Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Freedom: Walking away from the Chains of Sexual Sin

Image result for chains breaking

A few weeks ago we had our annual counseling conference at BCC. This year we had a special Youth & Young Adult track titled Pathway to Life. In this track we covered 5 main topics which we are now going over during our IMAGE Sunday School class. Next week’s topic will be “Freedom: Walking away from the Chains of Sexual Sin” so I wanted to discuss it a bit more for our youth parents this week.

Sex, sexuality, and gender are huge topics in our society today. Sadly, we can easily let society define our children’s thoughts on these topics. Often times we either see these as hard conversations that must be discussed and grit our teeth through the process, or we assume our child is so young and innocent that they certainly haven’t been exposed to or thought about these things yet. Here are a few thoughts I have as we seek to care for our youth kids in this area of their lives…

1. Sex is prevalent in our society and our culture does not hesitate to teach and inform our kids about it. According to Covenant Eyes 2019 stats, “The first exposure to pornography among men is 12 years old, on average.” If that is true it means that most our young men will be very visually informed about sex and sexuality before they ever reach high school. I would actually suggest that our children are being taught about these topics even in utero… Think about the songs on the radio in your car, shopping at a store, or the commercials on TV. Many of these inform how we think about sex and sexuality. I would suggest our culture is pushing the World’s views onto our children in and outside of our homes multiple times a day.

2. As Christian parents we should not hesitate to talk about sex with our kids. We must have conversations with our kids about sex or all they will hear are the World’s thoughts. Start early and have conversations often. I would strongly advocate that we be the ones to inform our child about these things, not the ones having to try to correct misgivings or false worldly ideas our child has gained from their culture and world around them. I know there is a fear of bringing things up too soon or harming their innocence but I would suggest starting an ongoing conversation early is best. If your child’s response is, “eww that’s gross.” You may not need to go as far as you may have planned, but you’ve opened the door for them to know you are available for further discussion and invited them to come to you for answers as questions grow within them. Along with this I would challenge the mindset of having “the talk.” I’m not saying it’s wrong to do something special and have a focused conversation with them about sex, BUT I am suggesting it should not be the only conversation we have. I would suggest it be one of many.  We should make these conversations a part of life, not always something scheduled and unique.  If our child brings up a question in relation to sex, we should answer it. Answer it like we’d explain why we cook food or how a device works. And, answer it in front of all the kids it was asked in front of. Often times we send very strong messages to our kids that sex is something dirty, gross, and to be hidden not by what we say, but by HOW we say it.

3. God does not hesitate to present sex to our kids both visually and in His Word. Our urbanized society misses many of the benefits of growing up in a rural farming community like so many past generations all the way back to Bible times have. It can take years to put together that the tasty chick at the store is the same as the feathered bird they saw on TV. It also means that our kids don’t get the same firsthand show of the physical nature of sex. Growing up in an agrarian society, kids at an early age saw animals in the field procreating. It was not a dirty thing. It was actually good to maintain their way of life. God could have designed humans to procreate in a different manner than animals. Instead, by His sovereign design, it would seem He intentionally gave a very visible picture for us parents to use in teaching our children about sex. It might be worth considering how to take advantage of this more rural picture of life God has given. Whatever we do, it seems wise to take the pictures God has given us and use them to the fullest extent possible.

God not only provides visual helps for us to teach our child about sex, He also discusses it in His Word. Think about it from the very start in Genesis 1. Every living thing produces after its kind in its image. Man, however, in his sexuality is very different. He and she are made in the image of God (Gen 1:26-27). Immediately following this, human procreation is introduced (Gen 1:28) and this culmination leads to God’s statement of the final totality of His creation being “very good” (Gen 1:31). But it doesn’t end there. One chapter later God is explaining more about human sexuality. Not only are men and women different in their gender/sexuality yet equal before God, they also have different roles that perfectly complement each other (Gen 2:18 and 20). This picture of their complementarity finds its culmination in their “one flesh” relationship that could not be pictured any more perfectly than in the act of sex itself with two different people having different functions coming together intimately to accomplish God’s goals in a way only they could. Sex is a picture of God’s intentions for their entire marriage relationship to be a coming together in oneness, a pursuit of each other and understanding, and a deepening love and appreciation for the other in the unique differences, giftings, and abilities God has given each. How different this is from the World’s view of sex being a no strings attached purely physical act.

I’m not saying we should be explicit or inappropriate with our children as we talk to them about sex. We need to be conscious of their present understanding. What I am saying is if God doesn’t shy away from these topics (check out Lev 18 that every 13 year old Jewish boy would have memorized before his bar mitzvah or Song of Solomon) neither should we.

