From One Parent to Another: Talking to Your Kids About Lust
Navigating the Tween and Teen Years Together
Disclaimer: This blog does discusses the topics of lust, purity, physical desires, pornography, masterbation, and sex.
I think being the parent of a teen has always been challenging, but today’s world presents some unique ones for sure. I by no means have this thing figure out, but God has allowed me to be involved in education for many years and is now allowing me to study counseling. I am around tweens and teens most days and this gives me a view into their world. Please feel free to reach out if you have any questions. I’m happy to help you find the answers you need.
My heart’s desire is to share information that gives you some tools to be able to start conversations with your kiddos. I think we all know that as parents, we should revisit some of these ideas over and over again. Remember the toddler and preschool years and how often we had to remind them to not draw on the wall, not tear up the book, or not bite the dog? Well, these kinds of reminders are back but the topics are much weightier. Our students are beginning to practice for adulthood. We need to give them room to explore their world but stay connected enough to know what’s going on and be able to correct their course as needed.
This past Sunday we talked about the 7th commandment, “You shall not commit adultery.” Beyond the teaching of scripture, why do we need to talk to our kids, and keep talking to our kids, about sex and pornography? Here are just a few statistics taken from this article.
• Young Americans do not think pornography is a negative thing. When they speak about pornography with friends, 90 percent of teens (ages 13 to 17) and 96 percent of young adults (ages 18 to 24) say they do so in a neutral, accepting, or encouraging way.
• Sixty-six percent of teens and young adults have received a sexually explicit image via text and 41 percent have sent one.
• Thirty-three percent of women ages 13 to 24 seek out porn at least once per month. (And the statistic for men is even higher.)
And just yesterday, Feed Youth Ministries shared that 56% of U.S. Christian teens believe it is ok to have sex before marriage. These are real issues that our kids are facing and we need to be prepared to help them understand what it looks like to believe in and follow God in today’s world.
I’ve written the following section for our students (You should look through the section first, before you pass it along for them to read), but I want them to have an adult to talk to about what it shares. I don’t know how you’ve talked about sex with your child, and I want you to be able to share with them when and where you want; I want to provide a tool to help start or continue the conversation, not dictate how you should parent. I know some of your students might not be mature enough to read the section below, but that does not mean you avoid this conversation. Your children are hearing about sex. If it is not from you, it is from their friends and the world. I think the best thing for us, as parents is to introduce this topic ourselves in order for our children to have the proper framework. Without us setting the parameters, they will begin to be curious about the things they have heard. This curiosity can lead down some dark paths. When you have read the student section below, here is a button that will take you to a link with just the student part. You can copy this link and send it to your children directly. I pray this is helpful to you and your tweens and teens. Please feel free to reach out to Jordan or myself if you ever need anything!
For Your Students: You shall not commit adultery. (Exodus 20:14)
Hmmmmm. As a student, this is another commandment that seems pretty straight forward, right? How can you even do this? You’re not married; many of you haven’t even started dating yet. But, when we look at what Jesus says in Matthew 5, it changes things a bit. Even the youngest in our group has noticed a cute girl, a hot guy, has probably wondered what it’s like to hold hands with someone, or even kiss them. You’ve heard things at school about what a couple did together. You’ve possibly received a “sext,” or even seen something that is considered pornography. These things all have to do with what Jesus was teaching on. Now, is having these thoughts alone a sin? Probably not because these desires are something God has given us. But, when they are allowed to take control of our minds, and then move us to desires and actions, then, we are probably moving into the realm of sinning.
But, you say, “If God has given me these desires, why is acting on them, embracing them, a sin?” I’ll explain but let me paint a picture first. Think about fire. Are there times fire is beautiful, necessary, and a very good thing? Are there also times that fire is very dangerous, that it can quickly get out of control, and become very destructive? Even if you never touch a fire, is it possible to get burned? But, doesn’t fire also provide warmth and sometimes even protection? I believe you all probably answered yes to all of those questions.
Now, I want to talk about that thing you’ve all been hoping I wouldn’t mention – sex. But, we’re going to talk about it for a just moment. Sex is like fire in that within the context that God created it (Yes, God made sex and sexual desires… mind blowing, I know) it is a VERY GOOD THING. It provides things in a marriage relationship that nothing else can and teaches us things about God we can’t learn anywhere else. But, like fire, when taken out of a safe place, or if it is used improperly, it can be very dangerous, and even destructive. There are many consequences we can face if we don’t abide by the guidelines, rules for lack of a better word, that God gives us in the Scriptures. These guidelines define what it means to live a pure life. But even knowing all this, sexual temptations is often VERY hard to flee from.
I hope you’ve seen as we have talked about the other commandments that simply “following the rules” isn’t exactly what God is after. Even if we never have sex before we are married, or never look at pornography, it is possible to fall into sexual sin, to break the 7th commandment. Especially when we look at what Jesus taught in the New Testament, we see that God cares not only about our actions but also about our thoughts and feelings, about the state of our hearts. So, how does purity become an issue of the heart?
I believe what God really desires in our pursuit of purity is an absolute dependence on him to satisfy us. When we take the satisfaction of our desires into our own hands, we don’t get to experience and enjoy God in the ways he intends. The world says that we should watch porn, use masterbation (self pleasuring), making out, or engage in sex with another to satisfy these urges and desires. But when we do that, we circumvent the pathways God has for meeting our needs. We also miss out on opportunities to grow in the things of God, in the things that he teaches us in waiting for his will to come about. Pursuing purity is about trusting God to provide for you when you need it, how you needed it, and exactly the way He wants to. Purity requires faith that these desires won’t over take us and trusting that God really is enough.
It is important to have a plan, to know what you will do, BEFORE you are faced with sexual temptation. Begin now by talking to the adults in your life about what purity means and how to face the temptations that are around you. Pray now that God would help you make right choices and that He would help you know how to flee from the temptations that will arise. And remember, you are not alone! If you are a believer, the Holy Spirit is IN you! He is ready and willing to come to your aide whenever you need it. And there are adults all around you, that love you, and care about you, and are willing to listen and answer your questions.
Questions to consider…
Take some time to think through these and talk about them with your parent or another trusted adult.
• What questions do you have about what you just read? Seek answers from an adult you trust, NOT the internet or your friends.
• Do you know what pornography is? Have you ever encountered it? What did you do when you saw it? How do you think God wants you to respond?
• Knowing what God desires for you, what are some things you can do to pursue purity?