The Two Most Important Things You Can Teach Your Kids About Sex
By Dannah Gresh, Creator of Secret Keeper Girl
It took me a long time to convince my five year old that she wasn’t pregnant. You see, she had asked before I was ready to tell her about “you know what.” So, I had awkwardly begun to tell her that “sometimes when a husband and wife want to show each other just how very much they love each other they….hold each other….really tight….and…”
Before I could get another word in, a look of eureka fell across her face and she said, “I knew it was something like that!” Then, she marched off.
“I just made mother of the year!”
That’s what I thought, until my five year old came home from Kindergarten in tears the next day. She was deeply troubled because someone had hugged her. And it was “really tight!”
At some point, your kids are going to prompt you to have what we all know as “The Talk.” Hopefully, you’ll step up and do a better job than I did. Since then, I’ve researched and learned a lot. I discovered two really important things to tell your kids. Let me do you a solid, and just deposit them into your brain right now.
First, let’s get one thing straight. Preparing your children for a healthy sexual life means having “The Talk” by about age nine or ten, but also following up with an ongoing conversation—something that a lot of parents just skip. Don’t do that! Your kids will have lots of questions about sex that go way beyond the basic mechanics. So, let me share with you the two most important things to tell them when you have “The Talk”, and the two most important things to tell them when you continue with ongoing conversation. Frankly, the two things you need to tell them in the ongoing conversation are far more important and generally overlooked by parents. And, they’re probably going to be really good for you to hear as an adult woman, too.
THE TWO MOST IMPORTANT THINGS TO SAY WHEN YOU HAVE “THE TALK”
“The Talk” is generally short and sweet. (And followed by a lot of incredulous giggles or a period in which your child will refuse to look you in the eyes, having realized you’ve done something they can barely dream of doing at this point in their lives!) Here’s what you need to know:
1.) Tell them the basic mechanics of sex, using the proper words. Don’t tell them that “a girl’s plumbing” and “a boy’s plumbing” fits together. Use the words. “A husband puts his penis into a his wife’s vagina to fertilize an egg that is growing inside of her, which can become a baby. This is called having sex or intercourse.” There. That’s it. It’s that simple. If you haven’t explained “penis” and “vagina” by the time your child is curious about sex, you may need to back up a bit. I highly advise you check out my list: Ten of the Best Resources To Talk To Your Kids About Sex.” Several of them help you explain the body parts and basic mechanics.
2.) Tell them that sex is a gift from God, intended to be shared only inside marriage between a husband and a wife. The basic boundaries are important at this point, and sometimes overlooked in the difficulty finding the right words to describe the actions. But the purpose and value of the gift of sex should not be overlooked. Tell them this is a gift for marriage. And that’s the task of the ongoing conversation that will take place over the next decade or so.
THE TWO MOST IMPORTANT THINGS TO SAY DURING THE ONGOING CONVERSATION
My dear friend (and once co-author), Dr. Juli Slattery, breaks down the sexual ethics of a Christian individual into two easy-to-remember statements. I believe these statements will help you, as a parent, to navigate important commitments to help your children embrace. As you have the ongoing conversation with them, make it your goal to help them internalize these commitments.
1.) “I don’t engage in sex outside of marriage.”
The boundary for sex is marriage. Just like a fire, sex is safe and comforting when it has a boundary. But it can be lethal if a boundary is not protected and respected. Here is a list of sexual acts that God forbids, which could be helpful as you discuss boundaries with your children. It was compiled by a Dr, Joseph Dillow, ThD. Juli and I used this list when we wrote Pulling Back the Shades: Erotica, Intimacy, and the Longing of a Woman’s Heart.
- Fornication: Fornication is immoral sex. It comes from the Greek word porneia that means “unclean.” This broad term includes sexual intercourse outside of marriage (1 Corinthians 7:2; 1 Thessalonians 4:3), sleeping with your stepmother (1 Corinthians 5:1), sex with a prostitute (1 Corinthians 6:15), and adultery (Matthew 5:32).
- Adultery: Adultery, or sex with someone who is not your spouse, is a sin and was punishable in the Old Testament by death (Leviticus 20:10). In the New Testament, Jesus expanded adultery to mean not just physical acts, but emotional acts in the mind and heart (Matthew 5:28).
