke to a packed crowd of parents who wanted to learn about how to give their kids a godly sex education. After an hour session, a woman came up to me during the break and told me she had worked for fifteen years as an educator in the public schools, teaching children of all ages about human sexuality. For all intents and purposes, she should consider herself an expert in this subject. She knew how to talk about the biology of sexuality. She knew how to communicate these ideas to children, meeting them at their intellectual and emotional levels—probably better than most people can. But when it came to talking to her own kids, she was tongue tied. She could not get the words “penis” or “vagina” to come out of her mouth around her own children, let alone teach them how those parts go together.
- Jesus Has Given Parents an Important Commission
Jesus said the greatest law given by Moses is to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind, and might (Deut. 6:5; Matt. 22:37-38). On the heels of this law is a command to adults to teach the next generation diligently about what God has commanded (Deut. 6:6-9)—and this includes God’s commands about sexuality. After His resurrection, Jesus told His followers their commission was to make disciples of all nations, teaching these new disciples to observe all He has commanded (Matt. 28:19-20). This most certainly includes making disciples of our own children, including teaching them Christ’s words about sex.
Speaking through the Apostle Paul, Jesus told fathers to bring up children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (Eph. 6:4). This includes all the Lord has revealed about how to steward our sexuality. Regardless of our fears, uncertainties, or questions, Christian parents have been called by Christ to thoroughly instruct their children about sexuality.
- Jesus Has Given Us the Perfect Ice-Breaker
Parents face a fear in our modern age. The number one concern I hear from Christian parents is hoping they don’t say “too much too soon.” However, this often means parents end up saying too little too late. Parents wait for their children to be “ready” to have conversations about sexuality, but when I press for what “ready” actually means, I receive mostly blank stares. This is because “ready” for many parents is more of a subjective feeling than it is a definable benchmark of maturity visible in their child. Of course we want to teach our kids about sex before the world fills in the intellectual void. Of course we want to have far more than just “one big sex talk” and call it good. Of course we want to communicate to our children in ways they can understand. Assuming all of this, it is not the children who are not “ready” for lessons about human sexuality. It is the parents who don’t feel emotionally ready to broach the subject. God has given parents the perfect tool to break the ice: the Bible. Do you do regular devotions with your children in some fashion? This is your launching pad to talking about sex.
One of the best ways to introduce your child to basic sexual concepts is to simply not censor the Bible. The Word of God is filled with all the building blocks you need to construct your child’s theology of sex. From God’s creation of male and female (Gen. 1:24-27) to His command to be fruitful and multiply (1:28-31), from the wonderful descriptions of God weaving us together in the womb (Ps. 139:13-18) to the description of husband and wife as one flesh (Gen. 2:18-25), from commands about sexual sin (Exodus 20:14) to stories of sexual abuse (2 Sam. 13:6-14), the Bible is full of ice-breakers to broach important and foundational sexual subjects with your kids. There is no safer place for children to learn about sex than sitting next to a loving parent with a Bible in their lap.
- Jesus Has Given Our Bodies Eternal Dignity
At the heart of the Gospel is the resurrection of Jesus Christ (Rom. 10:9). The resurrection not only proclaims that Jesus is the Son of God and the Lord of the world (Romans 1:1-4). It also proclaims that new creation has begun, that the Kingdom of God has come, and it is only a matter of time before death is destroyed forever (1 Cor. 15:20-28).
Why does this matter for sex education? It matters because God has shown us, through the resurrection of Christ, that our bodies have eternal dignity. Someday, God will raise the dead and our bodies will be redeemed (Rom. 8:23); our bodies will be imperishable, glorious, powerful, and perfectly suited for a new spiritual world (1 Cor. 15:42-44). Physical reality is not temporary. Our bodies are not temporary. All of us—soul and body—was bought with a price, which is why we are called to glorify God in our bodies, fleeing from sexual immorality (1 Cor. 6:18-20).
The resurrection of Christ is one of the greatest and most precious diamonds of Scriptural truth. Hold it up to the light, and with each turn, it reflects and refracts the light in new and dazzling ways. It has profound implications for all of life in this age, including how we understand our own bodies and our sexuality. When children grow up knowing their bodies have eternal dignity, then they don’t see their bodies or the bodies of others as mere “flesh suits.” They don’t fall prey so easily to theological dualism—thinking the “spiritual” is more important than the “material.” I’m reminded of what the Oxford scholar C.S. Lewis said in a famous sermon:
It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilization—these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit—immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.
Having the Talk: Biblical Sex Ed Training for Parents
If you need a little help using the Bible as a springboard to giving your kids godly sex education, I encourage you to enroll in my e-Course: Having the Talk: Biblical Sex Ed Training for Parents. In this course, my wife and I walk parents through several key passages of Scripture, giving them ways to communicate to young children the basics of human sexuality.
This article first appeared in the July 2016 issue of Theology for Life. To download this issue please click here.