This Saturday I gave a talk at the Women’s Day Seminar at my home church, Community Evangelical Free Church. The talk was entitled “Beyond the Birds & the Bees” and was focused on the ideas I’ve been gathering as I prepare to raise my daughters in a sex-soaked culture. What follows is not a transcript, but a recollection (and possible refinement) of what I presented on Saturday!
I’m talking about this subject mainly because I think it is one of the most successful fronts in the battle that Satan is waging for the souls of this generation. I don’t want to be “unaware of his schemes” (2 Cor. 2:11). I also think that this is a confusing issue for parents who are not Christians. We need to teach what we know to be true with confidence, both for the sake of our children and for the sake of our fellow parents. I want to show you this. These are the new gender options offered my Facebook. There are over 50 of them: We are raising our kids in an increasingly confusing culture. How can we raise our kids if we can’t even tell them a single thing with confidence, including their gender? I wonder what parents who are not believers will tell their children? I know that many will want to be sensitive and want to avoid repressing or limiting their children, so they will want to be open to all of these 50 gender options. I just can’t imagine an elementary-aged child left with this buffet of options to choose from and a really significant decision to make. I can only imagine how bewildering this would seem to a child. I’d like to take some time to review the basics of the Christian worldview when it comes to sex and compare the Christian worldview with a “worldly” view of sex. We’re going to look at four areas: the origin of our sexuality, the purpose of sex, the rules for sex, and the consequences of sex. **During the seminar, we did this in a discussion format.** (The quotes representing the “worldly” ideas are taken from a Salon.com article called “The real sex ed: 11 sex tips the experts wish they’d known sooner.”)
So, according to the world, sexual identity is flexible and fluid and much more diverse than the simple male/female dichotomy we’re accustomed to. The Bible would say that people who believe their sexual identity is fluid are simply “carrying out the desires of the body and the mind” (Ephesians 2:3), desires which feel very “natural” to us but are nonetheless sinful. Christians, of course, believe we were created by God with two genders. We all learned this verse a long time ago, but did you ever think this verse would be one of the most controversial verses in the Bible? 20 years ago didn’t this just seem like an obvious truth not even worth stating? When we teach our children about creation, we are already teaching them about sex. Now let’s compare the purpose of sex, according the world and to the Bible:
I’m paraphrasing Juzwiak and blending his ideas with other ideas I’ve read that suggest the world generally views sex as a physical sensation that can be disconnected from our emotional, mental, and spiritual selves. We don’t need to think of it as a moral act, the world seems to suggest, but instead see it as a physical action that adults should free themselves to enjoy in any and every means possible. This is, in some sense, a continuation of the ancient heresy of gnosticism which divorces the body from the spirit. Christians, of course, see sex as an act that is simultaneously physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual, creating a unique bond of unity between a committed husband and wife and creating new life. I’m oversimplifying, of course, but this will suffice for a room full of women who already understand this topic fairly well. This is, in my opinion, a much more appealing and exciting and accurate depiction of what sex actually is. But when we compare the rules and consequences of sex, we’ll see the distinct advantage that Christianity’s worldview gives us as parents:
So, when I asked you for the “rules” according to the world you said “None!” That is exactly what the high school girls in our church youth group said when I talked to them about this subject. But we know there is at least one rule: mutual consent. And being “of age” to give legal consent. But I think there is actually a mine field of additional rules that are determined solely by a jury of one’s peers. There are invisible, unknown rules about how many people is too many to sleep with (before one is labeled a slut or player), how long to wait before sleeping with a person (to not be seen as easy or overeager), how old you should be, etc. However, I don’t think anyone knows what those rules are until they see someone else break them. That is, there is no hard-and-fast rules, but you can be judged for your choices. This is a really confusing standard by which to raise your kids. How can you advise them on what is good and what is bad? How do you know what the rules are until you’ve broken them and you regret it? Meanwhile, the Christians get accused of having all these rules that limit and repress sexuality, when in actuality there is only one rule, and it is conveniently simple and obvious: sex is for a husband and wife. That’s it. It’s a unique expression of physical, emotional, and spiritual commitment between a husband and wife. One rule! Let’s compare the consequences of sex:
This is by no means a comprehensive list of consequences, but it will suffice to show that the world’s ideas about sex do provide some positive consequences, but a whole slew of negative consequences (though I’ve heard that people often dismiss sex as the source of any emotional consequences, ruling it out as a possibility because the world has been telling them that sex should be a physical action which we can divorce from our emotional life.) The biblical plan for sex, if followed, leads to no negative consequences. You will not get STI’s. You will not have an unwanted pregnancy. You will not be left emotionally vulnerable. Looked at it in this way, the Christian teachings about sex actually come out looking like the better and more logical advice to give to our children: Save sex for marriage and you’ll get all of the positive benefits of an active sex life and none of the “dangers” associated with sex! None! The rules are simpler to follow and the consequences are much better! (I realize I’m oversimplifying here, but I think the point is clear.) Even Lee Siegel, a self-proclaimed liberal and progressive parent, noticed that the trend towards a culture of vulgarity is seemingly unstoppable. We are raising our kids in a vulgar culture in which sex is talked about and depicted casually and frequently in the media. Even Siegel is wondering how to raise his kids in this environment! I am afraid you are expecting me to have better advice than I do, but the truth is I am still preparing and rehearsing for the future! My suggestions are as follows: start talking now. Realize that we can introduce our kids to their sexual identity as soon as they can talk and we can keep progressing as they grow older. Consider reading books with your kids that give you opportunities to talk about peer pressure or other appropriate topics as they grow older. Read a book like “Preparing for Adolescence” or other Focus on the Family books about dating or whatever. Keep the conversation open. Visit their room before bedtime and make yourself available night after night. Ask them questions about what they’ve heard about dating, the opposite sex, etc. They may surprise you with what they’ve heard on the playground and you can clear up confusion. Don’t be shocked about anything they bring up. One of the best suggestions I have is to rehearse the consequences of sin, a suggestion from Randy Alcorn. As a pastor and author who often travels, he made a list of the consequences he would face if he decided to cheat on his wife. This is only part of the list he made, a list I think that you could help a teenage child make as you discuss the consequences of viewing pornography, engaging in sexual behavior, etc.
Such a list can be a powerful way to reinforce that all sexual actions have consequences, some immediate and some long term. I also suggest asking yourself 2 questions as you prepare to help your children fight this battle.
First of all, make sure that your kids know that following Christ costs you something, too, and that you believe it is worth the cost. And then consider that the cost will be raising kids who will certainly be teased, feel excluded, or worse. I find it comforting and encouraging to remember this quote:
Finally, I’d like to suggest that we face our fears, that we be proactive in knowing what temptations are out there, and that we make sure we prepare our kids for these things before they are tempted by them.
And I’ve been told we need to be increasingly concerned about pornography use by women, as well. However, even if we could list all our fears and build a barricade big enough to keep all of these temptations at bay, we need to remember this truth, stated so powerfully by one of my favorite authors:
Sin is already in the hearts of our children. Somehow, this is a relief! It means we can’t be expected to completely eradicate temptation. We need to raise kids how know how to deal with temptation in all its forms and learn how to have victory over sin. It is important to remember that we don’t have to be afraid because we serve the King who put an end to sin and death! We can have victory over temptation and forgiveness for all our sins. We have the trump card! There isn’t any sin we or our kids can commit that Jesus can’t forgive. We pray that they will never need that forgiveness, but we rejoice to know that it exists.