Education Matters: Why Education Needs to be Part of Your Churches Ministry to the Next Generation

Education matters. That’s a phrase that just about every Christian agrees with. Education matters because it influences what children believe, who they become, the choices they make, the friends they choose, and demands thirty-five hours a week of a child’s time for eight months of the year.

Yet, you wouldn’t know this at most churches. Education is overlooked, under-valued and the topic is ignored with a fervor so as not to offend parents. To speak about education is equivalent to blasphemy in many churches. An elder from a church I pastored told me, “You are not allowed to talk about education.” The common sentiment is to respect all educational choice as there is no one right decision for all parents.

Nicole Fulgham, author of Schools in Crisis, embraces the idea that there is no Christian view on education. She states, “There is certainly not a monolithic viewpoint that represents the ‘Christian’ point of view on public education.”[1] Tim Challies shares a similar perspective, “I find myself grappling with this thought: What if God doesn’t care a whole lot about how we educate our children?…One thing I’ve never heard anyone suggest is that maybe it’s just not that big of a deal. And, honestly, I am beginning to learn that way.”[2]

What if Fulgham and Challies are wrong? What if God does care about how we educate our children? What if there is a biblical perspective on education? Wouldn’t it be good for parents to know this and for churches to address the topic?

What does the Bible say about education?

Many people believe the Bible has little or nothing to say about education because the term never appears in Scripture. We only find a single reference to the word school in Scripture, Samuel’s school of the prophets.[3] Despite this reality, the Bible has a lot to say about education. The Bible has many other ways of referring to education such as knowledge, teach, learn, instruct, think, and mind. Here is a sample of what Scripture says about education:

  • Knowledge: The core task of education is to lead a child from ignorance to knowledge. The Bible’s chief concern in education is the knowledge of God, which is contrasted with foolishness (Prov. 1:7). Apart from God, knowledge cannot be properly understood and foolishness abounds. The Bible provides guidance regarding how to navigate godless knowledge. We are told, “Have nothing to do with godless myths” (1 Tim. 4:7). “Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called ‘knowledge,’ for by professing it some have swerved from the faith” (1 Tim. 6:20-21). Knowledge is never neutral; it is for or against God. “We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Cor. 10:4-5).
  • Teach: The Hebrew language is rich in words that have to do with instruction; at least thirty-four root words imply the idea of teaching, and the words teach and teacher are used in the Bible over 350 times. Biblical education is focused on the task of teaching the knowledge of God and obedience to His law to the next generation. The Bible is prescriptive regarding what children are to be taught. Here is a sampling of what God commands:

    • God’s law. “Teach them [God’s laws] to your children and children’s children” (Deut. 4:9). “Teach them diligently to your children” (Deut. 6:7). “You shall teach them [God’s laws] to your children” (Deut. 11:9).

    • God’s work and character. “One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts” (Ps. 145:4) “Tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might, and the wonders that he has done…which he commanded our fathers to teach to their children…so that they set their hope in God and not forget the works of God” (Ps. 78:5-6).

    • God’s Word. “How from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings [the Bible], which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching…” (2 Tim. 3:15-16). “Command and teach them these things” (2 Tim. 4:11).

    • The fear of God. “Come, O children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord” (Ps. 34:11).

      • Learn: The words learn, learned, and learning appears in the Bible over 100 times. The Bible is concerned with what we learn. Christians are to learn to revere God (Duet. 14:23), to fear God (Deut. 31:12), to serve God (2 Chron. 12:8), what is good (Job 34:4; Titus 3:14), God’s righteous laws (Ps. 119:7), His decrees and commands (Ps. 119:71-73), prudence (Prov. 19:25), to do right (Is. 1:17), to control ones body (1 Thess. 4:4), to praise God (Ps. 89:15), wisdom (Prov. 30:3), the meaning and purpose of life (Eccl. 1:17), contentment (Phil. 4:11), and to learn the Gospel (2 Tim. 3:14-16). If God commands his followers to learn these things, doesn’t it make sense to choose to educate our children so that they learn these very truths?

      • Instruct: The Bible provides guidance about who is to instruct a child. Jesus states, “A student [disciple] when he is fully trained will be like his teacher” (Luke 6:40). The biblical principle to recognize is that teachers reproduce themselves in their students. Children absorb the beliefs, values, and views of the teacher. Biblically, parents are given the role of educating a child (Eph. 6:4).

      • Think: The Bible teaches “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he” (Prov. 23:7). What a child thinks about, he or she becomes. What does the Bible want us to think about? Here is how the Bible answers that question, “Meditate on God’s Word day and night” (Joshua 1:8). “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (Phil. 4:8). Lastly, “Do not be conformed to the world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Rom. 12:1-2).

