by Amy Davison
A few weeks back, our Facebook page had a flurry of comments suggesting great sources to use when you have “the talk” with your kiddos. (And our executive director, Lindsey, just had this exact conversation with her oldest girls, so trust us when we at Team Mama Bear say we value your input and recommendations, and we love seeing you all support each other!) As I watched the book list grow longer, it struck me that while some parents might be prepping for a talk, what we need to be preparing for is a lifetime of discipleship!
Yep, you read that right…a lifetime. Think about it. At its heart, discipleship is living the Christian life as it was meant to be lived while shepherding others on how to do the same (Matthew 28:19-20).
Since no one can pack all of that into one conversation (if you can, please email me because I want to be your friend), we need to reframe what it means to disciple our children, and it starts with how we understand biblical sexuality.
Sex is spelled: W-O-R-L-D-V-I-E-W
The first thing we have to do is toss out the myth that sex is just a talk about bodies.
Sure, this materialistic approach sounds complete. We get to check off the birds and bees box while our kids get an overview of anatomy and a few pictures of STDs to scar them for life, all in less than 20 minutes! What a steal! Sure, this materialistic approach sounds complete. We get to check off the birds and bees box while our kids get an overview of anatomy and a few pictures of STDs to scar them for life, all in less than 20 minutes! What a steal! Click To Tweet
It’s stealing alright, from our call to shepherd our children while ignoring God and the depth of His telos, His design for sexuality (Deut. 4:10, Prov. 22:6, Eph. 6:4).
It also ignores the fact that what we do with our bodies shows what we believe about God’s nature, His relationship with His people, His faithfulness, and whether we accept His purpose for creation, our bodies, minds, and marriage.
If you’re wondering how dangerous this is, notice that when the Israelites shirked their parental duties and ignored God, they slid into idol worship (Judges 2:10, Romans 3:22-25). It’s time for us Mama Bears to see sex for what it really is, not as an act, but as a reflection of our entire worldview.It’s time for us Mama Bears to see sex for what it really is, not as an act, but as a reflection of our entire worldview. Click To Tweet
Discipleship Starts With You
“Make yourself an example of good works with integrity and dignity in your teaching.” Titus 2:7
This probably sounds like a no-brainer, but don’t miss its importance. How we live our daily life either communicates or misrepresents the worldview we just talked about. Is our marriage a model of Christ’s love and forgiveness or a self-centered counterfeit? Are they seeing God’s faithfulness in how we live our single life, or does God’s Word get left with the babysitter on date night?
If there’s one thing that life as a mom has taught me, it’s that kids can pick out hypocrisy faster than cauliflower in their mac-n-cheese.
Let me encourage you, as one broken vessel to another, not to let pride, awkwardness, or the fact that you might have to move to your own apartment stand in the way of you being a faithful witness to your kiddos (1 Peter 2:21). They may not remember all you tell them, but they won’t forget what you’ve modeled.
Aim for Biblical, not Pharisaical, Sexuality
Have you seen that new Geico commercial with Cynthia the tyrannical HOA lady? In each scene, she’s either cutting down hanging planters or joyfully taking a chainsaw to a mailbox that’s two inches taller than regulations require. The poor couple who just moved in can’t even enjoy their house because they’re too worried about what Cynthia is going to do next!
Pharisaical sexuality is a bit like that. It points to all the rules you can’t break while following you around to yell whenever you screw up, much like how the Pharisees pestered Jesus and His disciples about their violations of the law (Luke 11:38, Mark 2:23-24). Like the crazy HOA lady measuring people’s lawn height, Pharisaical sexuality points to all the rules you can’t break while following you around to yell whenever you screw up. #nope #discipleship Click To Tweet
Does that sound like the way we should understand one of the best aspects of creation? It sure doesn’t to me! Luckily, we have a better way.
Biblical sexuality can be summed up in two ways: chastity before marriage and faithfulness in marriage.
