Is It Biblical to Teach Our Kids About Sex?

The topic is one that makes some (nearly all?) parents “gulp” and feel a little nervous.

  • Do we really have to talk about it?
  • How do we talk about it?
  • What should we/shouldn’t we say?
  • What if we say too much?
  • What if we don’t say enough?
  • What if we say the wrong thing?
  • Are we going to mess them up for life?

And then as Christians, there’s another question that sometimes plagues parents: Is it even BIBLICAL to teach our kids about sex? 

 

Is It Biblical to Teach Our Kids About SEX? // JessConnell.com

 

There are many reasons for this, but let me tell you my simple answer: YES.

My husband and I believe:

  • it is right,
  • it is wise,
  • it is loving,
  • it is our job
  • AND– it is biblical

to teach our children about sex.

It is about that last point– that it is biblical— that I want to elaborate today.

REASON #1- GOD TALKED EXPLICITLY TO HIS “KIDS” ABOUT IT.

God didn’t just leave His children to flounder. When He gave them the Law in the Old Testament, He laid out very clear, specific guidelines about what was good and what was wicked, in regard to sexuality.

God’s Old Testament Law specifically addressed:

  • pagan practices of the culture around them
  • incest, with very specific situational applications (i.e., not your aunt, not your father’s adopted daughter, etc.)
  • sex during menstrual cycles
  • sexual religious rituals (condemning these)
  • prostitution
  • rape
  • homosexuality
  • beastiality

And in the New Testament, Paul offered very specific instructions as well, regarding (among other things):

  • fornication
  • homosexuality
  • lust
  • orgies
  • adultery

God could have just said, “sex is for marriage,” and left it at that. Right?

But He didn’t.

He gave very specific instructions about things they might encounter in their lives so that they would not be caught unaware or uncertain about what to do in a given situation. God wanted His children to be very distinctive and discerning in the area of sexual things, and so He gave them specific instructions.

 

Discernment does not come in fogginess or confusion. The way for our children to learn to be discerning is for them to hear about God’s perspective on sexuality from us.

REASON #2- GOD COMMANDED HIS CHILDREN TO “TEACH” THESE THINGS TO THEIR CHILDREN AND GRANDCHILDREN…

  • “Now, Israel, listen to the statutes and ordinances I am teaching you to follow… teach them to your children and grandchildren.” (Deuteronomy 4)
  • “These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart. Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” (Deuteronomy 6)

REASON #3- … AND WE ARE GIVEN SPECIFIC EXAMPLES OF THEM DOING SO…

We are given examples of EVERYONE hearing these things read.

  • “Moses summoned all Israel and said to them, ‘Israel, listen to the statutes and ordinances I am proclaiming as you hear them today. Learn and follow them carefully.‘” (Deuteronomy 5:1) Remember all the things in the list above and consider that all ages of Israelites would hear about these sexual practices, discussed from God’s perspective.
  • Jesus taught the masses about lust, adultery, and sexual immorality.
  • Paul’s New Testament letters were read aloud to the churches as they were received.

There is no indication that people 18 and under were separated out and left in the dark about these instructions, nor that certain parts were left unread until children were occupied elsewhere.

No, in fact, I believe the opposite is true. The examples we see are of “all of Israel” and “all the church” gathering to hear these things taught. The examples of Jesus’ teaching in the Gospels show children mixed right in with the adults as people were taught.

REASON #4- …NOT JUST IN GROUPS, BUT ONE-ON-ONE.

We also have the example of Solomon teaching sexual wisdom and discernment to his son. In Proverbs 5-7, in the midst of a heap of wisdom, he specifically warns his son:

