I love sex. Not just for the reasons you may think, but because of what talking about sex reveals about our culture. This is one topic that we are often uncomfortable with. When I was a kid my friends would ask if my dad had had “the talk” with me. “The talk” was supposed to be the all-encompassing talk about sex and sexuality. Many dads never had “the talk” with them. Many dads were uncomfortable talking about sex unless they were making a joke. I have learned that talking about sex can be healthy, doesn’t need jokes, and doesn’t need to be awkward.
There is so much shame about sex. It can be such an intimate topic that it makes many nervous. Many religious traditions won’t talk about sex because they don’t want to put ideas into the young people’s minds. Making this topic taboo has only added to the shame rather than the freedom that can come from healthy sexual behaviors. The Bible is filled with talk about sex in both negative and positive ways. We need to talk about sex to take away the shame. If we make this a topic worth talking about in appropriate settings, I believe it will be helpful and take away shame.
It is my belief that many couples that struggle with sexual issues and would benefit from talking about sex. Talking about sex and sexual desires is a healthy thing and in the proper context it can be healing and freeing. I have talked to many men who struggle with masturbation and pornography and most of them have never had intimate conversations with their partner. They never discussed desires of frequency. They avoided this issue and instead turn to masturbation. This is not only a lust issue, but it is also an intimacy issue. They are scared of being known. They are scared that they won’t say the right thing because they’ve never been taught to talk about sex. Couples would benefit from learning how to have healthy conversations about sex.
Should we have “the talk” with our kids? At what age? I would say yes, and the age depends. I would like to keep our children innocent as long as they can. The reality is that if children don’t learn about sex from you, they will learn it from their peers that don’t know boundaries. Have the talk. Start at a young age. It starts by teaching them the proper names for their private parts and setting the expectation that they use the proper names. It is good for them to be comfortable using words like “penis” and “vagina” rather than the ambiguous words we have for private parts. This will inevitably lead to them blurting something about their private in an inapproriate place, but that too is a teaching opportunity of when to use these words appropriately.
When they start to have sleepovers at friends’ houses, make sure and talk to them about appropriate behavior. Ask them questions like: Who can touch your privates? Who can show you their privates? Can you look at private parts on a screen? What do you do if someone touches you? Did you see anything on screens that showed private parts?
When they get home ask them these same questions. It doesn’t matter how close the friend, ask your child anyway. Make sure to ensure them that no one can harm them or you if they tell.
As they get older you can go over the different uses for your child’s private parts. By the time you get there you will have a good foundation for conversations. The talk cannot happen once. It needs to be an open-ended conversation and we need to learn to ask questions when we are ignorant about sexual issues. Being a safe place to talk about sexuality for youth is a good thing. Kids, and most adults even, need safe places to talk about sex. If you talk about this in a non-shameful, non-joking, or perverted way you will set yourself up as a safe place.
My dad never had “the talk” with me. We never got around to it. I don’t blame him or think less of him for it, it just never happened. However, I did have a father of a friend talk to me about sex. He was very frank and helpful, he let me know that I could ask him questions anytime I needed to. To this day I would ask him about sex. He is a safe place for me. I deeply appreciate this man for his boldness in talking to me about sex. He normalized conversations about sex for me. He taught me it doesn’t have be awkward.
My wife and I have age-appropriate conversations with our children about sex The conversations continue and I hope they will never stop. My wife and I have conversations with our friends about sex as well. We are trying to normalize these conversations and show them as healthy. But all of this started with the hard work of my wife and I being intimate with each other. We can talk about anything with each other without shame. This is the foundation for it all. Both of us are fully known and fully loved.
Teach those around you that it is okay to talk about sex. To do this you can talk about sex. Don’t do this in joke or perversion or at inappropriate times but allow it to become a part of normal conversation. If you are in a committed relationship make sure your partner knows when you talk about sex with other people. For me it is not okay to have private conversations about sex with females. As a pastor this topic comes up from time to time with the opposite sex, but my wife is always in the know about these conversations. This is a rule that we have committed to and keep. This is a part of trusting one another; we are trustworthy.
If we become more comfortable talking about sex, I believe we can speak into unhealthy sexual behaviors and bring healing. If we talk about sex in a healthy way as a culture maybe those who are being abused will feel safer reporting their abuse. This may also give them an imagination for a life different and healthier than the one they have endured. If men learn to become intimate instead of just sexual, then maybe they will not feel the desire to be a john. Talking about sex will take away the shame. If we talk about healthy behaviors this will only benefit our community.
#TeamMitchellBoys is raising awareness this month and also fund for Peoria Home. Peoria Home is just one place where we can put our deepening understanding to practice.