Tag Archives: Christian teens and sexuality

How to Talk to a Teen about Sex

I contend that there are two sets of people you do not — not, not, not — want to think specifically about having sex: your parents and your children. Sure, you want them to have a fulfilling intimate life (in the right context), but you don’t want to actually imagine it. *shudder*

And yet, parents need to teach their teenagers about sex. So how can this be done . . . while preserving everyone’s sanity and dignity?

Here’s what I’ve learned about talking to teenagers about sex.

Converse, don’t lecture. Don’t teach your teen like a student in a Purity 101 class, giving him lectures, and then merely checking for understanding. Teenagers are growing toward adulthood and gaining independence. They won’t respond to simply be preached at.

This is a time when they are open to discussing deeper topics, especially those that apply to their lives. They are seeking knowledge and wisdom, and if you can communicate that in a conversation, you stand a far better chance of making headway.

Make sure that you are not hogging the conversation by doing most of the talking. Let them talk and express what challenges they are dealing with and what they think about sexuality and purity. Then share your wisdom and the teachings of the Bible to inform and shape their views.

Let them ask questions. Don’t shy away from tough questions. Your teenager needs to know that she can come to you with difficult questions about sexuality and purity, and you will be her mentor. Be prepared that you might get asked anything from “What is BDSM?” to “How do oral contraceptives work?” to “Why does God make us wait until marriage?” and anything else they can come up with. If you don’t have the full answer, don’t sweat. Answer as best you can and let them know you want to think and study about it more. But if you put your teenager off, don’t forget to return and revisit the topic with what you’ve learned.

Now if they ask specifics about your sex life, you are not obliged to answer. Sex itself is a private act. You can choose how much to share, but you do not owe your child a run-down of your sexual history or your current practices. Keep your answers honest but general. Examples?

TEEN:  How many sexual partners did you have before you married dad?
MOM:  Your father is aware of my history, but I don’t think you need to know the specifics. The point is that I wish that your dad had been my only one. That’s what God designed, and that’s what I want for you.

TEEN:  How often do you and mom have sex?
DAD:    It depends. But healthy married couples usually engage in sex a few times to every day of the week.
TEEN:  That much?!!! Ick. [I added this line so you’ll be prepared. 🙂 ]

Let them confess their struggles. Perhaps they’ve already messed up in this area. No one is perfect. And teenagers are facing a culture that constantly pushes a wrong message about sexuality. Even if we didn’t have that culture, we have God-given sexual desires within our bodies that we must learn to surrender to His plan. That’s a real challenge for a young person — absolutely doable, but a challenge nonetheless.

If they’ve looked at porn, gone too far with a date, or even had sex already, please don’t explode. Look at your daughter or son as a sister or brother in Christ, and help them to get back on the right path. Guide them with love, wisdom, patience, and practical ways to handle the temptations they are facing.

Proverbs 28:13 says, “Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.” And 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” Of course, you may feel desperately hurt and saddened by your teen’s choices, but if God encourages us to confess and grants mercy when we repent, surely we can find a way to be merciful to our children.

Enlist help if you need it. If your teenager confesses something out of your league to handle, such as a porn addiction or sexual abuse, it’s time to get help. It is not a violation of your teen’s trust to do whatever you can to help them when the stakes are so extreme.

Let him/her know that you will be there to love and support them, but that you need to seek professional help. Talk to your pastor, look for Christian-based resource groups that handle these issues, install Covenant Eyes or other software on your child’s computer, seek a qualified counselor and then make sure your teen feels comfortable with the counselor, do whatever you need to address the specific situation your teen is facing.

Sweeping the issue under the rug or saying, “never again,” won’t cut it. You need to take extra steps to protect your teen’s emotional, sexual, and spiritual health.

Keep talking. Make sure your teenager knows this isn’t a one time convo. One conversation isn’t enough. Remember when that gangly teen was a little kid? All the times you had to remind him, “Say thank you,” before he did it on his own? Or the number of times you showed her how to tie her shoe before she finally got it?

So why do we think a biblical approach to sex can be taught to kids in one shot?

