If we watch Jesus disciple his followers we see times of formal teaching and informal teaching. There are times when he proactively taught and other times where he taught in reaction to something that had come up.
This grid helps me as I seek to disciple my own children. There are things that I hope they will know when they leave home. Some of those things will be taught formally, some informally. Some will be presented proactively and some reactively. There is a readiness that comes in discipleship. We want to transfer information and conviction to our children.
Biblical and Healthy Sexuality
Nowhere is this more true than the need to communicate biblical truth about biblical and God-honoring sexuality. The entertainment industry, news media and educational leaders are all “discipling” our children with a distinctly anti-Christian message. As parents we want to get ahead of this information and persuasion.
These thoughts were on my mind recently as our church’s parents met in our quarterly gathering to talk about teaching their children a healthy sexuality. While they are the parents of mostly young children, I found that having adult children helped me add some objectives for them to aim for later in life.
Seven Possible Lifetime Objectives
Specifically I suggested that over a lifetime of parenting and discipleship that they aim for these seven.
1. Information and Trust – From the time that our children are young to the time that they are teens we want to be a trustworthy source of information. They will naturally have questions. Where will they get those answered? Though some will be answered in a school classroom I want to be the primary teacher. I want my children to know they can ask me anything and I will not overreact. To do this means I must overcome any reluctance I have to talk about the subject. Recommended Resources: The Talk: 7 Lessons to Introduce Your Child to Biblical Sexuality, Changes: 7 Biblical Lessons to Make Sense of Puberty Passport to Purity (see below).
2. A Protection of Their Innocence – The entertainment industry is saturated with sexualized images and themes. When our children were young we were very sensitive to what we exposed them to. This also means I will employ restrictions on the computer or phone for their sake. There are those who seek to destroy my children (see Matthew 18:6). I will stand as the shepherd of my home and defend it from the wolves. Recommended Resources: Covenant Eyes, Circle.
3. A Protection from Abuse – Unfortunately child sexual abuse does happen – even in good families and even by trusted authorities. While I do not fearfully smother my child, I also know the world they are growing up in. I want to take appropriate cautions. Recommended Resource: On Guard: Preventing and Responding to Child Abuse at Church.
4. An Inoculation for Living In Our Sex-Saturated Culture – While 1-3 are helpful for the younger years, true discipleship trains for godliness to live in our culture. I’m sure there were Christian parents in Corinth seeking to raise their children for the Lord in public gyms with nudity. Christian parents need not fear these influences if they are communicating with their children. Proverbs 5-8 gives an excellent example of a father inoculating his son to the temptations that will come in this world.
5. Casting a Vision for God’s Goodness – Fearful parents can unknowingly present a negative sexual ethic in this area. Our children can only hear prohibitions. But we also want to cast a vision for God’s good plan. He is not looking to spoil our fun. Recommended Resource: Passport to Purity.
6. Equipping to fight temptation – Scripture consistently presents our sexuality as a powerful force for good or temptation. As the first responding shepherds we want to equip our children to fight temptation in this area. We really cannot have a “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” mentality. Recommended Resource: The Purity Principle, Finally Free.
7. Equipping to speak a biblical apologetic to this world in this area – Just this past week I had an occasion to speak briefly to two eighth-graders growing up in the Bible Belt. But through media, conversations, and perhaps even school teaching they were being taught the LGBTQ agenda. And saying “The Bible says” to them was a start but not sufficient. Simply quoting a few studies turned their thinking on this issue. Recommended Resource: A Practical Guide to Culture. Same-Sex Marriage: A Thoughtful Approach.
I know that each one of these objectives could have a long explanation of the how-to. But sometimes it is helpful to have a high level overview of the themes that we will want to weave in to their lives through formal and informal teaching, active and reactive conversations.
What would you add? I would love to hear from you.