Chastity means that we actively pursue and reflect God in our thoughts, actions, and body in all of our relationships, which involves avoiding sexual and emotionally intimate relationships before marriage. This means you see yourself and the person you’re dating as precious children of God worthy of respect, honor, and protection, and act accordingly. It’s worldview in action where God is the primary focus and everything else is aligned with Him, not the other way around.
If, and when, you do get married, those two avenues are opened to your spouse so they can cherish and enjoy, while you maintain chastity with everyone else. This is exactly how our faith life is supposed to look—us being chaste with all other belief systems while being faithful to God. Talk about a much more accurate (and positive!) view of what He has in mind for our lives.
Where There’s Sin, There’s Redemption
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9
Talking about redemption should never land in the “optional” column when we disciple our kids, but it’s a must when discussing sexuality. Why? Because it forces us to acknowledge that our little schmoopie might mess up. (Yes, Mama, it is possible that your sweet little angel might make mistakes. We can’t just be preparing them and expecting perfection. They need to know where to turn if or when they screw up. If we leave redemption out of the equation, then we are priming them for shame — hiding from us or worse, hiding from God.)
As I’ll explain in a sec, this has already happened in our house, and it was not very fun. In fact, when we really start understanding chastity, we notice that it’s a lot like the law. It reveals just how difficult it is and how much we need the redemptive work of Christ.
This is why, whenever you discuss sin, we have to emphasize the whole picture: God’s design, sin’s corruption, and the redemption of the cross available to all who believe and repent.Whenever you discuss sin, we have to emphasize the whole picture: God’s design, sin’s corruption, and the redemption of the cross available to all who believe and repent. Click To Tweet
Chastity isn’t easy and, more than likely, our children are going to stumble at some point. Grace can’t be seen as something only for virgins, otherwise, they’ll lose hope if they mess up. They also shouldn’t be taught a cheap view of grace where God’s love for sinners is seen as a free pass to do whatever they want. Make no mistake, Jesus may have dined with sinners, but He never encouraged them to stay in their sin.
When my son was 9, I got a text message from his buddy’s mom from down the street. The boys had been playing on a tablet, and his friend had decided to show my son a video the teenage brother had left open. You can likely imagine what she found them watching (yes, that). Now what?
A key part of discipleship is accountability between believers to be more Christ-like, kids included. It may be tempting to send them off to a convent in Switzerland, but shepherding them like Jesus is a lot cheaper and probably way more effective.
First, if your child is distraught over their sin, comfort them. Broken sexual relationships cause very real psychological effects. Empathize with them as you would any other believer caught in sin and maybe even share your own struggles (in age-appropriate ways). Sometimes there’s nothing more encouraging than hearing, “I’ve been there, too.”
Next, pray with them. Christ is our living water who restores and makes all things new. Don’t gloss over the fact that consequences are possible, including physical, mental, and psychological repercussions, depending on the sexual sin. Physical virginity can’t be restored, STD’s have to be treated, and babies have to be cared for, but these don’t become their identity. Their identity is rooted in Christ. By repenting for their sin, they are washed clean by the blood of Jesus.
Lastly, come together to restore or implement new boundaries. In the case of relationships that have lost sight of God’s purpose for the body, separation may be the best option. This may sound harsh to a love-struck teen, but once they’ve made up their mind to be sexually active with someone, it’s very difficult to keep their heart and body from carrying that out (Rom. 1:22-25). A break from their significant other to refocus on their relationship with Christ is the best way to prevent future sin and the physical and emotional harm that comes with it. This includes toxic friendships, as well.
In all cases, discuss what’s fair and appropriate for your family with your kids, while making sure your decisions are biblical.
Ultimately, when you live in the world but not of it, you are guaranteed to be met with some friction, so don’t forget to prep your child for what they can expect when they live out a biblical worldview. Classmates might think they’re weird or a prude, they’re going to lose followers, and they will probably have to block some social media trolls.
