Explaining Sexual Sin To Kids

February 08, 2024

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Today's question says, "Many of our family members are living together before they get married. My children three, four, and five are beginning to ask questions about why their uncle lives with his fiance and why their cousin was at her parents' wedding. How do I walk through this without making our family feel unloved?"


Note: The following is an auto-transcript of the podcast recording.

Hello friends, and welcome to another episode of the Foundation Worldview podcast where we seek to answer your questions so that you can equip the children that God has placed in your care to carefully evaluate every idea they encounter and understand the truth of the biblical worldview. I'm your host, Elizabeth Urbanowicz, and I'm thrilled that you've joined me for another episode today. Today's question says, "Many of our family members are living together before they get married. My children three, four, and five are beginning to ask questions about why their uncle lives with his fiance and why their cousin was at her parents' wedding. How do I walk through this without making our family feel unloved?" This is a really important question for us to think through because just in the culture in which we live and in the ways in which the culture is even influencing the church, in some ways, these are situations that are going to arise more and more. So it's so important that we think through them and how we can talk to our kids about them and give them a biblical reality-based understanding of life and the world around them.

Now, for those of you who have followed the Foundation Worldview Podcast for a while, you can probably already guess the question that I am going to ask in response to this person's question. And that question is what is the goal? Anytime we're thinking through basically anything in life and specifically related to this podcast, how we're discipling our children, we want to ask the question, what is the goal? Because if we don't understand what the goal is, we might not be walking in the right direction. Similar, if you think in a soccer game, if a child or an adult who's playing soccer doesn't know what the goal is or where the goal is, they're going to be driving that soccer ball potentially in the completely wrong direction. So we always want to know, okay, what is the goal that we're working towards? And so as we think about family members or others in our life who are living in sexual sin and our children noticing this, we want to think, okay, what is the goal in this? And I would propose that the goal is threefold. That first, we want to help our children understand the goodness of God's design. Then, we want to help them discern God's good design from sin. And then third, we want to equip them to love our extended family members and friends who are living in these sinful lifestyles. So we're going to look at each of these things, individually.

First, as we're thinking about helping our children understand the goodness of God's design. We first want to present the biblical purpose of marriage. And this is actually a topic that I have been thinking through a lot recently because as I record this podcast, we at Foundation Worldview are creating our next curriculum, and Lord willing, that will come out in the summer of 2024, and it's a curriculum we're going to call God's Good Design. It will be for kids for on up, talking about the goodness of God's design for gender, for sexuality, for marriage and family. So I've been thinking a lot over the past few months about the biblical purpose of marriage. And as we look at Scripture as a whole, we want to help our kids understand the biblical purpose. That first, when we look at the first chapter of Genesis, we see that God instituted marriage so that humans could fulfill their call to be fruitful and multiply that marriage is the basic building block of society that brings about the next generation. So the first we want our kids to understand the biblical purpose of marriage is to be fruitful and multiply. Then as we look throughout Scripture as a whole, we see that marriages, that healthy marriages create flourishing societies. And we see this throughout history as well. That cultures that have highly valued healthy marriages are cultures that have flourished or cultures that have not valued healthy marriage or have not valued marriage at all are the cultures that deteriorate very quickly. And so God has given us marriage as this basic building block of society in order to be able to create flourishing societies. And then as we look in the New Testament, we are told that marriage paints a picture of Christ and the church that as the outside world looks at a husband who loves his wife as Christ loved the church. And as the world looks at a wife who submits to her husband's loving leadership just like the church does to Christ, they're pointed towards that picture of the gospel. So we want to make sure our children have this firm understanding.

Now, I'm not going to go too much more in depth in this simply because at Foundation Worldview we have many other podcasts that talk about presenting a biblical reality-based view for marriage and sexuality for our children. But just as a really quick recommendation in all those previous podcasts, we've recommended the Birds and the Bees course, which is just a 10 lesson course to help you find the correct words to say as you have this ongoing conversation with your children about God's good design for sex and for marriage. Also, if you're looking for further resources, keep your eyes open for when we release our God's Good Design curriculum because that's the goal that we're going to help you build a biblical reality based understanding of gender, sexuality, marriage and family with your little ones. Okay? So that's our first part of the goal to help our children understand the goodness of God's design.

