Yep, it’s true.
I actually get excited when my kids ask me questions about sex, love, and relationships. Giddy, in fact. I pray for the questions, in fact. I eagerly await and anticipate the questions, and I try to find the questions lingering underneath even before they’ve surfaced.
So…that’s pretty weird, right? I like talking about this stuff? Actually yes…I’ve been around the country and as far away as South Africa talking about God’s good design of sex for marriage. I can talk about this topic for hours. (At a seminar I was teaching a couple of years ago, one young adult chaperone started chuckling, and then explained, "I'm sorry...I've just never heard anyone say the word 'sex' so many times in one hour before.")
Yep. That's me. For years it's been my honor and privilege to teach God’s amazing design to teenagers, young adults, and adults who’ve only ever heard the pop culture, corrupted version of sex. But with my own children? Well that’s an absolutely precious gift…to be the first person ever to introduce my kids to God’s brilliant design, to teach them His audacious, bold truth before the world starts dumping on them its own corrupted, very sad and disappointing version.
Three years ago when I was hugely pregnant with our last baby, I was praying hard that my six-year-old would ask how that baby got inside of me. I'd been teaching parents for a long time about how to have these conversations, and I wanted my turn with my own kids! Alas, she didn’t…and it didn’t even seem like that question was lurking anywhere even close to the surface. At that point she was completely content with the simple truth that God had decided to make a new baby in me. So I had to wait. But more recently the questions finally did surface. When the conversation happened upon us this summer in the most unassuming of ways, I was ready and delighted (or maybe more like cartwheeling for joy on the inside, trying to stay calm as a cucumber on the outside).
I’d love to share some of the nuggets of that conversation. Because it was a sacred conversation between my daughters, me, and God, I’ll keep their specific comments and questions out of this. Rather, I’ll insert some generic, basic questions with the answers that I gave...for your own conversations with your own kids.
(By the way, my husband and I submit to the truth of Genesis 2: that God designed sexual intimacy for marriage between one man and one woman. If your worldview differs from that, you may not find this blog as helpful. Although if we can gracefully and respectfully disagree, perhaps there will still be a few helpful items for you).
So first of all we were simply reading a book, one of a million in which there is a baby. But the time was just ripe on this particular day; the wheels were turning and the curiosity was churning. I could see it coming, and I was ecstatic. And then came the question I'd been waiting for: “Wait a minute…how does every person come from the mom and the dad? A baby only grows in the Mom….”
Woohoo! The question had arrived!
Most every conversation about sex with a young child will start similarly…how was that baby made? Here’s how I answered:
“Well in the wife’s body are a ton of eggs…tiny, like the tip of a pencil, and in the husband's body there are millions of sperm. When one of the sperm connects with one of the eggs, sometimes, God chooses to breathe a new life into a being. And when He does that, the new life starts growing immediately inside the woman’s body…in a place called a Fallopian tube. After a few days that teeny tiny little baby travels down to the uterus, where it grows for nine more months before coming out.”
I mean, come on!! That’s shocking and earth-shattering and downright amazing right there! How can we not be ecstatic to tell this to our kids!!!
And lots of times, that’s enough information. It might be that the child is content with that, doesn’t wonder any further, and moves on. But eventually the next question is gonna come…and friend, you, as parent, want to be the one to tell your child the mysteries of sex. If you don't, the world will. If you’re honest with yourself, you don’t actually want the world to do this job for you. So look for the next question…it might be there, even if it hasn’t been verbalized. It usually goes like this:
“But, wait, umm, what?? [Translation: How does that sperm from the husband's body meet with the egg in the wife’s body?]
Woohoo! This is it, people! This is where we get to describe one of the most audacious, wild things God ever thought of. And that is critical in explaining this, my friend…to remember that this is God’s design. Sex is not of the world and sex is not of Satan. Sex is not evil and sex isn’t bad. Sex is God’s creation. Sex is glorious and sacred and audacious. And it belongs to God.
He designed it right here:
Then the man said,
“This at last is bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called Woman,
because she was taken out of Man.”
Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother
and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.
And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.
Did you see it? It’s God’s blueprint for sex and marriage. God created sex and marriage simultaneously. They were never intended to be separated one from the other. Let's take a look at this blueprint plan:
First, the man honors and adores the woman. “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh.” He is excited to see her…he’s been waiting for her. Can’t you hear Etta James here? At last, my love has come along! Then, the man leaves his father and mother. This indicates he is an adult (sex isn’t for kids!) and is beginning a new family. Then he holds fast, or is united, to his wife…the marriage ceremony occurs. And only afterwards, the two become one flesh…the sexual union. It’s clear that by God’s design, the sexual union occurs after the marital union. And then last, but certainly not least, the celebration. Sex is good my friends. Sacred and glorious. In God’s design for sex, there is no shame: no awkwardness, insecurity, disease, abortion, trafficking, divorce, depression, anxiety, or heartache.
Therefore, when our children (appropriately-aged) ask us what sex is, we need not fear. We can tell the truth straight out, in full confidence that the truth of God’s design is good, holistic, healthy and sacred. Telling a child about sex is not robbing her innocence or purity. Sex, by God’s design, is pure. So it's like this:
“Well honey, when God made men and women’s bodies, He made them in such a way that a husband and wife’s bodies fit together like a puzzle. When a husband and a wife put their bodies together in this way, it’s a very special, loving, private act that only the two of them share with each other. This is called sex, and sometimes a sperm travels into the wife’s body and meets the egg. And sometimes in that very moment, God breathes life and makes a baby."
(Two important things here: to instill from the get-go in your child that sex is for marriage, always talk about “a husband and wife” when explaining sexual intimacy. Also, use correct anatomical body language. The sexual culture and our disordered sexual thinking have taught us to squirm at the mention of the words, but the words themselves aren't dirty or squirm-ish.)
This is just the basics. These conversations with our kids start here and continue through young adulthood. The questions obviously get more complex and so do the answers. But when we've laid the foundation on God's true design, answering the next question and the next is far easier.
And here’s the thing. We get so caught up in worrying about talking about sex because sex has been corrupted by the culture to be awkward, dirty, shameful, meaningless, or casual. But in truth, the intimate union of husband and wife is more significant and spiritual than we can even grasp here on earth. In Ephesians 5, Paul is writing about the marriage relationship, and in summation he writes: This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church.
WHAT?? This is jaw-dropping stuff right here. Every single time I teach this, I cannot contain my excitement. The spiritual implications of sex and marriage are enormous! This marriage union...this husband and wife "with this ring I thee wed" situation here, is about Jesus.
Somehow, the union between husband and wife, which is not limited to but certainly includes the sexual union, points us to Jesus and his Church. The unity of husband and wife on earth points to the unto-death-kind-of-love that Jesus has for the church, and the everlasting covenant that he makes with his Church.
The truth is, this is Gospel stuff we’re dealing with, when we teach God’s truth about sex.
God’s design for sex within marriage is bigger and better, more complex and beautiful than anything our culture or Satan could ever manufacture. And of course, because of our brokenness, God's perfect design of "no shame sex" in marriage has been marred since sin entered the world. We know full well that even in the covenant of marriage, too many people are hurting from damaged sexuality and broken hearts. Absolutely, we cannot deny that. But the reality of sin and brokenness in our world doesn't negate God's good and pure design. It actually just points us more and more toward our need of a Savior and our need for His divine design. Despite the brokenness of our world, the gift of sexual intimacy in marriage is still available, and we must teach that to our kids.
To the heart that’s been broken through regretful sexual encounters, God’s design brings freedom and healing. To the heart that’s been confused by the world’s nonchalant “it’s just sex!” attitude mixed with their own undeniable hurt, God’s design brings clarity. To the heart that’s been given away time and time again, God’s design brings newness and redemption. And you and I get to partake in holy moments with our own kids, explaining this incredible thing God created.
What an honor. What a joy. What a privilege. What a responsibility. And if we don't, the culture will.
So let's start talking.