      The biblical vision for a child’s education is centered on and saturated with God’s Word, God’s laws, God’s works, God’s character, the fear of God, and godly living. Many parents believe the fallacy that they can obey these passages of Scripture by teaching their children at home on the evenings and weekends, despite sending their children to a school that teaches God is irrelevant, even non-existent, and instructs children in secular morality and unbiblical ideas. Individuals who do this, compartmentalize education in a way the Bible never does and fail to understand there is no distinction between faith and learning. When education is viewed as reading, writing, and math while discipleship is seen as character formation, spiritual disciplines, and sharing faith—we create a false dichotomy the Bible never does and provide our children with an education that is foreign to Scripture.

      Why Include Education in Your Ministry to the Next Generation?

      More than ever, Christians need to know what the Bible teaches about the education of children and put it into practice. Unfortunately, many Christians have adopted a cultural perspective for the purpose and practice of education. The Christian community needs a renewed biblical vision for the education of the next generation. The Bible reminds us that “Where there is no vision, the people perish” (Prov. 29:18). It is critical that Christians capture a biblical vision for a child’s education. Parents need guidance from church leaders how to think biblically about education. Here are five reasons to include education in your ministry to children and youth:

      1. A Biblical Mandate: We must begin with Scripture and ask what are the biblical principles about education. God has given clear guidance in the Bible what, who, why, and how to teach children. God commands us to teach children His laws, His character, and His Word (Deut. 4:9; Ps. 78:4-8; Eph. 6:4). According to the Bible, God did not give the government the role of educating children. Education is a parent’s responsibility, with the support of grandparents and the church. Parents are to instruct children in the Lord, teach them God’s laws, and train a child to apply God’s truth to life. Parents have the freedom to partner with others to educate a child, but must do so in accordance with the principles given in the Bible.

      2. The Incredible Impact: Education is a powerful influence in the life of children. Children will spend 16,000 hours at school between K-12, considerably more time than in church. If pastors are serious about shepherding a child’s heart, then education is a non-negotiable aspect of ministry to the next generation. Modern day public education has scores of secular presuppositions underneath it, which are not understood or recognized by the majority of Christian parents. The approach of trying to overlay Christian beliefs to humanistic education is not successful for the majority of parents, nor is it biblical. Pastors are shepherds called to not only feed the flock entrusted to their care, but also protect the flock from false doctrine and wolves that would destroy faith in Christ. 
      1. A Means of Evangelism and Discipleship: Biblically, education is discipleship. It shapes what a child believes and who a child becomes. Christian education plays a critical role proclaiming the gospel to children, immersing children in gospel truth, training children for gospel living, and sending out children to transform culture through the power of the gospel. Paul reminds us of the critical importance of the centrality of Scripture in the education of children, “From childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 3:15). When the church separated itself from the education of the next generation, it forfeited its position of influence in a child’s life and have steadily lost our children to the world in increasing numbers.

      2. Christ-Centered Relationships. Godly relationships with teachers and friends encourage wise choices, holy living, and obedience to God. God reminds us, “Bad company corrupts good character” (1 Cor. 15:33) and “The student is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher” (Luke 6:40).
      1. A Priority in Church History: There is a long list of Christian leaders in church history who have emphasized the importance of Christian education and believed it was a critical component of their mission and ministry. They believed the church and Christian school were united in ministry and mutually dependent upon one another. For example, “The great church reformers—Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Knox, Ulrich Zwingli, and others—gave as much energy to establishing Christian schools as they gave to reforming the church. To them Christian school education and church reform were inseparable allies. Neither, they believed, could succeed without the other.”[4] Martin Luther was a champion of Christian education. He states, “When schools prosper, the church remains righteous and her doctrine pure…Young pupils and students are the seed and source of the church. If we were dead, whence would come our successors. If not from the schools? For the sake of the church we must have and maintain Christian schools.”[5]

      Many Christians are uncertain why we educate a child, the purpose and goal of education, who is given the responsibility in Scripture, and how we are to accomplish the task. As a result, many Christians have unintentionally adopted an unbiblical view of education and take their educational cues from culture rather than Scripture. Pastors have an incredible opportunity to cast a biblical vision for the education of the next generation and help parent think biblically about a topic that is critically important to the evangelism and discipleship of the next generation. If you believe education matters, then it is time to prioritize it in your ministry to the next generation.

       

      [1] Nicole Baker Fulgham, Schools in Crisis: They Need Your Help (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2013), 27.

