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.

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