Sunday, September 19, 2010

Shaping Your Child's Sexualty -- The Intimacy Equation at Home Makes the Difference

God’s overwhelmingly affirms sex. It doesn’t go from wrong to acceptable on marriage day, it goes from wrong to right. It was God’s idea, thus God’s creation. He overwhelmingly affirms it Scripture, to the point of describing it in specific, profound personal-body-parts detail in Song of Solomon. He lays it out clearly.
God likes sex.

That overarching view is vital as you try to shape your child's thinking and actions with regard to sexuality. But first a key question: Is it even possible to shape the sex life of your children before they become sexually active?

I think so. I believe you can radically influence -- not control -- their future decisions.

Let's face it: Somebody is going to shape it, and the world is working at it real hard.

The sexual dialogue among kids at school is on-going, explicit and inaccurate, when it comes to the facts and beliefs you want expressed to your child.

They are getting mental sexual input from outside your home consistently. They may be getting visual sexual input from somewhere, because it is almost impossible to keep them from it. Have you ever been in ‘Victoria’s Secret’? There is no secret!

Here’s the why-and-how you can shape the sex life of your children before you are married: because you have the most access to the important sex organ they have: the mind.

In order to persuade their hearts and minds to a Godly sexual orientation, you have to have an ongoing, relational, honest dialogue. You not only have to enter into the conversation that is going on about sex, you have to lead it, drive it, direct it, take it over, and set the boundaries for the secondary conversations (those you don't hear).

First you've got to understand that if 'The Talk' really is merely a 'talk' in your house, you'll headed for failure. It’s an on-going conversation, or you will fail. The ongoing conversation  (not 'the talk') starts with issues that are - on the surface - distinctly non-sexual.

First, you must define intimacy (not merely sexual intimacy), because it is going to be the river that carries your influence.

My definition of intimacy: Complete exposure. Ideal Intimacy is safe, comfortable, nurturing, complete exposure.

Of course intimacy has levels, and as a relationship strengthens and grows the level should deepen.

Our kids are hungry for and in deep need of intimacy. If you don’t give them intimacy you’re going to increase their chance of seeking it the wrong way, and still not getting it. In fact, seeking it the wrong way will set them back, perhaps grievously and with permanent damage.

Let me use a synonym – an incomplete-but-accurate one – for intimacy: Safety

I explain to kids as they are growing up that there are four areas of their development in life, and that they deserve and must have for their full development real safety in each.

• Emotional
• Spiritual
• Intellectual
• Physical

They all overlap, and they all fall under spiritual. The intellectual leads to the emotional. Your emotional state tends to determine your actions. Sex is physical, and requires actions. Are you following me? If you want to influence what’s happening on the end of the equation, you better work with the beginning of the equation – the mind! You have to have a safe environment to accomplish that.

A healthy family has Godly ‘intimacy’ in all four areas. (A brief time out here. In a culture of increasing perversity, let me be very clear: I’m not talking about anything sexual other than between husband and wife.)

Intimacy in these four areas means it is safe to express your emotions, thoughts and spiritual views or questions. Your children should already know there is physical safety – and I don’t mean their protection from danger in this case – under your care because you are the primary care-taker of their physical well being as long as they are a minor in your home -- and that should ease the difficulty of discussion of intimate physical issues, including sexual issues.

If your children have a good understanding and experience of non-sexual intimacy, they will more easily make right choices about and transition – in marriage – appropriately to physical intimacy (which we also know is emotional, intellectual and even spiritual).

When you tell your kids don’t, you best be adding the why. And you better be dealing with the heart elements. They have to have enough emotional trust in you, enough experience at genuine familial intimacy on all four levels with you, to actually believe that what you tell them is what they should do even when they don’t understand, because when everything wakes up physically and they want sex bad enough, their lack of relationship experience and intimacy in non-physical contexts is going to radically increase their chances of failing.

Without that great grounding, they run the risk of having sex for the same reason you continue eating donuts, or consuming whatever isn’t good for you: because it satisfies an immediate desire. They have to be focused on God, and focused on their future mate. They’ve got to believe God and believe you. That means you have to have enough emotional and intellectual equity in their life that they don’t let their emotions drive their physical actions!

You gain that equity by having raised them in genuine intimacy in four areas of development, while teaching them how it all falls under the coverage of the Word of God.

God’s Truth on all issues of life – especially the hard ones – should flow through you to them, so the experience of your interaction with them should validate the Gospel and empower them to wise choices. You can be the difference maker in their future sexual decisions by grounding them in God's truth about sex in an environment of total safety.

