Blog Archive

In an earlier post (below), Dave White talks about whether it is ever appropriate to tell you children about your own sexual struggles and sin from the past. In the video above, Dave gives a number of options on how to do this.

Do you have sexual skeletons in your closet? Many Christian parents do, and as their kids edge toward the teen years, they begin to dread the questions that may come and begin to ask their own: How can I expect my kids to hold the line sexually when I failed at their age? Isn’t disclosing my own failures giving them license to do whatever they want?

In light of these concerns, does it ever make sense to open the closet door and let your kids see your past?

It depends. There are some kids in a place of rebellion, looking for any excuse to act out. The parent/child relationship may be so contentious that any vulnerability will be exploited and used later to lash out and possibly wound when you seek to address your child’s behavior. Were you a Christian while you were sexually active? This could cause your Christian teen to think they can sin now and repent later. All of us should pause and seek the Spirit’s guidance in broaching these issues with our kids.

That said, in the vast majority of cases, I believe it can be wise and helpful to let your kids see into the closet. Here are three good reasons why.

First, your story can provide a cautionary tale. Even if you were spared the harsh consequences of STDs or an unplanned pregnancy, you can discuss the soul damage that can occur when we don’t follow God. Our “anything goes as long as it doesn’t hurt someone” culture tells us we can indulge sexually with impunity, but God says it is a sin against our very selves (1 Corinthians 6:18). Our kids need to hear that there are unseen consequences in carelessly squandering God’s great gift in this area of life. There can be some real losses later in life. Even if the sin was only with your spouse prior to marriage, you can share the challenges this may have caused early in marriage, the way it impacted the joy of your honeymoon, etc.

Listen: I’m not big on scare tactics. Graphic STD photos aren’t helpful to show to your teen. But there is a benefit to hearing that this is God’s world and following him is the only path to true blessing and joy.

Second, it gives glory to the God who redeems. My past is extremely messy, and my kids have known it for a long time, getting more details at age-appropriate stages. Why do they know this about me? I want them to know that my life is a testament of God’s grace! The Spirit of God has radically changed me from the inside out. They need to know that God forgives sinners and there is no one beyond his grasp. I praise God that the man I was 20 years ago would be unrecognizable to my kids (and not just because of the Afro!).

Real honesty removes you from any pedestal that would cause you to eclipse Jesus. He alone is the righteous one, and your kids should know that you’re as needy as they are for his grace—and that means today, not just in your distant past! One of the most crucial things we do in passing on the Christian faith to our kids is to model authentic faith, which revolves around confession and repentance.

During a season often marked by growing distance between parents and teens, this is a way for you to build a bridge relationally. Being vulnerable, inviting your kids to know the “real” you, invites a reciprocal response. True, they may not be willing to open up, but at the very least it lets them know you want a deeper relationship. The essence of relationship is to be “known,” so we should be striving to let our kids really know us in age-appropriate ways. And it is always huge for teens to be treated as the budding adults they are.

Finally, your kids need to know that the gospel speaks to their sexuality, affected by the Fall, as is everything. “Youthful lusts” are a powerful force at this age. All teens enter these turbulent years wrestling with physical desires they’ve never experienced before, and to make matters more difficult for them, parents generally are not asking them about this stage of development. So, kids are wrestling with strong physical and emotional feelings and desires, and the real-life guidance they need is sadly lacking from their own parents. If no one speaks about these struggles, then, to them, neither does the gospel. But it does!

This is a crucial time for them—and you, as their shepherding parents—to apply the gospel in deeper ways! Our sexual struggles (and failures) are often a significant place of learning our utter dependence on God’s Spirit and the body of Christ to grow and live in the way we are called to live in Christ. And the best way for your kids to learn these things is for you to be vulnerable about your own neediness, and encourage them with how Christ and his people have met you in your own struggles with sexual sin.

For further thoughts look for our mini book, Raising Sexually Healthy Kids, published by New Growth Press, available at harvest-usa-store.com/minibooks/.

Raising Sexually Healthy Kids

This is a one-day seminar for parents of young children and teens.

It’s tougher than ever to be both a kid and a parent today! The world’s culture is continually pushing an anything-goes sexuality on our children. Gospel Sexuality: Raising Sexually Healthy Kids gives you gospel-centered principles and practical helps to disciple your kid’s hearts and nurture their faith as they face the sexual chaos of their world.

