Sex Education For Kids
May 28, 2000
During my junior high school days, the school administration would break us up into two groups: boys and girls. They would show us separate films on sex education. The girls’ version was called “From Girl to Woman.” Our version was called “From Boy to Man.”
“From Boy to Man” starred a young pubescent guy named Jim. He wore a plaid shirt, Levi’s, and black high-top PF Flyer tennis shoes. It opened up with Jim playing basketball. He was a terrible player. The announcer would come on and say, “Notice Jim. See him playing basketball? See the muscularity, the perspiration? Jim is going through puberty. Listen to Jim’s voice. His vocal chords are making strange sounds.” Jim would say, “Pass me the ba-all!”
The announcer would come back and say, “Jim is also becoming interested in girls.” Jim would mechanically put down the basketball, walk into his house, open up the refrigerator, pour a tall glass of milk, and head to the phone. The announcer would say, “Let’s listen to Jim’s conversation with that special someone.” “Sa-ally,” Jim would say, “I was wondering, if, like, you could go to the dance with me this Friday night. My parents would pick us up and take us there. Will you go-o? You will? Neato.”
Then Jim would fold his hands behind his neck. The announcer would say, “Look at Jim’s armpits. See those rings of perspiration, the pimples, the peach fuzz? Jim is graduating from boy to man.” Then the music would start. “’From Boy to Man,’ the film that will teach you about human development.” I watched this every single year during my junior high school days.
Hey, parents, how do you teach your children about sex? Do you take them to a corny film? Do you wait for their questions? Do you remain strangely silent? Or do you put out a book on the kitchen table, hoping they’ll scoop it up and begin to read? What do you do? The bottom line is this: our children will learn about sex. The question is: from whom?
Last weekend I talked in depth about our changing culture. Four or five decades ago it was a different world than it is today. In the 1950’s Lucille Ball was pregnant. She couldn’t utter the word on her hit show, “I Love Lucy.” In the 60’s, Rob and Laura of “Dick Van Dyke” fame had to sleep in separate beds. In the 70’s, Barbara Eden in “I Dream of Jeannie” had to wear outfits that covered her navel. Now, in today’s culture, it’s unbelievable. Britney Spears wears outfits that would make a Victoria’s Secret model blush, while Limp Bizkit sings, “I did it for the nookie,” and Abercrombie and Fitch roll out soft-porn catalogs aimed at our teenagers. “Dawson’s Creek” depicts guys kissing, like homosexuality is just as normal as lovemaking between a man and a wife in the context of marriage. It is a different culture. We must be proactive, parents. We must be the first one out of the chute, the first one on the block, to talk about human sexuality.
You would think, in the 21st century, high-tech people like you and me who are parents would easily talk about this matter. But the truth is that when the moment of truth hits, most of us freeze up, and the wheels come off. We revert to some crazy and creative ways of explaining about the birds and the bees or the facts of life or whatever you might call it.
Some of us, when we are faced with a question about sex from our children, use the Discovery Channel approach. Instead of talking about sex, we talk around the matter. We say, “Oh, son, you ask where babies come from? Well, let me tell you. You know, there’s a daddy frog and a mommy frog, and when they “ribbit-ribbit” you have tadpoles swimming around. So you figure it out.” The Discovery Channel approach.
Some are into the delegation approach. Dads just option the ball off to mom; moms just option the ball back to dad. Maybe a boy will say, “Hey, Dad, how did I get here?” The dad will say, “Go ask your mom!” Maybe the inquisitive teenage daughter will say, “Mom, how many times a week do you and Dad have sex?” The mom will go, “Ask your father; he keeps count.”
We sometimes use the in-your-face approach. We just bombard them with biological facts, just the facts. Then we threaten them with their lives if they fail, if they step over the line, in this matter. It shouldn’t be that way.
We freeze up. The wheels fall off. We get tense. It’s time that we stopped using the Discovery Channel, delegation, and in-your-face approaches. It’s time that we handled it in a Biblical, relevant, loving, open, and honest fashion. But to really get below to the why—you know, I’m a “why” person; I love to ask questions—I’ll tell you why most of us don’t really do a good job with this.
