“And so seated next to my father in the train compartment, I suddenly asked, “Father, what is sex sin?”
He turned to look at me, as he always did when answering a question, but to my surprise he said nothing. At last he stood up, lifted his traveling case off the floor and set it on the floor.
“Will you carry it off the train, Corrie?” he said.
I stood up and tugged at it. It was crammed with the watches and spare parts he had purchased that morning.
“It’s too heavy,” I said.
“Yes,” he said, “and it would be a pretty poor father who would ask his little girl to carry such a load. It’s the same way, Corrie, with knowledge. Some knowledge is too heavy for children. When you are older and stronger, you can bear it. For now you must trust me to carry it for you.”
~ Corrie ten Boom
The Hiding Place: The True Triumphant Story of Corrie ten Boom
In her memoir, Corrie ten Boom shares an experience of asking her father about sex after something she had heard at school. Her father, intentional in his response, taught Corrie that it was not something to be hidden, but it wasn’t the time for her to have that knowledge.
As Ms. ten Boom continued, she shares that the experience left her feeling “wonderfully at peace.” To know that her dad would carry the weight of things too heavy for her, that he was to be trusted to care for her in that way, brought comfort to her young soul.
Over a hundred years later, and parents are still trying to carry the weight of sexual content that our kids are not yet able to handle. However, with such a sexually saturated culture, where children’s entertainment is subtly (and sometimes blatantly) filled with “sexiness,” it can feel overwhelmingly heavy!
Sometimes it feels like it would be easier to bury our heads in the sand, eliminate all technology, and isolate our kids from any outside influence.
Easier, yes, but not in accordance with Jesus’ commands. He teaches: “I’m not asking you to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one.” (John 17:15, NLT)
So, how can I protect my kids from the evil one and carry that heaviness until they are ready, when the world has, with scientific precision, figured out how to sell sex and sexiness? When it feels like smut is flying, full force, in every direction, how can I teach them that sex is actually a very good gift from God?
We move with intention, just as Corrie’s father had done.
First things first, we must be intentional about what we allow into our homes. I hate to break it to you, but “do as I say, not as I do,” is a parenting strategy that is doomed to fail. It doesn’t work with language. It doesn’t work with eating habits.
It certainly doesn’t work with our approach to sexuality. If we desire to raise families that prioritize holiness, we must set the example in how we use our time and in what media we consume.
Next, we must be intentional with our interactions with our kids.
Our time is limited, so we must make the most of brief interactions in daily life. It is important that we recognize (and openly speak of) the sinful perversion of God’s good gifts.
When an ad comes on tv that is using sex to sell that new perfume or car, changing the channel to protect young minds and eyes is a great first step but don’t stop there. Draw attention to the purpose behind your action. This can open communication and remind our families that there is beauty (not shame) within God’s plans.
Next time you find yourself in this situation, try something like this: “God made the human body beautiful, but His good plan is that it’s a special gift He wants us to share only with the person we marry.” You may find a shift in the culture of your home as you draw focus back to God’s good plans.
Finally, we must be intentional to follow through on our word.
If we promise that we will carry the weight until our kids are ready, we must actually be willing to hand over the knowledge as they grow. In doing so, we will build a relationship of trust that will allow our kids to feel “wonderfully at peace” as we hold onto the weight of the world on their behalf.
Don’t worry: this handing over of the reins is not a one-and-done process! (None of the conversations around sex are!) It should be a series of conversations in which we slowly allow our kids to carry what they are ready for, as they are ready. This is our part of the deal when it comes to encouraging a relationship of trust and honesty.
The sexual saturation of our society isn’t going away. And we can’t depend on our churches or schools to teach our children a firm Biblical perspective of sex. (Most churches won’t broach the subject enough to be an authority on it!)
It must be an intentional effort on our part as parents to protect our children from the heaviness of a sexually dominated world. We must lead by example. We must speak openly. We must allow them to grow in knowledge as they mature.
As we move with intention, we will be carrying the weight of the sexualized culture and working toward Jesus’ commands to protect our children from the evil one. It’s a challenge, but the rewards are great!
If you have questions on how to talk to your children about sex or any other topic that we present here, be sure to check out Office Hours and submit your question so we can answer it in an upcoming session.