Ever packed your child’s backpack for a trip? Did you remember lunch, a water bottle, towelettes, sunscreen, and extra pair clean socks?

There are many truths Christian parents need to put in their kids’ spiritual backpacks for their journey as disciples of Christ. And giving your kid a solid sexual education from a Christian worldview is crucial backpack material.

I have found grammar, logic, and rhetoric — the three stages of the classical method of education — helpful in the task of discipling my children. The grammar, logic, and rhetoric stages correspond with the childhood years, tween years, and teenage years.

In Sex Talks: Birth to 8, I encouraged you to give your young children grammar building blocks – basic definitions concerning sexuality like body parts, general information on where babies come from, and body safety. But next comes the logic stage in which we are helping our kids discover the how’s and why’s of sexuality.

What’s Going into Your Kid’s Backpack?
The world has its own sexual logic, and tweens, who consume an average of six to seven hours of electronic media per day¹, are getting their backpacks stuffed with secular sexual ideas, values, and narratives. What are you putting in your kids’ spiritual backpack concerning sexuality? Silence? Awkwardness? A minimal glossary of biological terms? Maybe that’s what was put in your backpack when you were growing up, but we need to do better today.

The Logic of Sexuality: How’s and Why’s
The birds and bees facts aren’t enough. Our tweens have inquiring minds. They want to understand the logic of how things work and why things work. We have to start reasoning with them, and one sex talk won’t cut it.

Think of the how’s and why’s as the two sides of each sexual topic that we need our tweens to understand logically.

Take the dreaded “sex talk”: explaining sexual intercourse. The how part deals with biology. The why part deals with theology and morality.

For example, when explaining God’s why’s for marriage, we can point to creation and the gospel. Tweens can understand the creational why behind marriage. In love, God designed two complementary sexual natures so that in marriage a man and woman can become one flesh for life. The love of a one-flesh marriage covenant is far better and more faithful than other sexual relationships.

The gospel why of marriage is that a faithful and sacrificial relationship between husband and wife, especially when sin problems arise but are graciously resolved, points to the logic of Christ’s love for the Church (as in Ephesians 5:22-32). The definition of marriage is not up for grabs. Jesus’ cross-work to save His Bride proves that our marriages ought to be relationships of total commitment and sacrifice, not just for as long as we both feel in love.

Tweenage Topics of Sexuality
The tween years are the season for the heaviest lifting for parents in giving a sexual education. There are so many sexual topics to cover to prepare them for life.

Some topics are positive and others negative. Two positive topics, for example, are marriage, as seen above, and puberty, when we need to help them understand how and why they are changing.

Let me briefly tackle two negative topics, pornography and homosexuality. One avenue for explaining why porn is wrong and harmful is to point out that porn use is selfish. It’s using someone’s image for selfish pleasure. God made sex to bring a man and woman together in self-giving love. A porn user just takes, then exits the screen or deletes the picture, and never shares any care or service for the person who is made in God’s image. That does not live up to God’s design for intimacy on the creation side of marriage or the faithful, sacrificial love pictured in the gospel.

Why can’t two men or two women get married? Many same-sex couples certainly love each other and some of them achieve lifelong monogamous relationships. But God’s design from creation was for two-gendered marriage. And in the logic of the gospel, Jesus is the Groom who is faithful to redeem His Bride, the Church. From a Biblical definition, not necessarily what is practiced and permitted by changing a particular country’s laws, marriage looks like Adam and Eve before the Fall and like Christ and His Church for all eternity.

Helps and Pointers in Covering the Topics
If you are raising a tween on your own without a believing spouse, don’t be alone. Find some trustworthy parents and church leaders to mentor and coach you in reaching your tween and packing that backpack.

You need to answer your kid’s questions, even about the negative topics, and even if they don’t voice questions about these sexual topics. But here’s a pointer: as you bring out the theological reasons for why something is sexually broken and harmful, be careful not to be moralistic or use scare tactics.

