A Texas pastor said it is better for parents to err on the side of telling kids too much information about sex at an early age, urging them to stay on the offense.
Writing Monday on the website of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, the policy arm of the Southern Baptist Convention, John Powell, senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Hamlin, Texas, offered several pointers to parents regarding how to speak with their children about sexuality issues.
"Children are exposed to sexually charged programming, information and contact at an increasingly earlier age. So, we need to be intentional in playing offense," Powell said.
"If we play defense, we'll have to deconstruct what they've heard first. We want to be the ones who frame how our kids see the world."
He emphasized that parents should always anchor conversations about sex in the Bible. It is important to not only point to passages of Scripture that highlight what sex is for and how it comports with God's design for humanity, but also to explain how it has been distorted.
"It's important to show, through stories like David and Bathsheba and Hosea and Gomer, that the Bible isn't out of touch with sex. Most importantly, it's clear in the Bible. Ultimately, sex is designed to teach us something about God, about good gifts and about his purposes for the earth," Powell said.
Kids are bound to have many questions about sex and a single "sex talk" is inadequate, he said. Such questions often arise at inopportune times. Parents are probably going to have to answer the same questions many times.
"My son and I have a secret code," he went on to say, "we may be sitting at the dining room table eating supper, and if I see his pointer finger placed between his eyebrows (weird code, I know), I acknowledge him and find a quiet place, because I know he has a question about sex."
When Powell was a young boy, his mother had to explain to him as he choked back tears that his schoolmate, who told him where babies come from, was technically correct but just not in the way he had been thinking. That this schoolmate gave him information about sex for which he was not ready still upsets his mother to this day, he noted.
"No one should find out about sex from my children," Powell said. "It's worse than spilling the beans about Santa Claus or the tooth fairy. Our kids need to know how to handle this information with children at their schools or siblings in their home."
Powell thinks it is also vital for parents to tailor their communication about sex in an age-appropriate manner.
"[Children] don't need to know about masturbation and prostitution in their first engagement with the material," he said.
"In this age of sexual confusion and disinformation, God has uniquely equipped parents to speak into the lives of their children. It's a privilege to point them to a biblical understanding of sexuality. Let's not squander so great an opportunity as shaping our child's understanding about God's good design for sex," he concluded.