A framework for educating kids about sex

With some in-trepidation our year 5 son is about to have his sex and relationships lessons at a Church of England primary school. Here’s some thoughts on the sort of things I want to get across in giving a biblical framework for what he'll be hearing. Because our children will receive so much to confuse them about sex at secondary school I think it is important that we start not just by teaching them the right place for sex, but explaining why it is designed for a man and woman. Obviously these aren’t points you would work through in one sitting. But they may be helpful to have in mind as you chat things through when opportunity comes. I’ve tried (badly) to write them in the simple way I’d want to get them across.

1) Sex is special
The Bible begins telling us that God made men and women in his image, commanding them to “fill” and bring order to the world (Genesis 1v26-28). We then read how he created Eve to help Adam in this. On seeing her, he sings with delight and we’re told: “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.”

What we learn from this is that sex and feelings of attraction are good gifts from God. He has made us to find those of the other gender attractive so we might one day want to marry someone and provide a beautiful “image” in married love of God’s loving commitment to his people (Revelation 21v2). Sex has two roles in marriage:

(1) It enables the couple to have children and so “fill” the world with more people who will image God in all the ways they might do good as they follow and serve Jesus. As you will learn at school, God has designed men and women so that they fit together in sex for this reason. The woman has an egg inside her, and in having sex the man provides a sperm that God combines with it as he starts to form a baby. It’s absolutely amazing. He uses them as a team in creating a whole new person.

(2) Sex is also God’s way of uniting a husband and wife together in the closest possible friendship. The Bible calls this being “one flesh.” In having sex the couple show and deepen their love for one-another. And they can become so close that it feels like they’re sort of one person. This helps them stick together and so show what God's faithfulness to his people is like, as he always sticks with us. But it also keeps them close so that as a team of two they can better serve God in raising their children and doing good in their church and society.

Now we all appreciate teams. They are a more fun way of doing things, and they combine people’s different strengths as they perform different roles. Well this is why God made human beings according to two genders – as men or women. He did it so that we would experience real happiness in needing each other, serving him together, and showing in how we do that something of how he loves and joins with us in what he is doing in the world (Genesis 1v26-28, 2v18-25). That’s what marriage is all about. Just as the one God exists as three different persons – as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, so he made men and women different, but able to become “one flesh” in order to serve him together. This is one of the ways in which he made us to image him.

2) Sex has consequences
If people have sex it could result in a baby being born. And it will always result in the couple getting deeply attached to one-another. The Bible is therefore very strong in saying that a couple should only have sex when they are married. This is for their protection. When people get married they promise to stay together until they die. But if a boyfriend and girlfriend have sex when they aren’t married - even if they really love each other, they are still much more likely to split up than if they were married. And that would mean that any baby born wouldn’t have its parents together. It would also mean that having got so close through sex, the two people would be even more hurt by splitting. If you glue two pieces of paper together and then separate them, they will tear!

3) Sex is powerful
Because God wants men and women to marry and stick to one-another he has made sex and feelings of attraction very powerful. This means that as you grow up you may at times be surprised at how powerfully you might have feelings towards someone else. That’s to be expected. It’s a way that your body and your feelings are getting ready for when you might be able to get married.

4) Sex is often ruined
Because sex is so special and powerful many people refuse to wait until they are married. Like a child who can’t wait for their birthday they rip open God’s present before he wants them to have it. And they often treat it in a way that isn’t special or powerful. So you will find friends make fun of having sex. Others may act as if it doesn’t matter who you have sex with. Even books, songs and TV programs can suggest this is right and that you’re missing out if you don’t have sex. Friends may also encourage you to look at pictures or videos of naked people or of people having sex.

But all this is like being given the most precious gift from the queen and throwing it in the bin. Because sex is so precious it’s not to be laughed at, passed around or watched for fun. It’s a special present God has given just for you and whoever you marry. And he doesn’t want that to be spoilt by inappropriate memories or experiences. So if friends do try to show you things you know you shouldn’t look at, or say things about sex that unsettle you, firmly tell them not to and make sure you talk to your Mum or Dad.

5) Sex needs control
There is a book in the Bible called Song of Solomon that is all about how wonderful feelings of attraction can be in those who are about to get married. But three times the books warns: “Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires” (Song of Songs 2v7, 3v5, 8v4). Because these feelings are so powerful it really is foolish to encourage them until you’re ready to think about marrying someone. Friends will talk about fancying or going out with a girlfriend or boyfriend, and they may make fun of you if you don’t. But if you’re hungry and you spend your time around chocolate biscuits you will feel more and more hungry until you feel you can’t help but have one! In the same way, if you start going out with people you will find your feelings for them get stronger and stronger. That may encourage you to do wrong by having sex before you are married. But even if it doesn’t, it will make things much more painful for you when you stop going out with that person. Instead, it is best to leave the going out thing until you are old enough to think about whether you might get married.

6) Sex is not for all
Although people go on a lot about all this, God doesn’t want everyone to get married or have sex. Some won’t meet anyone it’s right for them to marry. Others may not feel especially attracted to anyone. So there’s nothing at all wrong with not going out with anyone or not having these sort of feelings. We must remember that Jesus never got married or had sex. And he didn’t miss out or feel unhappy because of that. In fact, he taught that in heaven no-one will get married and so there will be no sex (Matt 22v30). There will no longer be the need to have children and everyone will be totally focused on pleasing God. This is why the apostle Paul said it is good for some people to choose not to marry. It often means they can be more focused on pleasing Jesus (1 Cor 7v32-34). And that’s the best thing of all!