Principle #2: Holy (Teach your children godly sexuality part 12)

So far in this course we have looked at how two principles: our sexuality is both good and holy.  We’re now going to apply both of these principles to two of the four broad areas that arise with children aged 2-11:
  • Exploration/questions about their bodies
  • Questions about growing up/parents bodies
  • What does it mean to be male/female?
  • Where do babies come from?

For each of these areas I give some examples of common situations that arise.  For each scenario I have also included a fairly typical parental response.

First I would like you to see what message the typical parental response is giving and what the consequences of that response will be.  Then I would like you to come up with a response that both brings out the holiness of God’s creation whilst also positively affirming/blessing its goodness.

Let’s recap the example we looked at in a previous post:

For example:
Your son/daughter (age 4) has his/her hand down his pants/knickers and is gently playing with their genitals.

A typical parental response would be to say:
“What do you think you’re doing? Stop that at once – it’s disgusting!”

What is the message that this response is giving?
Well firstly the response forgets that this is a child who has no idea that what they’re doing has any “adult” sexual connotations.  It simply feels nice and comforting.  So the parent’s reaction will seem quite over the top to their child.  Coupled with this will be the message that either feeling nice is bad or my genitals are bad or both and is likely to lead to guilt or shame about their sexuality or sexual feelings.  In addition, it will make them unlikely to come to you if they have any questions or concerns in the future – which will lead them to seek answers elsewhere which may be inappropriate.

So what is a better response?
Firstly, we need to affirm that that God made our sexual organs pleasurable as a gift to us (however, this is not the full response – but you’ll have to wait until the next post before we can do that!) and then we need to point to the true meaning of the gift (ie its holiness).  So a response might start something like this (goodness in green and holiness in purple):

“I see that you’re touching your …”

“Does it feel nice?”

“Did you know that God made our … to feel nice?”

Yes it’s true.  Daddy God gave you this gift to share with your husband/wife when you grow up because it will help you experience the joy in Heaven when the world was made.

I hope this helps you see the kind of conversation we’re going for.  Honest, affirming its goodness and the true meaning.  More details on the how to communicate will be covered in the third principle that will be blogged in the next post.

OK, your turn now.  Here are some situations and a typical parental response.
Identify what message the current response gives and its consequence and then be.  Then I would like you to come up with a response that positively affirms the goodness of our sexuality and displays its holiness/true meaning.

Exploration/questions about their bodies

You catch your daughter flashing her knickers to the boys.

Current response: stop that at once! We don’t flash show our private parts to other people!

You catch your child taking clothes off with a friend

Current response: Put your clothes on!  God says you only take off your clothes with your wife!

Your child finishes a story with ‘Johnny was mucking around again at school. He’s such a dick!’

Current response: I never want to hear such filthy language again – go to your room!

Where do babies come from?
Your son aged 8 asks “But how does a baby get inside mummy?”

Current response: The man puts his willy inside mummy’s vagina.

The balance between the two principles of goodness and holiness is key.  Saying it’s good without mentioning holiness (like the world) will just lead to indulgence.  Saying it’s holy without mentioning its goodness (like the church has done but with a legalistic view of holiness) leads to shame.  Mentioning both is the secret to all our conversations with our children.In our next post we’ll look at the third principle of teaching our children godly sexuality: “As you walk along…” which covers the how in more detail.

Principle #2: Holy (Teach your children godly sexuality part 11)

godly sexualityWe have seen in the previous three posts that sexual intercourse is holy as it reflects the oneness and intimacy in the trinity,  it is the seal of the marriage covenant and it points to the ecstasy of our future union with Christ.

Since our sexual intimacy is Holy it needs to be treated as such.  It is a precious gift for the one we marry and ultimately a gift for Jesus:

Give honour to marriage and remain faithful to one another in marriage.
Heb 13:4a

You are my private garden, my treasure, my bride
SoS 4:12a

If she is a virgin, like a wall, we will protect her with a silver tower.
But if she is promiscuous, like a swinging door, we will block her door with a cedar bar.
I was a virgin, like a wall; now my breasts are like towers .  When my lover looks at me, he is delighted with what he sees.

SoS 8:9-10 NLT

We see this in Scripture: it is not prudish but it does treat sexuality with respect.  It uses “to know” (yada) for sexual intercourse in marriage as a reflection of the deepest unity.  And “to lie down” (shakav), “stretch out” (raba) or “crouch down” (kara) for non-marital sex.  Also genitals are never mentioned explicitly but are alluded to instead.  For example “thigh” (yārēk) in Gen 24:2 in Gen 47:29 and Num 5:22 used for testicles*, “feet” (regel in Isa 7:20, and perhaps also in Ruth…) for a man’s genitalia.

Before we apply this second principle to real life situations we’re again going to spend a little time reflecting on the inheritance we’ve received from our parents and the church about the holiness of our sexuality:

How was the holiness of sexuality conveyed to you by your parents and/or the church?
Was it communicated as a beautiful thing of intimacy and our future marriage to Christ or as something shameful?

How did that make you feel about sexually intimacy?

Satan is the “father of lies” (Jn 8:44) who seeks to “steal and kill and destroy” (Jn 10:10).

Ask the Holy Spirit to highlight specific occasions where you believed a lie.

We need to replace lies with truth so that we can be transformed (Rom 12:2) and that truth will set us free (Jn 8:32). 

Ask Jesus, the truth, to speak the truth about his holy gift into each of these situations.

How have these lies affected your marriage and your response to your children’s sexuality?

Ask the Father to restore what has been lost and make it new (Isa 61). 

Finally, if there is some shame or unconfessed sin in your past that is affecting your marriage and your responses to your children then confess it and receive the Father’s forgiveness, asking him to “cut off” any joinings and restore your whole self for your (future) spouse.

My prayer for you is that our glorious God meets with you and bring you healing and transformation.  

After this it important to maintain and walk in the freedom you have received and how we act flows out of what we believe (“For as he thinks in his heart so is he” Prov 7:23a NKJV). One way to help you replace core beliefs is to write down the truths that you have learned and declare them aloud as faith comes by hearing the word of God (Rom 10:17).  In the same way when Jesus was being attacked about his identity (“if you are the Son of God”) he quoted scripture out loud (Mat 4:3, 6).

If you need further help then I do recommend a Sozo, or Restoring the Foundations, Freedom in Christ or liebusters.org as helpful ministries.  Take the time to do this because as I’ve said before – we can’t pass on wholeness if we ourselves are not whole.  We’re seeking restoration for our children and future generations.  We are making a stand now that will impact the rest of our family line.

Feel free to comment below or if you prefer to ask something privately then do contact us via our website.

Next time we will apply both principles to common scenarios faced when parenting.

*placing a hand on the testicles of the person was a solemn oath.  It’s where we get the word “testify” from.  You’ll probably never be able to use that word in the same way again.  Sorry about that.

