Thinking Too Little of Sex

 “For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust…”

1 Thessalonians 4:3-5a

Ask the average Christian young person to describe what God wants them to know about sex, and you’ll probably hear something like this: 

“Thou shalt not have it.”

For far too many years, sex remained categorized as one of the taboo topics given little air time in the church. Armed with little more than the knowledge that God intended for sex to be saved until the wedding day, many Christian men and women have entered marriage with little biblical understanding of why God created sex in the first place. Well, apart from making babies, that is. Most people can wrap their minds around that particular concept.

In her chapter on the wise woman’s sexual conduct, author Mary Kassian highlights the Christian tendency to be “far too easily pleased” when it comes to grasping the importance of God’s design for human sexuality:

Most Christian discussions about sex and sexuality put the emphasis in the wrong place. They spend a whole lot of time focusing on what constitutes improper sexual conduct. They draw lines and boundaries that delineate pure from impure behavior. It seems to me that coming up with a list of “don’ts” somewhat misses the point. It tackles the issue from the wrong side. We can’t hope to know which behaviors we should avoid until we understand the reason that we ought to avoid them. What’s more, this approach lopsidedly focuses on behaviors to avoid, rather than attitudes and behaviors to cultivate. It can result in a pharisaical sense that we’re getting our sexuality right, when in fact, we’re getting it very wrong. Many married Christian women are guilty of wrongful sexual conduct, even though they may not technically be transgressing a specific biblical boundary. For example, a woman who is frigid toward her husband dishonors God’s pattern for sexuality as much as the one who commits adultery does. A married woman who uses sex to punish her husband is as wrong in her thinking about sex as an unmarried woman who hooks up with a guy just for the thrill of a fleeting night of pleasure.

The Bible’s principles for sexual conduct take the issue of sex a lot further than a written list of dos and don’ts. They emanate from the heart of God. He wants us to cherish and value our sexuality as much as He does…He wants us to live in such a way that our sexuality puts His glory on display.

(Girls Gone Wise, p. 137)

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Photo: Andrew C.

Overcoming Online Dangers

“My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent.”

Proverbs 1:10

Last weekend, a young girl casually mentioned something to me about a message she’d received online from her friend that morning. He couldn’t sleep and was bored since no one else was around, so he was hanging out online. I groaned inside at the thought of this recipe for disaster.

You’re probably aware of this fact, but the Internet is a dangerous world for adults and young people alike. Parents can’t afford to ignore what their sons and daughters are absorbing during their online activity, but far too often, moms and dads neglect this vital issue. Young people desperately need the protection and wisdom which only their parents can provide. Exposure to pornography can easily ensnare anyone, the young or the old, even those considered most dedicated to Christ.

Parents should possess a healthy sort of fear in regard to this issue. I’m not talking about a fear that has you cowering in terror, but a fear that motivates you to take proper precautions. Think for example how you trained your children to avoid common dangers when they were very young. As a parent, you probably had a healthy fear of bicycle accidents, sexual predators, and busy roads, and that fear compelled you to require the wearing of a bicycle helmet, to explain what to do when approached by a stranger and how to look both ways before crossing the street. An awareness of the dangers posed by the Internet should provide you with similar motivation to prepare and protect your children appropriately.

In his book The Fight of Your Life: Why Your Teen Is at Risk & What Only You Can Do about It, speaker and author Jeffrey Dean provides parents with valuable advice for parenting wisely in face of 21st century dangers.  He says, “No one may ever fully know what your teen is doing online. But the simple truth is that your teen’s online life is either honoring to God or dishonoring to God. Everything your teen says, shows, types, and posts online lets the world know who your teen lives for. Work to instill in your teen an online lifestyle that proclaims, ‘I am a follower of Christ.’”  

In regard to helping young people maintain integrity in their online activity, Dean offers moms and dads the following practical steps:

  • Understand Your Teen’s Vulnerability
  • Place the Computer in a High-Traffic Area
  • Limit Your Teen’s Use of the Internet
  • Use a Filter
  • Check Your Computer’s History
  • Take Extreme Measures When Necessary
  • Communicate

In the following video clips, Randy Alcorn, author and founder of Eternal Perspective Ministries, attempts to convey to parents the dangers presented by unrestricted Internet access. He may step on some toes in the 2nd video especially, but I encourage you to thoughtfully consider what he has to say. The pursuit of purity requires radical commitment.