Seminar Topics:

Session 1: Fallen Sexuality
How can we understand our children as fallen image-bearers? God gave a great plan for sex and love, but sin twists our worship, mars our identity, and distorts our relationships.

Session 2: Gospel Sexuality
How can we understand our children in light of the Gospel? Christ gives us a new vision for sexuality. He transforms us and our sexual brokeness, so that we can live by faith, repentance, and love.

Session 3: The Sex Talk(s): Getting the Subject out in the Open
How do we talk with our children about sexuality? Learn how to share a Gospel vision for sexuality with your family, receive practical guidance for age-appropriate conversations, and find grace for the challenging road ahead.

Session 4: The Technological Terrain: Where your Kids Live
How can we know our children’s world? The latest innovations in technology and social media are being used to indoctrinate a fallen sexual worldview. Learn the dangers of this terrain, what you can do about them, and how to further walk with your children on the road of discipleship.

 

 There will be a charge for this event. Lunch WILL be provided.
For additional information please call the church at 423-629-1421.

To register for this seminar – Click Here!

Presenters:

Dan Wilson, Director SCO

Dan Wilson, Coordinator, SO

 

Dan Wilson is the Student Outreach Coordinator for Harvest USA. Dan is also an ordained minister, and has served as a youth minister, education minister, pastor, with para-church ministries, and taught New Testament at Bryan College, Dayton, TN.

 

 

Cooper  Pinson, SO Staff

Cooper Pinson, SO Staff

 

Before coming north to Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, Cooper Pinson, a life-long southerner, graduated from Samford University in Birmingham. There he met his wife, Katie, and worked as the Junior High Director at Briarwood Presbyterian Church, also in Birmingham. Cooper has a passion to help youth live with sexual integrity, and to walk with them as they grow in a deeper faith in Jesus Christ. A new comer to Harvest USA, he serves as our Student Outreach staff member.

Raising Sexually Healthy Kids

This is a one-day seminar for parents of young children and teens.

It’s tougher than ever to be both a kid and a parent today! The world’s culture is continually pushing an anything-goes sexuality on our children. Gospel Sexuality: Raising Sexually Healthy Kids gives you gospel-centered principles and practical helps to disciple your kid’s hearts and nurture their faith as they face the sexual chaos of their world.

Seminar Topics:

Session 1: Fallen Sexuality
How can we understand our children as fallen image-bearers? God gave a great plan for sex and love, but sin twists our worship, mars our identity, and distorts our relationships.

Session 2: Gospel Sexuality
How can we understand our children in light of the Gospel? Christ gives us a new vision for sexuality. He transforms us and our sexual brokeness, so that we can live by faith, repentance, and love.

Session 3: The Sex Talk(s): Getting the Subject out in the Open
How do we talk with our children about sexuality? Learn how to share a Gospel vision for sexuality with your family, receive practical guidance for age-appropriate conversations, and find grace for the challenging road ahead.

Session 4: The Technological Terrain: Where your Kids Live
How can we know our children’s world? The latest innovations in technology and social media are being used to indoctrinate a fallen sexual worldview. Learn the dangers of this terrain, what you can do about them, and how to further walk with your children on the road of discipleship.

 

 There will be a charge for this event. Lunch WILL be provided.
For additional information please call the church at 423-629-1421.

To register for this seminar – Click Here!

Presenters:

Dan Wilson, Director SCO

Dan Wilson, Coordinator, SO

 

Dan Wilson is the Student Outreach Coordinator for Harvest USA. Dan is also an ordained minister, and has served as a youth minister, education minister, pastor, with para-church ministries, and taught New Testament at Bryan College, Dayton, TN.

 

 

Cooper  Pinson, SO Staff

Cooper Pinson, SO Staff

 

Before coming north to Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, Cooper Pinson, a life-long southerner, graduated from Samford University in Birmingham. There he met his wife, Katie, and worked as the Junior High Director at Briarwood Presbyterian Church, also in Birmingham. Cooper has a passion to help youth live with sexual integrity, and to walk with them as they grow in a deeper faith in Jesus Christ. A new comer to Harvest USA, he serves as our Student Outreach staff member.

Atlantic Monthly has a distressing but highly informative article on teen sexting, “Why Kids Sext:” http://m.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2014/11/why-kids-sext/380798/

It’s a great read. But, be prepared to be distressed and a bit unnerved.