Friday, September 10, 2010

How Your Sexual Past Affects Your Shaping of Your Child's Sexuality

Your experience with a given subject -- in this case, sex -- directly affects how you view and thus instruct on the same subject. This is profound in simplicity.

Extrapulated to your parenting and specifically your efforts to shape (through the early teen years) and inflluence (beyond that) your children's sexuality, that means you must come to terms with your sexual past. 'Sexual past' does not merely mean any pre-marriage sexual activity, but also the ways you were taught about sex before you were married.

How does this affect your parenting? Scenarios:

* Perhaps your parents were scared speechless -- literally -- of discussing sex with you as a pre-teen and teen. You may have went through puberty and beyond wondering things like, "Is this normal?" on a variety of physical and emotional experiences. You likely wondered, "Is it normal to think about X, wonder about Y, and imagine Z?' No one told you anything -- except other kids, who were sensationalizing and practically making up their information. Now you are scared to death to talk to your children. But you have to. They're dying to hear from you. You have credibility. You can overcome this.

* Perhaps you had some relatively mild, or major, sexual experience before marriage, either as a child when something took advantage of you, or by choice as a child, teen or young adult. A variety of emotional pain, confusion and images could still be having an effect on you. These need to be dealt with Biblically before you can be as effective as you should be in talking with your child. Trust me, I know countless adults in their 30s, 40s and 50s who are still negatively shaped by these unresolved issues!

I believe the best way to help you help your child is to Biblically address how to cope with any past issues you have. So let's review John 7:53-8:12, The Woman at the Well, and make some application.

The Scene: The religious people (the self-righteous legalists) are trying to trap Jesus, so they bring him the most publicly unacceptable, egregious, situation of the day: a woman caught in adultery. They did it publicly. In ‘church.’ With smirks on their face they said, ‘OK, GOD, what you do about this?!’ He delayed. Twice. To let them think about it. (Pretty good parenting technique, by the way)

1→ No one, Lord.” LORD!

She called Him ‘Lord’! She’s standing there just after having had sex, with somebody’s table cloth wrapped around her so she won’t be stark naked, and she calls Him LORD! She goes in there literally expecting to DIE, and comes face-to-face with a man who turns the tables on her accusers. This man is different, why, He’s is the only God-Man!

2→ Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”

Listen, when you take a sinner to God, what do YOU expect GOD to do with him?! Be careful here! If you want them ‘condemned’ for being so bad, you better get in the execution line with them!

God isn’t waiting for a person to get cleaned up! He saved you as you were! What He says to her is amplified in Romans 8:1, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus . . . “ He says, paraphrased, “You’ve met me now. Everything changes. Go on, quit that nasty stuff, and live in the light.”

3→I am the light of the world. Anyone who follows Me will never walk in the darkness, but will have the light of life.”

Once you are exposed to The Light, you crave TheLight! Remember the woman at the well. She had a pretty sordid sexual past and present, too. But once she’d seen The Light, she didn’t mind what everybody knew so much . . . that was secondary. She ran back to the village telling the people to “come see a man who told me everything I ever did!” In her case, that’s the same as saying, “Come see a man who told me everybody I ever slept with!”

The point isn’t what she did – the point isn’t what you did – the point is Who He Is, and how He changes who you are! Our God is a God of redemption, and that includes in YOUR sex life; whether of the body or of the mind. Read the redemptive passages of Scripture!

Romans 8:28-30 applies. A few thoughts and steps spinning off of “all things work together . . .” as it relates to a sexual sin history.

A He knew you were going to do that (He did not ordain it, permit it, or endorse it, but He knew it)

B He knows who you are with now (He knows who you married and the baggage you brought)

C His mind can overtake your mind (If you don’t believe and live this, you are living in defeat; the battle is for the mind, and the saved have ‘the mind of Christ’)

D His nature can overtake your nature (”be transformed by the renewing of your mind”)

E Practice makes perfect (overcome ‘wrong sex’ with ‘right sex’; he ordained your sexuality with your spouse!). In other words, get on and stay on the right path.

Parents, what ever is a hard subject for you when you were 13-years-old (or 8, or 28) is going to be a hard subject for you to address your child on if you haven't come to terms with the Lord on it.
If you are born again and have put all your junk before God for cleansing, and have thus been renewed in your mind by His Word and Spirit, You are clean. You are redeemed from your sin, including your sexual sin. Now go and sin no more.

Being free from it -- and knowing you are free, and accepting your freedom, -- you are now free to shape the sexuality of your children without guilt, shame, remorse or embarrassment.