by Dr. Jim Burns and Kristen Ivy
Authorities in the area of sex education tell us:
“The more positive, value-centered sex education kids receive from home, the less promiscuous they will be.”
That sounds simple enough. But a majority of parents didn’t receive healthy conversations about sexuality from their parents. So they don’t have a lot to go on. And as church leaders we should probably admit that we haven’t always done a very good job either. It’s easy to see how this generation of parents sometimes struggles to help their children navigate the murky waters of sexuality in a world of mixed messages.
The result? Many kids look for information about sex and sexuality from sources other than the church or their parents. In fact, the number-one source for kids to get sex education is the Internet—and I’m not sure that’s the best place to get safe, value-centered sex information. Often their emotional involvement exceeds their maturity, and they’re left to navigate decisions about sexuality without a trustworthy guide.
In a world of increasing accessibility, kids make sexual decisions at a younger age and often without the benefit of much help from their parents—and even the church.
What if there really was a better plan than just having “the talk” once—making a one-time ask for a seemingly impossible task—and then leaving the rest to chance? What if, instead, church leaders could help parents have a more comprehensive approach? As a church leader who partners with parents, one of the most practical things you can do is give parents tools to help them navigate real world issues like healthy sexuality.
For almost all parents, talking with their kids about sex is awkward at best. Yet, at the same time, parents genuinely do want their children to make good and wise decisions about sexuality. The church has a unique opportunity to help parents help their kids navigate this issue. But to be frank, we often miss our opportunity because we aren’t sure how to help. There are no easy answers and sometimes it’s a bit messy. But imagine just for a minute what’s at stake for the future of this generation. If there is a way to help parents be a better guide, isn’t it worth it? Can church leaders influence parents to communicate to kids and teenagers that God created their sexuality so they’ll sees it as a beautiful part of their life and faith?
Helping parents navigate this issue is the church’s business for one reason. Every child is made in the image of God. And if every child believed God made them—and that God made every other person—it would fundamentally change the conversation about sexuality. It may sound overly simplistic. But I believe this one idea could dramatically change how a generation does marriage and family.
Jim Burns is president of HomeWord and executive director of the HomeWord Center for Youth and Family at Azusa Pacific University. Jim speaks to thousands of people around the world each year. He has over 1.5 million resources in print in over 25 languages. Jim’s radio broadcast is heard on over 800 stations a day and heard around the world via podcast at HomeWord.com. Some of his books include Faith Conversations for Families, Confident Parenting, The Purity Code and Creating an Intimate Marriage. Jim, his wife, Cathy, and their three daughters live in Southern California.
Kristen is the Director of Messaging at Orange. She has a Master of Divinity and is co-author of It’s Just A Phase – So Don’t Miss It, Zero to One, Playing for Keeps, and Creating a Lead Small Culture. Kristen has worked with kids in all capacities, including as a high school teacher, a small group leader, and has three kids of her own, Sawyer, Hensley and Raleigh. She and her husband, Matt, live with their kids in Cumming, Ga. Read more from Kristen on Twitter, @Kristen_Ivy.
This blog article was excerpted from the e-single Sexual Integrity Through the Phases: Helping Parents Navigate Sexual Integrity At Every Age. Get this entire e-single for free with a subscription to GoWeekly—a library of resources for church leaders. Learn more about GoWeekly at goweekly.com. For more e-singles about developing small group leaders and engaging parents, check out the You Lead Book Series on Amazon.