Christians aren’t given armor for nothing, so make sure that before your kids enter the battlefield, they know that persecution is part of the sanctification process (Rom. 8:17, Eph. 6:11-18).
To quote the cult-classic Princess Bride, “…anyone who says differently is selling something.”
That’s right, Mama and Papa bears! You don’t just get to do this once. Once that little bundle of joy rides home with you from the hospital (wasn’t that the scariest road trip of your life?!), you get to put this track on repeat. Aren’t you excited?!That’s right, Mama and Papa bears! You don’t just get to do this once. Once that little bundle of joy rides home with you from the hospital (wasn’t that the scariest road trip of your life?!), you get to put this track on repeat.… Click To Tweet
Not every conversation is going to be easy (you’re going to have to say penis and vagina, after all, and those words may be met with some giggles!), but some of the happiest testimonies I have heard were from men and women who had mothers who nurtured their development with frank, truth-filled conversations. These gals could talk about ovaries and hormones as coolly as if they were talking about where they went for summer break. That, my friends, is a true parenting win.
Helpful Resources to get off on the Right Foot
Before I wrap up, I want to tune you into a few great books for your spiritual toolbox! These are a combo of books that I have in my own library and suggestions from other Mama Bears. As with any resource, I encourage you to read it before or with your kiddos. This way you can ROAR over the material and explain anything confusing or catch something that isn’t quite right. (And P.S., these are affiliate links so if you’re going to get one of the books, help the Mama Bears by using the links below. We’ll get, like, a whole 50 cents, but those can add up, you know? We need stamps.)
Love Thy Body by Nancy Pearcey — This is an excellent book if you really want to dive into the history and worldview behind the leading sexual movements in our culture. I broke mine because I used it so much, it’s that amazing!
5 Conversations You Must Have With Your Son / Daughter and Your Boy / Your Girl by Vicki Courtney — These are fantastic parenting books that cover the topic of sexuality and purity. I’ve only read her series for boys, but they are funny, practical, and oh-so-helpful.
A Practical Guide to Culture by John Stonestreet & Brett Kunkle — Specifically chapters 8 and 9, though the whole book is great for youth ministry issues. Great for teens, too!
Sex and the Supremacy of Christ, edited by John Piper and Justin Taylor — This was a fantastic read! Honestly, I wish I had read/was taught this when I was a teen, especially the first three chapters. I didn’t agree with everything, but overall, it was eye-opening.
Unprotected by Miriam Grossman — A no-nonsense look at hook-up culture and how secular culture glosses over the psychological and physical damages it inflicts on young men and women
Holy Sexuality and the Gospel by Christopher Yuan — Excellent look at the whole picture of biblical sexuality with an emphasis on same-sex attraction.
The Talk: 7 Lessons to Introduce Your Child to Biblical Sexuality by Luke Wilkerson — Came highly recommended by a Mama Bear supporter. He has other books related to puberty and relationships, too.
The Story of Me by Brenna Jones, An easy book to read and chat with your little ones about their bodies. It can be a little long-winded at points so depending on your kiddos, you may want to break it up or summarize. Fair warning: there are pictures of nude children (each gender with their own page), and the back of the book has a blurry watercolor painting of a baby being born. Nothing too crazy, but you may want to skip that part if you’d prefer not to have your kids see it.
Why Gender Matters by Leonard Sax, M.D — Another excellent source for understanding the biological differences gender makes in boys and girls. He gives a great take on hot-button issues like transgenderism and the ideology fueling the movement. If you want to understand the thinking of your son or daughter better, this book will be eye-opening.
Center for Faith, Sexuality, and Gender https://centerforfaith.com — This is a great online resource of classes and articles to help you have better conversations on biblical sexuality and LGBTQ issues.
Facing the Facts: The Truth about Sex and You by Stan and Brenna Jones