Some parents use STD descriptions to scare their kids into chastity. Some parents warn kids about what porn does to the brain.Yet as Christian parents, we must value our child knowing Christ as much as protecting their bodies and brains.

The why’s give us an opportunity to go deeper than simple morality to pointing our children to their relationship with Jesus and with others. And remember, in parenting sexually healthy kids, the highest goal is their growing in faith, repentance, and love.

 

[1]http://kff.org/disparities-policy/press-release/daily-media-use-among-children-and-teens-up-dramatically-from-five-years-ago/;

http://www.connectsafely.org/tweens-teens-tech-and-surprising-findings-from-common-sense-media-study/

In this blog series called “Sex Talks”, parents of younger kids may question when they should start talking about sex with their young children. Did you realize that you’re already having talks about sexuality with your child?

We parents naturally speak and model our theology and worldview of sexuality in all the “as you go” moments of living with our kids. From bath time to times at the pool, we are already talking about babies, body parts, gender, singleness, and marriage by what we say and don’t say. The question is, how can we intentionally frame these teachable moments with God and the gospel?

As we think through these moments, we can capitalize on our kids’ developmental stages. Birth to age eight corresponds to the grammar stage. During this stage, we can give our children basic sexual grammar with words, definitions, and concepts from a Christian worldview. Later blogs will focus on tweens in the logic stage and teens in the rhetoric stage.

Two Questions

Here are two questions to guide you as you teach your children about God’s positive design for our sexuality.

  1. What topics does my child need to know about sex and sexuality between birth and eight years old?
  2. How can I teach my child that God loves them; that God’s design for sexuality is good and trustworthy; and, though sexual sin harms us, God forgives and restores us in Christ?

Two Examples

Bathtime is a golden opportunity to lay down sexual grammar. While you may have kiddy names for private parts, you can also introduce more official terms. “God gave you a wee-wee for making pee-pee. Did you know that Dr. Smith calls that your penis? That’s the medical word for it.” (I never thought I’d be blogging about this, by the way.) This is a light, happy time of playing with soap suds and toy boats while salting in both God-talk about sexuality and medical terms that your child may hear at kindergarten.

And it can also be an opportunity to build his positive body image. “God loved you so much that he made you a boy. And He loves your little sister so much that He made her a girl. He makes us all different sizes and shapes and colors, but the Lord makes us all male or female in His image so that we can know and love Him.” This is an example of when Christian parents can push against the world’s desire to promote a genderless society.

A pool time outing can also be a great opportunity to talk about both modesty and body safety. You could pose the question, “Is it ever ok to touch someone else’s private parts? No, we want to respect other people, their bodies, and their modesty. So you shouldn’t touch other people on the parts where their swimsuits cover or let people touch you where your swimsuit covers. Did you know that God gave Adam and Eve their first set of clothes? So the Lord wants us to be modest and to touch others appropriately.”

Where Do Babies Come From?  

What’s your answer to “Where do babies come from?” Some young children don’t ask sexuality questions. Others are very inquisitive. I have four kids. Three didn’t ask questions, and the other actually asked for and got a microscope for Christmas when she was eight! I recommend you practice your answer to this question. If your child does not verbalize this question, you still need to teach them. Bringing up this conversation helps establish you as their go-to authority for sexual knowledge.

I recommend giving two different answers. Early on, most little kids are satisfied with, “God makes babies come from mommy’s tummy.” Then, around age six or so, I’d say, “God made it so that it takes a mommy and a daddy to have a baby.” This later answer begs the question, “Why does it take a mommy and a daddy?”

Here’s a positive way to address the question: “Just like in the Garden of Eden, God gave Eve to be Adam’s wife, and He told them to be fruitful and multiply. That means that He gave them a wonderful way for the man’s body to come together with the woman’s body so that they could have a baby. It’s a special kind of hug, called sex.  God is very happy when husbands and wives love one another and have babies that they can love and raise to be grown-ups.” And if your child asks, “What is this special hug, and can I have this special hug now?” you can respond with, “No, sweetheart/son. That’s for when you get married. Right now, you can enjoy being a little girl/boy!”