  • about the forbidden woman (5:3, 5:20)
  • about her words (5:3)
  • what is the result of being with her (5:4)
  • where her path leads (5:5-6)
  • not to go near her door (5:8, 7:25)
  • that though her fees are low (6:26), a prostitute will drain his resources, steal his vitality, consume his body (5:9-11, 6:26)
  • that at the end of his life he will lament going near her (5:11)
  • that he will be entrapped, entangled, die, and be lost because of his own sin, lack of discipline, and stupidity (5:22-23)
  • that if he listens to “his fathers’ commands” and his “mothers’ teaching” (6:20– notice: both parents are instructing him in these things), he will be protected from the evil woman (6:24)
  • that he must choose not to lust or be captivated by her (6:25)
  • that he must never sleep with another man’s wife, or he will be punished (6:29)
  • that committing adultery will destroy him (6:32)
  • with a specific example– sharing that he has personally observed a young man who lacks sense who went close to the prostitute’s house (7:6-9)
  • the times, specifics, and details of this liaison… he tells his son about her clothes, her location, her volume, her persistence, her kisses, her forwardness, her words, her promises, her bed coverings, her enticements, her flattery... not in order to pique his curiosity, but in order that his son may wisely avoid the situations, times, places, and lies that would lead to his encountering and foolishly believing a prostitute (7:8-27)
  • the commonness and ease with which the prostitute takes victims (7:26)

He also specifically instructs his son:

  • to “drink water from his own cistern” (5:15- meaning, to be satisfied by his own wife)
  • that sexual things are not for public, not for strangers (5:16, 5:20)
  • that he is to take pleasure in the wife of his youth (5:18)
  • that her breasts are to always satisfy him (5:19)
  • that he is to be lost (the only time in the Bible it is commendable to be “drunk”) in her love forever (5:19)
  • that the pursuit of wisdom will keep him from sexual seduction (7:5)

 

Now, just let your eyes glance down those lists, and take note:

  • How long is the list of negative warnings?
  • How specific is it?
  • If you take that list and overlay it with common modern-day sexual sin, how explicit do you think we should be about addressing God’s perspective on the sins of our era?

 

SO, WHAT DO WE (PERSONALLY) DO?

For our part, Doug & I have (for years) tried to live intentionally in this area, where we talk (at age-appropriate levels) with our children about the things they know about (perhaps from reading through stories in the Old Testament, or from situations in real life) or will soon encounter in their lives. (In a future article, I will share specifics about what these conversations have looked/sounded like, and what resources we’ve found beneficial as we talk through these things with our children.)

We do so because:

  • We want them to understand God’s perspective on sex.
  • We want to proactively frame their understanding and help shape their choices, rather than reactively addressing misunderstandings and entanglements with sin.
  • We believe that it is loving of us to warn our children about challenges that we know are almost certainly ahead of them. (If we knew that they would soon be traveling along a jagged and dangerous cliff we’ve already traversed, where injury and death are possible or even likely, we would certainly give them specific details and warnings about the dangers they will face.)
  • We believe that God was open with His children about these things, and we should be, too.
  • We believe it is biblical to talk to our kids about God’s perspective on everything (sex included) so that they will grow in the fear and admonition of the Lord.

 

 

IN THE COMMENTS, PLEASE SHARE:

  • Do you believe it is wise to talk with our children about sex, and (as they grow) about the lure of sexual sin?
  • Do you currently (at an age-appropriate level) give God’s perspective to your children about sex & the sexual sins of our culture?

Also-

This is going to be a revisited topic for the next few weeks (months?) as I share specifics of how we’ve handled this so far, and what wisdom we’ve gathered from God’s Word and from other believers in this area. So-

  • Please comment with any specific questions/thoughts you’d like to see addressed in future installments.

 

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Jess Connell

Jesus-follower, Happy wife, Mom of 8 neat people. Former world-traveler, now settled in Washington. Host of Mom On Purpose podcast (momonpurpose.com). I write and wrangle kids.

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21 Responses

  1. Debbie Coleman says:

    Very well written, and very needed. Extremely important!

  2. Nancy Wang says:

    You’re right, but, ye gads, it’s awkward! I used a resource from Intoxicated on Life called “The Talk” (http://www.intoxicatedonlife.com/product/the-talk/) to talk about this with my 11-year-old daughter. I haven’t talked to the boys yet. I thought it was important to emphasize the Biblical view and God’s big-picture plan for marriage and family life.

