Recently my six-year-old came home from his Lutheran elementary school, and I overheard him ask his older siblings, “What is ‘adultery’?” Apparently his class was memorizing the Sixth Commandment, and he couldn’t figure out what it was actually about. It was an eye-opening moment for me as a parent because I realized that we are asking our kids to memorize the commandments but we may not always be taking that next step to explain what they mean. Even the very Lutheran “What does this mean?” is not actually that helpful to a young child. So . . . how can we address this topic with our kids? Read on for perspectives from two parents and for some suggestions of resources that also might help.
— Nicole Balza
GOD’S COMMANDMENTS protect God’s gifts. When teaching and discussing the Ten Commandments, we often put the emphasis on what God says not to do. Yes, the Ten Commandments are there to show us our sin so that we see our need for a Savior, but we can use this opportunity to show our children the blessings God gives and how he protects us through his laws. Teaching the Sixth Commandment gives us just that opportunity.
It seems easy for children to understand, “Do not lie,” “Do not steal,” or even “Put God first.” But “do not commit adultery”? What does that even mean to a small child?
I thought back to how we’ve handled the topics of sex, marriage, babies, and “the talk” with our children. As a mother of three girls now in their teen years, it wasn’t always easy to navigate such conversations. In their childlike innocence, my daughters would often tell me they didn’t want to get married because they didn’t want to go through the pain of having babies. It was sweet that they believed it had to happen that way—like there was no other way than to be married first. I think they saw it this way because of the example they had in their own lives. They also regularly heard the truth from God’s Word. I told them that children are a gift of marriage and that it will all be worth it.
So how do you teach the Sixth Commandment to your young ones? Ask yourself, “What is God protecting in this commandment?” Be honest with your children and answer their questions truthfully, especially when it comes to what the Bible says. It is equally important to keep it in terms that are appropriate for their age and development. I believe that if we start the conversations when they are young, the conversations will be easier as they grow and as the questions and answers become more complicated.
When it comes to the law and God’s commands, put the focus on what God is protecting and the blessings that come rather than emphasizing what not to do. The Sixth Commandment is all about God’s gift of family. In Genesis we’re told, “The Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone’ ” (2:18). God created us. He knows what is best for us. God designed marriage for us because he loves us enough to give us companionship. God says, “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). This means that they are now a new family and that nothing should take them apart. When it comes to marriage, God puts it in simple terms: one man and one woman united for life. God is protecting family.
Ultimately, it always comes back to this: We tell our children the message of sin and grace. We sin. Jesus didn’t. Jesus came and kept each and every part of God’s law perfectly in our place. At the end of the day, always give them Jesus!
THE BIRDS AND THE BEES. Where babies come from. “The talk.”
It can be awkward and uncomfortable for parents and kids alike to have discussions about sex. But you can be sure that if you don’t teach them, someone else will. Satan is itching to influence our kids through friends, movies, and the internet. So let’s have a godly influence on our kids while we can. Here are my five tips for talking to your kids about sex.
Start early and talk often
Don’t wait until your kids are in high school to have “the talk.” That’s too late. Talk about God’s design for our bodies and the differences between boys and girls when your kids are still little. Keep it age appropriate, obviously. (When they’re young, you only need to answer the questions they ask.) But “the talk” isn’t a one-and-done conversation. (“Phew! Glad I never have to do that again!”) So plan for it. Set aside time to talk to your kids openly and honestly. If you haven’t started early and your kids are teens, that’s okay. Better late than never.
Focused on Christ, we can talk about more than just the “what” and the “how” of sex but also the “why.”
Don’t treat it as dirty
The way our bodies are made, as male or female, is by God’s design. “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14). That design is amazing! Can you imagine if I could invent a car that could self-heal the way our bodies do? I’d be a billionaire! And that design includes our sex and sexuality, the way we procreate, and our sexual desires. These are not shameful and shouldn’t be treated as such. But as with medicine or fire, we need to teach our kids to use them properly and responsibly, lest what is meant as a blessing harms or even kills body or soul.
Focus on Christ
Maybe it’s hard for some to talk about this subject because they haven’t always used God’s gift of sex properly. Take heart! Jesus never lusted, and he gave his perfection to you! Jesus paid for all sins on the cross, including sexual sins. Rejoice that you’re forgiven. Remind your kids that they will find forgiveness in Jesus. Teach them that forgiveness is what motivates us to want to live for him. If our talk about this subject is all in the realm of the law, it’s no wonder people come to think of sex as dirty or shameful. Let’s talk about sins against the Sixth Commandment, but let’s also talk about the Savior who redeemed us.
