How to Talk to Youths About Sex

4 tips to make talking to youths about sexuality more natural

By Raphael Zhang | 13 April, 2018

Broaching the topic of sex with youths can be a delicate matter, requiring thoughtful navigation. While it’s important to have faith-filled and informed conversations with our young people about sex, the challenges of the task may trip even the best of us up or discourage us from giving it a shot at all.

Here are some ways to view this conversation about sexuality so you can continue to guide your youths.

1. Be holistic

An essential part to understanding and explaining sexuality is to ground it in the Christian worldview of personhood. One profound implication of us being created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27) is this — God is a spiritual and relational Being with thoughts and emotions, so we’re meant to be spiritual, relational, intellectual and emotional, too. We live out these aspects in our bodies, so we have a physical dimension as well.

An essential part to understanding and explaining sexuality is to ground it in the Christian worldview of personhood.

A discussion about sexuality is not just about private parts and sexual acts, but it must also involve a holistic perspective of what it means to be human.

  • Spiritual: What we do with our sexuality has deep spiritual effects and is part of our spiritual worship to God. (Romans 12:1)
  • Intellectual: What we think about ourselves and others has a significant influence on our sexuality. (Romans 12:2)
  • Emotional: How we steward our desires and feelings about ourselves and others greatly affects how we live out our sexuality. (Galatians 5:16-25; Proverb 4:23)
  • Social: We’re made for and shaped by our relationships. The way we and others live out our sexuality impacts one another deeply. (Proverbs 13:20; 1 Corinthians 12:26)
  • Physical: How we act upon our sexuality in our bodies has physical consequences and involves all the above dimensions of our being. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

Don’t just talk to youths about the physical components of sexuality. Engage them in a broader conversation and debate about all the wonderful dimensions of being human, and inspire them to worship God with their sexuality in all these aspects.

2. Be role-models

Youths have a very sharp radar for who’s consistent in their lives and authentic with them. They can quickly spot who doesn’t walk the talk, and who aren’t being honest with them.

It’s crucial that we must practise what we preach, so that we’ll have the credibility to speak to them about living out their sexuality in a godly manner. If we aren’t striving to be sexually whole, the gaps between our actions and our words will make our message sound hollow to them.

After all, godly values are not just taught, but caught when they see how we live. This doesn’t mean we have to be perfect. It means that in the midst of our struggles, we must want to honour God in our sexuality and other areas of our lives, so that we are convicted to engage with our youths to do the same.

Godly values are not just taught, but caught when they see the way we live.

3. Be real

Youths often enjoy hearing about how we’ve lived out the lessons we’re conveying to them, because it fleshes out what abstract principles can look like in reality.

Don’t just share stories of success. It’s also helpful for them to hear about our struggles and mistakes, how we tried to overcome them, and the lessons we learnt . In fact, the stories of our ongoing journey in a certain area of sexuality may be even more encouraging and authentic to them. They may find comfort in the fact that adults also grapple with the messiness of life, and may be heartened that there are restorative ways forward even after mistakes have been made.

It’s helpful for youths to hear about our struggles and mistakes, the lessons and how we tried to overcome them.

When we share our own journeys in sexuality, we show them that we desire to be genuine with them. This invites them to trust us with their experiences as well. However, as much as we want to be authentic with our youths, we also want to be mindful to share wisely, lest we expose them to unnecessary and inappropriate details.

4. Be patient

Finally, engaging youths on sexuality is a long journey that may involve lots of going back and forth, repetitions and rebukes. Let’s be patient with them in their growth journeys, as God is patient with us in ours.

Be a safe person for them to confide their thoughts, questions and struggles. This assures them that they can approach you with their concerns about sexuality, without fear of judgment.

Be a safe person for youths to confide their thoughts, questions and struggles.

If you don’t know the answer to a certain question, tell them honestly that it’s something you want to research on to continue the conversation. Alternatively, it’s a great idea to invite them to look for answers with you. Ask questions for them to think deeper and reflect more, empowering them to process their concerns more thoroughly.

There are many other ways to engage youths more effectively on issues of sexuality. But we hope that these tips can help you to get started on the essential task of teaching our youths to worship the Lord with their sexuality.

© 2018 Whole Life. All rights reserved.

As a parent or church leader, you have the power to shape the worldviews of our young people. What will you do to encourage them in the ways of God when it comes to sexuality, and relational discipleship? Join the SexEd training in April 2018 and learn to lead 5 sexuality programmes!


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