- Homosexuality: The Bible is very clear that for a man to have sex with a man or a woman to have sex with a woman is detestable to God. (Leviticus 18:22; 20:13; Romans 1:27; 1 Corinthians 6:9)
- Impurity: There are several Greek words that are translated as “impurity.” To become “impure” (Greek, molyno) can mean to lose one’s virginity or to become defiled due to living out a secular and essentially pagan lifestyle (1 Corinthians 6:9; 2 Corinthians 7:1). The Greek word rupos often refers to moral uncleanness in general (Revelation 22:11).
- Orgies: For a married couple to become involved in sex orgies with different couples is an obvious violation of sexual acts 1, 2, and 4.
- Prostitution: Prostitution, which is paying for sex, is morally wrong and condemned throughout Scripture. (Leviticus 19:29; Deuteronomy 23:17; Proverbs 7:4–27)
- Lustful passions: First, let me tell you what this does not mean. Lustful passion does not refer to the powerful, God-given sexual desire for each other enjoyed by a married man and woman. Instead, it refers to an unrestrained, indiscriminate sexual desire for men or women other than the person’s marriage partner. (Mark 7:21–22; Ephesians 4:19)
- Sodomy: In the Old Testament, sodomy refers to men lying with men. The English word means male homosexual intercourse or intercourse with animals. Unfortunately, some Christian teachers have erroneously equated sodomy with oral sex. This is not the way the term is used in the Bible. The sodomites in the Bible were male homosexuals, or temple prostitutes (both male and female).
- Obscenity and Coarse Jokes: In Ephesians 4:29, Paul says, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths.” The Greek word is very descriptive and literally means rotten or decaying. We have all been around people who can see a sexual connotation in some innocent phrase and then begin to snicker or laugh. This is wrong. However, this does not rule out sexual humor in the privacy of marriage, but rather inappropriate sexual comments in a public setting.
- Incest: Incest, or sex with family members or relatives, is specifically forbidden in Scripture (Leviticus 18:7–18; 20:11–21).15
Basically, the list can be summarized this way: sex is intended to be within the confines of a marriage between one man and one woman. So a logically sexual ethic for every Christian individual at any age is “I don’t engage in sex outside of marriage.”
2.) “When I am married, I will pursue sexual encounters with my spouse that are frequent and mutually pleasing.” (I Corinthians 7:3)
I want you to tell your child that! Yes, I do! It may not be the first thing you tell them, but as they mature it’s important to create a positive mental attitude about sex.
So many times Christian instruction on sex is a big “thou shalt not.” That’s so inconsistent with the celebration of sex within the Scriptures. Abstinence is not about not having sex. It’s about waiting to have it right. The whole of Scripture speaks to mutually satisfying and frequent sexual pleasure between a husband and wife. Single verses like Proverbs 5:18,19 or entire books like Song of Solomon celebrate sexual pleasure. There’s one verse I want to share specifically. I Corinthians 7:3-5 reads:
“The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourself to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.”
Married men and women are to be committed to frequent and mutually pleasing sex. The one exception is when the two of them agree together that they need to withhold sex for a time of focused prayer. And that’s the only reason a physically and mentally healthy Christian couple would not pursue a frequent and mutually pleasing sexual experience. Your child needs to know this and anticipate it. It will be part of what gives them motivation to wait.
Without this important part of sexual instruction, we become legalists who fail to celebrate something God himself created for our pleasure. You would never put your child on a diet and just say, “No cake for you! No lasagna! No deep fried hot wing!” You would explain why you are telling them to withhold and what the benefits will be. “You’ll be healthier. You’ll feel stronger. You’ll lose weight. You’ll live longer. The food you eat will taste better because your taste buds will be more sensitive as you eat healther!”
Let’s start talking about the benefits of a sex life approached with self-control. Greater pleasure. Deeper intimacy. A STD-free body. Well-timed pregnancy. No regrets. There are a lot of benefits to talk to your children about. Be sure to include this in your instruction, so you can prepare your child to live out a full and thoroughly biblical sexual theology.
Another way to connect with your child and start the conversation is to attend one of our events for tween boys and girls! Secret Keeper Girl features two fun fashion shows that demonstrate modesty and true beauty, deep Bible teaching, live worship, and stories that help girls aged 7-12 embrace true beauty and modesty. Born to Be Brave features interactive games, Biblical teaching, the WHEEL OF DESTRUCTION, and live worship with the Allan Scott Band— all strategically designed to put the brave back in your boy in a world that will emasculate and rip the goodness out of him, if given the chance.