Sex Education

I had a conversation recently with an administrator at our kids school about sex education that got me thinking about the messages we have taught our children over the years...

We teach them that sex is good and powerful, uniting people emotionally, and creating new human beings in the process. Sex, sexuality, and our sexual parts are not shameful, but rather, they are personal and private. It is something to be shared with the right people; trustworthy people. Obviously this includes parents and doctors in appropriate settings, and eventually it will include a wife, or a husband.

We have given them a full understanding of intercourse and the reproductive cycle. But we have not talked with them about specific sexual acts other than intercourse, except as those questions arose from our children's conversations with other children.  This is because those are things that are properly explored within the context of a wife and husband who are bound together for life.

We have taught them that all good things can be abused, including sexuality. We have taught them that our personal desires are often the enemy of our own health, and that this is true in the realm of sexuality as well. Sexual irresponsibility is destructive to the individual, and to those they are in relationship with. It is emotionally destructive to self and others, and it can be physically destructive to self and others.

We have explained to them that our culture enshrines the pursuit of personal desire as the highest ideal, and that this leads to much confusion and experimentation in many areas of life, particularly sexuality. Most of their peers will be having sex before marriage, and many of them will be experimenting with their sexual behaviors, their sexual identity, and even their gender in ways that will cause unnecessary pain.

We have taught them to be respectful of the choices, behaviors, struggles, and identities of other people, and that all people are to be treated with reverence simply because they are people. But we have also taught them that many of those choices, behaviors, struggles, and identities aren't healthy, and that they should avoid those behaviors personally.

We have talked with them briefly about sexual addiction and pornography. We have also explained more exhaustively how sex outside of marriage builds intimacy with someone other than your spouse, and that this will cause pain and confusion later on in life.  Extra-marital sex can also lead to unwanted pregnancy, disease, and even death.

We have taught them explicitly to wait until they are married to engage in sexual behavior, but we have also interacted with them quite a bit about the messages they receive from peers and cultural figures that contradict that wisdom. We have shared with them some of our own personal history with sexual behavior (both our mistakes and our successes).

We have also talked with them about grace and forgiveness, and how one mistake, or even a long pattern of mistakes, can be forgiven and overcome, no matter the consequences.


Drew said...

All sexual behavior?

Drew said...

All sexual behavior?

Steven Schenk said...

Hey Drew, can you clarify?

Drew said...

Hugging, kissing, masturbation?

Steven Schenk said...

I think what you are asking is: have you told them to wait until they are married to hug or kiss someone? Have you told them not to engage in masturbation? Do these activities count as "sexual?"

The answers to these questions are:

Hugging can be sexual, but most of the time it isn't. I think it would require a really long hug with the right person and in the right place to become sexual. That, or it would have to move beyond hugging to involve hands and other parts. Its not really something we have talked about in that way. We have, however, talked to them about appropriate hugging, (who and where). We have talked with them about boundaries and personal space. We have told them that they do not have to accept hugs from people they don't want to, and that they should be sensitive to other people who might not want their hugs.

We have talked about kissing. I wish I would have never kissed a woman other than my wife. I know people who's first kiss was on their wedding day. We have put that ideal in front of our children. However, they have already engaged in kissing behaviors (we aren't naive, we knew that was likely). We do talk to them about the intimacy that kissing builds and that the person you are kissing when you are young is going to be someone else's husband or wife. As they get older, I am sure that this will become more nuanced. I am flexible, personally, on what constitutes "healthy" around this question. (This is where we are at with lots of things surrounding relationships with the opposite sex: physical contact like hand-holding, romantic relationships)

The main issue for us is the heart issue. What happens to your heart when you engage in sexual activity outside of marriage is profoundly unhealthy. So, what is happening to your heart when you engage in kissing, hugging, hand-holding, dating, etc? Is it healthy, unhealthy, something else?

Masturbation is definitely a different category. It is obviously sexual whenever you engage in it. However, it is not necessarily including another person in it. We have had brief conversations around the edges of this with our kids, but its actually something that we need to figure out. Pornography is out, as is fantasy. I do know, however, that Christians have not spoken with one voice on this. Its under review.

Summer Byrd said...

I had a vision just yesterday in big words SEX within the church and what the church could do to actually attract young people about the topic and the use of actually being educated and then the purpose behind it all and of Jesus and actual salvation that is there an invitation and I saw a huge group come of people of all ages and cultures to see why a church would be talking about SEX and make it was a huge chance for healing and a lot of people came to know the true Heart of Father God and were saved and then there were speakers of how to treat a woman and a man as in the relationships you get into young can really destroy you later and so on, weird I know, it just came to me, but it seemed to work because a church to discuss that is shocking but to know the truth and pass that on is all that matters maybe its something Buffalo Vineyard could pray about.... cause I have had the vision as well for a all girls group as well....