I'll never forget that day at work when I was told I would lead counseling groups on sex education at the alternative school where I was a counselor.
"Why me?" I thought.
The truth? Because no one else wanted to do it.
Fast forward a number of years to life as a mom with two boys. I thought having gone through the experience of talking about all things uncomfortable in the past would prepare me to talk about sexuality with my own children. Wrong. It's just as uncomfortable. Perhaps even more so. I guess that's why we have developed all these code words and phrases to refer to such discussions. You know phrases such as: "the birds and the bees," "the facts of life," and "the talk."
But the truth is, it's so important. If there's one thing I learned from that experience as a counselor is how important it is that our children hear the truth about sexuality from us, their parents, and not from their friends or the culture around them.
First off, you should know, this is not a how-to book. It's not filled with example conversations and check-lists of what to say and not to say. There isn't even an age by age description of what's appropriate for children to learn at different ages and stages. Rather, this book is anchored in the grand story of redemption and helps parents give their children the big picture story of how we were created to love and be loved, what happened to sex and sexuality as a result of the fall, and what Jesus did to redeem and restore what was lost.
Part one of the book tells the Biblical story of sex and sexual identity. Sex was God's idea. It was his gift to us. Chapter one looks at sex and sexual identity in terms of what took place at creation. Next, the authors look at what happened in the fall when Adam and Eve sinned. God's good design for sex was broken as a result of sin. The authors take an honest look at the brokenness of sex and go through some of Scripture's hard stories including that of Tamar and Rahab. But they don't just tell the hard stories, they point to how God redeems such stories: both Rahab and Tamar are in the genealogy of Christ. The author's also speak to the parents reading the book who might bear shame for sexual sins in their past or brokenness over sins done against them with the hope of the gospel.
"We are truly satisfied only when our hearts are first satisfied in Christ's love for us. Sex is meant to bring pleasure, but only the love of Christ brings identity. When we forget about the love of Christ or when we look to sex to define who we are, we will end up distorting it. We will use it in ways that it was not meant to be used." (p.64)
Part two addresses sexuality in our culture, with particular focus on friendship among teens, the influence of social media, and pornography. The way teens view friendship with others shapes their view of sex. The authors encourage parents to help their children see marriage as friendship and ultimately, how Christ is their perfect friend. Social media also shapes our children's view of themselves and sexuality. The authors encourage parents to remind their children of who they are in Christ, "Every time they go to social media to find their worth, every time they read the comments to be affirmed, you can remind them that through Jesus they have already received the most important comments they will ever read or hear. They are God's children. Adopted. Loved. Cared for. Gorgeous in his sight!" (p. 134) They also address the problem of pornography in our culture and encourage parents to have open conversations about it, teaching them of the dangers, as well as reminding them that all people are image bearers to be respected and not used for our pleasure.
Part 3 encourages parents to saturate all conversations with the gospel of grace. We need to teach our children about sexuality through the lens of the gospel. If we have children who have been tempted or fallen into sexual sin, we need to walk through it with them, in the hope of the gospel and with restoration as the goal.
Each chapter contains a word to moms from Jessica Thompson and a word to dads from Joel Fitzpatrick. There are also talking points at the end of each chapter of topics we need to talk about with our children.
"You and I both know how strong sexual desires are, and we need something even stronger to control us. Knowing the right thing to do doesn't stop us from doing the wrong thing. The only way to change our appetites or our desires is to totally and completely fall in love with Jesus and be totally and completely awestruck by his love for us." (p. 186)
I'm doing a giveaway over on my Facebook page. Leave a comment on the post about this book and you'll be entered. US residents only.
Note: I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for this review. The thoughts and opinions are my own. In addition, I am a member of the Amazon Affiliates program and links to books in this post are connected to my affiliates account with Amazon.com.