Our marriage to Christ (Teach your children godly sexuality part 10)

godly sexualityWe saw in our previous post that marriage is an exclusive covenant relationship between a man and a woman which reflects the intimate relationship between the father and the son.

However, it is also a prophetic declaration of the relationship that Jesus wants to have with us:

For your Maker is your husband—the LORD Almighty is his name—the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer;he is called the God of all the earth. Isa 54:5

This is why Jesus refers to himself as the bridegroom (Lk 5:34-35 also Mt 9:15; Mk 2:19-20) and John the Baptist refers to himself as the friend of the bridegroom (Jn 3:29).  And we, the Church, are his promised bride:

“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”  This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church.
Eph 5:31-32

Jesus proposed to us using the traditional Hebrew wedding ritual:

The arrangements preliminary to betrothal (Shiddukin)

The father approves a bride for his son often long before the couple were of marriageable age .  In our case God the Father chose us to be His Son’s bride before the Creation of the world (Eph 1:4, Jn 6:44).

The rite of betrothal (erusin)

When the groom comes of age he would go to the young woman’s home and present to her and her father the written marriage covenant (ketubah), which details the terms of the proposed marriage.Jesus came to the home of his bride (Earth) to present his marriage contract – the new covenant, which provides for the forgiveness of sins (Jer 31:31-34) written on our hearts.

This also includes the bride price (mōhar).  In our case Jesus pays for us with his life (Lk 22:20; 1 Pet 1:18-19; 1 Cor 6:19b-20a).

The prospective groom then pours a glass of wine (the cup of the covenant) for the young woman.  By drinking it she indicates her acceptance and the couple are now betrothed.  This is legally binding, like marriage, but is not yet consummated[1][1].  Jesus sealed is betrothal to us with the cup of the covenant at the last supper (Lk 22:20).

Before the groom left he would give a speech to his bride (the engagement promise) that he would come to claim her soon after he has prepared a new home for her.  Hence Jesus says:

In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” Jn 14:2-3

Finally, the groom gives a bridal gift (matan[2]), to his wife as his pledge of love for her and a reminder that he is thinking of her and will return to receive her as his wife.  For us, Jesus gives us the Holy Spirit (Eph 4:7-8; Acts 2:38) as he returns to his father’s house.

The betrothal period (kiddushin[3])

During this period of typically a year the groom will prepare the bridal chamber where they will consummate their marriage and build a new dwelling place for his bride.

The bride will undertake a ritual immersion (mikvah) to symbolise her turning aside from all the former things and starting a new life with her beloved.  Our ritual immersion is baptism (Rom 6:3-6; Eph 5:26-27).

She would also make her wedding garments (kittel).  Our garments are robes of righteousness (Isa 61:10; Rev 19:8).

The wedding ceremony (nisuin[4])

When the father of the groom approves the bridal chamber and new home, the groom would go to fetch his bride.  Whilst the bride knew the approximate timing, the exact day or hour was uncertain, so she and her bridesmaids had to be continually ready for his arrival.  One of the bridegroom’s party would go ahead and shout “Behold, the bridegroom comes” followed by the sounding of the ram’s horn trumpet (shofar).

When the wedding procession reached the bride’s house the groom would “steal” the bride and carry her back to his father’s house to meet the guests, share a second cup of wine and then enter the bridal chamber to consummate their marriage under the chuppah[5].

The groom tells the best man when it is consummated who then announces it to the guests waiting outside.  The guests would then celebrate for 7 days until the bride and bridegroom emerged from the wedding chamber honeymoon at which point they would participate in the marriage supper given in honour of the newlyweds.  Finally, the couple would leave for the home that bridegroom had prepared.

When the Father chooses (Mk 13:32-33) Jesus will return for his bride with a shout and a trumpet (1 Thess 4:16) return to His father’s house where we will share the second cup of wine (Mt 26:28-29) and He will take us to His chuppah and we will become fully known (1 Cor 13:12) – the language of one flesh (Eph 5:31-32).

Our greatest moment is described as the ecstasy of sex when we shall say “I am my beloveds and my beloved is mine” (SOS 6:3) and experience the “pleasures at His right hand” (Ps 16:11b) where “our souls will be satisfied as with the richest of foods” (Ps 63:5a)

We will then emerge from the wedding chamber and participate in the wedding supper (Rev 19:9) and go to our home in the new Jerusalem (Rev 21:1-4).

There will no longer be marriage between people (Mt 22:30; Mk 12:25; Lk 20:35) as we are married to the Lamb.  Our sexuality will find its ultimate fulfilment in Him, the Desire of all nations (Hag 2:7 NKJV).  Hence in this world we will not find ultimate satisfaction in our spouse (or any other part of creation):

If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.
C. S. Lewis

So every act of sex prophetically points to this beautiful wedding consummation with our Beloved.  How much more holy can it get?

Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting:
“Hallelujah!
For our Lord God Almighty reigns.
Let us rejoice and be glad
and give him glory!
For the wedding of the Lamb has come,
and his bride has made herself ready.
Fine linen, bright and clean,
was given her to wear.”
(Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of God’s holy people.)
Then the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!” And he added, “These are the true words of God.”
Rev 19:6-9


[1] The man would need a religious divorce to annul the contract. For example Joseph seeking to divorce Mary, his betrothed, in Mt 1:18-25.
[2] The bridal gift, matan, is Charismata in Greek, which is used for the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
[3] This means “sanctification”, ie to be “set apart” (1 Pet1:2; 2 Thess 2:13; 1 Cor 6:11).
[4] This means “lift up” or “carry” since the bride was carried to the ceremony during the “home taking” in a carriage lifted by poles or on an animal.
[5] This was a rectangular piece of material, often the Jewish prayer shawl (tallit from Num 15:38), that would be attached to four poles above the bed. Representing God’s presence hovering over them witnessing the covenant.

The marriage covenant (Teach your children godly sexuality part 9)

brideIn the previous post we looked at the first aspect of the holiness of our sexuality: it reflects the inseparable oneness and intimacy of the Trinity.

In this post we look at the second and related reason it has been set apart by God:

It has been set apart by God to reflect the eternal covenantal love of the Trinity.

As we mentioned in a previous post the Father has been eternally loving the Son (Jn 17:24) by the Spirit (eg Rom 15:30) and so John declares that “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” (1 Jn 4:8). So we are created as lovers in the image of God.

However, this love is very different to our concept of love – it is Holy.  The aspect of this holy love that we want to look at here is the covenantal nature of His love.

What is a covenant?

The word “covenant” comes from the Latin con venire meaning a coming together. It describes a solemn binding agreement between two parties, where the deity was solemnly invoked as witness (Gen 31:50 ) to the oath that was sworn (Gen 21:31).

It was the most serious form of agreement and breaking a covenant was considered a heinous sin, and often imposed the penalty of death but at the very least there was an understanding that the one who broke the covenant would be cursed[1].

The Hebrew verb “to seal” or “make” a covenant karath (כָּרַת), translates literally as “to cut”, hence you cut a covenant.  That is because the parties were usually bound together usually by a blood sacrifice with a celebratory feast afterwards.

