This is a response to a provocative blog post by Serena DeGarmo on her A Wordy Woman's blog. The post definitely hits on an exceedingly important issue for our daughters and our parenting in the current culture. She has also written about the boy version of this issue.
The approach Serena takes is controversial as seen in the comments. It is a quick, direct post. Single blog posts cannot adequately unpack the issue. With that stated, here are some possible places I would expand the discussion and get us as parents thinking intentionally about preparing our children for their sexual choices as teens and adults.
What does "Repent" Mean?
Serena tells us to repent, to stop our current approach, one which includes "putting our children in adult situations and expecting them to make wise, God-honoring decisions." AMEN! Allowing dating teens to be alone in a bedroom with the door closed sets them up for failure.
Certainly, parents cannot give their kids what they do not have themselves. How can we teach purity when we do not know how to live it? When we repent, it means we change both our intentions and behavior from impure to pure. If we don't live this, we can't give it to our children; but it's never too late to start.
Over the past 15 years, the common story I hear when discipling men is a history of sexual impurity. Like most of them, I too gave bits of myself away before marriage and it negatively impacted my marriage in various ways. We compare our spouse to previous encounters. It hinders intimacy. I and others have found healing and restoration through a relationship with Christ. Only by His grace have I been able to truly change.
What does "Protect" Mean?
Serena encourages parents to protect our daughters from the cultural norms and instill "modesty and pure conversation." She wrote, "Dressing for sex and talking about sex leads to sex."
However, we must prepare our daughters as we protect them. One day, our daughters will be adults. They will need to know how to navigate these decisions on their own. This won't happen living in a cultural vacuum. Serena's last point, "Intend Her for Marriage" speaks of preparation, but this doesn't cover those blessed with being single.
Sex must be something spoken of in the home. It's not about having "the talk." It's an ongoing conversation from toddler to teen years. In stages, as they grow, we intentionally, safely, and biblically teach them what sex is and why God gave us such a gift. It's not dirty. It's not evil. The first command God gave in the Bible was to have sex, "be fruitful and multiply." (Gen. 1) It is our selfishness and sin which has marred and polluted the expression of sexuality. How do we teach our children to navigate and discern what is godly and what is not?
Proactive, not Reactive! - We must train our sons and daughters before friends, TV, or books do. Pay attention to their development and decide when to tell them about specific aspects of sexuality. Prepare them for puberty and the changes they will see and why!!
Repeated, natural conversations - Yes, sex is a natural topic when handled biblically. If we treat the topic like conversational toxic waste, our children will never talk to us about it. Just as we need to teach our kids how to handle money, wash dishes, and mow grass, we teach them this part of life. Look for opportunities to explain why some clothes are inappropriate and others appropriate. Discuss, not simply avoid, music lyrics, movies, and what they hear at school. Listen, listen, listen to their questions. This teaches them it is safe to talk to us about sex.
Be honest - When the topic comes up, especially in middle-school years, be honest and as transparent as is appropriate for the specific child. Admitting our failures will not undermine our children's respect for us, but build it.
Point them to Christ - God designed sex for marriage. Scripture command spouses to give themselves up for one another. They are to put one another first and demonstrate love by actions. This includes actions in the bedroom! Sex is for procreation, intimacy, and pleasure. It is part of marriage, but not the main event. True, deep intimacy is built as each spouse draws closer to God, submitted to His will, and giving themselves up for one another. Biblical marriage declares the gospel.
They Make the Final Decision - We can train our children up in the way they should go, but they are individuals. God allows them to make choices. Even if we do everything right as a parent (and we don't) they still may choose to have sex outside of marriage. Our goal is to give them the best tools to make the best decision. If they do or not is up to them.