We want our children to know that they can ask any question and that we are excited for them to come to us with questions. We want to help them discover all of God’s good gifts concerning sexuality and sex. It’s important that we are very positive and inviting. Kids will pick up on any tense, negative, or shaming vibes.

I highly recommend Mary Flo Ridley’s book/DVD combo, Simple Truths, and Stan and Brenna Jones’ How and When to Tell Your Kids About Sex and the attending four age-graded books for kids. Seize the opportunity to begin talking about sexuality in this grammar stage with your young children. We aren’t looking for long discourses here. We are just trying to give them vocabulary and informational building blocks that we’ll use in future sex talks in their tween and teen years.

In part one of “Sexual Worldviews” we began to contrast the “truths” our culture believes about sexuality with God’s wise and loving design for sexuality. Here we will pick up with the last two talking points for each worldview.

Secular Worldview 2: Sex Is An End in Itself.

In a culture that has three main idols – sex, money, and power – there seems to be a general conclusion: Everyone can’t be rich or powerful, but everyone can and ought to have as much sex as possible.

The message today is that “great” sex is one of the greatest experiences in life. Relationships are not necessarily about building a life together over time. Many times, it’s about how quickly we can get to sex! This view is opposite of the covenant love in a godly marriage because it teaches that people exist for you and your needs.

As a side note, since sex is one of the main points of life, sex appeal and body image have become crucial. According to our culture, these are the tickets to lots of sex. This fosters a culture that obsesses over the superficiality of body image, leading to massive amounts of guilt and shame. The perfect body eludes most of us!

A life in which sex is king ultimately leads to a profound dissatisfaction with normal life and turns people into objects.The glory of sex falls far short of the glory for which we were created.

Christian Worldview 2: Sexuality Is A Means to an End

God’s word gives us a worldview in which knowing and worshiping God through Christ is ultimate. Even though sinners misuse sex and distort sexuality, both the act of sex and our sexuality in general are good things. We can validate the desire to be intimate. God gave us sex and our sexuality because He loves us and wants to bless us! But ultimately He gave it us so that we could know and worship Him better.

How we handle sex and sexuality is also a test of faith and spiritual growth. How we express our sexuality reveals who or what we are depending on and trusting in. Sexuality begins in the heart and reveals the condition of our hearts. Christian sexuality is not simply about avoiding sexual immorality. People of various religions avoid sexual immorality all their lives! Using our sexuality in God-honoring ways is about following Jesus. Which means the ultimate questions regarding sex and sexuality are not, “How can I have as much sex as I can? Who can I have it with? And how can I be true to myself?” The ultimate question regarding sex and sexuality is, “How can I glorify God through my sexuality?”

Secular Worldview 3: Sexuality defines me.

In our culture, my sexuality is the most important aspect of my identity. This is why the idea of sexual orientation is so pivotal in our cultural debates today. It is also why when Christians say that someone’s sexual behavior is sin, the culture labels us bigots and haters. Without realizing it, the culture has reduced identity simply to sexuality. But Christians believe our identity is determined by something far deeper and greater.

Christian Worldview 3: Sexuality doesn’t define me.

The bad news is that like the rest of humanity, Christians really struggle with sexual sin and brokenness. The good news of the gospel is that we have a Savior.

Because of the greatness, power, and love of Christ our Savior, He unites us to Himself by grace through faith. And as certain as our justification is in His work on the cross, our sanctification and glorification are as sure as His resurrection. Therefore, because of our union with Christ, our past and current sexual sin, folly, and rebellion do not define us.