      [2] Tim Challies, https://www.challies.com/articles/what-if-god-doesnt-care-a-whole-lot-about-how-you-educate-your-children/

      [3] Samuel G. Kahn, A Short History of Christian Education (Jerusalem: Yesodot Publishers, 1960), 116.

      [4] Paul A. Kienel, A History of Christian School Education vol. 1 (Colorado Springs, CO: Purposeful Design Publications, 1998), xvi.

      [5] F.V.N. Painter, Luther on Education (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1889), 132-133.

Is Same-Sex Attraction a Sin?

“Is same-sex attraction a sin?” This question was asked by a pastor to a group of high school students as part of a talk on sexual identity. My son attends this group, and after inquiring what would be talked about, the pastor invited me to join the group for the evening, so I did. His talk needed much clarity, so for my sons sake and others, I decided to write this post. His premise was three-fold. First, homosexuality is a sin. Second, the Bible does not address same-sex attraction. And third, same-sex attraction is not a sin. Let’s look at each of these briefly.

Homosexuality is a Sin

The Bible is clear that homosexuality is a sin. Of course, making that statement is about as enjoyable as a doctor telling a patient she has cancer. And it is received with the same range of emotions. Some weep. Others rage. And we are seeing both occur when brave men and women state what the Bible says, that homosexuality is a sin. But in case you are new to the topic, Leviticus 18:22 states, “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.” In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul identifies homosexuality as sin in Romans 1:26-27 and in 1 Timothy 1:10.

Homosexuality, according to Romans 1:21-25, is the consequence of another more serious problem, which is idolatry. Here is the problem in a nutshell: humans spurn the Creator, refusing to glorify God or give Him thanks and worship creation instead of the Creator. Paul tells us that when people exchange the glory of God for creation that they exchange the truthfulness of God for a lie. God gives humans over to their own selfish desires, one of which is the manifestation of homosexuality. God giving individuals over to the depravity of their lusts is, in part, His judgment upon someone. The point of Romans 1:21-25 is not primarily that same-sex temptation and acts are a perversion of God’s good design. This is, of course, a true principle that comes from this passage. However, the main point that we must understand is that homosexuality is God’s act of judgment for idolatry.

Most of us probably know a family member or friend who is actively living in homosexual sin. If we wish to help them, which we should, then what they need is not therapeutic counseling or kid glove coddling. Their soul is in danger of hell and we must treat them with compassion but also great concern. Romans 1 tells us that homosexuality isn’t the problem. Worship is. Homosexuality exists because the worship of God does not. So this tells us where we need to direct our efforts. If we want to see a homosexual person turn from his or her sin, then we need to help them see and savor the greatness of God and beauty of Christ. What is needed is heart change based on repentance of sin and a new affection for Christ. Sin withers only when the Gospel is brought to bear on it. Thomas Chalmers states,

“There is not one personal transformation in which the heart is left without an object of ultimate beauty and joy. The hearts desire for one particular object can be conquered, but its desire to have some object is unconquerable. The only way to disposes the old heart of an object of affection is by the expulsive power of a new one” (The Expulsive Power of a New Affection).

Sin can only be conquered when Jesus is savored as more beautiful and satisfying than the sin. The Gospel motivates us to say no to sin rather than, “I can sin because I will be forgiven later.” We hate sin because God died for it and because we know that God never lets us sin successfully. So the point here is that we must wholeheartedly recognize that homosexuality is a sin. But we must go deeper. We must see that it is a result of idolatry and deal with the root issue.

Same-Sex Attraction in the Bible

The pastor’s second premise was that the Bible does not deal with same-sex attraction. This is about as true as saying the Bible doesn’t have anything to say about education, grandparenting, or the Trinity. If we pull out our trusty concordance, we will find that these words are rather scarce, even absent from the Bible all together. The same is true of same-sex attraction. Should we assume that the Bible is silent on this subject? To make such an assumption is erroneous. The Bible has a lot to say about education, grandparenting, and the Trinity as well as many other subjects that we will not find by name in a concordance. The problem isn’t the silence of Scripture, the issue is an exegetical fallacy of presupposing our own category or terminology on Scripture, not finding it, and claiming it isn’t present.

This is much the same as me trying to locate my son in our home and asking the other children where I may find Frank. To which they would tell me that Frank doesn’t live at this house and would tell me to look elsewhere. But if I asked my children where I may find Jay, they could point me in the right direction, maybe even tell me what room he is in, because his name is Jay not Frank. We must know the Bible’s name or category for a particular topic in order to properly find it. If we misname it or miscategorize it, we will think the Bible is silent when in fact it is not. The Bible’s name for same-sex attraction is sexual temptation. Once we understand this, suddenly the Bible has a lot to say about same-sex attraction.

