This post is going to make me sound like Ward Cleaver to some. The stuff that we are going to discuss in this post may be labeled “old-fashioned” by many, but the reality is, it’s truth and it’s biblical. It’s hard to talk about high standards and righteousness without someone accusing you of sounding Pharisaic. So, I want to first say this: our righteousness is earned through what Jesus accomplished for us on the cross. Any righteousness that is produced in our lives, can only be as a result of our faith, love and worship towards Him. With that said, Jesus wants us to be holy (1 Peter 2) as we live for him and represent him on this earth. Unfortunately, one of the areas that many seem to fail miserably at this is in relationships with the opposite sex before marriage.
In our previous two posts we talked about some principles that we must teach our children when it comes to choosing a spouse, courtship and dating. This last principle is probably the hardest to teach since we live in an ever-growing over-sexualized culture.
Principle #4 – Be pure. If there’s one thing that most Christians know, yet so many fail at doing is being sexually pure and faithful to your spouse before and during marriage. People in our country at one time had a Judeo-Christian worldview, and accepted the biblical standards for sexuality. That doesn’t mean that all were Christians, but the culture reflected a reverence and respect for sexual morals. That cannot be said today. With the sexual revolution in the 60’s, most biblical standards in this area have eroded significantly. I really don’t want to spend too much on that since that’s a topic that could be discussed in detail. Sometimes we can shake our heads and say how bad it is, but the truth is, God is greater than the darkness that surrounds us. There is hope to disciple our children and let the light of Christ shine brightly more now than ever before.
So what can we do to help our kids to choose a pure and holy life, even in their teenage and college years?
1. Be the authority on sex to your kids. When I was a youth pastor, I used to take our student on various trips like camp and missions trips all the time. Invariably, there would be times during the long trip that some student would ask me a question on this topic. I would always do a little impromptu survey to find out how many students had first heard about sex from their mom or dad. Sadly, about 90% of the students I would pose the question to had first heard about sex from a friend and few had ever had any discussions about sex at all. This has to change. Sex is not a taboo topic or shouldn’t be in our homes with our children at the appropriate age. Sex is beautiful and wonderful, and it was created by God for our enjoyment and intimacy with our spouse. Sometimes the only instruction Christian parents ever give their kids in this area is “don’t do it before marriage”. Now don’t get me wrong, that’s a good message, but teenagers have a lot more questions than that about sex.
I was fortunate to grow up in a home that taught me a healthy, Christian worldview about sex. I first heard about sex from my dad. He told me when I started asking questions, and when he felt like I was at an appropriate age. I remember him telling me that if I ever had a question, I should come to him. That was such a comforting thought to me, and boy did I ever take him up on that, especially as a middle schooler going to a public school. I learned that purity had more to do with my heart than any base that I wasn’t supposed to get to with another girl.
Throughout my high school years, I remember having friends over at my house and something would come up about sex and we would discuss it as a family. My friends would always be blown away about the openness and trust that I had with my parents to discuss such things. It was never crude or inappropriate, but it was done in a respectful, honest way. What my parents were doing was helping me form a biblical worldview about sexuality. Even with all the messages from Hollywood that were bombarded on my mushy brain, I filtered them through the biblical instruction that my parents taught me.
Sometimes I think we send off the vibe that sex is gross or off-limits to discuss. If you give off that kind of message to your kids, they will seek out answers elsewhere and may develop convictions about sex that don’t fall in line with God’s truth.
2. Show them the joys of loving God. Many times the issues that pertain to people choosing sexual immorality have nothing to do with a desire for sex, but a need and longing for intimacy, comfort, and joy. As parents, we need to do 2 things: 1) pour out unconditional love on them so that they are never tempted to look for that from someone else before they are ready to get married, and 2) model for our kids a life that is completely satisfied in Christ. It’s only the gospel that truly fills our hearts with God’s love. I believe that the more we can genuinely show them what real love looks like, as the Holy Spirit works in their hearts, they will desire the same thing and not fall for the fake, generic love that the world has to offer.
I want to close by saying that nothing makes your kids error-proof when it comes to making choices about relationships and marriage. I’ve known of parents who have done all the right things and still had children rebel and make stupid choices. What we need to remember is that God is faithful and prayer is powerful. The prayer that I’ve been burdened to pray for my children is a simple one: “Lord, let the gospel take root and bear fruit in their heart.” I’d encourage you to pray that often as well. The gospel can lead and shepherd a child’s heart, even when mom and dad aren’t there, and that’s my hope.