Keep talking as opportunities arise: When you see a scantily clad girl in a beer ad on TV. When a single friend or relative turns up pregnant. When a newspaper article reports STD statistics. When your preacher mentions Song of Songs in his sermon. (C’mon, preachers, be bold.)

The point is to look for those “teachable moments” and start a conversation, even with the simple question, “What do you think about that?”

One final tip: We often demand that our kids look us straight in the eye when we’re saying something important and we want to know they’re listening. On this subject, Let. That. Go.

Remember how I said that you don’t want to think about your parents or children having sex? Teenagers will be much more forthcoming about sexuality if they do not have to look you in the eye. Try shoulder-to-shoulder conversations as you sit on the couch, ride together in the car, go fishing, play basketball or a board game, etc.

So what are your tips on talking to teens about sex?

Purity B4 Marriage, Sexual Intimacy After: Teen’s Q

Q&AMore Q&A today! Here’s a question from a teen reader. While I don’t encourage teens to read my site, this young lady popped by and asked the following.

Hi J, let me start by saying I am sixteen and not married. I know that I do not really fit your qualifications for questions, but hear me out. First let me start out by saying that I am a victim of incest from my childhood. Which (I think) was the root emotional cause of a lot of sexual mistakes in the past few years, mainly in masturbation and pornography. It has been a bumpy road. But tonight I have been reading a lot of your posts about the sanctity of sex and how fun and wonderful it is for marriage- which I have always agreed with, but not always listened too. (Before I forget, thank you for being honest about good marital sex.) As I was saying, I know what I like- what works to get myself to orgasm. I have found redemption and forgiveness from God (PRAISE THE LORD) but I am concerned for my wedding night. Granted, that is a long way away considering no boyfriend and I am sixteen, but it is a concern. I am afraid that my wedding night won’t be as pleasurable for me, and in turn for him, because I will be impatient or that he isn’t doing it right. All of that already on top of the awkward/I don’t know what I am doing sex. I guess I don’t have my question in question format, but can you just help with… that stuff above?

The responsibility to teach children and teens about godly sexuality rests first and foremost with parents. The Book of Deuteronomy encourages parents many times to teach their children about God (e.g., see Deuteronomy 11:18-19). Ephesians 6:4 says, “Fathers,  do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” That training should include the Bible’s teachings on sexuality. However, not all parents are instructing their children in the Lord.

The Church also has a responsibility to teach the youth: “These older women must train the younger women to love their husbands and their children, to live wisely and be pure, to work in their homes, to do good, and to be submissive to their husbands. Then they will not bring shame on the word of God” (Titus 2:4-5).

I responded initially to this young lady that “My blog is indeed primarily for married couples, and thus some of my posts are rather blunt for a 16 year old to be reading. However, if my own kid stumbled across such a blog someday, I would hope that she would glean that sex is beautiful and blessed by God in marriage and that staying pure beforehand will enhance that experience later. Moreover, I’d much rather she get perspective from a biblical blogger than the advice column of a Seventeen magazine.”

So while I do not invite teenagers to this site primarily for married wives, some will stumble upon here, and I pray that they find helpful instruction on staying pure before marriage and enjoying God’s gift of sexuality after marriage.

As the reader indicates, there isn’t a specific question, but here’s what I culled from her query:

1. She’s already had a rocky past in the sexual arena.

2. She has found a second chance for purity through God.

3. She is nervous about future marital intimacy due to lingering consequences of the past.

First, let me say that no one should ever use a child for their sexual pleasure. I am absolutely wrenched with sorrow at the thought that this young girl was a victim of incest. I wrote a post about painful pasts sometime ago (That Should Never Have Happened to You).

When the first sexual contact occurs in the context of force or incest, it can wreak havoc with your brain. Such confusion can lead children and adolescents to sex-seeking behaviors such as promiscuity, pornography, and excessive masturbation, as they try to sort through their experiences and feelings. So this young lady’s experience is not some outlier. This is all the more reason why Christians should actively fight against those who would deign to abuse children for their own sick pleasure. Believe me, God wants us to take those people on. (See Jeremiah 21:12).