Then the second thing that we want them to do is to be able to equip them to discern God's good design from sin. And the way that we word this in our God's Good Design curriculum is we teach the kids that sin corrupts or destroys God's good design. So anytime God has given us something that is good, something like gender or sex or marriage or family, if we take that good gift outside of his design because we are sinful and we are fallen, that we are then corrupting that good design. So specifically in the situations that were mentioned in this question, when our children see their aunt or their uncle living with someone who they are not married to, or if they're at a wedding and they're thinking, why is my cousin at his parents' wedding? Doesn't a wedding come first and then children? We want to explain to our kids that God has given us sex as this good gift within marriage, but some people take this good gift outside of marriage, and when people have sex, when they are not married, what they're doing is they're making a promise with their bodies that they're not actually keeping. That sex is saying, I all of me is given to all of you forever and it's only for you and I am going to stay with you forever. Where if they have not gotten married, then they're not actually promising to be with that person forever. And we want to help our kids see God's design is good because God's design comes from him and it provides a lot of safety. That sex outside of marriage is really dangerous. In their book, Mama Bear Apologetics Guide to Sexuality, the Mama Bears, they describe sex kind of like a fire. And when you have a fire within the confines of a fireplace or a fire pit, that fire is amazing because it provides light, it provides warmth, it provides heat, it provides comfort. That fire within the safety of a fireplace or a fire pit where it was designed to be used, that that is such a good thing. But when you take that fire and you put it in the middle of the living room, that fire is going to cause destruction. It's going to burn down the whole house. So when something is powerful and when something is valuable, we put protections around it because if we take that fire outside of the fireplace, it's going to destroy. Similarly sex outside of marriage, it destroys that. It's really harmful that with the way God designed our bodies, that during the act of sexual intercourse, there are different chemicals released in our brain that actually bond us with the person that we're having sex with. And these chemicals are oxytocin and vasopressin. And these chemicals then bond us with somebody, and then if we're not married to that person, that bond is then being broken. And that's really hard for us physically and emotionally. That all throughout the Old Testament, the Hebrew word that is used to describe the sexual relationship between a husband and a wife is the word 'yada'. And 'yada' means to know. Tthat God has given us sex as a way of getting to know our spouse. And when sex is taken outside of the marriage covenant, it's getting to know someone in an intimate way that only that person's spouse should know them. It's also causing that physical breaking of the bond. It's also a really dangerous thing for children. If you have a niece or a nephew who is at his or her parents' wedding, you can celebrate the fact that their parents decided to get married. That that's a really good thing because children are safest in every way physically and emotionally and mentally when they are living in the home with their biological mother and biological father who have made a life long commitment to one another. That when a child is the result of a relationship between a man and a woman who are not married, that that child is in a very dangerous position because one of their parents could get up and leave any day without any legal protections to protect that child and the other spouse. So we want to help our kids understand that God's design is good and taking that good design outside of its correct boundaries and confines is a really dangerous thing. So we want to help our kids to be able to discern God's good design from its corruption by sin.

Then the third part of this goal is that we want to equip our kids to love other family members. And so part of this is going to be having a discussion about when they can talk about this and when they cannot, we want our kids to know that as a child, it is not their responsibility to walk up to their aunt or to their uncle or to another adult in their life and explain that what they're doing is sin. Now, we as the adult, as difficult as that might be, that may be our role. It may be our job to confront our brother or our sister or close friend who is living in sin, but it's not our child's job. And so what we're going to want to do is we're going to want to give them a game plan for when they're in this situation where they're seeing someone in our family who is not living out God's good design. What are they going to do to remind themselves that this isn't God's good design, but they're not going and telling that person?

So what I recommend frequently on the Foundation Worldview Podcast is teaching our kids catechizing phrases and saying, you know what? We're going to see a lot of people who are not living according to God's good design. And so every time we see someone who is married who's living with their boyfriend or their girlfriend or their fiance, what we're going to do is in our mind we're going to say, God designed marriage for one man and one woman. God's design is so good. Or we can change it. We can say, God designed sex for marriage. God's design is so good. So just any kind of phrase that's going to remind them of the truth. And you practice that phrase over and over and over and over again and then say, okay, so when we see this, what are we going to do? We're going to say it in our mind. So then practice that. Okay, I want you to say it not with your mouth but in your mind. Okay, ready, set, go. Did you say it? So just give them an opportunity to practice that and then say, when you say it, then what you can do is the next time you see me, you can just tap me on the arm. You can whisper my ear and say, mommy, I saw this and I said, God created sex for marriage. God's design is so good. Now, is this going to work every time? No, it's not because frequently young children say everything that is going through their minds. There are going to be times where they are going to say something. Now, we don't want them walking around saying this all the time, but if they do, what they're doing is they are really just telling the truth.

And so it's, we're going to have to get used to this and it's going to be uncomfortable and it's going to be difficult because the last part of this question actually said, how do I walk through this without making our family feel unloved? And the answer to that is that's impossible because our culture views love and defines love as accepting and celebrating everything about someone else. Whereas Christians, we know that that's not a correct definition of love, that love is giving of ourselves for the good of another. And many times the good of another does not feel good, but it might actually be what is best for that person where we know that we cannot celebrate sin. If our brother moves in with his fiance, we can't celebrate that because he is sinning against God and he is sinning against her. And this culture just expects us to celebrate other people's sin. And we cannot do that as Christians. Even when we think about Jesus. Often our culture likes to play up Jesus's compassion and his love for others. And yes, Jesus was compassionate and he did love others. And in that love, he never swerved from the truth. Just think about Jesus and the woman at the well. That the woman at the well, Jesus said, go and get your husband. And the woman just said, I have no husband. And many of us I think in our culture would just say like, oh, well, okay, let me just talk to you now. Where Jesus didn't do that. He said, you're right. You do not have a husband. In fact, you've had five husbands and the man you're living with right now is not your husband. That Jesus made clear that he knew more about her than she thought he did and that he knew her sin. And so we need to be okay following the example of Jesus and being lovingly honest.