Same-Sex Attraction is a Temptation to be Fought

This brings us to the third point, that same-sex attraction is not sin. On the surface, this is a difficult subject to gain clarity about. But when we address this topic using biblical language, it clears up the fog considerably. Let us ask the question on the Bible’s terms. Is same-sex temptation a sin? Now we have a category from which to answer this question from Scripture.

There is a biblical category for being tempted without sinning. It is true to say that temptation itself is not sin. James 1:14-15 makes a distinction between temptation that leads to sin and the sin itself. The feelings of same-sex attraction are not always active sin, but it is a desire for something sinful, so we must take great care with how we navigate this topic.

In Matthew 5:27-28, Jesus equated lust with adultery. This establishes an important biblical principle: if it is a sin to do something, it is also a sin to desire to do that same thing. Any desire for something God has forbidden is sin. Because the Bible states that homosexuality is a sin, it is also sinful to desire to commit homosexual acts.

Same-sex attraction becomes sin if it turns into lust. Once the attraction turns into a desire to do something sexually that God forbids, it has become sin in the heart. It is not wrong to think another person is attractive, but where is the line between attraction becoming lust? Same-sex attraction is a desire for something God has forbidden, and as such, it should not become a fire that we feed or a friend that is courted, but a temptation that is fought.

John Piper has some insightful words on the matter of same-sex attraction: “It would be right to say that same-sex desires are sinful in the sense that they are disordered by sin and exist contrary to God’s revealed will. But to be caused by sin and rooted in sin does not make a sinful desire equal to sinning. Sinning is what happens when rebellion against God expresses itself through our disorders” (Let Marriage Be Held in Honor).

Same-sex attraction is best understood as a temptation that can easily become a sin. If a thought or desire is allowed to turn into something more, it becomes a lustful sin. So what should a person do when a momentary same-sex attraction pops into his head? The Bible tells us to “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5). Here we get to the crux of the matter. Individuals need to be taught how to battle temptation, not coddle it.

How is the believer to defeat temptation? What does the Bible tell us to do with sexual temptation? The Bible tells us to flee from sin, to fight for purity, and to saturate our mind on God’s Word, guarding it from impurity. In sharp contrast to the world, God calls His people to be pure (1 Thess. 4:3-7). The Bible tells us that the heart is the battleground to conquer sexual sin, including same-sex attraction. To achieve victory, the focus must be on the internal first and then the external. Fighting against sexual sin and temptation is constant and difficult, but it is a battle that every believer can win if they rely upon the resources that God provides such as meditation on Scripture, devotion to prayer, and fellowship with the church. Christians of all ages need biblical tools to fight temptation so that we are not sent into battle without any weapons. 

In addition, the Bible speaks regularly about the consequences of sexual sin. In fact, this is one of the biblical methods of encouraging young people to defeat sexual temptation. Young people can be reminded of the long lasting consequences of sexual sin, such as death (Prov. 7:22-27), loss of wealth (Prov. 5:10), lifelong regret (5:11-14), and shame and destruction (Prov. 6:32-35).

Same-sex attraction may come “natural” to some people, but we all “naturally” desire things that are sinful. The presence of these desires is not an excuse to allow them to take up residence in our heart or to act upon them. Is it right for a “naturally” angry person to allow feelings of bitterness in their heart? Is it right for a “naturally” greedy person to desire their neighbor’s possessions? Of course not. We have the responsibility to resist temptation and to fight these sinful desires and so does anyone who naturally has a same-sex attraction.

Getting rid of sin is like getting rid of weeds. If weeds are allowed to grow, they will take over. If they are cut off at the ground, they will keep growing back. If we want to kill weeds, we have to pull them up at the roots. This is what we must do with sin and this is what must happen with same-sex attraction. We cannot deal with sin on the surface. We must root it out. The great puritan preacher John Owens once wrote, “Be killing sin or it be killing you.” It is foolish to take sexual desires lightly, entertain them in our mind, or overestimate our ability to resist temptation. We must flee sinful desires and aggressively attack sin in our life. The same is to be true for those who struggle with same-sex attraction.

The Lord designed sex as a wonderful expression between a husband and wife, but those who use sex selfishly or apart from God’s good design will experience much heartache and ruin. Same-sex attraction is the result of a broken creation and for that reason is sinful. Same-sex attraction is not the same as sinning, but it should be treated like all temptation to sin. If you are a Christian and have sinned sexually, know that God has forgiven you based on what Christ has done on the cross. If sin is confessed, God is faithful to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). May God empower us to have victory over sexual sin for His glory and our good.

