Don’t put it off: Have that talk with your youths about sex

Focus on the Family // January 16, 2019, 10:43 pm

Photo by Tran Thanh Long on Unsplash

Photo by Tran Thanh Long on Unsplash

Broaching the topic of sex with youths can be a delicate matter, requiring thoughtful navigation. While it’s important to have faith-filled and informed conversations with our young people about sex, the challenges of the task may trip even the best of us up or discourage us from giving it a shot at all.

Here are some ways to view this conversation about sexuality so you can continue to guide your youths:

1. Be holistic: Include the whole person

To understand and explain sexuality, it is essential to begin on the ground of the Christian worldview of personhood.

One profound implication of us being created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27) is this: God is a spiritual and relational Being with thoughts and emotions, so we’re meant to be spiritual, relational, intellectual and emotional, too. We live out these aspects in our bodies, so we have a physical dimension as well.

A discussion about sexuality must involve a holistic perspective of what it means to be human.

A discussion about sexuality should not be confined to private parts and sexual acts, it must also involve a holistic perspective of what it means to be human:

  • Spiritual: What we do with our sexuality has deep spiritual effects and is part of our spiritual worship to God (Romans 12:1)
  • Intellectual: What we think about ourselves and others has a significant influence on our sexuality (Romans 12:2)
  • Emotional: How we steward our desires and feelings about ourselves and others greatly affects how we live out our sexuality (Galatians 5:16-25; Proverbs 4:23)
  • Social: We’re made for and shaped by our relationships. The way we live out our sexuality impacts others deeply (Proverbs 13:20; 1 Corinthians 12:26)
  • Physical: How we act upon our sexuality has physical consequences and involves all the above dimensions of our being (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

Don’t just talk to youths about the physical components of sexuality. Engage them in a broader conversation and debate about all the wonderful dimensions of being human, and inspire them to worship God with their sexuality in all these aspects.

2. Be authentic 

Youths have a very sharp radar for who’s consistent in their lives and authentic with them. They can quickly spot who doesn’t walk the talk and who isn’t being honest with them.

We don’t have to be perfect, but we must want to honour God in the midst of our struggles.

It’s crucial that we practise what we preach, so that we’ll have the credibility to speak to them about living out their sexuality in a godly manner.

If we aren’t striving to be sexually whole, the gaps between our actions and our words will make our message sound hollow to them.

After all, godly values are not just taught, but caught when they see how we live. This doesn’t mean we have to be perfect. It means that in the midst of our struggles, we must want to honour God in our sexuality and other areas of our lives, so that we are convicted to engage with our youths to do the same.

3. Be real: Share your journey

Youths often enjoy hearing about how we’ve lived out the lessons we’re conveying to them, because it fleshes out what abstract principles can look like in reality.

Don’t just share the successes; it’s also helpful for them to hear about our struggles and mistakes, how we tried to overcome them and the lessons we’ve learnt.

Don’t just share the successes; it’s also helpful for youths to hear about our struggles.

In fact, the stories of our ongoing journey in a certain area of sexuality may be even more encouraging and authentic to them.

They may find comfort in the fact that adults also grapple with the messiness of life, and may be heartened that there are restorative ways forward even after mistakes have been made.

When we share our own journeys in sexuality, we show them that we desire to be genuine with them. This invites them to trust us with their experiences as well.

However, as much as we want to be authentic with our youths, we also want to be mindful to share wisely, lest we expose them to unnecessary and inappropriate details.

4. Be patient: Listen and withhold judgement

Finally, engaging youths on sexuality is a long journey. It may involve lots of going back and forth, repetition and rebuke. Let’s be patient with them in their growth journeys, as God is patient with us in ours (2 Peter 3:9).

Be a safe person for them to confide their thoughts, questions and struggles. This assures them that they can approach you with their concerns about sexuality, without fear of judgement.

Be a safe person for them to confide their thoughts, questions and struggles.

If you don’t know the answer to a certain question, tell them honestly that it’s something you want to research to continue the conversation.

Alternatively, it’s a great idea to invite them to look for answers with you. Ask questions for them to think deeper and reflect more on, empowering them to process their concerns more thoroughly.

There are many other ways to engage youths more effectively on issues of sexuality. But we hope that these tips will help you to get started on the essential task of teaching our youths to worship the Lord with their sexuality.

This article was first written for Focus on the Family, Singapore and has been republished with permission.

About the author

Focus on the Family

Focus on the Family Singapore Limited is a local charity with Institution of a Public Character (IPC) status dedicated to helping families thrive by being a voice for Family. We partner individuals and organisations to nurture families at different life stages through transformational family life education, trusted resources, content placements and counselling.