How to Talk to Your Children about Sex: Know What You Believe
Before entering graduate school, I knew that the topic of sex was universally important. However, I failed to acknowledge its relevance in my life as a single Christian. My narrow thinking was shattered as I was asked to develop my personal theology of sex. I wrestled with where to begin in this seemingly complex, and unfamiliar, territory. Messages of sex have been plastered all over my life from an early age. And yet, I had never stopped to consider my personal viewpoint. I had internalized messages from my culture, my family, my community, and my experience – without forming a belief for myself. So, I started at its creation, asking why God created sex in the first place.
As I explored this question, I realized that my beliefs on sex create a lens through which I understand other aspects of sexuality, and more particularly, the topic of sex within the home. I’m recognizing that knowing what you believe about sex is the most crucial precedent to sharing with your children. But even more than that, as a follower of Jesus, knowing what you believe about his intentional creation of sex, and all that it encompasses, gives a deeper glimpse into his character. Here are four ways to begin developing your own theology of sex:
Acknowledge the Authority of God’s Word
The pillar on which we develop our view of sex begins and ends with acknowledging the preeminent authority of the Bible. The Bible is inherently supreme – however, we can either choose to submit to its authority or dismiss it in our day-to-day lives. When we recognize its weight in our lives, we are able to begin shaping our beliefs on the Word of God over the words of man. I began by asking myself, “Do I really trust the Word of God in the matter of sex?” Am I able to acknowledge God’s Word as right and true when it conflicts with messages I hear? Am I putting more weight on Scripture than even the messages I hear in my Christian realm? This is not to say that books, sermons, research, and experience on sex are irrelevant – it is to say that God’s Word is most relevant, and ultimately best, for understanding what sex was designed to be.
Understand the Character of God
Theology, by one definition, is the study of the nature of God. So, in order for me to more fully understand sex, it is imperative for me to reflect on the character of God. If we, as humans, are made in his image (which we are), then we are simultaneously able and responsible to reflect his character in all aspects of our lives. Questions I began asking myself include:
- What does the Bible say about the purpose of God’s creation?
- What does God’s creation, including sex, teach us about his character?
- How do we best reflect his character?
As we grow in knowledge of God, we are better able to understand his design for sex. And there are many avenues to explore in this: sex as an expression of our covenant with God, sex as a testament to God’s magnificent creation, and sex as a glimpse of the knowledge God has of us are just a few.
Recognize the Distortions
Just as important as it is to understand God’s intention for sex, we must also recognize our distortion of it. For me, this began by thinking through my personal experiences, any shame and guilt that I have felt, and the lies I have believed as a result. I asked myself, “If I believe sex is a tool for the worship of God, where have I traded worship of him for worship of sex?” Have I placed sex on a pedestal of sins, condemning the very beauty of it? Or have I exalted it above my affections for God, giving it too much power and worth? And how are these distortions displayed in my thinking, my speech, and my behavior? Recognizing the pattern of distortions in my understanding allows me to combat them with truth.
Submit to the Process
I am still in the process (and forever will be) of more fully understanding God's design for sex. But I am more convinced than ever that sex is a tool to both understand God more fully and reflect God more fully, all for the purpose of his glory. Knowing this foundation of what I believe, I am better able to explore further topics on sex through that lens. I am better able to cope with emotions surrounding it. I am better able to grow in compassion and care for those caught in unhealthy sexual patterns. And I am better able to engage in sexual education.
Because sex is universally relevant at all stages of life, knowing what we believe about sex is pivotal as followers of Christ. It not only gives us a greater glimpse into his character, allowing us to know him more fully, it also allows us to reflect him more fully. Ultimately, talking to your children about sex begins with developing your personal belief on why God created sex in the first place.
This blog post is part of a series on How to Talk to Your Children about Sex. Stay tuned for the next post in two weeks.