Talking about sex is uncomfortable. Even more so when discussing it with our children. Talking about it over a cup of ice cream or a bowl of potato chips won’t make the topic less unpleasant either. And then, just when you think that you’ve tackled the worst part – that is, “the birds and the bees” – in comes the torrent of questions, spewed out by your little ones like fireballs.
Most parents, who are so not looking forward to the questions, would ask, “Can’t the conversation wait?” Well, the thing is, the whole world is talking about sex and our children aren’t getting younger. Would you rather your kids learn from their peers or from you, the parents, in the safe setting of your home?
While your answer would definitely be the second, it is important not to rush yourself on explaining and answering without equipping yourself with the right foundation beforehand. As believers, we know that sex education is more than just forbidding children from having sex before marriage. No, it is way beyond that.
Principles of Sex Education
In teaching sex education for Christian youth, parents need to be sure that their children will be able to connect the dots. For example, even when the Bible does not explicitly say that we shouldn’t view pornography, various guidelines are given to us. We are commanded to avoid lust with our own eyes (Matthew 5:27-28 and 1 John 2:15-17), which guides us to an understanding that we should never engage in any form of sexual behavior based on lust.
Other than behavior, another important thing that parents should understand is the physicality of being male and female. Between the ages of 9-12, parents should teach their children about Christian values in matrimony. For sons, parents can teach them to emulate the attitude of Christ in their married life. His sacrificial love is nurturing and pure, never abusive, self-centered, or degrading. Hence, parents need to teach their sons to honor every female in their lives.
For daughters, parents can teach them to be a type of the Church to their future husbands, which means they should preserve their purity for the day they become one with their husbands. By emphasizing the continuous love story between Christ and us, parents can help them understand the sacredness of preserving their sanctity.
Here, we have rounded up a few points to lay the right biblical foundation for your much-needed parent-children sex education session.
1. It all begins from Genesis
Before the conversation on sex gets rolling, we need to return our gaze to the fundamental point of gender and sexuality, way back to the Creation. “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God He created them; male and female He created them” (Genesis 1:27). It is crucial to point out that male and female are created with different traits, each according to His image.
Esther Kurniawati, a Christian counselor and psychology lecturer at UPH, pointed out that God designs our body for specific purposes, and nobody is faulty or wrongly designed. He has created His children and assigned us, both male and female, the right identity, precise role, to fulfill his beautiful purpose on earth. This way, children will have a clear understanding of their gender role and identity that God has created them for and receive them with a grateful heart.
2. Sex is a God-created celebration
Those of us who were reared in the Eastern culture has grown accustomed to treating sex as a taboo subject. If you find this relatable, you’d remember all too well being admonished by the parents for simply sitting through a kissing scene on the telly with your eyes wide open. Unfortunately, in many households, the topic of sex has become a narrative loaded with cautionary tales.
To avoid going down this path, we need to divert our gaze to God by asking the question: why did God create sex in the first place? Instill in children’s mind that “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good” (NIV, Genesis 1:31). Explain to children that His purpose in creating sex is to: 1) unite man and woman’s love through a marital relationship, 2) procreation, 3) demonstrate our union with Christ. The third point might have to wait until the children are mature enough to really understand.
There is one beautiful statement from an article in The Gospel Coalition that rings true with the above Bible verse. It said, “God created sex for our pleasure and for our good, so we celebrate it.” In other words, sex is holy and beautiful because it is a God-created celebration.
As children mature, sexual drives would come naturally. This is where parents need to put emphasis on timing. Along with the creation of sex, God has also set a standard to go about it; that sex is an activity reserved for marriage. Parents need to be careful when delivering the message. Instead of filling it with warnings (“Don’t get pregnant!” or “pre-marital sex will ruin your future”), explain that God wants us to reserve ourselves for a special person in the future. That way children will appreciate sex and marriage as something profound, and eventually, will maintain their sexual integrity until they are ready to step into the holy union of marriage with a person whom they love.
4. God has established a standard for sex because He loves us.
Living in an age where sex has become a commodity and entertainment on the internet and media has posed a difficult challenge for Christian parents to protect their children today. The world teaches a distorted view of sex, gender, and sexuality. Sex before marriage has become the norm and homosexuality exists everywhere you go.
Remind children that we are all sinners, and that the world is full of sinners, and this is the reason why we need the Lord to set our path straight again. Our body is for the Lord, as written in 1 Corinthians 6:13 (NIV), “The body, however, is not meant for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.”
It’s a good opportunity to remind them again of God’s standard for sex. This standard that He has established is not intended to restrain His children, but it’s because He- the all-knowing Creator of the heavens and earth – loves us and knows what’s good for us. In responding to this, we as children of God express our love by obeying His words.
Once we’ve learned of the biblical foundation of sex education for our children, the only thing left is to start the conversation. The formula is pretty simple: build a culture of trust and honesty with children, by developing a healthy conversation about sex. Do not be ashamed to openly discuss sex, gender, and sexuality.
Deborah Ruffman, an expert on teen sexuality as well as the author of Talk to Me First: Everything You Need to Know to Become Your Kids’ ‘Go-To’ Person About Sex, said, “Kids who grow up in families where sexuality is openly discussed are not just healthier and happier, but they also postpone participation in a range of risky behaviors including sexual activity.”
Depending on the children’s age, you can start the conversation with the young ones by answering their questions about the differences between boys and girls. With pre-teenagers, you can answer their curiosity on inappropriate TV commercials. It is always best to start the conversation at an early age. And as you build rapport with your children, maintain it. When your children ask regularly, it signifies that they have grown comfortable discussing such topics with their parents.