There are only two true identities in this world: either we are in Christ or not. Our sexuality is never the bottom line. Paul makes this clear in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, where he lists some life-dominating sins, including people’s sexuality gone wrong (and it has gone wrong for all of us!). But then he makes a declaration about sexual sinners who are now in Christ by writing in verse 11:

And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

The ultimate identity for someone who has come to Jesus is that they have been washed by the blood of Christ, set apart by His Spirit, and made right with God through Christ’s death. Sex and sexuality never are the bottom line with God.

All of these talking points undergird every conversation you have with your kids. Whether you are talking to a toddler or a teenager, you are always talking about how God has something to say about sexuality, how His design is good, how functioning outside of His design is harmful, how even our sexuality is about worship, and how we are not defined by our fallen sexuality.

In the following posts, we are going to ask the question: how should I talk to my kids in the various stages of life as they grow up? We’ll also break down how to communicate these talking points in ways your kids can grasp.

Politicians have it easy. They have teleprompters! While we can’t get you a teleprompter, we hope the next two blogs will give you talking points to use with your kids that compare the Christian and secular worldviews about sexuality.

A worldview, in a nutshell, is how a person sees him or herself, others, God, and the point of life. In our culture, the Christian sexual worldview is clashing with the secular sexual worldview.

As parents, we need to know what the world is teaching our kids about sex and the overall meaning of life. To unpack these worldviews, I will compare three talking points from each side.

Secular Worldview 1: Sexuality is Subjectively Defined by Individuals

Who Is the Standard?

The culture today is teaching that sex and sexuality mean what you want them to mean. Why? Because good sexual expression is defined by the individual. There is no intrinsic meaning or value in the sexual act itself. Barring non-consensual sexual acts, the culture teaches that we are the meaning makers when it comes to sexual expression.

What one person or group calls “sexual sin” is merely a relativistic human interpretation. The significance or meaning of sex is a societal construction. Sex can be in a lifelong commitment or a one-night stand.

What is Love?

To the secular mindset, an individual’s sexual attraction also defines love and intimacy. Love is essentially an emotional feeling that overwhelms the individual, though it can quickly change. I can love whomever I want, in whatever way I want. Love takes on a self-centered nature because it is defined by the individual and not by an objective standard.

Where is it Good?

The idea of sexual individualism – my body, my attractions, my orientation, and my definition of love for me – is the new secular sexual morality. What is morally wrong is when people to try to put boundaries on sexual freedom. As long as you aren’t harming someone else and you are with a consenting adult, there are no more sexual taboos.

Christian Worldview 1: Sexuality is Objectively Defined by God 

Who Is the Standard?

We are not alone in the cosmos, armed only with human self-consciousness, opposable thumbs, and high-speed internet. The good news is that God exists and has has revealed all the truth about sex and sexuality that we need in the Scriptures. The Scriptures teach us that God created sexuality and gives meaning and morality to it. Because of God, two people having sex means something. It is not a morally and relationally neutral event.  It could be an overflow of love in marriage, an outlet for selfish lust in pre-marital sex, or it could be betrayal through adultery, depending on the situation.

What is Love?

Contrary to the secular understanding of love as a subjective expression of an individual’s feelings, Christians believe that God defines love. He defines it as total sacrifice and commitment according to His standards of good or bad and right or wrong (1 John 4:10-11). Because of the sacrificial nature of Christ, the Christian understanding of love challenges disciples to imitate Christ in unselfish, self-sacrificing, patient, and redeeming ways. The promiscuous nature of the hookup culture can’t imitate that. Love is anything but subjective.

Where is it Good?

The Christian perspective recognizes that the Creator defines the context for sex in the covenant love of marriage between one man and one woman. Rather than the whims of consent and infatuation, true love imitates the faithful love of God and is cultivated when spouses abide in the context of lifelong commitment, not the sporadic hook up mentality of our culture. He also defines how we may express our sexuality in general. It must be according to His design and in love and service to others.

