In a world where seemingly anything goes, it’s difficult to teach your children that there is only one way to enjoy the gift of sexuality—God’s way. And what is God’s way? In a faithful, lifelong marriage between a husband and a wife. Overcoming the cultural message that sex is to be enjoyed whenever, however, and with whomever one pleases takes intentional parenting on your part. Here are some ways to protect your children’s purity (not to mention their physical health) and help them understand its value.
1. Be honest about the joys of a great marriage. If your children never get the message that doing sex God’s way—within marriage—brings joy and fulfillment, it will be all the more tempting for them to explore all the wrong ways. When your children are little, be affectionate with your spouse in their presence. As they mature and the topic of sex is appropriate, let them know that married sex is great, and worth waiting for!
2. Protect their thought lives. Research shows that early and frequent exposure to sexual images and messages makes a child more likely to experiment sexually at an early age. Help your children avoid these confusing and tempting ideas by carefully screening movies, TV, and music. By doing so, you’re giving them the gift of a real childhood free from the tension and temptation of unmarried sex.
3. Delay romantic interaction. My father put it to me in middle school this way: “If you start holding hands with boys in 6th grade, by 8th grade it’s old news and you’re ready to try something new. So if you start kissing boys in 8th grade, by 10th grade that’s boring and once again, you’re ready to go a little further…” It’s true that once the ball of sexual interaction starts rolling down the hill, it’s incredibly hard to slow down or stop. Do your child a favor by delaying those “firsts” as a long as you can, so that she has a better chance of making it to her wedding day with her purity intact.
4. Give dating relationships boundaries. Your child will be swept away with butterflies and all the euphoria of a crush or first love at some point in adolescence. To be blunt—her defenses are down. Create some guardrails around her dating life with some rules, a curfew, and other protections you deem necessary to keep her out of a situation that may be more than she can safely navigate. Your teen will complain, to be sure. But deep down, she will be relieved that you’re making some of these decisions for her and helping her to avoid what she’s naturally drawn to, but knows is wrong.
5. Remember and communicate all the benefits. The list of benefits associated with saving sex for marriage is lengthy, including:
- avoiding unwanted pregnancy
- avoiding STDs
- protecting your child’s self-esteem and dignity
- having the joy of approaching marriage without guilt or regret
- enjoying a better married sex life without comparisons or baggage from the past
- a healthier spiritual life free from the weight of sin
Remembering these when teaching your child to value purity seems impossible, or like too much work. So remind your child of these benefits frequently. In moments of decision, it will be helpful for him to know that there’s a real upside to saying “no.”