I’m having a really hard time finding godly people to date. Where can I find them? FAQ Blog Series (Part 3)

Don’t be discouraged that you’re not finding a godly person to date. God sees your situation and knows the desires of your heart. Stay engaged in community, join different interest groups and continue to grow in your faith right where you are. Deepening your walk with God is the most important focus of your life, so keep it central to who you are.

The young adult years are a huge time of transition and finding your place in the world, so be patient. God is using this time to mold you and shape you to join Him in the work He’s prepared for you. A side benefit of this is that you will better understand what you bring to a relationship and the kind of person that would be a good match for you.

Knowing who you are in Christ will also ground you in whatever season of life you find yourself. I know this may be hard to believe but there are hard aspects to every season of life. Marriage is a beautiful thing but it also comes with its own set of trials. (more responsibility, divided focus, less time) You have advantages now while you’re single that you won’t have again. Make the most of this time and take advantage of the unique benefits right in front of you. (more time, undivided focus, less stressors because you have less people dependent on you)

Ultimately, don’t spend too much time focused on what you don’t have. Spend your energy being thankful for what God has already given you. Discontent people are not very attractive – grateful people are! By all means, keep your heart soft and your eyes open for when God brings someone into your life – but don’t stop living until then!

Scripture for further encouragement: Ephesians 3:20, Philippians 4:19, 1 Corinthians 7:32-35, Proverbs 3:5-6

Is it ever okay to date/marry a non-believer? FAQ Blog Series (Part 2)

Many think it’s narrow minded to discourage Christians from marrying someone outside their faith. 2 Corinthians 6:14 is very clear though that God doesn’t want believers to be “unequally yoked” with unbelievers. Here are five dangers to dating/marrying an unbeliever:

1) As a believer your relationship with Jesus Christ is the most important part of who you are. If you are not able to share that with the person you’re with, then you can’t share ALL of who you are. A healthy relationship should connect on every level – emotionally, physically and spiritually. Being with someone who doesn’t believe what you believe will hinder your transparency and will create a huge gap in your intimacy. Even worse, you could lose your passion and zeal for Christ because you decide it’s better to compartmentalize your faith so you aren’t isolated from your spouse.

2) Many think marriage is for earthly happiness but God created it for an even greater purpose – eternal holiness. In Ephesians 5, the husband is called to love and serve his wife in order to encourage spiritual growth and transformation in her. Women, if you marry an unbelieving man, his ultimate goal will most likely not be your spiritual transformation.

In Genesis 2, the first role God gave wives was to be the man’s helper. This is a huge responsibility and privilege because it means coming alongside him and spurring him on to become the godly man he was created to be. Men, if you marry an unbelieving woman, her ultimate goal will most likely not be your spiritual transformation.

3) Marriage is also for raising godly children. A godly husband and wife have a shared mission and that is to raise godly children. If the two of you are not on the same page about your faith, your children will receive mixed messages and likely find themselves confused about what to believe.

4) If the person is a believer but there is a large gap in their level of spiritual maturity, I would suggest a few things:

– Seek the advice and input from a few strong Christians you know and trust. Invite them into the process of getting to know the person you’re dating. This   will enable them to discern whether or not they feel the spiritual gap can be        bridged or not.

– Get involved together at church; attend services, join a Bible Study or small group, do service projects. The goal here is to see if the other person is eager to grow and if you can grow together. This will also help you see whether      you’re headed in the same direction.

5) Above all else, trust that the Lord knows best and lean on Him instead of your own feelings or thinking. He won’t ever lead you astray!

Scripture for further study: 2 Corinthians 6:14, Ephesians 5:25-27, Genesis 2:18

 

“How far is too far?” FAQ Blog Series (Part 1)

One of the most common questions I receive from youth and young adults is: “How far is too far?” Check out my response below.

One of the hardest Biblical commands for many people to accept is the command to save sex for marriage. To many, this “rule” seems like God is out to ruin their fun and restrict their freedom. However, behind every command God gives, are two motivations: to protect us and provide for us. Why? Because God is love. Love is the His core motivator for why He gives us commands. Therefore, His command to save all sexual activity for marriage comes from His heart of love!

The culture, however, will continue to bombard us with the lie that true freedom is found by living without boundaries and following our feelings. God calls us to faith rather than following our feelings because He knows our hearts are deceitful and will lead us down a road of destruction.

