Let’s face it. It’s difficult speaking with our children about matters of sexuality. For starters, we’re nervous when bringing up the subject due to the sensitive nature of the material. When the subject surfaces, our minds often go blank and we fumble for words. Once the words come out, we usually say the wrong thing, or say it in the wrong way. It feels like we can’t win for losing.
This is why many parents opt for an even worse approach: silence. This approach will always backfire, for parental silence only heightens the child’s curiosity to look for answers in all the wrong places. Our children won’t have to look long, for it turns out that friends, books, magazines, and of course the internet are more than willing to “parent” them in anything they want to know about sexuality.
The truth is we cannot afford to avoid the subject of sexuality with our children—the stakes are simply too high. God has given parents the responsibility to raise their children in the fear and admonition of the Lord (Eph. 6:4). This includes acknowledging that they are sexual beings and training them in what it means to flourish sexually as God designed.
The SCOTUS ruling on same-sex marriage gives parents another opportunity to speak clearly about God’s design for sexuality. But how do we go about it without looking like a fool? Below are four practical suggestions.
1. Be natural.
Settle your nerves by planning what you’re going to say. Then spend time praying over what you’ve planned. Don’t be embarrassed to jot down a few notes to keep yourself on track. The more you can build confidence, reduce any awkwardness and stress, and be yourself, the higher likelihood that you will communicate clearly and lovingly with little to no emotional interference.
2. Be inquisitive.
Avoid a “family meeting” communication style like, “Little Johnny, I have something very important to speak with you about . . . ” Instead, use your regular family worship time or simply the time you’re sitting around the table after dinner. Begin by asking basic biblical questions about relationships, love, and marriage. As the conversation progresses through the children’s replies, steer the dialogue to the important matters of sexuality and teach them about God’s design for men, women, and marriage in contrast to the world’s redefinitions.
3. Be age appropriate and honest.
Since same-sex partnerships and marriages will be increasingly prevalent, I would encourage you to begin as early as possible. Four, five, and six year olds are very observant. They pick up far more than we realize. Now is the time to begin speaking with them about gender, love, marriage, and family. If your child is in grammar school, it’s important that you discuss the realities of a homosexual lifestyle with a faithful frankness. As they progress beyond elementary school, look for and strive to create ways to engage them about their sexuality. Do not be threatened by their questions and doubts should they come. Be God’s instrument and trust His Spirit to confirm the truth of God’s Word to their hearts as they mature.
4. Be biblical.
Let Scripture be your lead. In case you need help getting started, here’s a simple outline you could follow:
Begin by talking about the creation account in Genesis 1-2 and how God created us male and female, and in His image. Emphasize that gender, marriage, and the unique roles of men and women were all a part of God’s all wise and glorious design from the beginning.
Discuss the fall in Genesis 3 and how everything that God created good—even marriage and sexuality—has been affected by the fall. Use a Bible story like Noah’s infidelity or King David’s adultery to help illustrate this fact. As appropriate (see point 3 above), name specifically how the world has twisted the definition of marriage recently and how homosexual behavior is a sin and not in keeping with God’s good design. Turn to Genesis 19:1-13, Romans 1:26-27, or 1 Corinthians 6:9 to show the clarity of God’s Word on the subject.
Then discuss how God is presently at work redeeming and restoring the world, including marriage and sexuality, through the power of the gospel. Show from Ephesians 5:15-33 how God uses the love between a man and a woman in marriage as one of the primary ways He illustrates His love for the church.
At this point, it would be wise to prepare your children for the inevitable struggles they will face sexually. Let them know that sexual sin is something we all face in varying ways and degrees throughout our life. This is why we must be faithful in confessing our sin and turning from it by laying hold of God’s grace and forgiveness when we fall and pursuing fresh obedience to God’s commands each and every day.
Close with Revelation 21 and the confident hope we have that no matter how twisted marriage and sexuality becomes in our time, in the day of Jesus Christ’s return we will be free of sexual sin and perfected in holiness as a beautiful Bride ready for her Bridegroom, the Lord Jesus Christ.
May these simple suggestions strengthen you in knowledge and courage as you strive to raise children who will love, cherish, and follow the truth of God’s Word for marriage and sexuality.