4. We must present sex in a positive light, warning of its dangers but telling of its delights when used rightly. I had a professor in seminary who described sex as a raging fire. When used in the context of the fireplace of marriage it would add great joy, warmth, and benefit to all those around. Used outside of that place of protection it will burn your house down. His statement is well made and I think describes much of how our conversation about sex should be with our kids. We should tell them it is good. We should tell them it was made by God and is holy, not dirty. We should tell them, used in the way God prescribes, it is a wonderful thing they can and will enjoy if God allows. We should tell them that it is one of our hopes and desires for them to get to experience should God allow it for them. And then, after telling them how wonderful it is, we should tell them of how the World would seek to lie to them and rob them of this joy. We should take them to Genesis 3 where Eve, having the very best, is tricked into giving it all away because she doubted God’s goodness and tried to live life her own way. We should tell them that is what the World is holding out for them –a fruit that they promise will bring great delight, but used outside of God’s plan only brings death and destruction. We should tell them how the World will package it. At appropriate times and in appropriate ways we should talk about pornography, masturbation, same sex attraction, homosexuality, transgenderism, assault, and any other lies we can think of. We should prepare our kids for how to think and act when these topics, thoughts, or pictures pop up in front of them. In our Pathway To Life talk we defined sexual immorality as, “any sexual fantasy (thinking), sexual longing (desire), or sexual conduct (behavior) outside the confines of marriage as God ordained it to be between one man and one woman for life.” That might be a great jumping point for a conversation about sex being good and perversions that will cause destruction.

5. Ask lots of questions. How will I know if my child is ready to talk about these things? I think the chief way is to keep bringing the topic up and ask questions of them. It doesn’t need to be explicit… It might be as simple as your son saying something about “the girls” at the playground or you daughter asking why your son likes playing with trucks instead of dolls. Then ask a question like, “What do you think makes them different than you?” What a great opportunity to discuss values, desires, and thoughts of the two genders. Ask what they are thinking as they say things. Ask how their conclusions make them feel. Ask how they came to their conclusions. Ask what they think God would say about whatever topic they’ve brought up. This questioning and drawing out of our child doesn’t just have to be related to sex either. Actually, it would be best not to be focused only on that topic. Having regular conversations with our kids about what’s going on in their heads and hearts will lead to openness on many topics including sex.

Here are some other possible questions in no particular order specifically related to sex & sexual perversion you might consider, obviously adjusting according to your child with not all being appropriate for every age…
  • What do you think about when it comes to girls/boys? Do you still think they have cooties?
  • Have you noticed any other kids talking about "liking" someone?
  • What do you think it means to “like” someone?
  • Why does God allow us to have “feelings” for other people?
  • How do you think we should respond to “feelings” we have for someone?
  • Have you ever thought of dating someone?
  • What would you look for in someone to date?
  • What do you think about someone “liking” a member of their same sex like they would “like” a member of the opposite sex?
  • How should someone respond if they have those “feelings”
  • What makes men, men or women, women?
  • Why do you think God made them different?
  • Do you think it’s possible for a man to become a woman or vice versa? Why?
  • How would you define “gender”?
  • How would you define “sexuality”?
  • How do you think most people around you might define them?
  • Do you think gender and sexuality are different or the same?
  • Where does a person’s gender come from?
  • What do you think God says about people trying to be a gender they aren’t?
  • God has built men and women with different parts of their bodies that are special and to be saved for marriage. Has anyone ever tried to touch or see those areas of your body? Have you ever been exposed to seeing those parts of other peoples’ bodies?
  • God designed man and woman to be together in marriage and for there to be physical touch. Have you ever been exposed to seeing things like this?
  • How might seeing things like that affect someone?
  • How should we respond if we feel guilty about something?
  • Why is being open about things important?
  • Why do you think God gave you a Mommy and Daddy to talk about these things with?
6. Cultivate a gospel hope and focus in all your conversations. Whether we know it or not, as we start these conversations I would suggest we begin and constantly season them with great grace. By the statistics above it is very likely our child has had some experience with a perversion of sex. Very few areas of our life bring as much guilt as that of sexual sin. We need to make sure the gospel is very present in all conversations about this and any other possible sin areas in our child’s life. It is hard enough to share about things we feel guilty for when grace is present. When it’s not, most of us would prefer to shut down than share.  A large part of this gospel focus can be started by us confessing our own sins to our kids, ways we’ve not parented them well, times we’ve responded poorly, and selfish attitudes we’ve harbored through the day may be a few good places to start. Then we can take them with us to the gospel, the hope God gives for sinners such as us. We can ask them to kneel next to us as we pray the truths of 1 John 1:9 out loud with them walking through the process of confessing our sins to God and receiving the forgiveness and grace He promises.

 All that to say, I would encourage any parent to strongly consider how to start, continue, and/or progress conversations about sex, gender, and sexuality with their children no matter what age they are, but especially in middle and high school. Our kids are thinking about these things. They desire direction though they may never say it. We can be the ones to give it, shepherding them away from danger and toward their greatest joy, pleasing Christ, whether they ever experience sex or not.

Here is a link for the audio of this session with Scott O’Malley:

“But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen” (2 Pet 3:18)

 - Phil

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