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It’s time to talk to our kids about a biblical sex ethic

Is It Harder to Raise Kids in Today's Culture?

Our children are now able to live in a post-Roe world. However, we cannot truly see an end to abortion without also helping our kids form a biblically derived set of sexual values.

The culture is already discipling our kids on promiscuity, gender fluidity, and an open sexual training course in the absence of parents teaching their children within the home. Our public schools and children's entertainment is teaching them earlier and earlier. Our kids are exposed to images and ideas about sex at a younger age than ever before via TikTok, YouTube, Instagram, their peers, and media. These influences are all too eager to disciple them to a perverse but ubiquitous worldview.

So, what is the antidote to a culturally defined and perverse view of sex and sexuality? Talk to your children honestly, lovingly, truthfully, and biblically about sex. But don’t just tell your children what Christians believe. Show them the basis of these beliefs. We must train our children how to study and know God’s Word while understanding that His precepts about sex and life are for our good and His glory.

As part of Generation X, we were consistently told that “True Love Waits.”  Our parents, pastors, and youth ministry leaders taught us a biblical understanding of sex. They told us that God created sex to be celebrated in marriage, shared by a husband and a wife. The devastating consequences of sex before marriage were always before us as a sin before a Holy God.  However, sex was also held out as dirty, nasty behavior, even a forbidden fruit. Unfortunately, many in my generation began biting into this forbidden fruit and experimenting.

And while we were taught much of what Christians believe about sex, the “True Love Waits” approach fell short of teaching us how to reason about sexual choices from a biblical perspective. We never learned the “why.”

We were not taught about the ways that sexual exclusivity and intimacy in marriage puts the relationship between Christ and His Church on display for the world. We never truly were able to understand that sex is a precious gift of God which like other gifts, if misused, can lead to pain and devastation. Instead of being a biblical word, sex was seen as an X-rated word.

The fallacy with the “True Love Waits” approach is that it makes it far too easy to have one conversation with our kids only to avoid talking to our children about sex ever again. Frankly, it shuts our children out from coming to us for help with the difficult choices they face. 

The entertainment culture also gives us horrible models for conversations with our children about sex. Films and sitcoms are full of images of nervous parents bumbling through painfully embarrassing conversations on the subject. Subtly, we are taught to fear and avoid talking about sex and sexuality. But we can’t and shouldn’t avoid these necessary and important conversations. At every turn, our children will be fed lies about sex and sexuality; therefore, we must teach our children about the seriousness of sex as well as its beauty.

Ultimately, our prayer is that our children come to cherish and respect their God-given sexuality and learn to defend it freely and without fear so that they can endure even the most perverse cultural attacks. However, we must model this for them.

My wife and I helped our children understand that human sexuality is a beautiful gift from God, but when used out of context, can be very destructive. Using the imagery of fire, we explain that fire in a fireplace or fire pit is beautiful. Sex is the beautiful gift of God to a husband and wife and the gateway to true human flourishing. Take sex out of this rightful place and it will burn relationships, erode your ability to truly love, and will bring generational pain.

We affirm time and again how precious their sexuality is and explain why biblical teaching has rules as they mature into adulthood. We explain that sex is more than just pleasure, sexuality more than an identity. It was created for the connection and celebration of two souls in marriage. In Genesis, we see the first marriage, lovingly created by God. When Adam beholds Eve, he cries out: “This, at last, is bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh.”

This intimate, divinely ordained union is the reality of human sexuality. It is the reality my wife and I work to impress upon our children.

In addition, we invite our children to reason through important decisions with us, and we show them the Biblical foundation for the decisions we make and the beliefs we hold. We hope that God’s grace, knowledge of the truth, and a real understanding of the biblical perspective will carry them safely wherever they may go.

My generation’s “just say no” approach wasn’t enough and it isn’t enough for our children. We must teach our children well because they will actively shape the post-Roe America.

Herbie Newell is the President of Lifeline Children’s Services, the largest Evangelical Christian adoption agency in the United States. The organization serves vulnerable children and families through private domestic and international adoption, family restoration, and pregnancy counseling. Herbie is also the author of Image Bearers: Shifting from Pro-Birth to Pro-Life.

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