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Guiding Teens on Sex and Sexting

Guiding Teens on Sex and Sexting

A Biblical Foundation for The Talk with Your Teen

“Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.”

Genesis 2:25

It’s awkward and even terrifying for parents to discuss their child’s sexuality. Yikes! You may be afraid you’ll give them ideas. News flash: God created us as sexual beings, and they already have ideas (plenty, actually). I would much rather you give them ideas than let their peers fill that void.

Sexting is a modern-day reality. Your teen has either sent a sext, received a sext, or knows someone who has. It’s happening in all ways and in all contexts, so no assumptions should be made on gender.

I’ve talked to many teens who grew up in church and engaged in sexting, and their parents still don’t know! I’ve also spoken at conferences about this, and during the Q&A, inevitably a parent tearfully shares a personal experience. The story is always the same: “My kid grew up in church and they started sexting and I didn’t know.” The most compelling moment is always when a parent says, “Don’t say this couldn’t happen to my kid!” We need grace and kindness with more open communication.

This might feel very awkward to discuss with your teen. Maybe you need to go back to the basics of reproduction if these are things you haven’t discussed freely. It’s okay to say, “I know we haven’t talked much about this in the past, but it’s important and I’m working to learn better ways to have a conversation about it.”

God designed our sexuality, and we need to be comfortable discussing sexual health in a developmentally appropriate way. We should approach conversation with normalcy and body positivity. Sex is not a secret thing, but it is a sacred thing.

Parents, if you have teens who have sexted or had prior sexual relationships in their teen years and your heart hurts for something they experienced in the course of that, go find them, and tell them they’re amazing and wonderful and you’re confident in the optimism of their future. They need you to see them outside the singular lens of their sexual experience. Many will have lifetime consequences they already have to live with, like a nude photo popping up at some point in the future or an STI that could impact fertility. They need grace and help reclaiming their dignity and self-worth if they feel it’s lost. Speak up on their behalf when needed. Affirm your unconditional love. Let them know you are for them, and there for them.

In a world where teens are constantly bombarded with sexual images and messages, it’s hard to cut through the noise to shape a healthy view of sexuality. But it can be found, and it can be modeled. Adam and Eve were naked and unashamed, and God called it good.

The Song of Solomon provides vivid imagery of sexuality that is definitely not G-rated. This eros (erotic, sensual) expression of love must be balanced with agape (pure, sacrificial, unconditional) and phileo (friendship) love for healthy relationships that embrace but don’t worship sexuality. It’s possible to be naked and unashamed. And with your support and example, you can help shepherd your teen toward a future where they leave behind the damage and embrace what God calls good.

Behind Closed Doors by Jessica Peck

Believe it or not, your kids want to talk to you about the social and health challenges they are facing. But are you ready? In Behind Closed Doors: A Guide to Help Parents and Teens Navigate Through Life’s Toughest Issues, Jessica L. Peck, a pediatric nurse practitioner, professor, and mom of four teenagers, helps parents escape the secrecy and shame surrounding tough parenting conversations and approach them from a biblical foundation.