When you became a believer, your body became a temple where the Holy Spirit resides. This is a HUGE honor as well as a HUGE responsibility. Christ paid a high price (His life!) to rescue us and now calls us to pay a price of our own by pursuing holiness and pure living.

So how far is too far before it becomes sin? Not every sexual action is listed in the Bible with a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ beside it. Some are grey areas. In 1 Corinthians 10:23-24 the Apostle Paul provides a great principle we can use to discern what to do when we face those grey areas: “’I have the right to do anything,’ you say – but not everything is beneficial. ‘I have the right to do anything’ – but not everything is constructive. No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.” Paul is saying that some things we have freedom to do are not good for us and can actually be a stumbling block for someone we love. Even if an action isn’t listed in the Bible as sin, it can still be selfish, unloving and harmful. Hebrews 10:24 reiterates this by saying, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” If you are unsure whether a particular action could be sinful, love (for God and the other person) demands that you refuse to go there.

When God says to FLEE sexual immorality in 1 Corinthians 6:18 He is not joking around. The purpose of foreplay (sexual activity proceeding intercourse) is to prepare for sex. Since you’re not married and therefore not ready for sex, pressing the boundaries with foreplay will only bring about greater temptation and frustration, not greater love. He calls you to do a 180-degree turn from sin and not look back! Webster’s Dictionary defines the word flee as “to run away from danger or evil; to hurry toward a place of security.” God is calling you to run away from potential sin and toward Him – your only hope for security!

Instead of asking, “how far is too far?” how about asking, “How much can I save in order to honor God with my body?”

Scripture for further encouragement: 1 Corinthians 10:23-24, Hebrews 10:24, 1 Corinthians 6:18-20, Hebrews 13:4, 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8, Jeremiah 17:9

 

 

The Problem with Keeping Quiet

There are many reasons parents aren’t talking about sexuality with their kids. Do any of these ring true for you?

  • “It’s an embarrassing Maybe if I don’t bring it up, it won’t come up.”
  • “We have such a busy schedule that I couldn’t possibly tackle a tough topic like that right now.”
  • “Sex is private and personal. I don’t talk about it because it is a sacred matter.”
  • “I made so many mistakes when I was young that I’ve been disqualified – my voice doesn’t matter when it comes to this topic.”
  • “I’ve had ‘the talk’ with my child, isn’t that enough?”
  • “My parents didn’t talk with me about sex and I turned out just fine. I’m taking the same approach with my kids.”

Here’s the problem with keeping silent on sexuality: By keeping silent, the worldly perspective becomes all the more enticing. We must understand that the world we grew up in is nothing like the world our children are growing up in today. The sexual temptation, experimentation and deception they face (or will face!) are unlike any other time in history.

Plus, if we keep silent, this teaches our children that God must be silent on the topic as well. This couldn’t be further from the truth! The Old and New Testament books are chalked full of bold teachings on sexuality. Howard Hendricks once said, “We should not be ashamed to discuss what God was not ashamed to create.”                                                                   

The culture isn’t embarrassed, too busy and surely doesn’t feel disqualified to train our children to view sexuality from a worldly perspective. In fact, it is their mission to talk as early and as often as they possibly can. Yes, the culture’s voice is loud but your voice is stronger. Take a stand and boldly proclaim God’s truth – it never returns void!

Reflect and Respond:

  • How have you approached the topic of sexuality with your children to this point? Spend some time thinking back on these encounters and ask the Lord to point out ways you can grow and stretch yourself in having courageous conversations with your kids.
  • Silence on sexuality is not a “parent problem” but has been a problem of the Church for centuries. The tide is beginning to turn but we still have a long way to go. Read the article “Sex and the Silence of the Church” to learn more and then ask God to help the Church find her voice.

Cultivating Godly Adult Influence

At the young age of twelve, I attended a True Love Waits Conference and pledged to remain sexually pure until my wedding night.  23 years later, on August 16th, 2015, I handed that pledge to my husband on our wedding night!

While waiting those 23 years to meet Greg, I dated many “frogs” and wondered if God would ever bring a godly man into my life to marry. Again and again my parents (and other key people in my life) encouraged me to choose hope and continue living my life to the fullest. It wasn’t easy as I found myself attending countless weddings and baby showers! But my support network challenged me to use my singleness to do great things for God…and by God’s amazing grace, that’s exactly what I did. I shared my journey of singleness (and sexual integrity) with as many young people as I possibly could. My goal? To give them hope that they’re not in this battle alone and to inspire them to wait for God’s best.

