Here are a few thoughts about a parent's need to intentionally train and protect his or her kids in the area of relationships and sex...
When I was a teenager, I remember seeing a movie about a couple of street gangs in 1950’s New York who were fighting over a disputed piece of “turf.” I’m not sure if I even knew what turf was at the time. What I clearly remember is being puzzled about why a bunch of thugs would be so concerned about somebody’s lawn.
Things escalated to the point of scheduling a fight in a neighborhood park where the gangs would settle things once and for all. A few days before the big night, their leaders got together to discuss the rules of the rumble. It was like a miniature Geneva Convention right there in the pool hall. I had no idea that street gangs could be so diplomatic.
In particular, I can remember them discussing what weapons could be used in the fight. One guy suggested sticks. Another said that pipes would be appropriate. One really tough guy started listing an entire arsenal of chains, knives, and guns. They debated for a while and finally decided on a few suitable “accessories” that would ensure a fair fight later that week. I thought it was a rather strange dialogue, but apparently, meetings like this happen all the time between parties in conflict.
Hypothetical Negotiations Between Satan and Parents
In a similar way, there is a war of great significance being waged over human sexuality. In our current culture and on the battlefield of the next generation, we have to admit that the church is not very effectively engaged. Moreover, as it relates to parents doing real battle in this area for the futures of our kids, we have been quite passive. If the same type of pre-fight negotiation I saw in my gang movie were to take place between Satan and most parents today, the discussion might look something like this:
Satan: We know we can inflict maximum damage on God’s children with minimal effort on our part by attacking their future sexuality.
Parents: The future is a long time from now. We aren’t overly concerned.
Satan: We will bring every resource we have to bear in this fight. We will steal their innocence early with pornographic images. We will use their peers to convince them that, in order to be worth anything, they need to have a boyfriend or girlfriend. We will show them through dozens of different media outlets that sexual behavior is normal behavior. We will encourage them to fall in love and break up over and over again, making them less and less able to stay committed in a marriage relationship. We will literally bombard them with our anti-biblical perspective until even the most committed Christ-followers see our way as totally acceptable.
Parents: You’re really going to do all that?
Satan: Yes. That’s our plan: our rules of engagement. What are you going to do about it?
Parents: Actually, we’re not going to do much of anything. Our plan is to passively let you beat the snot out of us and our kids, inflicting untold amounts of damage on the next generation, all because we are not comfortable talking about sex.
Satan: We will see you on the battlefield.
Passive Parents + Silent Churches = Unprepared Kids
The likely response for all of us when considering such a negotiation is to assure ourselves that we have not been passive. After all, we have taken time to have “the talk” with our kids. We have tried hard to keep the lines of communication open. Sure, there are plenty of unengaged parents out there, but that’s not us.
Before any of us assume that we have done an adequate job of equipping and protecting our children, we should consider what our kids say. According to research done by ABC’s Primetime in 2006, while about 90 percent of parents say they've spoken to their teens about sex, only half of their teens agree.
There is an obvious disconnect.
Parents are not the only ones to blame for this apathy and lack of engagement. The church has remained largely silent on these issues. Pastors are reluctant to address them from the pulpit for fear that they will offend older people who deem such talk as taboo in houses of worship. Things of that nature should be dealt with privately, they reason. If only that were possible. In this day and age, these issues are as public as they have ever been.
Even youth pastors and leaders shy away from speaking the truth about the war in which our students are engaged. Many feel silenced by naïve parents who don’t want their kids exposed to discussions they cannot control. Others just don’t feel the urgency to deal with it because they are not aware of the long-term effects of the choices their students are making today. (As a youth minister for 14 years, I know I sure didn’t.) Only in working with young married adults - and seeing the relational baggage from their past that weights them down - have I had a chance to see up close how far-reaching these issues are.
It's Like Fighting Rocket-Propelled Grenades with Squirt Guns
So the enemy bombards our kids with lies while those tasked with giving them the truth are largely silent. It is as if we are fighting an enemy armed with rocket-propelled grenades by giving our kids an arsenal of squirt guns. And it is obvious who is winning. The world gives a perspective over and over and we don’t say much of anything. We should not be surprised, in the absence of truth, that there is little difference between how Christian kids and their non-Christian peers approach sex and dating.
Our kids are unprepared for what they will face and they will suffer the consequences, potentially taking unnecessary emotional baggage into their marriage relationships. This is likely to happen to YOUR kids unless you do something about it.
Your children need more than the "squirt gun" of a "where babies come from" talk when they are in 5th grade. They need the knowledge, tools, and guidance that will equip them for the battle that is raging around them. That preparation starts when they are very young and actively continues until they are ready for marriage. They desperately need you.
There is a battle raging for your kids' sexuality, mom and dad. What are you going to do about it?