The tradition the Hebrews used was to cut an animal in two and then have both parties pass between the two parts (Gen 15:8-21; Jer 34:18-19).  It is suggested that they are saying “May I be torn apart like these animals if I fail to uphold my part of this covenant.”

Afterwards the parties would eat the meat together in a meal (Gen 26:30; 31:54).

The cutting was the oath sign (a symbolic and specific act that seals the deal) but sometimes an additional sign or witness to the covenant was given. For example a pillar of stones (Gen 31:52).

So in summary, the components of a covenant were the oath where God was invoked as witness, the oath sign and the meal together.

Covenants between God and mankind

This most binding form of agreement was the one God chose to enter into with man.  He makes oaths with man (eg Dt 4:31) where He swears by Himself (eg Gen 22:15; Heb 6:13-17) and confirms it with a sacrifice (eg Gen 15:17-18; Ex 24:8; Matt 20:28) or other oath sign (eg Rainbow Gen 9:12-13) and a meal together (eg Ex 24:9-10).  Since God is eternal and a covenant last until the death of the parties the covenants He makes are everlasting (eg Gen 9:16; 17:7).

And yet despite us repeatedly breaking God’s covenants of love (Dt 7:7-9; Neh 1:5; 9:32) He does not change his mind (1 Sam 15:29) and is faithful when we are faithless as he cannot disown himself (2 Tim 2:13).

Marriage is a covenant

Since we are made in the image of God (Gen 1:27) we are created as covenantal lovers[2]  and marriage is a prophetic declaration of the Trinitarian love.  However if we want to truly understand marriage then, like Jesus did (Mt 19:4), we need to go back to the beginning.

Adam and Eve were married (see Gen 3:8; 4:1) and we see in the bible that marriage is a covenant:

“It is because the LORD is the witness between you and the wife of your youth. You have been unfaithful to her, though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant.” (Mal 2:14b)

So Adam made his covenant oath in the presence of God and later Jewish marriages were performed under the chuppah[3]  (חוּפָּה) as a sign of God’s presence hovering over His people[4].

Like the other covenants we have referenced it held until the death of one of the parties and hence there was no divorce:

Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard.  But it was not this way from the beginning” (Mt 19:8)

And had Adam and Eve not have eaten from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, then their marriage covenant would have also been eternal like the Father’s eternal love for the Son.

What is the sign of the marriage covenant?

It was the consummation.  This is why Jewish marriages were not considered complete until consummation, and only after that would the seven days of feasting begin.

This is why when blood was spilt by a broken hymen upon consummation it was understood to be the blood of the covenant they had just made.

Hence, thereafter lovemaking[5]  is a reminder of that marriage covenant in the same way a rainbow is a reminder of God’s eternal covenant with Noah (Gen 9:16)[6].

So the marriage covenant is symbolic of the eternal oneness and covenantal love of the Father for the Son.  The covenant joining as we saw in the last post is by God Himself (Mt 19:6) and the blood covenant represents the sacrificial act that is necessary for this to remain so.  Hence because the marriage between a man and a woman is one of the highest prophetic declarations of the nature of God:

“Marriage should be honoured by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral” (Heb 13:4)

This is why God hates divorce (Mal 2:16a) and why he won’t receive the offerings and prayers of a man who breaks faith with his wife (Mal 2:13-14) or who does not treat her with respect (1 Pet 3:7) as he is profaning the image of God[7] .  How can a man say he loves God if he does not love his wife (cf 1 Jn 4:19-21)?

What is our covenantal marriage oath of love like?

Well we can’t define our own terms as that would be setting up our own image of God.  So we need to know what the love of the Father for the Son looks like and what Son’s love for the Father is.  But since God’s ways and thoughts are higher than ours (Isa 55:8-9) we can’t even begin to fathom.  But Jesus shows us what that love looks like as He said “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you” (Jn 15:9a) and Jesus’ love for the Father was shown by his sacrifice (Jn 14:31a):

“Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist.  After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.” (Jn 13:3-5)

“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends”. (Jn 15:13)

This kind of love isn’t like how the world loves (see also Mt 20:25-28; 5:44-45) but we are to be holy like our God is holy (1 Pet 1:15-16; Lev 11:45; 20:26).  Our God makes the sun shine on the evil and the good (Mt 5:45), he loves us even though we didn’t love him (1 Jn 4:10), and sent his son to die in our place (1 Pet 3:18) while we were still sinners (Rom 5:8) and His enemies (Rom 5:10).  He now calls us His friends (Jn 15:15) and adopts us as his children (Jn 1:12) and makes us fellow heirs with Christ (Rom 8:17) with Christ’s righteousness (2 Cor 5:21).

And so the marriage vows are about lifelong sacrificial giving and laying down our life for the other not a demanding that the other person satisfies my needs.   Hence:

“Any attempt to define love in the context of what the other person does or doesn’t do violates God’s definition of love as well as the vows you spoke on your wedding day.” (Tim Alan Gardner).

This is why Paul says that “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Eph 5:25).

I, N , take you, N , to be my wife, to have and to hold from this day forward; for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part; according to God’s holy law.  In the presence of God I make this vow.

Heavenly Father, by your blessing let these rings be to N and N a symbol of unending love and faithfulness, to remind them of the vow and covenant which they have made this day through Jesus Christ our Lord.

N, I give you this ring as a sign of our marriage.  With my body I honour you, all that I am I give to you, and all that I have I share with you, within the love of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.


[1] Hence the stoning of those who broke the covenant and also the curses listed for those who broke the covenant.
[2] Hence we are to be like Him “Be Holy because I am Holy”
[3] This was a rectangular piece of material, often the Jewish prayer shawl (tallit from Num 15:38).
[4] Certainly marriages weren’t originally performed in the tabernacle or temple as Jews understood that God was present everywhere.
[5] Though technically you don’t make love you celebrate your covenant of love.
[6]Thank you to Tim Alan Gardner and his book “Sacred Sex” that first opened my eyes to this.
[7]This is why homosexuality is akin to idolatry (Rom 1:22-27) as it is setting up a different image of God to the true one presented in Genesis.

Principle #2: Holy (Teach your children godly sexuality part 8)

godly sexualityIn the previous three blog posts (1 2 3) we’ve been discussing the first principle of teaching your children godly sexuality: communicate its goodness.

And it was declared to be very good (Gen 1:27) as our sexuality images our Three-in-One God.

Now, the lie that the world tells us is that we’re just clever animals.  Therefore sex doesn’t mean anything; it’s just an ordinary act to meet a biological urge.

The truth is actually the complete opposite and the opposite of ordinary is holy.

Holy means “set apart” and totally different from the ordinary; hence we have holy-days, ie holidays, which are different from our ordinary (work) days.

The way Hebrew communicates more and most is by repeating the word. So:

  • holy holy = more holy
  • holy holy holy = most holy

Which is why God is referred to as “holy holy holy” (Is 6:3; Rev 4:8) as He is the most holy.

