Before my wife, Jenn, and I had a fourteen and nineteen-year-old, we had the privilege of being youth pastors for thirteen years. Over the years, I have asked more than a few teens and adults, “What was the conversation you had with your parents about sexuality?” I have heard a number of responses, but the overwhelming majority of teens and adults said they never had conversations about God’s design for sexuality with their parents.
The lack of parental guidance and the rise of the internet led us to believe it was critical for us to communicate God’s idea for sexuality in our youth ministry. That was almost 20 years ago, but we learned teaching a general session to teens and talking in depth with our own children were two different things! Sometimes it went well and sometimes it was uncomfortable. We began having more in-depth conversations about sexuality with our daughter progressively from late elementary school through high school. She wasn’t afraid to listen (sometimes with wide eyes and shock) or ask questions about sex, peers or scenarios she encountered.
Our son, on the other hand, has been a little more reserved when it comes to talking about sexuality. Last year, the youth ministry at our church invited my wife and me to meet with the teen guys and girls separately to talk about healthy sexuality. At church before the meeting, we could tell our son was getting uneasy about the gathering. I took him aside to my office and asked him what was going on and he said, “Why do I have to go dad?? We’ve already had this talk and every talk we have turns into a conversation about brain chemicals and weiners!!” He was exaggerating a bit and we were able to work through it, but we have had more than one good laugh about that since then.
Called Out and Covered
So, why are conversations about sexuality sometimes difficult for parents to approach? There are many reasons, but one of the simplest answers is that, although it does not have to be, it is part of being human. Actually, the very first fear recorded in the Bible was the fear of nakedness related to sexuality.
Genesis 2:25 says before Adam and Eve had eaten from the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, they were naked without shame. Then, in Genesis 3, after Adam and Eve ate from the Tree of the Knowledge, even though they were husband and wife and the only two people on the planet, they immediately attached fear and shame with their sexuality and tried to cover themselves. Something we need to remember is that sexual issues rarely begin as a lust problem; they begin as a trust problem when we doubt God’s goodness or His ability to meet the needs of our heart.
God did two things when He found Adam and Eve hiding in shame because of their nakedness. First, He gently called them out. He didn’t expose them, shame them, or drag them from their hiding place to scold them. He simply called out to them and let them respond. He is still giving us a clear invitation out of darkness and fear into light and healing regarding sexuality and shame. The second thing He did was to cover them. They had made an inadequate attempt to cover their shame with leaves strung together, which is a great picture of how we try to deal with our own shame. God Himself made garments from animal skins to clothe and cover them with dignity. Proverbs 25:2 says, “it is the glory of God to conceal a matter, but the glory of kings to search it out.” God conceals something not because it is bad or shameful, He conceals what is precious and valuable. God covered them because their bodies and nakedness were priceless and He came to provide safety and covering where they felt fear and shame.
Moral Revolution has many great resources for teaching healthy sexuality well to the next generation, but I am going to share three practical insights from our experience:
1. Shame-free starts with me.
It is difficult to convey God’s design for shame-free, healthy sexuality to my children if I am still “hiding behind the tree” so to speak like Adam and Eve in Genesis chapter 3. In a recent conversation with MR directors Cole and Caitlin Zick, Havilah Cunnington made the point that much of our experience with sexuality before marriage involved fear, shame, guilt or even powerlessness. Parents, for the sake of our children, let’s do what we need to do to step out of hiding into the light. Maybe that means talking with a counselor, a trusted small group leader, pastor or a friend. Mom or dad, your bravery and freedom will be one of the greatest gifts we will pass on to our kids.
2. Answer the question, “What are we fighting for?”
It is easy to major on “don’t” and what we are against, but real power is found in what we pursue instead of what we avoid. We need to give our kids a clear target to pursue. We need to answer the question, “What are we fighting for?” in regards to their sexuality. We are fighting for them to have trust and honest, open communication with God and us. We are fighting for a great sex life in their future, a clear conscience, shame-free living, freedom, joy and the ability to give ourselves fully without guilt or reservation. This is what we are fighting for and we can do this if we work together!
3. Tell your story.
Revelation 12:11 says “They overcame by the blood (of the Lamb) and word of their testimony.” There is power in your story! Age-appropriate conversations with our children about our victories and defeats better equip them to face their battles. What were the temptations you faced? How did you respond and what would you do differently? What were the good decisions you made that paid off in the future? They don’t need to know all the details, but we can give our kids confidence and an advantage over the enemy when we share strategies he used against us and ways we overcame.
Our children will learn about sexuality one way or another. It isn’t always easy or comfortable, but the cost and rewards are far too great to not communicate what God’s good design is. Moral Revolution has many great resources and will be adding more parent resources to give you tools to be successful. We are in this together, we believe in you and God will give you the ability to connect and communicate with your children as you partner with Him!
-Bob Bevan, Intern
BOB IS AN ASSOCIATE PASTOR AT LIVING WORD CHURCH IN CLEVELAND, TENNESSEE, WHERE HE HAS SERVED IN VARIOUS CAPACITIES FOR OVER TWENTY YEARS. HE IS PASSIONATE ABOUT REVEALING THE GOODNESS AND NATURE OF GOD AND COMMUNICATING TRANSFORMATIONAL TRUTH IN PRACTICAL WAYS. BOB AND HIS WIFE, JENN, ARE THE PROUD PARENTS OF A DAUGHTER IN COLLEGE AND A SON GOING INTO HIGH SCHOOL. AS WELL AS WRITING AND COMMUNICATING FOR LIVING WORD CHURCH, BOB LOVES COMMUNICATING ABOUT STEWARDING OURSELVES AND OTHERS IN RELATIONSHIPS.
For more information on Parenting Sexuality, you can check out our newest e-course.