It’s not just distressing because teens are taking naked photos of themselves and sending them to others (usually boyfriends), but what appears to be a “so what” attitude about doing this by these same kids. While the majority of teens who sext do so consensually, there are still terrible unintended consequences that can occur, and the article points out several. More disturbing are those situations where some teen girls cave in to relentless pressure to send photos to boys. That’s not only manipulative; it can turn criminal when the naked photo of a minor is distributed online.

But in spite of attitudes changing about this activity, one thing also remains: the double-standard of girls losing out and being shamed, while boys are seemingly immune from consequences. In the ongoing descent into sexual chaos which our culture pushes, some things never change.

It’s an article worth reading by every parent. But what should a parent do once they’ve read it? Let me suggest four ways to respond.

One, I suggest you don’t react in fear and grab your child’s cell phone and demand to look at what’s in it (though you might very much want to do that!). And, don’t rush to punish your teen if he or she has done something like this. You won’t win your child’s heart by over reacting, and that’s the key here. Behavior is important (because behavior has real-world consequences), but character is paramount, and helping your child understand her heart is what will ultimately help her to shape her behavior to do what is right (and honor God in the process).

Two, don’t shut down access to technology, either. Taking away the cellphone or restricting Internet use won’t really work in the long run. Technology is too embedded in our kids’ lives (and ours), and trying to shut down what is ubiquitous, and what society is increasingly relying on, will only drive your teen underground. Trying to control our kids’ lives will only train them to be deceptive. It’s not control you want over your child’s life; it’s involvement in their life.

Three, parents need to wisely interact with their teens regarding their use of technology. Yes, they need monitoring. They need supervision and guidance. Think long and hard before giving your young child a smartphone. They are fun, informative, fascinating—and potentially dangerous They can be portals to some of the darkest corners of life. Are your children using smartphones, tablets, laptops, video game devices? Unless you oversee their usage and know where they are going on the web, they WILL access bad sites and maybe engage with people who can seriously harm them. And you won’t know about any of this, because web browsers are now almost universally private when it comes to concealing the history of accessed websites. Effective filters and accountability software should be as mandatory in homes as smoke-detectors. Seriously.

Four, start talking to your children about sex and their sexuality. The silence of parents is driving our kids to the most broken places on the planet to learn about sex: from the Internet, and increasingly they are emulating the practices and standards of pornography as being normative for sex. But God’s message on sex is that it is a gift to be given in a committed, covenantal union between a husband and wife, and that protecting it until such time comes is not only ideal, but it is also realistic. Not easy in today’s over-sexualized culture, but not unattainable, either. Honoring God with our sexuality is worth pursuing—for ourselves, and for our children.

We can help our children navigate this journey. But they need us to speak up. They need us to be involved, helping them to see and understand what God has said about using his gift of sex, and how their hearts need continual direction to align their sexuality with sound, wise, life-affirming biblical practices.

The benefits and blessings of managing their sexuality are life-long. When you show them the way, you’ll be learning how to live with this awesome gift, too.

To learn more how to talk to your kids about sex and how to oversee their use of technology, go to http://harvest-usa-store.com/ and check out Harvest USA’s mini books, like iSnooping on your Kid: Parenting in an Internet Age and What’s Wrong with a Little Porn when You’re Single? 

Updated 4.13.17

Read on to discover Harvest USA’s perspective of pornography’s effect on children.

Our friends at the Center for Parent/Youth Understanding (CPYU, www.cpyu.org) have just published a brief handout on the effects of pornography on children. It’s titled, “A Parent’s Primer on Internet Pornography.” It contains useful information on who is looking at porn and what our kids are viewing, as well as information on how harmful porn is to the minds and hearts of kids and adults.

Led by Dr. Walt Mueller, CPYU is a terrific ministry organization—and not just because they like us and reference us in this handout! One thing to note in this handout: Walt refers to an online article Harvest USA wrote, entitled, “My Kids Have Looked at Porn! What Do I Do Now?”  That article is now published as a mini book by New Growth Press, called “iSnooping On Your Kids: Protecting Your Family in a Internet Age,” which is available for purchase in our online bookstore for just $3.99. Check out the Harvest USA bookstore, which has lots of information on preventative steps to take, as well as what to do when your kids have already been exposed to porn.

Updated 5.5.2017

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