 

Check out these Internet filters (Filtering for iPhone & iTouch also available):

Related Articles: Parenting for Purity and Boys & Girls, Birds & Bees

Photo: tuco egg

Boys & Girls, Birds & Bees

“For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is,
that you abstain from sexual immorality.”

1 Thessalonians 4:3

Recently, I shared some information to help parents as they seek to raise children who value purity. Since this is an area where I think Christian parents can use all of the helpful info they can get their hands on, I’m continuing with the same theme again today. In the following video, Julie Lowe of the Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation provides wise and practical advice for talking to kids about sex.

3 Basic Guidelines: 

  • Talk often
  • Talk freely
  • Talk soon

In his book What the Bible Says about Parenting, John MacArthur addresses the dangers of ignoring the need to instruct children regarding sexuality and purity:

I know of one Christian parenting course that encourages moms and dads to avoid giving their children any kind of detailed instruction whatsoever about sexual matters, not only during childhood and adolescence, but up to and including the son or daughter’s wedding night. The child’s inevitable questions about anatomy and bodily development during puberty are supposed to be deflected with vague answers, making it clear that the very topic of sex is taboo…

That sort of isolationism is a recipe for disaster. It is a wholly unbiblical perspective. Sex is not portrayed in Scripture as inherently evil, nor is it treated as taboo. Sex outside of marriage is certainly sinful, but within marriage, the union of husband and wife is holy and honorable (Hebrews 13:4)…There is certainly no command or principle in Scripture that would make such matters off limits for parental instruction.

On the contrary, instructing children properly in such matters lies at the heart of the parents’ responsibility. Abdicate this responsibility, and you practically insure that your children will be more influenced by the values and mores they learn from schoolteachers and peers. It is nearly impossible, and certainly a wrong-headed approach to parenting, to keep children totally isolated from all influences outside the family. So in all likelihood they will learn about these things from other sources, no matter how they have been sheltered. If the parents have declined to foster a godly knowledge of sex and human reproduction, the likelihood that the child will develop ungodly attitudes toward the subject are multiplied.

Photo: Israel Papillon

Practicing Proverbs

     

“…these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”     

Deuteronomy 6:6-7

You know one of the things that I really enjoy about the book of Proverbs? I love the picture of the parent/child relationship that it portrays. Moms and dads could glean a wealth of practical parenting tips by merely observing the way in which Solomon communicates with his son.      

Although it seems it should be unnecessary even to mention this point, one of the first principles of wise parenting modeled by Solomon is that mothers and fathers must communicate with their children. Sometimes it’s easy for Christian parents to become so accustomed to laying down laws and throwing around “Thou shalt nots,” that they neglect to truly communicate the important truths of life to their sons and daughters. Truly godly parents, on the other hand, will pay careful attention to the parenting modeled by the wisest parent who ever lived. Over and over again, Solomon warned his son to “hear” and “listen,” because he was constantly communicating truths worth absorbing.     

Take a casual read through the pages of Proverbs, and you’ll quickly note that Solomon had an open and honest relationship with his son. I’ve spent a significant amount of time in my life thinking about why some conservative Christian parents raise children who grow up to despise every principle they attempted to instill in them, while others rear young people who devotedly cling to the biblical truths taught them from childhood. Let me say first, I understand that ultimately, any success in parenting must always be attributed to the grace of God. Nevertheless, I have noticed a marked difference in the response of young people to their parents’ teaching when open and honest communication has been carefully established and maintained within the home than when it has not.      

Some Christian parents seem to believe that their only obligation in training their children biblically is to get them to Sunday school and church, or maybe even to enroll them in a Christian school. They set up strict guidelines for how their children will conduct their lives, exercise rigorous control over the who, what, where, when, and how of their children’s existence, all the while offering little or no explanation as to the why of it all. On numerous occasions throughout my life, I have seen young people raised in such environments fight against their constraints until the day they’re finally set free by adulthood. Like birds escaped, they fly hard and fast from anything that reminds them of the confining nature of their cold and rigid upbringing. Although these parents probably intended well, they actually end up driving their children away from the faith by failing to accurately communicate what the Christian life is really about.  

In contrast, I’ve seen other Christian parents, who have their own set of imperfections, work diligently to build and maintain lines of communication between themselves and their children. They remain warm and open in their interaction. Shortcomings are acknowledged, emotions are expressed, and communication is lively. Based on my observation, children raised in such homes are far more likely to grow up loving and respecting not only their parents, but also the biblical truths which their parents spent so much time communicating.     

