How to Talk to Kids About Sexuality Panel Discussion
June 15, 2022 |
On June 12, 2022, the Family Ministries Team held a panel discussion to address how to talk about sexuality with kids. We wanted to provide some of our notes and resources that we recommend to our church for further learning.
Where Stone Hill Church stands:
- We believe God created male and female, marriage is between a man and a woman.
- Sex is only to be expressed through marriage.
- There are sinful expressions of sexuality, but sexuality isn’t sinful.
- If you hold beliefs in this area that differ from what we are presenting, we want you to know you are welcome in the conversation.
A few affirmations before we start this conversation.
- We are all sinners and fall short of God’s standards. As parents, we know our influence is limited and because of our sinful nature, our parenting will be flawed. But God knows our weaknesses and can still work in and through us to teach and guide our children. Grace abounds, move forward the best you can.
- We are NOT the Holy Spirit. As much as we want to steer our kids towards good and godly behavior, relationships and choices, only the Holy Spirit can change them – both in terms of salvation and sanctification. Our responsibility as parents is to rear them in the knowledge of the Lord. They are responsible for what’s next.
- The most effective single action you can do for your kids is PRAY for them. This helps with both self-doubt and self-righteousness and leads you to parent with humility, understanding your and God’s roles.
This means we will do our best, pray for forgiveness for our faults and limitations, and faithfully follow God, regardless of the outcomes. With this in mind, there are good biblical guidelines and practical encouragements we want to share with you. We also want to arm you with resources (at the end of this post). This is just the beginning of a large topic of conversation.
1. How do we talk to our children about sexuality?
- First messages are the most potent. Whatever we learn first will become the truth or base for comparison
- Be the authority in their lives – no one else has that God-given authority or responsibility. Parents are the specialists in their own kids.
- Give your kids age-appropriate language to talk about sexuality. Use accurate terms for body parts and don’t be afraid to ask clarifying questions when your kids come to you. (Ex: “Mommy, what is sex?” “Where did you hear that word?”) Accurate and explicit messages are best.
- It’s never too early to tell your kids about sexuality. If you haven’t started the conversation yet- don’t give up! Start today. See the series of books by Jones in our resource list.
- Sexuality is not everything; keep your perspective. Our sexuality is part of what it means to be made in the image of God. The first declaration of God after expressing his intent to create humanity in his image is that we were created “male and female”.
2. What do I do when my kids encounter sexual ethics that differ from our family?
- Differentiate Identity vs. Behavior: We talk about sexuality as a behavior, as does the Bible. The school and their friends often see sexuality as an identity. Help kids understand the difference, so kids can offer compassion towards others in the conversation without missing their foundation. Christian students must learn to communicate the nuance that seeing people with a different sexual ethic as God’s creations, beloved by him and made in his image, without falling into the trap of thinking that this means their behaviors are part of his design and are not sinful. Much of the enmity rises out of the belief that Christian teaching is rejecting people based on identity, instead of behavior.
- Start the conversation early and lay the groundwork for continuing conversations as their knowledge and understanding increase. This conversation cannot take place early enough. Over the years, we’ve moved this earlier and earlier in youth ministry, to make sure minds aren’t made up before we get around to talking about it.
3. What do I do when my kids hold to a sexual ethic that differs from mine?
- Embrace careful, loving responses: “I love you but don’t approve of your behavior”, NOT “I don’t approve of you but I love you.” The first thing to highlight if your own child struggles with their sexuality is that you still love them for who they are and think they are wonderful. The first thing they hear HAS to be ‘I love you.’ Don’t assume they know this. They fear that when you find this out, you won’t love them anymore.
- Many teens struggle with their experiences and feelings of same-sex attractions.
- All of us struggle in the process of understanding ourselves and our sexuality.
- Every Christian struggles to find God’s will in forming their sexual identity.
Perspectives on Identity
– Wesley Hill perspective: Gay, celibate Christians seek to communicate that you can have this attraction and be a Christian. They are not mutually exclusive – celibacy is a path many take because they recognize Scriptural truth and live faithfully to it and show a path forward to those who have this attraction and fear they must choose between that and their faith.
– Christopher Yuan perspective: Identifying by sexual preferences is a recent phenomenon and this is not something that we should build identity on, regardless of what your sexuality is. Identity should be founded on Christ and our status as God’s children, made in his image.
- Fall Adult Sunday School Class: Kingdom Sexuality
- Branch, Alan – Affirming God’s image
- Butterfield, Rosaria – Openness Unhindered and other relevant resources
- Hill, Wesley – Washed and Waiting
- Johnson, Greg – Still time to care
- Jones, Stan & Brenna – God’s Design for Sex Series
- Machowski, Marty – God Made Boys and Girls
- McBride, Hillary L. – Mothers, Daughters, and Body Image: Learning to Love Ourselves as We Are
- Perry, Jackie Hill – Gay Girl, Good God, podcast, Christian Sexuality curriculum
- Roberts, Vaughan – Talking Points, Transgender
- Walkers, Andrew – The Transgender Debate
- Yarhouse, Mark – Understanding Gender Dysphoria / Sexual Identity
- Yarhouse, Mark & Zaporozhets, Olya – Costly Obedience
- Sam Allberry, Preston Sprinkle (recommended by Pastor Tracy)
- Just the Way God Wanted Us to Be (song)