Now, this is really hard because, especially with the situation about thinking about people living together before they're married or having children together before they're married, that many even who claim the name of Christ are choosing to do this. I remember a number of years back, I was at a wedding and the couple who were getting married had been living together before they were married, and they were both claiming to be Christians. And I remember just being at that wedding and chatting with a bunch of different people at the wedding, and some of the people at the wedding were even in leadership at the couple's church, and they were just talking referencing the couple's house and having gone over to the couple's house before and not talking about as if there was anything wrong with that. And I thought, wow, how have we slipped into this place where we have allowed our culture to sow view, to sow influence our view of marriage? And so it's really hard because some of the people mentioned in this question might claim to be Christians, but what they're doing is sinful. Now, I've also heard many people in this situation just describe it as like test driving a car and whether or not the couple is claiming to sleep together. I really mean, in all honesty, I think it would be you would have to have an incredible amount of willpower to be sleeping in bed with the person who you are getting married to without being physically involved, without having sex with them. But even if there is no sex involved, which would be incredibly difficult, what that couple is doing is actually still marring the picture of Christ and the church.

Let me explain. I've heard many people describe living together before marriage, like test driving a car, which for test driving a car, it makes complete sense. We would be unwise to buy a car that we had not driven off the lot and gotten a chance just to feel how it drives, see how it functions. However, this is a faulty analogy comparing living together with test driving a car. And the reason for that is that cars are objects that are to be used and consumed for our convenience and pleasure. People are not, not objects, and they're not to be used or consumed for our convenience and pleasure. And so this is a faulty analogy. And then when we think of the correct analogy, the correct picture that marriage is painting, that marriage is painting a picture of Christ and the church. And so what happens when two Christians live together before they're married, they're acting as if they are married, but they are marring that picture of Christ and the church because Jesus would never take us for a test drive. Jesus would never use and consume us for our convenience or our pleasure. Jesus never has to figure out whether or not he is going to commit himself to us for the rest of our lives. That Jesus gave of himself. And so if you're in a situation where someone in your life is living with their fiance or choosing to have kids before they're married, I think a good question to ask them is, how does you living with your fiance, how does that paint the picture of Christ and the church? Because the answer is outside of marriage, outside of making a commitment to love that person, to be with them for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer sickness, and in health, until death do your part, you are not painting that picture of Christ and the church. What you are doing is actually distorting it.

And I think we as Christians, we just have to recognize that faithfully following Jesus is going to mean suffering for his sake. Jesus warned us of this in John 15. Jesus was talking to his disciples and he says, it's starting in verse 18. "If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before, it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you." And so just to remember that faithfully following Jesus means that we are going to be up against opposition. Peter reminds us of this in his first letter in chapter four, starting in verse 12. Peter writes, "Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evil doer or as a medler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And "If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?" Therefore, let those who suffer according to God's will entrust their souls to a faithful creator while doing good."

So we just need to remember as we're thinking through how do we love our family members that loving them is going to mean telling them the truth about their sin. It doesn't mean that every time we're with them, that's all that we talk about, but they have to understand that they're sinning against the holy God and being honest about that. That might mean that some relationships are cut off for a while. We can't help if people are choosing to cut us out of their lives because we're honest with them when they sin. Now, it's super easy for me to say this rationally and calmly sitting behind the microphone at computer at my desk, but I can be honest with you and tell you this is something that I struggle with in my own life and as actually being honest with others when they are sinning that it's so easy to talk the talk of the Christian life, but it can be really hard to put this in to practice.

So actually, if you pray for me, please pray that God would grow me in boldness and in faithfully following him, and to not worry about the cost, but just for those of you listening who are in these situations with your family members to just really encourage you to be encouraged that this is going to be difficult, that faithfully living for Jesus is going to mean added suffering. But that's what Jesus told us to expect. And part of helping our children understand this is making sure that we are living this out in our own lives, that we're living out God's good design for sex and marriage, that we're making sure that we are being able to discern God's good design from sin, and that then we're loving those in our life well by being honest with them.

Well, that's a wrap for this episode. But as always, my prayer for you as we leave this time together is that no matter the situation in which you and the children God has placed in your care, find yourselves that you would trust that God is working all things together for your good by using all things to conform you more into the image of His Son. I'll see you next time.

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