First of all, many of us here don’t understand the fact that lovemaking within the context of marriage is a great gift from God. Most of us don’t own the fact that lovemaking, within the confines of marriage, is a gift from God. God thought sex up. It was His idea. He gave us the gift of sex before the fall of man. When I say before the fall, I mean before sin entered the human equation. A lot of us have negative connotations about it. But if you read the Bible, the Bible talks openly and honestly about it.
There’s a book in the Old Testament called Song of Solomon. It’s written about a husband and a wife making love in marriage. Much of the book of Proverbs is a father talking to his son about sex. The Bible talks openly about prostitution, incest, premarital sex, adultery. Read it, read it, read it. Some of us don’t understand that sex is a God thing, and God smiles when we have sex within the confines of a mutually satisfying marriage.
We also cower and get scared and do the Discovery Channel, delegation, in-your-face approach because a lot of parents have failed so miserably in the sexual area. During this series we’ve been asking you to jot your questions down about parenting. One of the biggest questions we’ve seen is, “Ed, how do I tell my children about sex in a Biblically-relevant way when I’ve failed so miserably?” That’s a good question, isn’t it? “I was promiscuous, Ed. How do I tell them to abstain until marriage? Can I do that?” Yes, you can. Yes, you can. A lot of parents and single parents need to be freed up right now. The Bible says in 1 John 1:9, one of the most powerful texts in all the scripture, “If we confess our sins,” sexual sins, whatever kind of sins, “He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” This word “confess” means to agree with God. When we tell God that we’ve sinned sexually, He’s not going to go, “Oh, I didn’t know that! Thanks for letting me in on that information. Wow, I was in the dark.” God knows. We’re agreeing with Him, and he will forgive and cleanse and change. I don’t care what you’ve done or how many times you’ve done it. Many parents need to get freed up here.
In John 8:11, Jesus had the woman brought to Him who was found committing the act of adultery. A group of people in the city was going to kill her. Jesus said, “Hey, you can throw a rock at her if you’ve never sinned.” The crowd became strangely silent. He talked to this young lady and said, “Go now, and leave your life of sin.” We have to get cleansed, parents, and we also have to pursue purity. Hey, single parent, how can you teach your children about sex in a Biblically-relevant and balanced way when you are having sex? How can you do it? You can’t. We’ve got to live a life of purity before God, to understand that sex is a gift and use it God’s way.
Philippians 3:13 says, “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead.” We need to forget failures. The evil one wants us to linger on our failures. “Oh, remember what you did? You were doing this and doing that, and you were with this person and that person.” Don’t linger on it. Learn from it, and take your knowledge and help your children as you teach them about sex.
Do you remember the definition of parenting? We’ve been talking about this definition over and over. The purpose of parenting is the process of teaching and training your children to leave. One more time: the purpose of parenting is the process of teaching and training your children to leave. The teaching part is what we’re going to talk about for the next several moments. We’re to teach our children. Deuteronomy 6:7 says, “Impress them on your children.” It could say that in your version, but the New American Standard says, “You shall teach them diligently,” or impress them, “to your sons, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, when you lie down, when you rise up.”
We should have a lifestyle of teaching our children about human sexuality. I should teach them about how to have a personal relationship with Christ, I should teach them about values, I should teach them about all this stuff. But also, I’ve got to teach them about sex. Moms and dads, you’ve got to be the sexual resource. You’ve got to be the expert. You’ve got to be proactive. You’ve got to take advantage of the situation. If you lay back, if you don’t start talking about it, then other people will. The other people and other forces—I’m talking about the television shows, the sitcoms, the cartoons, the web sites—they can give your child, as you know, a false and skewed message about this wonderful and awesome gift called sex.