What helped me wait to be sexually active until my wedding night? Was it a stellar sense of self worth?  Maybe self-control made out of steel?  No, neither of those.  Sure, some might blame it on the fact that I am a firstborn – you know…the responsible, rule following type.  But it goes much deeper than that. What led me to make different choices than my peers was primarily one thing, godly adult influence – people that were Jesus with skin on to me.

The first place I met Jesus was in the home – through my parents.  My parents have been married now 44 years and have done an amazing job modeling a healthy marriage to my brothers and me.  Not only did they model covenant love to each other, they also loved us unconditionally.  They listened to us, believed in us, and encouraged us. Most importantly, they consistently pointed us to Jesus and discipled us into a saving relationship with Christ. Their presence made all the difference in the world!

In addition to my parents’ influence, God brought quality mentors into my life that spoke the same truth into my heart.  Their words of wisdom and guidance strengthened my conviction to wait to be sexually active until marriage and in turn, stand out from the crowd.

Godly adult influences were an anchor for my soul when the storms of life tried to blow me over. How well anchored are your children?

Reflect and Respond:

  • If you’re married, what does your marriage demonstrate to your children? Is it time to get away and focus on each other? Consider Family Life Today’s Weekend to Remember. Check out familylife.com/WTR to learn more.
  • How many godly adult influences do your children have? Consider each of your children individually and work together as a couple to brainstorm the godly (and not so godly!) influences in their lives. Then after spending time in prayer, make a list of action steps you can take to build more godly adult influences in their lives while minimizing the negative ones.
  • Read and discuss Proverbs 11:14 and Proverbs 15:22 as a family. Discuss the importance of having advisors/mentors throughout life. Make a point to mention that it doesn’t matter the age or stage of life we’re in, we all need one! Consider brainstorming as a family the qualities of an ideal advisor/mentor and who may already be playing that role in their lives.

 

Teaching Our Children the Value of Waiting

I remember playing the role of Mary in the Bible story of Mary and Joseph. I was 14 years old at the time and the man playing the part of Joseph was 25. I wasn’t the boy crazy type of teenager, but when it came to “Joseph,” I fell head over heels. I even told my mom that I was going to marry him. Yikes – yes, I really did believe that! No, I didn’t marry “Joseph” but as I reflect back on that time, it’s evident that God planted the desire to marry deep in my heart at a very young age. Then he had me wait 21 years for that desire to be fulfilled!

Waiting is a common theme in the Bible and one every human being is familiar with. If we stop and think about it, waiting is a regular part of our lives. Whether it be small things like waiting at a stoplight, in the drive thru at your favorite fast food restaurant or at the doctor’s office, we all wait for something. Or it might be big things we wait for…like a student waiting to hear back from their top college pick, a man waiting to hear back on his blood work results or a married couple waiting to receive word that they can meet their adopted child. We can’t avoid it and we can’t escape it.

Waiting is a reality and a normal part of life. The question we must not ask ourselves then is, “How do I get out of this situation?” but rather, “How can I make the most of this situation?” Paul David Tripp put it this way: “…God never wastes our waiting, frivolously prolonging what we get at the end of the wait. Rather, waiting is fundamentally about who we become as we wait. Waiting should always build character.”

Waiting until I was 35 to meet and marry my “holy hunk” challenged me more than anything. It required me to depend on God as my Provider and Sustainer, it tested my identity and where I found my worth, it confronted my propensity to compare myself to others and ultimately it led me to surrender my will to God’s will. Waiting for my husband was the instrument God chose to use in my life to build godly character and to establish His truth deep in my heart.

You might be thinking, “What does waiting have to do with teaching my kids about Biblical sexuality?” Everything! The culture teaches them to let their feelings be their guide; Biblical sexuality teaches them to walk by faith. The culture teaches them to be the master of their own lives; Biblical sexuality teaches them to surrender to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. The culture teaches that they are to set their own standard of right and wrong; Biblical sexuality teaches that there is one standard and it’s found in the Word of God.

If you want your children to embrace Biblical sexuality, a good place to start is by allowing them to face experiences where they have to choose between faith and feelings, surrender and control, Truth and their own standard of right and wrong. Shepherding them as they face these kinds of experiences will help develop their character and teach them the value of waiting on God. If this is what you want for your children, what are you waiting for?!

Reflect and Respond:

  • How well do you wait? How well are you modeling the concept of waiting to your children?
  • Read Paul David Tripp’s article on waiting called “The Waiting Room.” (https://www.paultripp.com/wednesdays-word/posts/the-waiting-room)
  • Discuss with your spouse how the two of you can work together to give your children more opportunities to wait well.

 

Three Misleading Emotions

Three misleading emotions commonly keep parents from having courageous conversations with their children. Can you relate to one (or all!) of these?