In terms of the marriage debate, one reason why a marriage is only good between one man and one woman is that in some mysterious way, the essential differences between a man and a woman reflect both the diversity and unity of the Perfect Trinity.  The sexual difference between men and women in Biblical marriage enables a man and woman who both bear the image of God separately to bear God’s image together in unity. Male and female unite to share in love, unity, and creativity in a way that depicts the love, unity, and creative power of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Thus, homosexual monogamy still falls short.

Likewise the male/female sexual difference is important in John’s image of the Bride of Christ in Revelation 18 and 19 with the marriage of the Lamb. The essential differences between men and women and the covenant of marriage, in particular, mirror Christ and His Church.

The context of marriage is also the only safe context for sexual intimacy. As a husband and wife become “one flesh”, they also commit to each other in the context of marriage to stay with one another. In the hookup culture, when two people become “one flesh”, that union can be ripped apart with a simple phone call. A couple’s covenant of marriage, modeling the covenant faithfulness of God to His people in Christ, actually becomes a secure place to receive love and learn of God’s love for us. The covenant boundary of marriage gives the relational security for each spouse to be free to share their true self, find true acceptance, and enjoy true intimacy. Because it is modeled on the never-ending grace of God for His people, the covenant union gives the relational security we need. The hookup culture may include lots of sex, but it can’t provide a context for redeeming grace as couples come face to face with each other’s sin.

In the following post, we’ll contrast two more talking points regarding the secular and Christians worldviews. (Part two)

In today’s hyper-sexed world, having only one “sex talk” with your kids just won’t cut it. So, we are going to write a series of posts under the title “Sex Talks” that will help us address our kids in their various ages and stages of growing up. This piece is an introduction about the vision behind talking to our kids about sex and sexuality.

A Corrupting Cultural Context

Do you remember the public service announcement with Smokey the Bear saying, “Only you can prevent forest fires”? Whether or not Smokey the Bear was right, if you are a parent of a child under seven or eight, only you should present your child with their first experience of sex education. Tragically, other kids and pornographers are already beating Christian parents to the punch.

All it takes for your first-born kindergartener to be exposed to the world of fallen sexuality is to sit next to another kindergartener who happens to have a sixteen-year-old sibling. Many elementary school children have gone home and Googled a new word they learned from a friend, and bam! They see hard-core porn movies. Our world, along with the Internet, is already teaching our children about sex and sexuality.

Do We Feel Inadequate?

As we think about having conversations with our children about sex and sexuality, it’s normal to feel inadequate. We really are! And, in some ways, that is a wonderful place to begin. But we can also feel inadequate because of the strength of the world pushing its own agenda on our children, the weariness of parenting in general, and the sin of our own past. So let’s take this time to take a couple of brief looks at the power of God in Jesus for us as parents.

He is the Physician to the Broken. Jesus’ mission is to messed-up people like you and me, and He offers forgiveness, grace, and transformation to us as parents for all the stuff we’ve done in our past.

But He is also the Calmer of the Seas. Does parenting ever feel like you’re on the Sea of Galilee and the storm is raging around you? We want Jesus to wake up from sleeping in the boat! What we want to see today is that we are safe with Jesus before he calms storms and after He calms them. We are safe, because Jesus is in our boat. He is the master of the seas, including the crazy world of parenting.

Finally, He is the King of the World. As we look around at the world around us, we can remember Jesus’ words to His apostles: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Before talking with our children, it’s good for us as parents to bring our own hearts back to Him in faith, asking for strength and a reminder of who He is and what He’s done.

Participating with Christ in Raising Kids

It’s also good to remember that God loves your kids more than you. On top of that, He is almighty, all-wise, and works all things for our and our kids’ good. Because of His work, God wants you to teach your children the truth about sex and sexuality from their earliest years until they leave home. We are coworkers with God in redeeming and loving our children well.