“Well, Ed, I really don’t know what to say about sex.” I understand. Now, if you’re a parent, you know a little bit about sex. But just because you know a little bit about sex doesn’t mean you know how to talk about it. You must do the research. For example, I don’t walk up here and just talk off the cuff. I research. I study. I pour my life into a particular subject matter. I encourage you to do the same thing. Look at the resources, moms and dads, that you can purchase and understand and process in our bookstore: “God’s Design For Sex,” “The Wonderful Way Babies Are Made,” “Raising Sexually Pure Kids,” “And the Bride Wore White.” We’re talking about some great stuff. Utilize the resources. Download the information. Then, when you’re waylaid by that question as you’re driving your kid to soccer practice, or right before bedtime when they ask you the question, you can talk to them about it.
When does this whole thing start? “When do I give them, Ed, ‘the talk’?” Sexual education is not an event; it’s a process. This process begins when? It begins the moment the doctor slaps our children on the rear and goes, “It’s a boy!” or “It’s a girl!” That’s when it begins. As children grow, at two or three years of age, they see they’re different from the opposite sex. That’s a good thing. Use it as a teachable moment. Give them as much information as they can handle, and then bring them along the way. Open those lines of communication. When you talk to them then—openly and lovingly about it, when they’re young—then when they get older, they’ll talk to you and share with you about it. I’m talking about teaching, teaching. We’ve got to teach our children about sex.
There’s also something else. I’ll explain it this way. Several years ago my wife was in a fashion show. As she was walking down the runway, modeling outfit after outfit, I was sitting in the audience with several of our children. It was comical to watch our children watch Lisa model. They were saying, “Go, girl!” You know, they were into it. As I watched this whole thing unfold I thought to myself, “Whoa, that’s the way parenting is. We’re on a runway 24/7. We’re modeling garment after garment, and one of the garments we’re modeling is sexuality.” Yes, we teach it, we field questions, we’re proactive, but also we’re modeling it. Children do more what we do than what we say.
Speaking of modeling, this takes modeling to another level. I met Lisa, who is now my wife, right before my fifteenth birthday. I couldn’t drive, so my parents would cart us around from place to place. One evening, my father dropped Lisa off at her house. I got out of the car, walked her up her long driveway around to the back porch where my father couldn’t see. I was there for about a minute. As I was walking back to the car, I was thinking about Lisa. I opened the car door, slammed it, and Dad and I drove off.
While we were making the fifteen-mile drive back home, Dad looked at me and said, “Son, have you ever kissed a girl?” I said, “Dad, uh, I don’t want to tell you.” He said, “Really. Have you ever kissed a girl?” I said, “Dad, I’m not going to tell you that!” He said, “Son, I want to show you how to kiss a girl.” I said, “Dad, really, come on.” He said, “No, I want to show you. What you do is….” I was going, “Oh, man.” “What you do is, you take her head in your hands, and you kiss lightly around the forehead. Then around the eyes.” My father, telling me this! A senior pastor of a Baptist church! “And then, the way it works with your mother, son, you just kiss on the lips. That is how you kiss a girl.” I still can’t believe he told me that, to this day. Sometimes I’ll think about that and go, “What was he thinking?” But looking back on it, I’m really glad that Dad was that open and honest to talk to his teenage son about how to kiss a girl. That’s cool. That’s real modeling, isn’t it? That is modeling.
Moms and dads, when your children look at you, do they see a love toward one another? Do they see intimacy? Do they see you embracing or bracing for another battle? One of our staff members shared with us recently in one of our meetings that she tries to model human sexual development with her little children. One of the ways she does it with her five-year-old son is that she takes him out on a son-mother date. She’ll give him money, teach him how to open the car doors for her, how to pick up the tab at restaurants. That’s modeling.
Modeling, parents, is teaching, but it’s also showing. It’s showing your children the advantage of abstinence. God does not say “no” about sex. He simply says, “Wait. Wait until marriage.” We should show them the positive benefits, the upside, of waiting until marriage. For example, you can live your life disease-free. Think of the thousands and thousands of teenagers who contract sexually transmitted diseases every month. It will also help you marry the right person. If you don’t have sex before marriage, you can develop the most important things in a relationship. You don’t fall in love with the power of sex, and make the wrong call, and wind up married to the wrong person two or three years later. You can make a good judgment because you have not let sex enter the picture. On top of that, you’ll have great, hot, monogamous sex because you’ve given your spouse one of the best gifts around: your virginity.