DISQUALIFIED “I didn’t wait, so how could I talk with my children about saving sex for marriage?” No one is more qualified than you! You know from personal experience why sex is best saved for marriage and the natural consequences that come from going outside God’s bounds. You have an opportunity to cast a God-glorifying vision for your child’s life while also helping them navigate around the detours and pitfalls that come from pre-marital sex.

The Bible is full of stories about people who sinned and yet went on to represent God and uphold His holy standards (i.e. King David, the apostle Paul, etc). To disqualify yourself from speaking Truth to your children because of your past sin is to give victory to Satan. He will do anything he can to get you to focus on your mistakes, your mess, and your inadequacies rather than watch you lay your sins before the Cross and receive forgiveness that’s yours in Christ Jesus. It sounds trite but it’s true – if you step out in faith, God will take your “mess” and turn it into a message.

DISTRACTED – “With everything else we have going on at home, we don’t know when we’d fit this in. Honestly, we wouldn’t know what to say if we did find the time!” Don’t let busyness rob you of valuable conversations with your kids. Whether it’s at the dinner table or before they head to bed, capitalize on every opportunity you can find. Let go of the pressure and expectation that you should have all the answers. If you don’t have an answer to one of their questions, be honest and tell them you will get back to them. Then make sure you do! If you don’t know where to begin, check out my website www.sexbydesign.com to learn more about my film series Sex by Design: Unpacking the Purpose and Practice of Purity. It was designed to give you a road map for having ongoing conversations with your kids about sexuality. It could very well put to rest the misleading emotion(s) you’ve been feeling and give you the courage to press in. It doesn’t take a PhD to positively influence your children – it just takes the committed and loving presence of parents fully invested in their children’s life!

DISCOURAGED “When I bring up the topic, my child gives me one word answers and changes the subject.” This is a normal response especially if you’ve just recently broached the topic. Ask God to soften your child’s heart and provide you with opportunities to try again. Consider starting with a different topic (just as valuable but maybe less awkward) like modesty or dating and see where God takes it. Consider going out for coffee, ice cream or dinner for uninterrupted time together.

Reflect and Respond:

  • Do any of these misleading emotions ring true to you personally? If so, share your thoughts with your spouse and ask him/her to help remind you of the Truth when the misleading emotion rears its ugly head again. Commit your misleading emotion(s) to prayer and then be on the watch for how God will transform your heart!
  • Read the article “Teaching Your Kids About Sex When You Have Sexual Sin in Your Past.” (http://www.intoxicatedonlife.com/2013/11/14/sexual-sinners-teaching-sex-ed/) What Truth stuck out to you? Consider writing it on a notecard to be posted on your bathroom mirror, the dashboard of your vehicle or in your personal journal. Review it regularly so it becomes part of your belief system!
  • Commit to praying about how to move forward as you invest in your child’s Biblical understanding of sexuality. Again, check out my website (sexbydesign.com) for practical help.

Parents Matter Most

The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Parenthood surveyed 1,000 teenagers and asked them what the number one factor was in shaping their decisions on sex. Was it social media? their friends? siblings? sex education? No! The majority of the teens said their parents were the greatest factor. Praise God!

Unfortunately, when the parents of these 1,000 teens were asked how their teens answered this question, fewer than 1 in 4 answered correctly. I think this reveals that many parents are being deceived and discouraged by the enemy and all things media. They are having a hay day getting parents to believe their influence doesn’t have lasting impact and that their voice can’t compete with culture’s.

The truth? Y-O-U matter most! Not the government, not the school, not even the church. You have been called by God and know/love your child better than anyone. Don’t believe the lie that your voice doesn’t make a difference – because in reality, it makes the biggest difference of all!

It will require patience (as you may not see fruit develop immediately), persistence (to not give in or give up but keep pursuing your kid even when they hold you at arm’s length) and prayerfulness (because you cannot transform your kid’s heart – only God Almighty can do that).

The best part is that God is just asking you to be faithful in talking with your children about sexuality. The results? Well, He wants you to leave that to Him! Will you accept His invitation?

Reflect and Respond:

  • On a scale of 1 – 10 (1 = lowest, 10 = highest) how would you rate yourself on the three P words I mentioned above: patience, persistence and prayerfulness? Choose your lowest rated word, and commit to working on that this week.
  • Check out the resource page on my website for quick access to articles, books and downloadables you can use in conversations with your kids.
  • Consider asking other parents to get together monthly with the purpose of encouraging and praying for one another. Where two or more are gathered in His name, He is there! (Matthew 18:20)