But a bad beginning is never the whole story with God. I was thrilled to read the words “I have found redemption and forgiveness from God (PRAISE THE LORD).” And when we begin to live out God’s desire for sexuality in our lives, day in and day out, those experiences write a new story on the pages of our hearts.

A teen on God’s plan for sexual purity before marriage can anticipate a wonderful road ahead for marital intimacy. God wants us to experience His gift of sexual pleasure within the confines of a covenant relationship with our spouse. But like all kinds of others things in life, He can use this area to grow us into the people we should be.

So for the wedding night and beyond, teens (and singles) should keep in mind a few things:

The wedding night is the kickoff, not the whole game. If you’ve been anticipating the Super Bowl for a long time, there’s a buzz of excitement when the teams face off against each other, and a football is placed on the kicking tee. When the kicker slams his foot against the ball, the game has begun, and the crowds go wild. But the kickoff lasts for mere seconds while the game goes on for hours.

This is an apt comparison to the wedding night’s impact on a couple’s sex life. Is it a big deal? Yes. Is it the biggest deal? By no means! Like football, some wedding night kickoffs can soar with enthusiasm and others can dribble a few yards and stop. And neither is any guarantee that the game will go one way or the other. So take the pressure off the wedding night to be the most amazing experience ever. It may be good, it may be amazing, it may be “meh,” but it’s just the kickoff for the whole game of marital intimacy.

You have to learn how to have sex with each other. Regardless of how little or how much you know about sex going in, you will need to learn how to meld your two bodies together into the intimate experience God designed for married people to have. It’s important to focus on the two of you together and not simply the goal of climax.

It is easier for most people to bring themselves to orgasm through masturbation because they can immediately adjust stimulation to produce effective arousal. However, God wasn’t seeking ease of personal satisfaction when He designed sexuality for marriage. There are challenges in dealing with another person, gender differences in desire and arousal, and external factors that can impact your sex life (time, environment, etc.). As we address these challenges and learn how to show physical love to our spouse, we become less selfish (read “more like Christ”) and increase our intimacy in the marriage. The paradox is that when we each seek out one another’s sexual pleasure, own our pleasure can shoot through the roof.

Meaning it’s way better than your own hand. It may take longer to reach orgasm with your spouse, but the peak is higher and better because it happens in the context of that loving relationship and increasing intimacy.

You will need to prepare for sex (but not now). When you are closing in on your wedding night, you will need to gather more information and wisdom then. A young woman should see her gynecologist for a complete exam and ask for tips for her wedding night. A doctor can advise ways to make that first time more comfortable. The bride and groom should research and discuss contraceptive choices ahead of time.

A young bride should read up on her body, his body, and marital sexuality. Sheila Gregoire’s The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex and Kevin Leman’s Sheet Music are two options. Remember that the most important education will happen there in the bedroom with husband and wife exploring one another and giving hands-on tutoring, but it can help to have some advance knowledge.

DON’T get started too early. It’s not a good idea to consume a lot of information about sex when you can’t have sex. That’s like a diabetic working in a candy store. Sure, you can walk by the candy store, ask a friend how the candy is, and long for the day you can stuff yourself silly with chocolate (oh, that diabetes would be cured). But you get the point: Don’t hang out in the store of sexuality when you can’t afford to buy.

For now, focus on you and God. Want to find Mr. Right? Focus on becoming Ms. Right. Too often we focus on finding our future mate and how great that life will be when we do. I am here to say that it is terrific, although marriage is not always easy. However, the best way to find a wonderful husband is to focus on your relationship with God . . . on letting him grow you into a woman worth far more than rubies (Proverbs 31:10) who will be her husband’s crown (Proverbs 12:4).

Stay pure. Seek wisdom. Remain in God’s Word. Know that you are beautiful and precious to your Heavenly Father. As a daughter of the King, you are a princess. Treat yourself and your body that way, by holding fast to purity and integrity.

four teenage girls

Hold fast to purity and integrity, ladies!
Photo credit: Microsoft Word Clip Art

For more about why you should wait for sex until marriage, I did a guest post on that topic for Preengaged.com which you can find HERE. (Their site is great for dating and engaged couples!)