Practical Considerations for Teaching Students About Sex

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It is essential to understand sexuality as being a part of a bigger Story.  All too often, it is made into either far more, or far less than it was created to be.  It becomes an identity, it becomes a pinnacle, it becomes what is sought after and worshipped.  Scripture has an enormous amount to offer us in understanding the complexities and mysteries of God’s design of our sexuality, and my prayer is that the following words would help to guide you as you seek to engage the topic – through teaching, small group discussions, or maybe individual mentoring – with your students. 

1) It is crucial for us to go into conversations like these with hearts steeped in the Word, and with an awareness that any of the kids we are talking with A) may have already had sexual experiences, B) may have been sexually abused, and C) are likely in the middle of navigating their own attractions, which may not be heterosexual.  It is a very sensitive topic, and we need the guidance of the Holy Spirit at every step.  We want to start with Jesus, and end with Jesus.

2) We want to present it with a sense of hope and purpose by God, not as a perversion by man (or just behaviorally, as happens so often).  We want to remain connected to the bigger Story, to the way sexuality fits into God’s good design of the world and relationship.  Love is so much more powerful than fear (I John 4), and way too often, fear becomes the prime motivator for saving sex until marriage.  

3) We want to validate desires and curiosity; shame is perhaps the biggest weapon of the Enemy in conversations of these sorts.  Remember the garden: Adam and Eve’s first reaction after the fall was to cover their nakedness in shame (Genesis 3:8-10).  Know your own story, and where you carry shame in relation to your sexuality.  The gospel is for you.  The more you can normalize the confusing reality of kids’ struggles to understand and navigate their own sexuality, the better.

4) Consider how you might exegete culture’s mixed/false messages about sex.  There are clips from movies you can show, magazines covers which speak volumes, prime time TV shows that ‘preach’ weekly on it, and plenty of other material.  I would recommend highlighting some of the following messages:

*that it is nothing and it is everything

*that it’s “just physical”

*that it’s all about the self/what you want and need (versus serving the other)

*that it’s merely about pleasure

*that it’s primarily uncontrollable (especially for men)

*that celibate people cannot live full, beautiful, satisfying lives; in fact, not having sex is a ridiculous proposition – and maybe even unhealthy

5) Find resources that help you to paint the picture, in an age-appropriate way, of God’s good design of sex in marriage, and of the many ‘yes’es a celibate Christian person looks toward and enjoys as they honor God, themselves, and others with their ‘no’ or ‘not yet.’  Having a panel of folks, who you know and trust, and who are willing to engage the topic with your students can be invaluable; both single and married people are faced with the question of what it means to honor God with their sexuality, and to live full lives in Jesus.  We want to help create Biblical scaffolding for them to use when questions and struggles arise.

*it is for honoring one another’s differences as man and woman

*it is for covering one another’s shame

*it is for worship

*it is for play

*it is for mutual care, respect, and enjoyment of one another

*it is meaningful/spiritual/connected with intimacy

*it is not the pinnacle of relationship/love, but is an important part of it

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