Sex tends to get relegated to its own category in life. 

We understand that kids learn about math, for example, from all sorts of life experiences and learning opportunities. Science is all around us, and social skills can be developed while doing just about anything. 

But sex? 

That’s for a fidgety kid and a nervous parent to talk about in hushed tones after some sort of embarrassing incident or uncomfortable school assignment. 

With three kids in their upper teen years, I’m realizing there are many ways kids can and should be learning about sex. It’s not necessary to use the word, and the connection between the topic of the moment and the child’s concept of sex isn’t always obvious. But many categories of Biblical teaching and everyday conversations contribute to a child’s concept of sex.

Here are a few examples to illustrate what I mean (and to get you thinking creatively!)— 

1. The Creation story

If possible, I think it’s always best to start with the Bible! And why not at the very beginning of the Bible?

In the beautiful creation story of Genesis 1 and 2, you can find rich material to teach the immense value of gender. When God created humankind in His own image (wow!), he did so in two different genders.

Somehow, this more fully expresses His image than if He had only created one gender.

Being male or female is a gift from the all-powerful Creator to each person born on this earth. I don’t believe we can overstate the importance of this conviction in the heart of a child as they eventually learn more about their own sexuality and the opposite gender.

It is very good that women and men exist together as image bearers of God.

2. Jesus’ conversations with women

There are so many things we could pull from different parts of Scripture, and I hope you’ll explore them with your family! But I want to skip ahead to the New Testament and Jesus’ life on earth.

Have you ever noticed Jesus’ interactions with women? The next time you need a new book of the Bible to read through in family devotions, why not choose Luke? As you read, try to point out the respect and friendship Jesus showed to the women in His life.

Jesus never engaged in a sexual relationship with any woman during His earthly life, but he modeled how the sexes should view one another and interact with each other. 

3. Body image issues

As a child grows up, he or she will develop a perspective of his own body which includes aspects of value, attractiveness, function, etc. Many body image struggles result in sexuality issues of some sort, so it’s crucial for a child to have a healthy self-image of the body as he or she grows up. 

A child that sees his or her body as… 

  • the temple of the Holy Spirit
  • created to glorify God and reflect His image
  • affected by sin but not a slave to sin if he or she is trusting in Christ

will be equipped to deal with physical insecurities the right way. Instead of seeking approval from peers in order to feel good about themselves, he or she will be able to frame comments or feelings in the context of God’s good and purposeful design. This includes God’s design for sex (beautiful in marriage, dangerous and unsatisfying outside of it). Conversations about the body that don’t include the word sex are still forming a child’s perspective on sex.

Conversations... that don't include the word sex are still forming a child's perspective on sex.

4. Weddings, divorces, and scandals

When a Christian family attends a Christian wedding, it’s prime time for “God’s plan for sex” conversations— without even mentioning sex! Maybe something like this:

“Hey, do you all know why Alex is marrying Jessica today? Did you know that God planned for a man to ask a woman to marry him so they can become one person together in a way? And when they do that, and they live together and don’t hide anything from each other, and want to serve God together, they glorify God in a very special way.” 

Our kids will also see difficult situations like divorce, teenage pregnancy, and abuse. Our children’s awareness of sin and tragic consequences can provide tender, heart-rending opportunities to impress on them God’s holy design and the terrible results of not following His way. 

Sex, and all parts of life affected by it, can be seen as a good gift of God while still understanding how tragic its misuse can be. 

5. Pleasure and delayed gratification

We’ve all had to tell hungry kids, “No, you can’t have a cookie right now. Dinner is almost ready!”

 What can such a mundane interaction teach our children about sex?

When we teach our children about delayed gratification, we help them discern between healthy enjoyment of God-given pleasures and potentially harmful, unhealthy pursuits of pleasure.

Food, recreation, and sex are gifts from God that provide pleasure and gratification. None of us are born with the ability to discern wisely how to enjoy these gifts in a way that honors God and also brings the greatest true pleasure. We tell ourselves lies about how much satisfaction something will bring us— when our experience has already taught us otherwise.

Our children will continue to live this way unless we teach and train them to choose the harder— but in the long run more pleasurable— route to gratification. This is the root of sex education!

Get creative, friends!

I’ve only scratched the surface here. Everyday life offers so many opportunities to teach our children about sex, sexuality, gender and pleasure in a godly, biblical and healthy way. Don’t relegate “sex education” only to specific, planned conversations about sex— though those are necessary, too! I hope this brief article gets you started on lots of creative ideas for helping your children develop a God-honoring view of sex.