Focused on Christ, we can talk about more than just the “what” and the “how” of sex but also the “why.” Why do we want to treat sex with special modesty and as the sacred thing that it is? Because “you are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies” (1 Corinthians 6:19,20). God not only made us, but when we rebelled, he redeemed us. We are twice owned by him. Let’s honor him with our bodies.
No, I don’t mean just make your spouse do “the talk” if you promise to teach the kids how to drive. I mean look for resources by others who have gone before you and done this already. Other Christian parents have already done this well. Learn from them as you talk to your kids about sex.
Authors: Multiple authors
Volume 108, Number 2
Issue: February 2021
- Parent conversations: How can parents and kids manage stress?
- Parent conversations: What do your prayers for your children include?
- Parent conversations: How do we resist making our parenting law-based?
- Parent conversations: What Bible passages do you turn to most as a parent?
- Parent conversations: How can we help kids develop positive, healthy habits?
- Parent conversations: What tactics do you use to encourage children to tackle difficult tasks?
- Parent conversations: How can we model good listening skills for our kids?
- Parent conversations: How do we help our kids move on from mistakes?
- Parent conversations: How can we instill gratitude in our children?
- Parent conversations: How can parents find the balance between being too restrictive and too permissive?
- Parent conversations: How can we teach kids to be good friends?
- Parent conversations: What life skills will help young people as they transition to adulthood?
- Parent conversations: How do we discuss death with our children?
- Parent conversations: What does it look like for a father to be a strong Christian leader?
- Parent conversations: How can we help young adults stay engaged in the church?
- Parent conversations: What do parents need to know about video games?
- Parent conversations: How do parents not let worry get the best of them?
- Parent conversations: How do we teach our kids to value all people?
- Parent conversations: When parenting philosophies differ
- Parent conversations: How can we help today’s overwhelmed teens?
- Parent conversations: How can parents maintain a healthy marriage?
- Parent conversations: You might be a Lutheran parent if . . .
- Parent conversations: Parenting post–high school: What is a parent’s role?
- Parent conversations: How can families use the hymnal in their worship life at home?
- Parent conversations: What should Christian parents teach their children about gender?
- Parent conversations: What is vocation? How does it apply to parenting?
- Parent conversations: Why do siblings fight? How should I react when they are fighting?
- Parent conversations: How do we teach children resilience?
- Parent conversations: How do I approach vaccines as a Christian parent?
- Parent conversations: How can I explain the Sixth Commandment to a young child?
- Parent conversations: How can I help my child have an optimistic outlook?
- Parent conversations: What if we can’t follow our Christmas traditions this year?
- Parent conversations: What are ways to foster a rich prayer life in children?
- Parent conversations: How can I let the gospel shine as I parent?
- Parent conversations: How should I handle a child’s separation anxiety?
- Parent conversations: How should families prepare to go back to school?
- Parent conversations: How does a teen’s brain work?
- Parent conversations: How much should I monitor my child online?
- Parent conversations: How can parents reassure children during an uncertain time?
- Parent conversations: How can I stay calm when my child is out of control?
- Parent conversations: Should I give something up for Lent?
- Parent conversations: How can I keep my child engaged in attending church?
- Parent conversations: How can we help a stressed-out kid?
- Parent conversations: How can we nurture a proper view of “stuff”?
- Parent conversations: How involved should parents be in a child’s homework?
- Heart to heart: Parent conversations: Are we modeling kindness for our children?
- Heart to heart: Parent conversations: What’s the best parenting advice you’ve received or given?
- Heart to heart: Parent conversations: How should we handle it when people undermine our parenting decisions?
- Parent conversations: How can we prepare children for summer camp?
- Heart to heart: Parent conversations: What’s a parent’s role as a child dates?
- Heart to heart: Parent conversations: How do parents find contentment?
- Heart to heart: Parent conversations: How can we help a family with a sick parent?
- Heart to heart: Parent conversations: How can parents model healthy cell phone use?
- Parent conversations: How can we protect kids without scaring them?
- Parent conversations: What does your family’s bedtime routine look like?
- Parent conversations: What do I need to consider before I give my child a cell phone?
- Parent conversations: How can we teach gentleness and strength at the same time?
- Parent conversations: What should we do when our children grow silent?
- Parent conversations: What should we teach our children about the Reformation?
- Parent conversations: How can we raise a generation that cherishes life?
- Parent conversations: How does a parent’s role change over time?
- Parent conversations: How should I handle a disagreement with my child’s teacher?
- Parent conversations: What are the building blocks of a strong parent/child relationship?
- Parent conversations: What is our goal as parents?
- Parent conversations: What Christmas traditions do you cherish in your family?
- Parent conversations: What are the best Bible story books for family devotions?