Being “in Christ” means participating in His life. This saves us and gives us His righteousness, a new identity, a new destiny, and an intimate relationship with God. In addition to participating in Christ’s life, we get to participate in Christ’s work too. Parenting falls under the category of participating in Christ’s work of reconciling sinners to God. Practically, it means that we deal with a lot of sinfulness and fallenness in our children. Our kids exit the womb already corrupted by sin. And yet, we clearly know that we need to both protect and prepare our kids to deal with the sexual corruption in our world. But we also need to model the Christian sexual worldview and teach it to them as they grow up. Deuteronomy 6:5-7 instructs believing parents:

You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.

It is our privilege to join Christ in His work! The resulting love we have for our God because of His mighty work in us and through us in Jesus can be a wonderful tool to use when beginning these conversations.

From here, we will give you talking points so you will better know what to say about the competing sexual worldviews your kids face. We will examine both the big ideas of the Christian sexual worldview and the secular sexual worldview so that we can point out the differences to our kids in age-appropriate ways as they grow. As we go along, be assured that your loving God is for you and with you in this great privilege and daunting challenge of talking with your children about sexual issues.

Have you found porn on your son’s computer or an explicit text sent from your daughter’s phone? When you catch your child in any sexual sin it can feel like the worst-case scenario. Contrary to how we feel, it’s actually a good thing when we “catch” our children in sexual sin! It gives us all an opportunity for spiritual growth. How does the Lord want us to respond?

It’s right to be concerned, because sexual sin is a serious problem. But we need to wary of our initial responses when confronting our child. In situations like these, our initial responses tend to be based in fear, confusion, and perhaps anger. But we have a more solid ground to stand on in Christ.

In parts 1 and 2 of this post, we want to offer some wise and practical steps in responding to your child’s sexual sin. Where should be begin?

  1.  Don’t Freak Out

It is easy to lash out in shock, anger, or disgust. We can even feel betrayed. We parents can sometimes say things like, “How could you do this to me?!” We definitely should not freak out in the presence of our child who’s been caught because, as James 1:20 says, “the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”

Your child did not betray you. Your son or daughter wasn’t even thinking of you in the moment! The thoughts of his or her heart were completely self-centered and deceived.  We ought not respond ourselves with a self-centered reaction and make this about how “I” feel or how this impacts “me”.

Sometimes we are tempted to make our children’s bad behavior about “us” because it’s easy to base our self-worth, confidence, and sense of success on how our children are doing instead of on the person of Christ. If they are making good grades, doing well at sports or fine arts, and sexually behaving, we feel good about ourselves. But if they’re not, we feel like a failure. Our worth and identity as parents can often be based on our children’s performance and what others think about our kids and their struggles.

We know that every child will struggle sexually, because we all are born sinners. Our sexuality cannot escape the impact of our sinful nature or the fallen world. The good news is that our identity is not based on the flimsy foundation of our kids’ behavior or other people’s opinions of our parenting. Our identity is grounded in Christ and in what He has done on our behalf.

With our reputation safe in Christ and in His righteousness, we are free to minister to our kids regardless of the mess they’ve made. The bad news of catching your child in sexual sin can become a great gospel opportunity to help them seek Jesus.

What does real success look like in parenting? Is it your child walking down the wedding aisle as a virgin? Is it achieving perfect morality? True success in life is growing in faith, repentance, and love towards God. Getting caught in sexual sin, as embarrassing as that is, can be a path for you and your child to grow in these areas.

  1.  Stop and Pray

Stop and pray that you would recall and be re-grounded in these gospel realities when a shocking sexual episode occurs. Pray to the Lord to calm your anger or hurt. Seek from Him godly wisdom for how to respond.

And remember the big picture. God is in control. He can handle this. Since He will do His part, we can do our part. His job is to save, and our job, as parents, is simply to be a tool in His hands.

Pray that the Lord would bring your child to the same place as King David, who confessed to God in Psalm 51:4, “Against you, and you only, have I sinned!” Pray that the Lord would help your child to see how sexual sin runs deeper than behavior. It’s about his or her desires, beliefs, worldviews, and allegiances.