So the flip side of our the goodness of our sexuality imaging God is that it is also holy.

However, if you’re anything like me then you have probably heard a message of “sex being holy” as a synonym for a heavy talk where all the consequences of not keeping it holy are made clear.  Is that it?  Is holiness just a reaction to the evils of the world?

No!  This view comes from a misunderstanding of our the nature of our Holy God.  Yes, holiness means being set apart and since God is holy He is set apart from me and the world…

“…but there our troubles begin, because naturally I think I’m lovely.  So if God is ‘set apart’ from me, I assume the problem is with him.  His holiness looks like a prissy rejection of my happy, healthy loveliness…the reality is that I am the cold, selfish, vicious one, full of darkness and dirtiness.  And God is holy – ‘set apart’ from me – precisely in that he is not like that.”*

The Father is perfectly loving and intimate with His Son and so much so that compared to our love for our children, Jesus says:

“If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”        Lk 11:13

This is one reason why Jesus was so angry with the religious Pharisees – as they misrepresented the nature of our loving and gracious God; they made Him into a angry, judgemental nit-picker.

So over this and the next post we’ll look at just two aspects of our sexuality that reveal something of the holiness of our God.  And it is my prayer that you get captivated by the “beauty of the LORD” (Ps 27:4).

Firstly it has been set apart by God to reflect the inseparable oneness and intimacy of the Trinity.

Jesus said:

“Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me” Jn 14:11

There is an intimate oneness in the Trinity and as the Body of Christ we are meant to be an earthly physical representation of that oneness – in the same way that Jesus was a physical representation of the Father so that whoever saw Him had seen the Father (Jn 14:9).

Jesus prayed for the disciples that:

“they may be one as we are one” Jn 17:11

And he prayed for us that:

“all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you…that they may be one as we are one” Jn 17:21-22

Since we are the Body of Christ – we are meant to be the physical representation of Christ and as such our unity and oneness will show the world (Jn 17:22, 23) that we are like Jesus who was one with the Father.

Similarly, since male and female were created in the image of God (Gen 1:27) they are a physical representation of the nature of our Three-in-One God.

Hence we saw that man was first made one (Gen 2:7) and then from that oneness man was made two (Gen 2:21-22) but designed to become “one flesh” again (Gen 2:24; Mt 19:6a) to image our God (Father, Son and Spirit) who is Three but one.

However, since God is Spirit (Jn 4:24), he breathed his Spirit into us (Gen 2:7) – so we are embodied spirits and are composed of not only a body, but also a soul and a spirit†.

But it is a mistake to think that our soul (which is often thought to be our intellect, will and emotions) and spirit are somehow separate from our bodies.  This dualistic thought has Greek not Hebraic origins (see our video on YouTube here).  This would mean that the real us is our soul/spirit and not our body.  The Hebraic worldview is holistic: there is no separation between the spiritual and physical worlds and there is no separation between the physical self and the soul/spiritual self (which of course mirrors the idea of the Trinity being one – even with Jesus now eternally made flesh).  Our bodies are physical expressions of our soul/spirit and we would be incomplete without them – which is why we too will have a bodily resurrection rather than becoming angelic spirits‡.

Now given that we are integrated beings, when we become “one flesh” there is a joining or bonding not only of our bodies, but also of our soul and our spirits.

The physical joining is obvious – God designed men and women to fit together perfectly.

On the next level there are a number of God designed chemicals to create an emotional bonding: oxytocin (which creates that feeling of bonding and trust), dopamine (a reward hormone which causes the brain to make connections to crave this cocaine-like rush) and PEA (a stimulant like ecstasy or speed).

But unlike the animals there is also a spiritual joining by God Himself:

“Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” Mt 19;4-6

Paul also talks of this spiritual joining in 1 Corinthians 6 and says that:

“do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, ‘The two will become one flesh.’ But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him.”

We, who are “temples of the Holy Spirit”, have our spirits joined to anyone we have had sex with**.  Some Christians can think this is far fetched††.  I can only testify to the tangible effects I have seen when praying with people to break (ie loose – see Mt 18:18) these “soul ties”.  There is a severing that not only sets people free from previous relationships that they “couldn’t get over” but also changes them to be more whole and complete and thus more able to be joined properly to their future spouse.

This is why the Hebrew word for sexual intimacy, יָדַע (yada’), is literally translated as “Adam knew Eve” (Gen 4:1).  Unlike the Greek worldview where “to know” something is merely intellectual, the Hebraic/Biblical view of  “knowing” is always experiential.  There is a deep experience from this “one flesh” joining that connects us in no other way.  And in its pure form there is “no shame” as there was complete openness, acceptance, intimacy with nothing hidden.

So we see that, as Rabbi Shmuley Boteach says, “Sex is the ultimate bonding process” which God is involved in to create a vision of His Holy Self: male, female and Spirit as one like Father, Son and Spirit are One‡‡.
This oneness is so complete and so intimate that Paul says:

“he who loves his wife loves himself” Eph 5:28

Since there is this joining then what affects one affects the other.

The best example I have experienced of this deep joining is when my wife was undergoing a sozo prayer session.  I was in another room and found myself undergoing all sorts of emotions from jubilation to fear and back again.  When we met together after her session she discussed the journey of healing that the Spirit led her on and it coincided exactly with the emotions that I had been experiencing.

Sex is certainly not ordinary.

*Quoted from “The Good God: Enjoying Father, Son and Spirit” by Michael Reeves.  I cannot recommend this book enough if you want to end up on your face in worship of our beautiful Three-in-One God.
†God “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life” (Gen 2:7) and God’s breath represents the Holy Spirit (eg Job 33:4; Jn 20:22) – indeed the Hebrew words for breath and spirit, רוּחַ and נְשָׁמָה , both can mean spirit and breath.  And spirit and soul are not the same thing – otherwise the word of God would not be able to divide between them (Heb 4:12).
‡The best book I’ve found so far on helping distinguish between dualistic Greek and the holistic Hebraic/biblical view is Harold R. Eberle’s “Christianity Unshackled“.
**Another biblical example of this effect would be Shechem who after having sex with Dinah found his soul “cleaved” to her (Gen 34:2-3).
††Although it is very well known to Satanists, witchdoctors and occultists who use the joining to gain control over people’s spirits.  It seems that we Christians having been blinded by society/Satan and do not realise the power of this joining.
‡‡Some of the ideas presented here were first inspired by “Sacred Sex” by Tim Gardner.  It’s a good start but if you want to delve deeper into this whole area then Christopher West’s exposition of Pope John-Paul II’s “Theology of the Body” is an absolute must.

Principle #1: Good (Teach your children godly sexuality part 7)

Godly sexuality

Now we’re going to apply the theory of God’s goodness of our sexuality to three of the four broad areas that arise with children aged 2-11:
  • Exploration/questions about their bodies
  • Questions about growing up/parents bodies
  • What does it mean to be male/female?
  • Where do babies come from?