    • Jess Connell says:

      Nancy, I do understand the feeling, but I don’t think it HAS to be so awkward. As parents we teach them all kinds of things… how to make wise choices about friends, how to avoid poison ivy, and how to wipe their bottoms… and this is one more aspect of life that needs to be addressed. That’s one reason why I’m writing; because I want to encourage Christian parents that it doesn’t have to be so awkward, and that we shouldn’t abdicate this part of our parenting.

      I wish I didn’t *have* to address the wicked things our culture dreams up and celebrates, but I do. That’s the real world we live in. So. Then… communicating to my children about God’s perspective & wisdom’s warnings about those things is one of the most loving things I could do for them.

      The curriculum you mentioned is one I hadn’t heard of, but it looks good. Thanks for piping up on this important topic & sharing your experience & thoughts.

  3. Sara says:

    I was wondering what your teachings are regarding masturbation and teenagers.

  4. Amanda says:

    God’s timing amazes me sometimes. :) My husband and I were just discussing this very thing. We have a 3 1/2 year old daughter, and an 18 month old son (number 3 is due to arrive late Feb!). This was something that my parents did well during my childhood (as far as marital relations) but my husband was left to learn on his own. Unfortunately, neither of us were taught anything about sexual sin outside of fornication, or adultery.

    My pregnancy has provided a great reason to talk about where babies come from, how we’re made, etc, but my questions are more specific.

    I know you have sons approaching adolescence – how do you address issues like pornography, masturbation, etc? I have heard heartbreaking stories of young boys being snared by the net of porn at ridiculously tender ages. I know that my son and daughter (and unborn child) will struggle with different things, but how do I protect them from these vices? They are at the ages when they are starting to discover that their bodies are different from each other, and that touching certain places feels good, etc.

    I want to approach these things very, very carefully, while keeping it as biblically centered as possible. I’m looking forward to future posts! Thank you so much for thoughtfully addressing something that has been on my heart, as well as other Mom’s hearts I’m sure! It is wonderful to see you being used by the God we serve in such wonderful ways. I will pray for you as you navigate and bring to light such a necessary topic!

    • Jess Connell says:

      Sara & Amanda,
      I plan to address these things in future posts, but I will say: I am not the ultimate authority on *what exact things* should be specifically shared with each child. I imagine gender, age, maturity, context (i.e., do you live on a farm in 1875? do you live in NYC, with your kids riding the metro daily, in 2014? do you homeschool in the country on a farm in Montana?), etc., would all play into that.

      But I plan to share what we’ve done, and hopefully provide some questions to provoke discussion with your spouse so that those who read through the series can pray, study, and come to a place of peace and wisdom in regard to how they carry these things out in their home & relationships with their kiddos.

      Part of what prompted this post, Amanda, was that we took our oldest son away for a weekend trip to purposefully go through some material and have intentional discussion & study about these things. So I will definitely be sharing about that material, that trip, and what helped us determine the things we chose to address and discuss during that time with our 12-year-old.

      • Amanda says:

        Yes. That is certainly along the lines of what I was thinking as well. Although I don’t want to be naive to the fact that with the internet access readily available to kids today, it could be something as simple as a friend showing something from a cell phone, tablet, etc.

        I just want to be proactive even now about putting safeguards in place – for the future I know my kids will be stepping into. Realistically, regardless of what kind of setting I’m raising them in, I want to be intentional about educating them so that they will know “wrong” when they see it. Part of that, I know, is raising them to choose friends, situations, etc, where they wouldn’t be exposed to things that would compromise their integrity in the first place. That, and A LOT of prayer!

        • Jess Connell says:

          Amanda, you said:

          it could be something as simple as a friend showing something from a cell phone, tablet, etc.

          Absolutely. I was just talking with a friend last week and we talked about how all it would take is *one* time of a fellow homeschooled, supposedly-“sheltered” friend to grab his mom’s phone while she was in a conversation and say “hey, check this out.” For our part, we’ve already discussed with our older boys what their response should be to any child/teen wanting to show them something on their phone, tablet, etc.

