Advice For Parents: Four Principles To Guide Regarding the Subject of Marriage and Sex

Dear Dads and Moms of Pueblo West Baptist Church:

When it comes to the subject of sex God had to make me spiritually alive and intrude into my life to give me any desire to honor Him with my body and consider the Scriptures as my sole source of authority regarding the subject.

I tell you that because below I’m going to offer advice to parents as you seek to teach your children what the Bible says about sex and marriage. So a dose of disclosure and credit is appropriate. I left my godly Christian parents at age 17 having no desire whatsoever to live a life pleasing to the Lord. But I left knowing my parents did. Dad and mom believed and lived the Bible. They read to me the Bible. They explained the Bible to me. They bought me a Bible. They spanked me according to the Bible. They taught me that, according to the Bible, there is an obedient life that comes as a result of saving faith (Rom. 1:5).

I left home with no desire to live a life pleasing to God, yet I left with a holy echo ringing in my ears  — the Bible truths taught and lived by my Bible-believing parents. It wasn’t for another two years before that echo was used by our Lord and I turned in faith to Christ and was saved.

All the experts of our day or yesterday cannot replace humble, obedient dads and moms living out – ‘til death do them part — what the Bible says about marriage and sex.

This is where I turn this essay to focus on you as parents. You are the primary means God uses to teach and model to your children what He has revealed in the Bible. As much as I’d like to think your kiddos are hanging on every word of my sermons and will remember them until they are senile, I suspect that’s not the case. Your words and your lives are the primary ‘holy echo’ in your children’s lives. Why do I say that? Because the Bible says so: See Dt. 6:6-9; Pr. 1:8-9; Eph. 6:4; Col. 3:21.

So this is my charge as your pastor, to encourage you as parents, particularly fathers, to so speak and live before your children, that they know the Bible is your authority. There are many good resources available that can give you good advice as you raise your children, and many will be helpful. However, our Lord looks with favor on those who are humble and contrite of heart and tremble at His word, who soak their minds in the Scriptures (Is. 66:2; Ps. 119). All the experts of our day or yesterday cannot replace humble, obedient dads and moms living out – ‘til death do them part — what the Bible says about marriage and sex.

That’s what I hope you get out of the following principles that continue to echo in my mind.

Principle #1: There Really Is A Knowable Standard

To talk about sex is to talk about marriage and family. From the very beginning God revealed He designed sex to be practiced in the union of one man and one woman, the union we call marriage. Further, sex was designed by God to bring forth children.

That’s the knowable standard, and it’s found in Genesis 1-2. It’s what Jesus said is the standard (Matthew 19; Mark 10).

So to teach our children about sex and marriage, we need to show them this is what God says is true. Ask the Lord to help you convey that your marriage isn’t something merely that fits your preferences. You aren’t making this up, it’s not a generational thing or a conservative thing. Rather, God is the authority over everyone, and He has revealed with absolute authority as to what is right and good about marriage and sex. Further, while medicine and technology allow us to be sexually active with no connection to marriage, the Bible doesn’t. Sexual sin is defined by God’s knowable standard (I’ll say more about this in #3).

Principle #2: God looks with favor on marriage and sex – It was His idea and is a blessing (Gen. 1:25-28). Therefore, the Bible expects us, even encourages us to delight in and receive pleasure in the act and thank God for the blessing of sex (Gen. 1:28; Pr. 5:18,19). And the Bible expects us and encourages us to be in utter amazement that the conjoining of the seed of a man with the egg of a woman brings life into the world. Children are a gift from the Lord (Ps. 127:3). Those are the God-ordained privileges that come with marriage.

So teach your children that marriage is a blessing from God and should be appreciated and enjoyed. You can do this by hugging and appropriately kissing each other in their presence. You can do this by praising your mate in front of your children, or bringing the gypsies in so you can enjoy a night out. You can do this by celebrating anniversaries, your own and friends. You can do this by pointing out couples who’ve been married lots and lots of years. You can do this by saying things when couples honor their vows until death do them part. I remember hearing a preacher say to a widow as he spoke at her husband’s funeral, “Jan, hold your head up. You kept your vows.” You can say things like that about others and by doing so, show your children you regard marriage as precious.

Principle #3: God Is Clear, and it is Sin that Clouds and Confuses

The Scriptures are not nuanced when it comes to the subject of sex; the Bible is (for us sinners) frustratingly clear. Marriage is for life between one man and one woman, and all sexual activity is reserved for that union. When Jesus was quizzed about what people could get away with in marriage (Mark 10; Matthew 19), His response was so black and white, his disciples concluded, “If the relationship of the man with his wife is like this, it is better not to marry” (Matthew 19:10).  You can read the entire conversation to see Jesus did nothing to discourage a high, high view of the sanctity of marriage (which He got from the Bible – Gen. 1,2).

Now that sin has entered the world not only is there pain in child bearing and tension between husband and wife (Gen. 3:16,17), there is now a severe lack of purity, a defilement of our sexual desires (Mark 7:20-23; Jer. 17:9). The result is that the world, our sinful nature and the devil will have us always asking the God-doubting question, “Has God really said?” There is something in every human that will have us wanting to negotiate or alter what the Bible says about sex.

Some think that this side of the cross, God is more lenient than under the Old Testament – He goes easier on us. But when Jesus stated that He came not to abolish the Law but to fulfill it, He certainly didn’t mean God’s holy standard for sex would be diminished or negated. In fact, what Jesus did was address the subject at the very core of our being (See Matthew 5:27-30; Mark 7:20-23). Further, under the New Covenant, His indwelling Spirit prompts and empowers us from the inside out to live a sexually pure life as defined by the Bible (Matthew 5:6; Rom. 8:10-14; I Cor. 6:18-20).

Teaching our children about the holy standards of sex and marriage will most likely humble us. But we will not be teaching according to the Spirit of Truth if we lower the standard, if we nuance the truth, because of our own sexual sin. We may have to acknowledge our sins to our children. But we will not and cannot lower or change the perfect standard of God. We may have to confess how our own desire to rebel against God has brought much grief. But we can tell them how we heard the Gospel and Christ has saved us and changed us. We don’t have to go into graphic detail as to our past, but we must give our Lord the glory for saving us and changing us and keeping us! See I Tim. 1:15-17

Principle #4: The Truths That Are Our Authority Are In a Book

I realize this may be so obvious, it borders on insulting. The obvious is you reading to your children showing them in the Bible what it says about marriage and sex.

Show them the words on the page. Show them that the Bible says marriage is between a man and woman because God says it is (Gen. 1,2). Show them in the Bible God Himself declares marriage as precious and therefore we must regard it as precious (Hebrews 13:4). Shudder with them as you read Leviticus 20. Gasp in awe at the high calling our Lord puts on husbands and wives in Ephesians 5. Blush joyfully with them as you read Proverbs 5:18,19.

A note specifically to dads: Don’t assume anything. Don’t assume ‘nice’ movies or Christian music or Disney are going to teach your children what the Bible says. Don’t assume it’s the responsibility of a Sunday school teacher to teach your children these truths. Don’t assume your children will naturally drift towards a holy view of marriage. Fathers, we are to bring our children up in the fear and admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4). Dads (and moms), show them it’s what God says in the Bible that defines your marriage and why you live as you do.

Originally published in Pueblo West Baptist Church newsletter, Summer 2016

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