For each of these areas I give some examples of common situations that arise.  For each scenario I have also included a fairly typical parental response.

First I would like you to see what message the typical parental response is giving and what the consequences of that response will be.  Then I would like you to come up with a response that positively affirms/blesses God’s good creation.

For example:
Your son/daughter (age 4) has his/her hand down his pants/knickers and is gently playing with their genitals.

A typical parental response would be to say:
“What do you think you’re doing? Stop that at once – it’s disgusting!”

What is the message that this response is giving?
Well firstly the response forgets that this is a child who has no idea that what they’re doing has any “adult” sexual connotations.  It simply feels nice and comforting.  So the parent’s reaction will seem quite over the top to their child.  Coupled with this will be the message that either feeling nice is bad or my genitals are bad or both and is likely to lead to guilt or shame about their sexuality or sexual feelings.  In addition, it will make them unlikely to come to you if they have any questions or concerns in the future – which will lead them to seek answers elsewhere which may be inappropriate.

So what is a better response?
Firstly, we need to affirm that that God made our sexual organs pleasurable as a gift to us (however, this is not the full response – but you’ll have to wait until the next post before we can do that!) and then we need to point to the meaning of the gift.  So a response might start something like this:

“I see that you’re touching your …”

“Does it feel nice?”

“Did you know that God made our … to feel nice?”

“Yes it’s true.  Daddy God gave you this gift to share with your husband/wife when you grow up because it will help you experience the joy in Heaven when the world was made.”

I hope this helps you see the kind of conversation we’re going for.  Honest, affirm it’s goodness and the reason for that – but notice we’ve also put it in the right context: marriage.  This last part will be covered in the next post when we talk about the second principle: the holiness of our sexuality.  And more details on the how will be covered in the third principle that will be blogged later.

OK, your turn now.  Here are some situations and a typical parental response.
Identify what message the current response gives and its consequence and then be.  Then I would like you to come up with a response that positively affirms the goodness of our sexuality.

Questions about growing up/parents bodies
Your daughter comes into the bathroom whilst you (mum) are dealing with a period. The daughter sees the blood on the tissue and says “have you cut yourself mummy?”

Current response: get out! this is private!

One of your children comes in whilst you’re having a shower and asks “will I get hair on my body when I get older?”

Current response: You shouldn’t be looking – get out!

What does it mean to be male/female?
One of children (age 3) states proudly “Daddy, boys have ‘willys’ and girls have ‘ginas’*”

Current response: we don’t talk about other people’s body parts!

*At some point you’ll have to decide what to name to give to your children for their genetalia.  In our household we used ‘gina’ as a nice form of vagina.

Exploration/questions about their bodies
Your son exclaims “Look dad! When I pull back my skin on my willy there’s a purple bit!”
Your daughter exclaims “Look dad! I’ve got a willy too!” when she opens up her parts and reveals her clitoris…

Current response: Stop that! It’s dirty!

I hope this has been a useful exercise to see that if we only mention sexuality in a negative way then we assign negative value, ie  a curse to what God has created and deemed very good.  Secondly, we not only stop cursing of the goodness of sexuality but actively replacing it with blessing, as just saying nothing speaks volumes and can allow the seeds of doubt about its goodness to be planted– just as if a parent never said “I love you” despite their loving actions.

Principle #1: Good (Teach your children godly sexuality part 6)

Godly sexualityIn our previous post we saw that our sexuality is good because it reflects the:

  • community of the Trinity
  • oneness of the Trinity
  • love of the Trinity
  • delight & joy in the Trinity
  • joy of the Trinity in Creation
  • ultimate ecstasy of our union with Christ

So we need to communicate the goodness of our bodies and our sexuality to our children.  We need to affirm and bless in our children what God blessed in creation.
But the truth is we might not know its goodness – intellectually we can see what I’ve said is true but we don’t feel comfortable – we don’t know the “without shame” (Gen 2:25).

We live in a fallen world – when Adam and Eve disobeyed God they broke fellowship with God – and so history is man trying to replace that gap, that pleasure with something else and so see sexuality as god.

But fellowship was also broken with each other – they lost that sense of unconditional love – and so hurt/rejection can lead to us to see our sexuality as gross.

And your parents will have been affected and then passed on their beliefs to you.  Those around you at school, work or church will have also assigned a value to sexuality which may have influenced you. And finally any sexual experiences you may have had will also affect your core beliefs.

So before we look at how to apply the first principle to situations with our children we’re going to spend a little time reflecting on the inheritance we were given and asking the Holy Spirit to highlight the lies that you have believed about His good gift.  This is important because as we mentioned in a previous post: it’s hard to pass on wholeness if you’re not whole yourself.

Did you see your parents celebrate the goodness of God’s gift with each other?

Positive – on a rating of 1-10 how positive were your parents’ responses to your sexuality?

How did that make you feel about your sexuality?

Satan is the “father of lies” (Jn 8:44) who seeks to “steal and kill and destroy” (Jn 10:10).
Ask the Holy Spirit to highlight specific occasions where you believed a lie.

We need to replace lies with truth so that we can be transformed (Rom 12:2) and that truth will set us free (Jn 8:32).  Ask Jesus, the truth, to speak the truth about His good gift in each of these situations.

How have these lies affected your marriage and your response to your children’s sexuality?

Ask the Father to restore what has been lost and make it new (Isa 61).

My prayer for you is that our glorious God meets with you and bring you healing and transformation.  After this it important to maintain and walk in the freedom you have received and how we act flows out of what we believe (“For as he thinks in his heart so is he” Prov 7:23a NKJV). One way to help you replace core beliefs is to write down the truths that you have learned and declare them aloud as faith comes by hearing the word of God (Rom 10:17).  In the same way when Jesus was being attacked about his identity (“if you are the Son of God”) he quoted scripture out loud (Mat 4:3, 6).
If you need further help then I do recommend a Sozo, or Restoring the Foundations, or Freedom in Christ as helpful ministries.

Feel free to comment below or if you prefer to ask something privately then do contact us via our website.

Next time we will start applying the truths we have learned about our sexuality to common scenarios faced when parenting.

Principle #1: Good (Teach your children godly sexuality part 5)

Godly sexualityIn the previous three posts we talked about how we can establish firm foundations in your heart, in your marriage and with your children. We are now ready to move onto the four principles of how we communicate godly sexuality to our children.

Our first principle is that God created our sexuality and declared it to be very good.

So why is it good?  Let’s take a look in Genesis:

So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” … God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.
(Gen 1:27-28, 31a NIV)

First we see that our sexuality (“male and female”) and sexual intimacy (“be fruitful and increase in number”) were created before the fall and therefore they were made pure, unspoilt and therefore good.

Is that the only reason it’s good?  Well we know that everything was made through Him [Jesus] and for Him (Col 1:16).  Creation is an extravagant love gift to Jesus from the Father and so it is good because the Father only gives good gifts (Lk 11:13; Jas 1:17).