          This is not just a risk “out there” with “those people.”
          This is a risk any of us have, in every place.
          I’m pretty sure Josh Harris has shared a story of a young man (can’t remember if it was him or not) who was actively fighting against porn taking hold, and went for a jog, and there in his path, hanging over a low-hanging branch right over the jogging path was a porn mag. Dennis Rainey has shared about how his first encounter with images like that came when he was taking out the family garbage to the dumpster and a mag was sitting there, wide-open.

          Yes, this is certainly something that can easily enter our children’s lives when they are unsupervised and young and foolish, but it is no longer the case that this has to be something our children seek out. Instead, the world *is* seeking out our children… seeking to inform them about these things without our input if we will allow it. The world has an agenda for our children, and it is not a good one.

  5. Vanessa says:

    This is something the church(both the whole body, and us as families) need to start teaching our children.

    • Jess Connell says:

      I agree, Vanessa!

      For far too long, we have ceded this issue to the schools & organizations like Planned Parenthood who are more than happy to talk with our children about it. Like any other significant issue of life, if we say nothing about it, we ARE saying something about it to our children.

      If we never mention God to them, except at Christmas, we are telling and showing them that He doesn’t have any impact in our real life. If we talk all about God to them but never give them any indication that He has a plan for them for sex, they will believe He doesn’t really have much to say about it, and take on messages about sex from culture, rather than from Scripture.

      I love what Sally Clarkson says, “in the absence of biblical conviction, people will go the way of culture.” That is absolutely true of our children and sex, and we have seen it play out over the last 50 years, since the era of “free love.” Our churches did not talk about it (aside from -primarily- condemnation & stern warnings), and we have seen young people grow up in the church and go the way of culture.

      It is past time for Christian parents to stand against the flow of culture in our children’s hearts in this area of sex. We are each responsible for their teaching and training in this area, as in all other major areas of life. We can not afford to be silent.

  6. Emily says:

    Thanks for this article. It think this is something parents often just ignore because they are uncomfortable. I’ve learned that it’s only awkward to me, not my kids (who are 4 and 2), so I need to just get over it and answer their questions. The more you appropriately talk about sex and God’s design for it, the less uncomfortable it becomes. Like everything, practice makes it more natural. I got my sex ed from the public school bus and talking to my friends, and, actually, not from sex ed at school because I was opted out by my Christian parents. The problem was that they didn’t fill in the gaps or take charge of my education in that area. It was certainly not the best scenario, and I’ve learned how important it is for my husband and I to begin to share God’s wonderful plan for sex instead of leaving it up to whoever else comes along.
    We work in youth ministry and I’ve also learned that waiting to talk about sex until kids are pre-teens or teenagers and then having “the talk” usually leads to an incredibly uncomfortable situation for both kids and parents. Sadly, most kids have already gotten some kind of “education” by that point and are too embarrassed to share what they’ve learned with their parents who are also too embarrassed to discuss those details. Start early parents! Open the door of communication when your kids are little and asking questions so they will know YOU are the one with the answers to their questions about things when they come up later.
    My final thoughts are about abuse. I hate that this is such a prevalent issue in our culture now, but after listening to a woman share her story, I think it’s so important to have open communication about sex with your kids from the beginning. The more your kids know (in an age appropriate way, of course…body parts when they are toddlers, where babies come from as they get older, etc.) the less likely they are to be a target for an abuser. When kids are open and knowledgable about their bodies and sex and how it is supposed to work, and are used to coming to their parents when they have questions, they are much more well equipped to protect themselves, even at a young age, against abuse. God created our bodies and designed sexuality, so we should not be afraid of it. We shouldn’t be vague or cutesy with our kids, either. Be appropriate, be honest, and be confident that it’s the best thing for them to learn it from you!

    • Katie S says:

      We have been starting early with our kids (3 & 1) – right now for us, that means that they know names of body parts and that some things are private. We’re intentionally working on modesty with our 3-year-old son, too. Both my husband and I want to give more clear teaching than we received – it really does help to start early and make it a normal thing to talk about.

