Specialized Ministry — September 2005
Parents Dealing With Spiritual And Sexual Crisis: Putting On The Full Armor Of God
By Susan Carter, Ph.D., Faculty, Psychology, Lee University
As Christians, God has designed us to be warriors who fight a battle to win the lost to His kingdom. This battle is so important that God has given us His armor to protect and support us in this fight. This armor is designed not just for adults but for children as well. But as parents, are we sending our children out onto the battlefield with this strong suit of armor or one that is filled with holes?
It is no secret that our children are living in a very sexualized society. Everywhere they go they are constantly bombarded by media messages about sex . . . in the music they listen to, the television and movies they watch, the magazines they read, and the stores they shop in. Research shows that kids are becoming introduced by their peers and society to the topic of sex at a much earlier age (i.e., 1 st and 2 nd grade). In fact, it is becoming increasingly difficult to shelter our children from these sexualized messages and images. Waiting until they are older to discuss sexuality with your children should no longer be an option for the Christian parent.
Isn’t it better for your kids to hear it from you? To be able to explore their questions with guidance from you and God’s Word? They need to know that you care and want them to discover God’s purpose for their sexuality.
Sexuality education should be an ongoing process that begins early in childhood with parent-child discussions. Our children need our guidance and support as they grow and mature into the sexual beings God created us to be. The reality is that this discussion is often awkward, difficult, or even non-existent in many Christian homes. However, discussion must occur if we want to prepare our kids for the onslaughts and perils of this world.
Why should Christian parents talk to their children about their sexuality? Why should your church talk with its children about their sexuality?
- It is Scriptural:
"Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it” (Proverbs 22:6).
God is very clear about a parents’ responsibility to his/her children. Parents are to prepare their children to work in the kingdom of God. It is His mandate for us to teach our children about Him and His Son Jesus Christ. We must model a Christian life. This mandate includes teaching our children about relationship with Him and with others. Sexuality must be a part of this "lesson plan.”
We are in a battle everyday. Our children are also in this battle. Don’t we have a better chance of winning the battle if we are fully prepared? "Therefore, put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground . . .” (Ephesians 6:13, 14).
Not talking with our kids about sexuality and sexual behaviors means we send them out into the world to be challenged by the enemy with chinks in their armor. We must prepare and equip them with the tools they need to make good choices and to protect themselves when faced with temptation.
- It is protection:
The more knowledge children have the better they are protected. For example, recent psychological studies of child sexual abusers have shown that perpetrators will hesitate and may even stop before the abusive act begins if the child they have targeted can use correct terminology to identify their body parts. In addition, children’s testimonies in court in abuse cases may also carry more weight if children can use correct terminology to identify their sexual anatomy.
- It is our responsibility:
Research shows that children and teens would rather their parents talk openly and honestly with them about their developing sexuality than to receive this critical information from their peers; however, the majority of the information they do receive is from peers and through the use of the Internet. This information is often incorrect or incomplete. But more frightening is that these sources of sexual information are not guided by biblical or moral principles. Countless studies also suggest that parents who share openly, honestly, and consistently with their children and teens about sexuality and answer those difficult questions can decrease the risk of early sexual activity among their teens. Our children and our teens are more likely to make good choices about their sexuality if parents create a safe environment for discussion about the difficult issues our kids are facing on a daily basis.
So, how can we, as Christian parents, begin this vital discussion with our children and provide them with a "full suit of armor” for the battle they will face in the culture we live in today. Here are some basic tips to follow:
- Be Askable.
Let your kids know that they can ask you questions . . . any questions . . . about anything. As kids grow and mature, the question "why?” is common and many times never-ending. Entertain these questions, don’t discourage them. Being askable about other issues your children are interested in will help you to be more askable when they need to express the tougher questions associated with sexuality. However, don’t think that just because your child isn’t asking, he/she doesn’t need to know. Christian psychologists and family professionals alike suggest that if your child hasn’t asked about sexuality by the age of nine, it’s time for you as the parent to take the lead and begin asking the questions because they are already being bombarded by information.
- Be Available.
You must be available to your kids. Spend time with them. Hang out with them. Have a designated time where your kids get your undivided attention. Let them know that you are available to talk when they want to talk. It’s hard to answer the questions that need to be answered if you don’t have quality and quantity time with your kids.
- Be Adaptable.
In the media-driven world in which we live, it is important for parents to adapt and use biblical and scriptural concepts to address today’s problems in today’s language. Use every opportunity afforded by television, music, print media, movies, and the Internet to jumpstart the discussion and teach your kids God’s plan for their sexuality.
- Be Accepting.
This may be the most important tip! Affirm your children and the importance of the questions they ask. No question is too trivial, too crazy, or too challenging for you. If you don’t know the answer, you and your child can search for it together. Support their growing interest in the world around them and in their own developing body and mind. Affirm their sexuality as a gift created and given by God!
Parents, don’t lose the battle for your child’s soul and very life ... you have the answer ... it’s in His word ... it’s His protection ... get it on before it’s too late ... it’s for you ... it’s for them ... it’s the "whole armor of God.”