We should come to the Lord in prayer from the beginning to remember that He is in control. It is in His strength and because of His plan that we can effectively engage our children. We are not alone but are partnering with Him to do His work.

Check out Part 2 of this post HERE.

In part 1 of this post, we offered some beginning steps for combatting our initial reactions to our children’s sexual sin.

Where can we go after that?

  1. Talk to Your Child

Galatians 6:1 provides the alternative to freaking out or ignoring your child’s sexual sin: restoration. It reads, “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness.”

In our lives, what has restored our trust in and devotion to God? At times, strong rebukes snapped us out of our unbelief and folly. But most often it is the kindness of God that leads us to repentance (Romans 2:4).

Here’s a scenario of a parent gently confronting a son caught looking at porn. However, don’t think that girls aren’t tempted to look at porn! The overwhelming majority of teen girls have seen porn, and many of them are being drawn into habitual usage.

Reaffirm your love and God’s love.

Son, I love you, and I’m so sorry that sexual temptation hit you so hard. I want to help you.

God loves you when you are weak and tempted. He loves you when you are deceived and think sexual sin will give you what you want.  He loves you even when you are going in the wrong direction.

Ask good questions that go for the heart, not merely behavior.

Whether your child has been caught using porn or has confessed on his own, ask him questions not only about his porn usage, but about what drove him to look at it.

Seek to find out what circumstances tend to trigger his desire to look at porn.

Son, what was going on just before you began searching for porn? When do you feel most tempted? What do you think about what you have been seeing?

Help your child understand that when he chooses to sin, that sin is an idol in which his heart is trusting. What do you think you’re getting out of porn? What can it give you that God can’t?

Help your child think through how this sin affects others, himself, and his relationship with God.

Pornography teaches radical self-centeredness, and your child needs instruction about how his behavior is never just about himself.

Son, a lot of people say that porn does not hurt anyone. What do you think? How might looking at porn affect the way you relate to real girls? If you get married, how might it impact your relationship with your future wife? How does porn affect the way you view God?

After using porn, how does it make you feel about yourself? What is God telling you about yourself?

Empathize from your own experience.

You are tempted to believe that this sexual sin is what you need. I know how easy it is to find pleasure in doing something I shouldn’t be doing. Everyone’s a sinner; our hearts are bent in that direction. But God is what our hearts need, so I want to help you trust Him and enjoy His love.

Point him to the nature of God and the gospel.

The Lord wants us to come to Him in prayer and faith when we feel most confused, tempted, dirty, and broken. Hebrews 4:16 says, “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” God loves us so much that he won’t leave us stuck in sins. He wants to forgive us. God will help you with sexual temptations as He has helped me.

  1. Set Safeguards

When your kids struggle sexually, you need to set safeguards. We strongly recommend that you use internet filters like OpenDNS and accountability software like Covenant Eyes. See our minibook, iSnooping on Your Kid: Parenting in an Internet World. But you also need safeguards for situations and relationships in which your child is tempted. This may mean you don’t allow your child to be alone with certain friends or attend certain events.

  1. Pray with Your Child

Close this gentle confrontation by praying with your child. We need God’s help, and our kids need to hear us express that the only possibility for following Christ with our sexuality is His power, not us trying to do better. Be sure to end on a note of faith and hope, praying that the Spirit would produce godly fruit such as self-control and love for others.

  1. Keep Checking In

An episode of acting out sexually shows our children’s struggles with persistent temptations. If we never bring up the struggle again, we leave them vulnerable to another temptation: to act like this was a one-time slip-up, that everything is okay now, and that they have it all under control. We know from our own struggles that sanctification doesn’t work like that. Therefore, we can be sure that our teens’ struggles with sexuality will not easily diminish. Be faithful to regularly check in, ask questions, and pray with your child. And always point them to Christ, the Good Shepherd who loves all his struggling sheep.