Do you remember the days when your parents worried about you talking to your boyfriend on the family phone? Or the outrage against the sexual messages portrayed on MTV? Although our parents had legitimate concerns, the issues they faced seem laughable compared to the challenge of raising children in 2018. Sexting, pornography, hooking up, gender confusion, sexual predators …these are the overwhelming fears that haunt today’s parents.
As a mom of three teen/young adult sons, I cling to biblical promises like: Fear not, for I am with you. Be not dismayed, for I am your God. These promises remind me that God is neither surprised nor overwhelmed by the challenges facing our families. I believe He is able and willing to equip us to navigate the sexual chaos of our time. Here are three important things to keep in mind as you strive to become a mom fully engaged in the real-life issues your teen is facing.
Think discipleship, not sex ed.
Sometimes we get the cart before the horse. We so badly want to insulate our kids from the evils of the world that we forget the great commission. Your primary job as a parent is not to raise well-behaved kids who walk down the aisle as virgins. God has called you to make disciples. What does that mean? It means teaching, modeling, and walking with your children in such a way that they will want to follow Jesus Christ. Discipleship is not primarily about behavior. It’s about the direction of your teen’s heart. The goal is not just to keep your kids from sex and porn. It is to shape their hearts and affections to want what is good and hate what is evil. Discipleship is continual, not just an annual conversation about sex. It is a relationship, not a curriculum. It is authentic, wrestling with real-life issues, not simply presenting an ideal. Your teen needs a safe place to talk about sexual longings, God’s love for homosexuals, and the world’s persistent messages that everyone is having sex. Discipleship means you create that safe place.
Remember the gospel.
While the average Christian parent is well-equipped to explain “the gospel,” rarely do we apply the foundational principles of what we believe to practical challenges in parenting. Here’s an example. The Bible tells us that we are sinful and rebellious in nature. Given the choice, none of us will choose to worship and serve God. It is only through the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit and the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross that we can be cleansed by sin. So why are we shocked that 13-year-old Josh who goes to youth group and loves his parents still chooses to look at naked girls? When our teenagers choose sin, this gives us the chance to share the message of salvation in a way that intersects with their real-life experiences. God’s grace is just a churchy concept until our children actually encounter it. I believe that the sexual temptations and struggles our sons and daughters face are very practical ways to teach them the truth that they cannot be “good” in their own strength. They need God’s grace and the forgiveness He offers.
You can’t pass on what you don’t possess.
As William Wallace’s famous poem proclaims, “The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.” Sexual healing and truth will not infiltrate our world until it first impacts the hearts of women. Traveling around the US, I’ve met thousands of godly, Christian moms who carry secrets, shame, and questions about their own sexuality. These obstacles keep us from effectively ministering to our families. To be change agents, we must first be changed by God’s grace and rooted in biblical truth. God will use you to impact your children, your husband, and your community in profound ways, but not until He has first redeemed your sexuality.
You may be alarmed at the shifting landscape of what is considered normal and moral related to sexual choices. But let’s be honest. Christian parents (and even churches) have historically been limited and ineffective in how they approach sexual issues. The current sexual culture demands that we proactively pursue and then teach a comprehensive biblical view of sexuality. It’s time to raise the level of our game. We are, perhaps, more aware than ever of our need to know God, to understand His design for sexuality, and to experience in our lives His saving power and grace.
More about Rethinking Sexuality
Sexual abuse, sex addiction, gender confusion, brokenness, and shame plague today’s world, and people are seeking clarity and hope. By contesting long-held cultural paradigms, this book equips you to see how sexuality is rooted in the broader context of God’s heart and his work for us on earth.
It provides a framework from which to understand the big picture of sexual challenges and wholeness and helps you recognize that every sexual question is ultimately a spiritual one. It shifts the paradigm from combating sexual problems to confidently proclaiming and modeling the road to sacred sexuality.
Instead of arguing with the world about what’s right and wrong about sexual choices, this practical resource equips you to share the love and grace of Jesus as you encounter the pain of sexual brokenness – your own or someone else’s.
Dr. Juli Slattery is a clinical psychologist, author, speaker and the president/co-founder of Authentic Intimacy. Juli earned her college degree at Wheaton College, an MA in psychology from Biola University, an MS and a Doctorate degree in Clinical Psychology from Florida Institute of Technology.
From 2008-2012, Dr. Slattery served at Focus on the Family writing, teaching, and co-hosting the Daly Focus on the Family broadcast. In 2012, she left Focus on the Family to start Authentic Intimacy, a ministry devoted to reclaiming God’s design for intimacy.
Juli is the author of ten books, the host of the weekly podcast “Java with Juli” and a member of the board of trustees for Moody Bible Institute. Juli and her husband Mike are the parents of 3 sons; they live in Akron, Ohio.