Sexuality-How to Start Early
By Grace On May 26, 2013
I'm often asked when to begin sex education in the home. As a father of two school-age children, I know that my wife and I have wanted fail-proof advice for such sensitive topics. Like other parents we have our questions and concerns. And because I specialize in the treatment of sexual issues and have seen the pain associated with misinformation and sexual sin, I believe the topic of sexuality is second only to teaching our children about God.
Parents often wonder "how long can I put off" talking about sex. By the close of this article I hope you will be eager to get started. Human sexuality is the most natural thing in the world - and the most sacred experience that two people can share.
Here is a quick sketch of what I hope to convey to you:
- Sexuality is at the core of our human existence. Therefore, we have a responsibility to equip our children with a comprehensive view of sexuality.
- For sexuality to be taught correctly, it must be taught within the context of a Biblically holistic approach.
- If our children are to have a healthy respect and appreciation for the gift of sexuality, parents must both teach and model the precepts and principles that lead to greater sexual health and integrity.
- As for timing and when to get started, there's no time like the present.
In the beginning
The more I learn of God, the more I appreciate the book of Genesis. Here a solid foundation of God's design for sexuality is presented as our children learn about the Garden of Eden and how God created both male and female and told them to reproduce themselves.
As parents, we begin sex education by pointing out how God thought of sex in the first place. He created a man and woman who could make babies by loving each other in a special way. God also knew that a man and a woman would grow to desire a special companionship that includes enjoying the differences in each other's bodies. And, although this final point may need to wait until children are able to grasp it, we can teach that God gave the marital relationship as a sign and symbol of the internal love of the Trinity and His love for us.
So, sexuality provides at least three basic lessons that our children can understand. Sexual union exists: (1) to make babies, (2) to nurture a mommy and daddy's love, and (3) to point us back to the love of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
This initial lesson can be unpacked further as our children mature. We can teach, for example, that sex is appealing and that it's perfectly normal - especially for teenagers and adults - to want to be sexual with someone else. We should emphasize that God is the One who made us to desire healthy expressions of what it is to be male or female, and that "there is a time for everything." This emphasis on timing begins with an affirmation of sexual desire and teaches a child that when the time is right, sex will be right.
We'll want to teach a clear message about timing. The right time for sexual behaviors occurs when a man and woman are married. Our younger children only need to hear that God designed sex or sexual intercourse for husbands and wives. As our children mature they will need to learn that all sexual behaviors are more or less foreplay, leading to the act of intercourse, and that these behaviors are also designed for marriage.
We can also point to various cultural messages about sexuality, and develop teachable moments. For example, we can't shelter our children from every lewd poster in the mall or every sensual song played in a restaurant. But we can take these moments to affirm the basic goodness of sexuality because of God's design, and then make a comment about what's wrong with how sexuality is misrepresented in the culture. Our messages need to be tied to God's love for us, and how we express our love for Him through obedience.
Children need to learn early that God's plan is healthy and Satan's plan is harmful. In the early years we can talk rather simply of what is good and bad. We want to teach them what to think about sex. As they mature we shift our approach and begin to teach them how to think.