But in addition we see that:

For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.  (Rom 1:20a)

So God’s divine nature is made known through creation or as David says “The heavens declare the glory of God…” (Ps 19:1).  Hence Creation is good because it brings glory to God as it speaks of how amazing He is.

But unlike the animals who were simply called into existence by God’s spoken word, all of our bodies were personally formed by His hands (the word “formed” in Gen 2:7 is used of a potter with clay). and declared “very good”

So why do our bodies, our sexuality and our sexual intimacy give Him such pleasure and glory?  Because unlike animals we’re made in His image and so our sexuality is theographic (not pornographic) as it reflects the glory of our Trinitarian God.

Let’s look at six ways how…

Firstly our sexuality reflects the community of the Trinity.

Since God is a community of Father, Son and Spirit and we are made in his image (Gen 1:27) this is why God said “It is not good for the man to be alone” (Gen 2:18a) and He says “I will make a helper suitable for him.” (Gen 2:18b).  Like man but not like man  – male and female in His image (Gen 1:27).

But we are not only male and female as God “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life” (Gen 2:7) and God’s breath represents the Holy Spirit (eg Job 33:4; Jn 20:22) .

So we are also a trinity (male, female and Spirit) like the God we image* .

Secondly our sexuality reflects the oneness and intimacy of the Trinity.

Jesus prayed  for us “that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you…that they may be one as we are one” (Jn 17:21-22; see also Jn 14:10; 17:11) .

So there is unity, oneness and intimacy in the Godhead.  Since we are made in the image of God, man was first made one (Gen 2:7) and then from that oneness man was made two (Gen 2:21-22) but designed to become “one flesh” again (Gen 2:24; Mt 19:6a):

Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.” That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh. Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame. (Gen 2:22-25 NIV emphasis mine)

And hence Adam wants to re-unite with the missing part of himself that the women embodies and become whole and completely himself and be the full image of God.

We’ll talk about this much more when we look at the second principle.

Thirdly, our sexuality reflects the love of the Trinity.

In Jn 17:24 we see that the Father (the lover) has been eternally loving the Son (the beloved) by the Spirit (eg Rom 15:30) and so John declares that “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” (1 Jn 4:8).  So we are created as lovers in the image of God.  Adam (the lover) was made to love Eve (the beloved) by the Spirit.

Again we’ll talk about this much more when we look at the second principle.

Fourthly, our sexuality reflects the delight and joy found in the Trinity.

God made our sexuality and intimacy to be pleasurable as it reflects the delight and pleasure experienced within the Trinity† .

In fact the bible is the story of three marriage celebrations: Adam & Eve at the beginning, the marriage supper of the Lamb at the end and the marriage song of Solomon in the middle:

Your breasts are like two fawns, like twin fawns of a gazelle that browse among the lilies. … Your lips drop sweetness as the honeycomb, my bride; milk and honey are under your tongue. The fragrance of your garments is like the fragrance of Lebanon. You are a garden locked up, my sister, my bride; you are a spring enclosed, a sealed fountain. Your plants are an orchard of pomegranates with choice fruits, with henna and nard, nard and saffron, calamus and cinnamon, with every kind of incense tree, with myrrh and aloes and all the finest spices. You are a garden fountain, a well of flowing water streaming down from Lebanon.
She: Awake, north wind, and come, south wind! Blow on my garden, that its fragrance may spread everywhere. Let my beloved come into his garden and taste its choice fruits.
(Sgs 4:5, 11-16 NIV)

Here we see them celebrate and enjoy God’s good gift without shame.  This is the way God made it and He is pleased when His children enjoy His good gifts: “For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving” (1 Tim 4:4).

Fifthly, our sexuality also reflects the joy of the Trinity in creation.

Our Three-in-One God was complete and needed nothing but he chose to create life out of love for His Son (eg Col 1:16) to share that love, and that creation was a joy and delight.  We can see this in the angels shouting for joy (Job 38:7b) during creation.  This joy and delight was also experienced in the Trinity, for example Jesus personified by wisdom at the Father’s side in Proverbs:

Then I was constantly at his side.
I was filled with delight day after day,
rejoicing always in his presence, rejoicing in his whole world
and delighting in mankind.
(Prov 8:30-31)

Since we are made in his image – a husband and wife are complete but they too desire to have children to love.  And we mirror the joy and delight in the Trinity by creating life out of our sexual intimacy.

Finally, our sexuality reflects the ultimate ecstasy of our union with Christ

Jesus is “the Desire of all nations” (Hag 2:7 NKJV) and the pleasure of our marriage consummation is meant to be a shadow of our ultimate ecstatic union with Christ:

Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting:
 “Hallelujah!
  For our Lord God Almighty reigns.
 Let us rejoice and be glad
  and give him glory!
 For the wedding of the Lamb has come,
  and his bride has made herself ready”
(Rev 19:6-7)

Then Christ and the church will become “one flesh” (See Eph 5:31-32)‡ and our souls will be satisfied as with the richest of foods (Ps 63:5).

We will not find ultimate satisfaction in our spouse (or any other part of creation) as it is only in Jesus that we will find the end to all our deepest longings.  Amen.

* Note that the number three is also the Hebrew number of completeness.  You can see this in the Hebrew language which doesn’t have a word for more or most.  So if something was more holy you would say “holy, holy” and if it was the most holy you would say “holy, holy, holy”.  Saying it three times indicates the entirety of something.  I don’t think it’s any coincidence that this ties in with the Trinity.

†  If you’re anything like me you might struggle with this point.  God having fun – surely He’s sombre and only interested in serious things?  But we see this joy and delight throughout the bible.  God ordains celebratory feasts in His law.  David speaks of joy and pleasures at God’s righthand (Ps 16:11),  God rejoices over us (Is 62:5 or Zeph 3:17b), Jesus was accused of being a glutton and a drunkard (Lk 7:34) and was full of joy (Lk 10:21) and wants to give us life to the full (Jn 10:10) and faced the cross for the joy set before him (Heb 12:2).  The fruit of the spirit is joy (Gal 5:22), the Kingdom of heaven is righteous, peace and joy (Rom 14:17) and when Jesus returns its a wedding feast (Rev 19:7).  And in creation we just see the duck-billed platypus and we know.  And we in His image are gifted with a sense of humour.  

‡ If anyone asks you “what is heaven like?” the theologically correct answer is “better than sex”.  I recommend the excellent book “Fill these hearts” by Christopher West.  This whole area will become the subject of our future “Godly Desire” blog.

Firm Foundations: Godly parenting (Teach your children godly sexuality part 4)

godly sexualityBuilding Firm Foundations with your children: godly parenting

As we saw in our previous post: marriage is a prophetic declaration of the Trinity and so we represent the child’s first understanding of the nature of God.
Which is why it’s no surprise that atheists are far more likely to come from homes with defective fathers (see Faith of the Fatherless).
So our desire is to relate to our children like God relates to us.  This is a huge area and will form the basis of our godly parenting blog in the future.  So in this blog entry we’re just going to look very briefly at how we can communicate two aspects:  love and grace.

