Should we? Why should we? Or shouldn’t we?
For some of you, the short answer to the first question is “NO!” Sex is a taboo subject. No one talks about it. If I asked you why not, you might say “We just don’t, that’s all.” Or you might say, “It’s a private thing.” You would say it’s because you can’t even bring yourself to say the word sex. You have probably talked, or at least joked, about it with your peers, but no adult ever talked with you about it when you were a teen — not your parents, not your teachers, and definitely not your pastor or the youth leader at your church.
Some of you may think it isn’t necessary to talk about sex, either because you can get all the information you think you need from the media, or because you were told as a teen something like, “You don’t need to know those things until you get married and then it will come naturally.” If you are a man, and that was the case with you, you may have been shocked the first time you had a nocturnal emission, or “wet dream,” and wondered what was happening to you. If you are a woman and you weren’t prepared for your first menstrual period you were probably terrified when you realized you were bleeding. Sexual intercourse may indeed “come naturally,” and in another era that might have been okay. Today, though, the worldly view of sex and especially pornography have created unrealistic and wrong expectations and popularized a warped view of sex that is more likely to lead to distress than to fulfillment.
There are many important reasons why, particularly in our modern world, we need to talk with pre-teens and teens about sex. Let’s look at two of these reasons.
1. The message your teens will get from the culture
In our super-sexualized society, our children are sexualized from childhood:
• through the media
• by sex education programs in state schools
• by “modern” parents who consider themselves “sexually liberated”
The message is that sexual intimacy is normal and inevitable, even desirable, at any age — as long as it is “safe” and “consensual.”
2. The messages they won’t get
• that sex is a gift of God for a husband and wife and within that committed relationship it can be beautiful and meaningful
• that their bodies are designed for sexual intimacy with one other person, of the opposite sex
• that sex outside of marriage can result in regret, emotional distress, disease, and broken relationships
• that they can exercise the self-control necessary to save sex for marriage
Why talk with your pre-teens and teens about sex? Because they need to be prepared for the changes that will take place in their bodies as they grow from childhood into adulthood — about wet dreams and the deepening of the voice, about menstruation, about emerging sexual feelings and emotional ups and downs. They need the biblical basis for evaluating the messages they get from the culture: they need to know what is right and what is wrong, and how to resist the wrong and do what is right. And they are hungry for honest conversations about sex and love, especially with their parents but also with other adults.
Whatever your role in their lives, you want to help the teens in your care grow into mature Christian manhood or womanhood:
• to develop healthy attitudes toward sexuality
• to assume responsibility for personal behavior within a relationship
• to understand their respective roles as male or female
• to develop a permanent set of values and norms, based on God’s Word, that will direct their lifelong behavior
They need your help.
Helping teens make sense of their sexuality in the modern world is an essential element in discipling them. Sex between consulting teens may be accepted as the norm in society, not only because “their hormones are raging” but because society no longer sees any reason not to satisfy sexual desire. You need to redirect their thinking towards the biblical view.
Talk with your teens about sex. Study and discuss with them what the Bible says about God’s design for sexuality.
For further reading:
Lenore Buth, How to Talk Confidently with Your Child about Sex . . . and Appreciate Your Own Sexuality Too
Stanton L. Jones and Brenna B. Jones, How and When to Tell Your Kids about Sex: A Lifelong Approach to Shaping Your Child’s Sexual Character