The sex talk is a transitional time in a child’s life, but long before you have the talk, he will have a worldview in place that will form the backdrop for how he will process what you’re telling him. That worldview is formed by his home environment.
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Physical intimacy is part of a relationship experience, though it is not the totality of who two people are. It is the icing on the cake, not the cake. It is the tip of the iceberg, not the iceberg.
The whole cake (or iceberg) is the couple’s unique, full-time, uninterrupted relational adventure together. Imagine a child fed icing all his life while never given the cake. He would grow into an icing-centered adult. The sex talk isolated from an affectionate, relationship-centered home environment creates self-indulgent, self-centered adults.
The sex talk should come in the middle of a relationship that connects a Gospel-centered history with a Gospel-centered future. A child does not need to hear the talk in a vacuum of technical terms that are disconnected from a God-loving relational experience with his family.
Relational disconnectedness is how our culture thinks and talks about sex. They are icing-centered, myopic hedonists who are wildly ignorant on the biblical purposes and pleasures of sex. That kind of worldview and practice did not happen by accident.
- They came into the world with Adamic (self-centered) tendencies.
- Their parents did a poor job redirecting their Adamic trajectories.
The sex talk should be one of many talks exported to a child from a familial culture that is God-loving and God-centered. If you have been characterized by an other-centered life, marriage, and parenting model, then your child will upload and process the talk from a biblically healthy experience.
He will have biblically saturated ears to hear what you have to say because of the kind of person you have been.
Sex is good
Sex is wholesome and good. It is one of God’s many gifts to humanity, which makes appropriate sexual discussions normal. The sex talk you’re going to have with your child is probably one of the most important conversations you’ll ever have with him.
If you are giddy about appropriate sex talk or if you have unwholesome ideas about sex, then please find help before you try to walk your child through this transitional time in his life. It is crucial you do not export an uncomfortableness about sex to him.
He needs a mature and wise understanding of love, as taught from the Word of God, by secure and uninhibited parents who have worked through any dysfunctions of their pasts. Sex should be communicated as a normal gift from God.
Speak openly and honestly to your child. Let him hear your faith in God and the goodness He intends for His children through sexual relationships. Your child will learn from you. He is your student.
Speak the truth to him. Children love truth and are fully capable of embracing and responding to truth. They want to be led. Lead with courage, grace, and clarity.
Key Idea – Parents need a healthy and biblical understanding of sex. If the parents are not right in their hearts and minds about sex, then it will be a challenge to communicate God’s perspective to their child.
Sex, sin, and grace
Part of the talk will be negative–how some sexual practices are sinful to engage in, like sexual activity outside the marriage bed, pornography, or a gay lifestyle. You will be communicating with your child what is right and wrong about sex, which means sexual sin is a big piece of the talk.
Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous. – Hebrews 11:4 (ESV)
In order for him to understand the sin side of sex, he will need to have a right understanding of the doctrine of sin. In other words, the talk won’t be the only time he hears about a good and bad way of doing things. He should already understand sin and know how to respond to sin.
This means you should be teaching him about sin and grace early. The warfare between dark and light, sin and grace should be part of your daily conversations. One of the most effective ways to communicate your seriousness about sin and grace is through personal confession, grace application, and biblical reconciliation.
Your personal example of openness and honesty about your failures are your most effective means of motivating him to be honest with his thoughts about sex and sexual confusion. The power of your sex talk will be uploaded with how you have transparently lived your life in front of your child.
Key Idea – Your child should not be hearing about the dangers of sin and the gift of grace for the first time during the sex talk. He should have a healthy view of the doctrines of sin and grace through observing your sinful failures and God’s grace-empowered applications in your life.
Sex and the environment
One of the marriage goals for your child is when he is old enough to read Ephesians 5:25 for the first time and really understands the meaning of the text, he will say something like,
Oh, I know what that means. That is how my dad and mom live all the time.
I hope when my children first learn the application of Ephesians 5:25 they will not have to be told what it means. May your child’s marriage experience be an active, living, and practically powerful display of what it means for Christ to love His church (and vice versa), to the point, that he intuitively gets the meaning.
Christ and the church practically lived out in your marriage is one of the most important backdrops you can give your child when it comes to having the talk. Imagine a dad or mom having the talk with their son or daughter and their marriage has been marred and characterized by anger, criticalness, and vindictiveness.
What a confusing picture of what sex between two humans is supposed to be like. Physical intimacy born out of selfishness rather than an event that flows from the fabric of a God-centered relationship and lifestyle is not the kind of marriage training a child needs.
