[Editor’s Note: Today’s post is an excerpt from the new book Touchy Subjects: Talking to Your Kids About Sex, Tech, and Social Media in a Touchscreen World by Craig Gross and David Dean]
It is extremely difficult to narrow the topic of sex down to just one thing, because there are so many other things wrapped up in it. It isn’t just about physical expression—there are emotional, psychological, and even spiritual components to sex that can’t be covered in just one talk or boiled down to a single “most important thing.”
That said, if there is only one thing I want my kids to know, it would be this: sex is a great and wonderful creation of God (Tweet This!). It isn’t dirty, it isn’t wrong. It isn’t gross, it isn’t sick. It isn’t bad, disgusting, evil, or something to be avoided.
Sex is a gift.
The great thing about initiating these conversations with your kids is that it gives you the opportunity to frame sex in this way, where you discuss it as a marvelous gift that serves a specific, yet multi-faceted, purpose. Yes, sex perpetuates the human race by leading to children, but it also brings husbands and wives closer together and keeps those marriage bonds strong. It has its place and its own parameters. It opens the door for you to say, “If you want to experience sex in the best way, then here are the guidelines.”
Have you ever been to Ikea? If not, it’s a giant home furnishings store that originated in Sweden before expanding to quite a few locations in the United States. They have very modern-looking furniture at affordable prices, which makes it great for people like me who want to be stylish without spending a ton of money.
But while I love furniture from Ikea, I really hate putting it together. Because Ikea is an international company, they intentionally use no words in their instructions—it’s just a series of cryptic cartoons depicting a guy with a smiling face magically assembling furniture with a screwdriver.
These directions are useless to me.
In fact, my wife and I have probably had more arguments about assembling Ikea furniture than we have about anything else in our marriage. We’ll have, say, a desk that comes in four separate boxes, and instead of using Ikea’s instructions, I’ll just try to figure it out, putting it together every possible wrong way. I’ll put a drawer in backwards, or put the desktop on upside-down, or put the right leg where the left leg should be—I really know how to mess these things up.
And then, once it’s messed up, I don’t want to have to go through the trouble of redoing it, so I’ll just leave it halfway assembled in the hopes that it will spontaneously rearrange itself into its proper shape at some undetermined point in the future. Maybe the smiling cartoon man will come by with his screwdriver and fix everything.
My wife, on the other hand, will tell me how wrong I’m being. She’ll grab the Ikea bible—that little comic book they try to pass off as assembly instructions—and will walk through it step by step, undoing my bad workmanship and doing the job exactly as Ikea recommends.
There’s nothing wrong with the furniture or with the instructions—the problem comes when I try to do things my own way with a complete disregard for the way it was intended to be done.
That’s what I want to share with my kids. That sex is great and wonderful in its time and within its designed purpose. I want them to know that, when they try to put it together on their own, they’re going to fail and wind up frustrated and emotionally broken. Sex is a simple act that goes together even easier than Ikea furniture, but its complications go far, far deeper, which is why we must treasure it for the gift it is.
That’s what I want my kids to know.
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