      The thing I hope Jess will address in a future post is this: How do we encourage our kids to be discreet with their knowledge, but not ashamed?
      For me growing up, anything related to sexuality was embarrassing to talk about, and I’m still trying to get over that. Like I said, we’ve made an effort to be frank with our son and teach him appropriate names for body parts and that boys and girls are different – he is NOT embarrassed, which is good. Since he’s young, he often will speak what’s on his mind, which means he shares his info with his sister or friends or the checker at the grocery store if he happens to think about it. I don’t know how much this naturally changes as kids get older, though I’m sure he’ll get more discerning. Anyway, how about age-appropriate ways to effectively tell a kid “And don’t talk to your sister about this.” without them getting the message it’s somehow ‘bad’?

      • Jess Connell says:

        Katie, I’ll definitely go into that… I think discernment and discretion go hand-in-hand with these things, just like we don’t allow our children (of any age) to run through the grocery store with their pants down. We also don’t allow our children to tell other children that there’s no such thing as Santa, even though he is not part of our Christmas celebrations.

        It’s a similar thing here with this topic, so we’ll talk through that. Thanks for nudging me so I’ll be sure to include that in the post about ages 2-5, as that’s definitely an important part of this.

    • Jess Connell says:

      Emily said: The more you appropriately talk about sex and God’s design for it, the less uncomfortable it becomes. Like everything, practice makes it more natural.

      So true! I have definitely found this to be true, that a lot of this is just getting over my own “hang-ups” of saying this stuff out loud, and then once I start talking about it, it becomes like anything else. When a child has a rash on the back of their thigh, you tell them why (if you know) and how to deal with it. When a child asks why God made their skin to work that way, you tell them. This is the same thing… that God has made certain body parts and functions for certain purposes, and so talking to them directly and truthfully (and without shame) about these things, gets easier the more we do it.

      And I’m *SO* glad you addressed the abuse angle. That is initially why we began being more explicit about these things. There is no context– homeschooling, small church, country life, staying only with family members, missionary circles, ministry staff– there is no context where HUMAN SIN does not invade that space. And so the way that we deal with it is not only to keep our kids close and limit the times that they are in the care of others (and we do that), but also to inform them so that they fully understand in the way they are able, at their age-appropriate level, what IS and ISN’T appropriate in terms of who should help you go potty, should anyone ever touch you?, etc.

      I will definitely go through this more in future posts. I plan to divide the posts based on age… so we’ll address age 2-5, age 6-11, and age 12 & up. I can’t speak from experience about what to do with adult children, but I will share from our own lives, from the wise and poor counsel we’ve received, and from what we’ve heard from others in our ministry & counseling relationships about what has been helpful and harmful.

      I hope you’ll come back and keep adding your thoughts, Emily!

  7. Lauren says:

    Focus on the Family has a series of books to use for age-appropriate discussions. I used one of them to have “the talk” with my oldest daughter when she was eight. That said, I don’t believe it is a once and done type discussion. We have always called body parts by their appropriate names and talked fairly candidly about how a baby is born because “God made a special way” just wasn’t a satisfactory answer forms second daughter. It only feels awkward before you dive into the conversation, then, it gets much easier.

    • Jess Connell says:

      I haven’t seen the Focus on the Family books, but I do love the NavPress God’s Design for Sex series.

      I completely agree with you; the awkwardness is far greater anticipating the conversation than it is in the midst of it. Although I’ve still had a couple of gulpy moments in the midst of a conversation, I am always SO glad to have had the opportunity to frame our children’s understanding of sexual intimacy. It is like exercise– even if I don’t want to do it, I’m always glad to have done it.

  1. December 1, 2014

    […] recently shared my answer to the question, IS IT BIBLICAL TO TEACH OUR KIDS ABOUT SEX? …and it was so good to hear from you readers. Many of you shared your experiences, and many […]

  2. December 8, 2014

    […] Is It Biblical to Teach Our Kids About Sex? […]

  3. December 8, 2014

    […] And therein lies the failure of her parents – not discussing it “openly”. I’ll not address that here. My wife wrote about our reasoning for “openly” discussing sexuality with our children, recently. You can find that article by clicking here. […]

  4. May 25, 2015

    […] Is it Biblical to Teach Our Kids About Sex? […]

  5. September 30, 2015

    […] IS IT BIBLICAL TO TEACH OUR KIDS ABOUT SEX? […]

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