God, money, friendship, work, time, sleep, debt, anger, love, deceit, marriage, sex–it seems there was no topic which Solomon felt uncomfortable discussing with his son. The same should be true of Christian moms and dads today. Don’t let the world inform your child about the major issues of life before you get around to it! Start early in building the kind of relationship with him or her which will enable the two of you to talk comfortably about any subject, framing it within the context of Scripture. Of course there will be certain topics which will be more appropriate for dads and sons or moms and daughters to discuss in detail, but in general, Christian parents should set a tone in the home that frees their children to approach them concerning any issue without fear or embarrassment.      

Once again, I point you to the writings of Solomon for instruction. Read today’s chapter, Proverbs 5, and note how this wise father frankly discussed sexual temptation, the lure of the immoral woman, and the pleasures of the sexual relationship within marriage. Knowing well the battles his son would one day face, Solomon carefully and deliberately provided his son with the who, what, where, when, how, and why of these vital issues. Follow his example by speaking openly, honestly, and repeatedly to your children regarding the truths about life and how they can live it for the glory of God. While many voices will seek to influence your children about their present and future choices, it is your voice, speaking God’s truth, that they desperately need to hear. 

 

Here’s today’s proverb:

“My son, be attentive to my wisdom,

incline your ear to my understanding.”

Proverbs 5:1

Photo: Roxinasz

Parenting for Purity

 

“So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.”

2 Timothy 2:22

When I taught 4th grade a few years ago, I was astounded to find that the 9 year-old boys in my class had already learned to make off-color jokes. My distress at this situation was only compounded by the fact that I was teaching at a Christian school! Although it was something of a rude awakening for me to discover that children are no longer quite as innocent as I’d previously imagined, I am glad that my eyes were opened sooner rather than later. The experience has caused me to think more seriously about how and when I will begin addressing topics of sexual purity with my children. One thing I know for sure is that my husband and I will need to be proactive in ensuring that our children learn about this issue from us long before their 4th grade friends have the chance to fill them in.  

Author John Younts has written a series of articles on how and when to talk to your children about sex that I think is very helpful [Be patient with the links; the website is a bit slow]. In the articles, the author addresses “when to talk about sex and what specifics should be covered at what age, what sexual attraction is, and abuses of God’s provision for sexual activity.” Younts’s approach is drastically different from the old “birds and the bees talk” that many parents have used over the years. He advocates instead the importance of beginning to address the topic of sex and marriage when your children are quite young:

One significant responsibility of being a biblical parent is to anticipate the temptations and struggles that your children will face in life. Talk about sexual themes has become part of our cultural landscape…This cultural context means that you will need to talk with your children about sex and marriage  earlier rather than later…Here is an excerpt from my book, Everyday Talk, that addresses the timing issue:

“You don’t have to begin talking about sex the way the world does. Graphic content and biological illustrations are not profitable for discussion about sex with your very young children. It is better to keep it simple and conceptual in the beginning. Tell them something like this: ‘Sex is something special that God created for married people. It is a way for mommies and daddies to be close and special with each other. Sex is a blessing because it is designed to help husbands and wives know each other and bring joy to each other…”

You’ll notice how Younts talks of teaching your children about “sex and marriage,” rather than sex alone. He believes making this distinction is vital:

This, then, is where you must start in teaching your children about sex. Sex is not fundamentally a biological, physiological activity…Sexual activity is designed for a man and a woman who are obeying God in marriage in order to bring honor to his name. The idea that sexual pleasure is designed merely for self-interest is pagan at its core. It is dishonoring to God to talk about sex in abstraction from marriage. Sex is specifically designed for marriage and for nothing else.

Reading each article in this series has helped me to think through how I can best teach my children about the topic of sexuality in a way that serves them well and brings glory to God. As you know, I don’t even have any children yet, but with an issue this important, it’s never too soon to begin planning and praying. I hope you’ll take advantage of the excellent information provided in these articles. Raising children who will keep their hearts and bodies pure in this highly sexualized culture is a challenge, but because God is faithful and merciful, I believe it is still very much possible.

Since we’re on the topic of tough parenting issues, I thought you might appreciate some encouragement from Pastor John Piper on “Parenting with Hope in the Worst of Times.” Piper’s teaching has done more to help me develop an accurate view of the greatness of our God than perhaps any other teacher. Watch as he explains how understanding that no god is like our God will provide hope even when your family faces the most difficult of situations.

The following clip is just under 4 minutes, but you can watch the full video here.

Photo: Jessica Levesque