Sex is not an event alone, but a lifestyle. If dad and mom are regularly encouraging each other and regularly repenting to each other, then there will be a higher than normal chance their children will have a biblical understanding of sex and marriage.
As you already know, it’s an uphill battle. The promiscuous inclinations of our culture and what kids learn from the media makes your biblio-centric example a breath of fresh air in a world that is antagonistic to the beauty, wonder, and holiness of sex.
Key Idea – If there is holiness in the marriage, it will be easy for the child to connect sexual intimacy as a holy event, sanctioned by God.
Sex and leadership
The number one counseling problem in most marriages is the passive male. The fall of man and the indoctrination of our egalitarian culture has nearly and fully emasculated the male. To the point where…
- He does not want to lead his family.
- He is not encouraged to lead his family.
- He is not expected to lead his family.
- He is not trained to lead his family.
- And women are more than willing to take over.
The Bible assumes biblical, male leadership from the husband. If the husband is leading properly, he will provide a beautiful marital picture of Christ and the church that will bring biblical clarity to a child who lives in a sexually dysfunctional universe.
It is less challenging for a boy to learn how to lead sexually when his dad is a leader in the home. No offense intended here, but a wife cannot teach a boy how to be a man. That’s like a cow trying to teach a bull how to be a bull. It takes one to know one. It also takes one to lead one.
It’s imperative the husband lead his wife through the process of preparing for the talk with their child. This is common sense. It takes two different people–male and female–to engage in biblical sex. It also takes two different people to engage in the biblical sex talk with a child.
The husband models leadership, the same leadership he wants his son to exhibit when he is a husband. The daughter also learns from her dad what biblical leadership looks like in the home. She experiences biblical headship through his example.
There is no better template for a boy or girl to learn what biblical leadership is like than from their father. Dad, do not delegate the prep for the talk to your wife. You both play an integral part in preparing your child for a biblical understanding of sexuality.
Key Idea – When the boy is old enough to marry, he will have a wonderful template for biblical masculinity. The dad’s leadership will also be invaluable when it comes time for his daughter to marry.
Sex and the culture
The culture will not slow down and wait on you to share your sexual life and message with your child. Don’t bemoan this reality. Expect it, while being proactive in communicating your life and your message to your child.
This will put you “out in front” of your children, as you turn their hearts and minds toward biblical things while slowing down cultural encroachments.
The culture will run over you and your child. Show your child a better way. Your example is the way (Ephesians 5:1; 1 Corinthians 11:1; Philippians 4:9). If your example is radically different from the culture’s sex message then it will be easy for your child to discern right from wrong.
If your language, attitude, lifestyle, insight, wisdom, and habits are only marginally different from what our culture offers, then when it comes time to have the talk, the information you offer will be murky, confusing, and possibly lost on your children.
Key Idea – The culture will not wait on you to catch up. It will run over you and your child. Be proactive, alert, diligent, sensible, mature, and biblical about sex and sexuality.
Ready – Set – Go
In the last chapter, I talked about some of the basics for having the sex talk with your child–an overview of sorts. My hope was for many new parents to read it and began thinking about how to have the talk. It will come sooner than you think and rigorous biblical groundwork is essential.
In this chapter, I have given you more detail about the home life. My hope is to broaden the parent’s thinking. The talk is not just about sex, but about a life lived before God, a spouse, and a child.
Both these chapters could be classified as parental preparation for the sex talk. They form the backdrop for having the actual sex talk with your child.
In the next chapter, I will talk about some of the practical pointers as you go on your retreat with your child. I’ll also introduce some core materials that will help you as you walk your child through this transitional time in his life.
Call to action
Perhaps as you have read this foundational content, you’ve realized your home is not as God-centered as it needs to be. You’re perceiving how the talk will lose some the biblical force it needs because of your inconsistent walk with God. If that is the case, then may I suggest two things:
- Failure in the family dynamic does not mean you’re disqualified from walking your child through the sex talk. You can repent of your failures and receive God’s and your child’s forgiveness. Repentance can reconcile your past and change your future.
- After you repent (change), start preparing to take your child through this time in his life. If these ideas are new or overwhelming to you, then find someone in your church who can come alongside you. Do life in a community.
The Gospel gives you a new beginning. God can bring immediate change and restoration into your life. It is only a prayer away. Let me know if I can serve you. Embrace this adventure with your child.