Love

God is love (1 Jn 4:8b) and exists as a loving daddy to us (eg Rom 8:15; Gal 4:6) but also as a loving mother (eg Isa 66:13; Mat 23:37).  We as parents need to love our children in the same way God loves us. Children who feel loved won’t look for it elsewhere, particularly in the realm of relationships.  Indeed a close relationship with parents is one of the key predictors of lack of teenage sexual experimentation.

But even though we may love our children they may not feel loved as we may not be loving them in a way they understand.  For example, my dad grew up as an unwanted second child in a family that was struggling financially – so his aim was to love his family by ensuring that we were provided for.  Whilst we did have holidays the reality was that I had a dad I didn’t see much and when I did he was stressed out by his high powered job and very quick to anger. What I wanted (and needed) was some closeness and affirmation from him.  As a result I ended up looking to porn to try and fill that gap.

We’ve already mentioned the five love languages in the previous as a tool to help you speak the same “love language”  I’m going to look briefly at three aspects here with respect to our children:

•    Physical touch
God made us physical beings (embodied spirits) and has designed our bodies and emotions to thrive from touch.  We release a chemical called oxytocin (often called the “cuddle chemical”) which in babies has been shown to increase growth, immunity and neuron development*.  For all ages it increases trust,bonding and feelings of closeness between the individuals involved.  It also leads to increased self-esteem and optimism.
As such it is essential to ensure that our children receive adequate touch as they grow up.  It doesn’t have to be hugs and kisses – any kind of touch will do such as rubbing a head, touching a shoulder or snuggling next to each other when reading a book.
For boys as they grow up the wrestling/rough housing play between father and son is actually a great way of having physical affection but in a way that isn’t viewed as childish.  I noticed that my eldest son used to beam with happiness after our “throw me on the sofa” games or cushion fights which made total sense once I learned about oxytocin.
As girls mature fathers may become wary of showing physical affection (especially in the current environment where every action is sexualised) – but to pull back at this critical time will devastate their fragile confidence – so continue to show affection – but in a respectful way.
•    Quality time
Quality time is a lovely idea – but you can’t choose when your child will open up – so you have to be ready.  For one of my children it was always just as I tucked them into bed and was just about to rush onto my next job.  For quite some time I was caught off guard as “it was their bedtime” – and I confess I used to curtail it – then I realised what was happening and so used to mentally plan an extra 10 minutes just to listen.
Part of giving your child quality time is what I call the incarnation principle: our God didn’t stay far off but in Jesus entered our world.  Similarly we need to enter our children’s world.  What is important to them? Then it needs to be important to us.  This is so much easier said than done!  For example, it’s easy when they play you the music they like to rubbish it (as it clearly won’t be as good as the music you listened to when you grew up) – but doing so will cause them to withdraw from sharing with you what they’re interested in and their heart’s desires for fear of rejection.  Instead pray for grace and take an interest, ask questions about the artist and tell them what you like about it.
•    Words of affirmation
God the Father publicly affirmed his son (Mt 3:17; 17:5) how much more do we need to affirm our children to other people in front of them?  There’s something about saying it to other people that causes children to actually believe that what we say about them is true.  For example today my eldest son was helping me chop wood with an axe but I could see that he was frustrated despite my encouragement.  So when my wife comes outside I say to her “look at Josiah’s chopping – he’s doing such a good job”.  My wife who works as a team with me on this replies “you’re right – that really is good chopping.”  I turn and see my son beaming.
An aspect of this affirmation is what I call prophetical calling out.  Here we ask God who are child is going to become and then we affirm and call out who they’re going to be rather than who they are at the moment.  That is the spirit of prophecy, for example when Ezekiel prophesied over the dry bones (Ezek 37) didn’t say “you’re dry bones, you’re good for nothing” – but “you’re a mighty army” and they rose up to it.  Same with our children.  For example, one of our children was hopeless at looking for things and unless it fell out of the sky into their hand they would never find it.  We used to get so frustrated that we began saying “you never find anything!”.  The Spirit woke us up to the fact that we were cursing them – saying that this is all they will ever be whereas God will finish the work he began in us (Phil 1:6) so we started prophesying over them “that’s strange that you can’t find it – you’re really good at finding things” and soon we asked them to help the other children find items and now they are amazing.

Grace vs Law†

Are we saved by grace or by obeying the law? (eg Eph 2:8-9)
Does grace or law change our hearts to wanting to do right? (eg Rom 2:4b; 1 Jn 4:19)
Do we become more Christ-like by grace (God’s spirit working in us) or by trying harder? (eg Ezek 36:27; Phil 2:13)
So given these answers why do we expect children to become “better” by giving them law?
For example, “you must try harder to not to say that” or “well done you managed to stop talking with your mouth full!”

Rules will either produce children who think they can do it by their own effort and so become proud moralistic/religious children who have no need of a saviour or it’ll produce children who realise that they can’t change and so give up trying and instead become rebellious.The Law is powerless to bring change (Rom 8:3-4; Col 2:20-23) its purpose is to show us our need of a saviour.  Also rules also won’t capture our children’s hearts so that they actually want to change – only God’s love can do that.

How can we impart grace to our children in the disciplinary process?  Here is an outline of what I currently use:
  •  “I love you – you’re my precious son/daughter”
  • “I forgive you – as God has forgiven me of far worse”

I confess I used to give forgiveness only after they had said sorry – but I realised that I was training them that forgiveness and grace depend on their behaviour – whereas forgiveness is always available – the only block is our willingness to humble ourselves and receive it. Hence I forgive and then say:

  • “But you won’t be able to receive my forgiveness and love until you’re ready in your heart to say sorry – so we need to have time out where you decide whether your heart wants to do this”
  • When they return from their time out we have our cuddle and restoration:
  • “I also struggle with this (see Heb 4:15) and it’s too hard to change on our own but daddy God has helped me change and he can help you. Shall we ask him to help us?”
Then pray and for our Father’s help.
  • Then notice any evidence of grace and thank God for the change he’s brought in their hearts.  For example “look – you just shared your toy – you never used to be able to do that – daddy God has changed your heart so that you naturally wanted to do this!”

We are only a shadow of the heavenly reality

Remember, however, that we are not the ultimate reality – we’re only a shadow of the real thing and so we need to point our children to the perfect One.

We saw this in the discipline process where we point out that we also need God’s help to change.  If we make a mistake (for example shouting at them when we get stressed) then we need to apologise to our children and ask their forgiveness.  I also make clear how daddy God is not like daddy (so in this example I would say that daddy God is slow to anger – taking more than 400 years before punishing the Amorites Gen 15:16 – does your daddy take 400 years before he gets cross?)Then they see that we are living what we preach.  Failure to do so we cause our children to see as us hypocrites and lose respect.  In which case (as we saw in the previous post with my parents and lying) why would they listen to us?