I was so inspired last Saturday evening. I drove up to the campus, and I saw hundreds and hundreds of families and their junior high students going through a Dad’s Ring ceremony. You heard it mentioned in one of the videos. Hundreds of our junior high students are now wearing rings. When they get married, they’re going to give their spouse a wedding ring and also the Dad’s Ring to show that they are going to remain pure sexually until the marriage bed. If you’ve violated this principle, if you’ve messed up, God will forgive, and it will change your life, students. It’s the way to go. It is the way to go because God’s way works.
Another way we can model stuff is to make the most of media moments. You know the media only shows you about a fraction of sex. They only show you a little bit of sex. They don’t show you the real deal of sex. If your teenager wants to watch a show and you think it might be a little bit off-color, moms, dads, sit down and watch the show with your teenager. Just watch it. Then after the show say, “Okay, let’s talk about that. This couple met, and they knew each other for a week, and now they’re having sex. Let’s talk about what will happen. Let’s talk about the possibility of teenage pregnancy. Let’s talk about this. Let’s talk about the guilt. Let’s talk about, let’s talk about, let’s talk about….” Then all of a sudden, the lights come on and they go, “Wow.”
Another way to model this stuff is to affirm your child’s sexual development. That means that if your teenage daughter has a crush on one of the Backstreet Boys or someone from N*Sync, don’t say, “Oh, I can’t believe that! Oh, the little girl’s growing, up! Wow, ha, ha!” It’s a great thing. It’s a gift from God. It’s a natural thing. That’s a good thing.
It’s about teaching. It’s about modeling. It’s also about monitoring. It’s about monitoring. One of my favorite scripture verses in all the Bible is 1 Corinthians 15:33. It says, “Do not be misled. Bad company corrupts good character.” This is true if you’re 3, 33, or 63. Conversely, good company promotes good character. Parents, we have to monitor what goes on in the lives of our children and our teenagers. We have to know who they’re hanging out with and what they’re doing. It’s our job. But too many parents mess up on this. Do you know why? Because we want to be “cool.” We want to be “cool.” You see, we’ve got to be cool these days to be a parent. “I want to be the cool parent, the hip parent. I’m not going to be the one to say, “You know what? We’re not going to watch that R-rated movie. You know what? I’m not going to be the parent who says ‘no’; I want to be cool.” Hey, parents, if you’re worried about being cool, you’re a fool. The only person we should be cool in front of is God Himself.
A close friend of mine told me something the other day that really spoke to me. He said, “Ed, around my neighborhood, I want our home to be the relational epicenter of the whole neighborhood. I want everybody to come to my house so I can see them interact with my children. I’ll see which relationships are the healthiest and which aren’t.” This is why we have a local church. We must associate with people who have like value systems.
Now, I’m not talking, parents, about isolation. I’m talking about insulation. Sometimes parents freak out and go, “Whoa, I’d better just isolate. I’ll just isolate my children, put blinders on them.” No, that’s not it. It’s about insulation. Our homes are insulated. It protects our home. We can still feel when the weather changes outside, but we have that insulated environment. That is the way our home should work. That is the way we should teach sexual education. We should insulate. Obviously, our children will feel the moral climate rise and fall and change, but we have insulation. I’m talking about the church. I’m talking about small group involvement. I’m talking about youth activity. I’m talking about Children’s Camp, Beach Retreat. All of that is part of insulation.
This text in 1 Corinthians 15:33 is also talking about association, not alliance. I’ve got a lot of hell-raising, hell-bound people in my life. I associate with them on neutral ground, but I don’t have any kind of alliance with them. We have to encourage, parents, our children to hook up with and have alliance with people who know Christ personally— people who have the same system and the same Biblical view of sex that we carry. Yes, we’re going to be associated with a lot of people who are outside God’s will and away from Him, but we have to have this anchor. We’ve got to. It’s all part of human sexual development.
The best place to learn about sex is where? The home. The second best place is the church. We want to do sex God’s way. Parents, you can do it. God has confidence in you. He has confidence in me. And when we do it God’s way, we can see children who develop one of the best and most precious gifts known to man: our God-given human sexuality.