Dads: Day Twenty Eight

There’s more to teaching your children about sexual purity than teaching your children about sexual purity. 

In fact, if you think the only thing involved teaching your children about sexual purity is a once off talk you are going to have with them at a certain point, then you are missing the big picture.   

It’s kind of like at school, I suppose.

We don’t begin teaching algebra or calculus to kindergartners. We first give children the information they need to understand those courses later. So, while you are not technically teaching them algebra in grade one, you know, if they don’t receive certain knowledge very early on, it is going to be difficult for them to understand what you are talking about later. And really one of the most basic concepts your children need to understand in order to appreciate what the Bible teaches about sexual purity is what it actually means to be a Christian.

Look at Paul’s approach to the Ephesians.

His discussion of sexual purity in Ephesians 5 is not disconnected from his discussion of the Christian life in Ephesians 4. It’s an overflow of it. What’s he’s saying about sexual purity is based on what he’s already said so far. It’s a specific outworking of the exhortation he made way back in chapter 4, verse 17. 

“Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. But that is not the way you learned Christ, assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.”

As you can see, the way Paul challenges these believers not to live as unbelievers is by reminding them that they are not unbelievers anymore.

Something substantial happened when they got saved.

It’s not just that they believed a new set of facts. They have been transformed. They have put off their old self and they have put on a new one, and therefore they must learn to live in a way that matches up with who they are.

They are to live differently, because they are different.

And you can’t assume your children understand that because as you look back on church history, you see that thousands and thousands of people have grown up in Christian homes, assuming they are Christians, without really ever understanding what it means to be a Christian, and obviously, if your children are assuming they are Christians without really understanding what it means to be a Christian, any specific talk you might have with them about sexual purity is going to be very difficult for them to understand.

Like, impossible!

If the basic idea of Christianity we are giving our children is just be a good person and go to church and don’t have sex until you get married they are not going to be able to live out what the Bible actually is teaching about sexual holiness. Either they’ll end up hating it and rebelling against it or they’ll pervert it into a means of trying to establish their own self-righteousness. Those are the two options for unconverted people when it comes to sexual purity.  And so, really practically, one of the places for us to start as fathers is by working laying a foundation for having meaningful discussions later. Like for example, I am saying, the fact that genuine salvation is something really big. That, when God saves a person, He changes a person, and then calls on that person to live differently in light of the great change that He, God has accomplished in their life. 

Because, that’s Paul’s basic argument.

I don’t know how to talk about sexual purity without my children without understanding that, because what we talk about when we talk about sexual purity is going to just be so different than anything they are hearing anywhere else.

It just won’t make sense without those basic concepts.

It’s too different, obviously, from those who are just like whatever, do what you want, but also you know, what I am teaching my children is going to even be different from people who are just like be a good person and don’t have sex before you are married. 

Which is why this groundwork is so essential. 

I mean, as a father, you obviously want to help your children not be foolish and do things that are going to harm them, but listen, as a father your goal is a little bigger than just helping your children not be  foolish when it comes to sexual purity, you want to help them know Christ, and know what it means to be a Christian and how their life should be different as a result of that.

And so if my children are not Christians, I might talk to them about purity, of course, just like I would tell them not to lie down in the middle of a freeway, but I am not content with leaving it at that, I want them ultimately to see the connection to the gospel, and if my children are believers, I definitely have to ground what I teach them in what God has done in saving them, because if they don’t know that, really know that, they are not going to appreciate the motivation for fighting as hard as they have to for sexual purity.

It’s going to be like I am speaking another language.

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