*Some sources include:

Maternal-Preterm Skin-to-Skin Contact

†I am indebted to Jessica Thompson and her book Give them grace which first opened my eyes to the law-based nature of my so-called “Christian parenting”.

Firm Foundations: Teach your children godly sexuality (part 3)

godly sexualityBuilding firm foundations in your marriage (modelling sexuality)

Our children learn most from watching us.

For example, when I was growing up my parents must have repeatedly told us that we should tell the truth (I confess I don’t remember these conversations but I do remember getting spanked for lying – so clearly it must have been important to them…).

However, what I do remember (apart from the spanking) was the time they told us to lie about our age so we could get cheaper tickets to the circus.  So what did I learn?  It was unfair that I got spanked for lying but they didn’t.  Lying is ok (as long as you don’t get caught).

As we see in this example, two things will happen if our actions don’t line up with our life:

  • Firstly our children will see that we’re a hypocrite and will lose respect for what we say.
  • Secondly, our children will copy what we do and not what we say.

However anyone who’s ever been a parent for more than 5 minutes will know that we will always say one thing and do another.  The temptation is to ignore it (or worse: try and justify our actions).  It’s always far better to be honest about our failings and apologise to our children for letting them and ourselves down.  That way they will learn that we have integrity – that we are calling them as well as us to the same standard.  We’ll touch on this more in our next post.

Bringing this conversation back to sexuality: our children’s primary understanding of sexuality is going to come from how they see us interact.

So there’s no point having conversations if our actions don’t back it up – children can see straight through this.

For example, I never saw my parents kissing, holding hands, hugging or any kind of affection to each other nor to us (and this was simply a product of the austere environment that they themselves grew up in).  The thought of them making babies from what I heard in biology lessons was simply unthinkable.  And from the dirty jokes I heard in the playground I reasoned that it was never mentioned or expressed at home because it must be something dirty.  This thinking was one of the foundations that led me to get ensnared in pornography in my teenage years.

Hence, we need wholeness (as mentioned in the previous post) so we can model this wholeness to our children.

But what does wholeness in our sexuality look like?

As we shall see throughout this course, our God’s divine nature is made known through created things:

For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. (Rom 1:20a)

And since out of all of creation we are singularly made in the image of God:

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. (Gen 1:27)

Our sexuality, especially within the context of marriage, is actually a prophetic declaration about the nature of our three-in-one God.

So if we want to to know what our sexuality should look like we need to take time to understand the nature of the God whom we are imaging.  An overview (as represented in our icon) is that:

  • godly-sexuality-3-transpare

    Three-One-Love

    God is a community of three distinct persons (Father, Son and Spirit) and so a marriage is a community of 3 distinct persons (man, woman and Spirit).

  • God is also one (Jn 17:21-23) and so man and woman (as physical spirit beings) are designed to become “one flesh” in marriage.
  • God is love (1 Jn 4:8) – the Father (the lover) eternally loving the Son (the beloved) by the Spirit (Jn 17:24) and then the Son loves the Father back (Jn 14:31).  In the same way the man (the lover) is to created love the woman (the beloved) by the Spirit and then the woman loves the man back.

For this post we’re just going to briefly look at the third aspect: husbands you need to love your wives like the Father loves the Son (Jn 17:24) and like the Son then loves His Bride (Eph 5:25).

“One of the greatest things a father can do for his children is to love their mother.”  (Howard W. Hunter)

And wives need to receive this love and then love their husbands back.

How can we do this in a way that our children see it clearly?  Gary Chapman in his excellent book speaks of 5 love languages: physical touch, quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service and gifts (or for those who like alliteration: touch, time, talk, tasks and tokens).

Let’s look briefly at each of these in turn:

First we need to show physical affection in front of the children – by modelling this they will see this as a natural expression of love (and not something that they only see in a lustful context such as on MTV or late night telly).  So I make an effort (well most of the time it’s not) to kiss my wife when I get in from work and to regularly cuddle her in front of the children.  And the children love it!  So much so that when I’m cuddling my wife I find one of my children popping up in the middle of our embrace!  Isn’t that godly?  Don’t we just delight in the love of God that we want to be part of it too?

“But I’m not a physical person!” you might cry.  Well that will change as we’re all becoming like Jesus who became flesh (Jn 1:14) and then showed love in a physical way.  For example he touched the unclean leper (Mt 8:13) , he held the children in his arms as he blessed them (Mk 10:16) and at the last supper he had the disciple John leaning in his bosom (Jn 13:23 NKJV).  If you are struggling, then ask for prayer for the Spirit to highlight the issues (which is often due lack of affection received growing up or abuse) and receive the Father’s embrace and healing in those areas.

Secondly we need our children see us taking our spouse out on a date.  Even better involve them in the planning.  If money is tight then our children need to know that we have special mummy/daddy time on certain nights.  The disciples saw Jesus spending time with the Father and this led them to cry out “teach us to pray” (Lk 11:1) they saw something in the intimacy that made them want to experience this too.

Thirdly, we need to say how much we love our spouse and affirm them in front of the children.  So as I struggle with cooking and directions I regularly say to the children things like “I’m so glad I married your mummy as otherwise we’d be eating oven food every night” or when driving “thank you so much for map reading as I would be lost without you”.  The disciples saw the Father affirming His Son when He declared “This is my Son, whom I love.  Listen to him!” (Mk 9:7).

Fourthly, we need our children to see us serving our spouse.  So my wife loves a tidy house so the children often hear me say “I’m just going to tidy this up as I love your mummy and your mummy likes it tidy”.  I want to model to them that this is one way we show love – not just the “easy” gifts and physical affection.  In the same way Jesus demonstrated His love for the Father by being obedient to Him (Jn 14:31).

Finally, we need our children to see us buying gifts for our spouse.  So when I’m doing the weekly shop with my children they often see me buy a little something for mummy as she would love it.  In the Trinity we see that the whole world was an extravagant gift to Jesus “all things have been created through him and for him” (Col 1:16b)

With any list like this the danger is that we can see it as something we must strive to achieve – but that’s living under law whereas we live under grace (Eph 2:8-9).  We love because he first loved us (1 Jn 4:19) – so we need to receive the Father’s love for us, receive His Spirit of love (Rom 5:5; Gal 5:22) so that love just flows out of us .  Trying harder will just lead to resentment or discouragement.  Receiving the Father’s love will lead to rivers flowing out of our heart (Jn 7:38 NKJV).  Spend time letting him love you – just rest in His presence and listen to Him sing songs of love over you – it’ll be time well spent and your spouse will notice the difference.

Father, thank you that you love me.  Thank you that you’re loving me right now.  I receive Your love now.  Fill up all the dark areas of my heart with your love.  Let me know how You rejoice over me with singing.  Let me know how You delight in me, that You are proud of me.  Let me know that nothing I have done can separate me from Your unfailing love.  Let me know that You have plans and purposes for me to prosper me and give me hope and a future.