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Parent Convo Starters

Parent Conversation Starter: Sexual Ethics

We’ve provided these free Parent Conversation Starters to help parents begin intentional dialogue about sexuality with children and teens. Each Starter includes step-by-step instructions for parents to (1) prepare for conversation and (2) initiate conversation, broken down by age-group.

These starters are just that—starters. These are not meant to be one-and-done conversations, but rather a place to begin ongoing conversation. We know these are difficult conversations, which is why we’ve created an on-demand Parent Course, designed to give parents all the tools they need to have compassionate and theologically accurate conversations about sexuality with their kids throughout childhood.

 

(1) Prepare for Conversation: get familiar with the topic

Topic Summary: Teach kids that God knows what’s best for us, God reveals His wisdom to us through scripture, and we enjoy the most good in this life when we follow God’s wisdom.

Parents, Read Equip’s blog post about how churches embody their beliefs about sexual ethics. As you read, pause and reflect on the following questions:

  • Would you characterize your church’s beliefs as revisionist, historic, or pray-the-gay-away?

  • Would you characterize your church’s culture and rhythms as revisionist, historic, or pray-the-gay-away?

  • When you talk to your children about sexual ethics, are you able to articulate any of the good things God offers gay people or to people who will never marry?

  • Imagine a Christian teen in your church who experiences same-sex attraction. If it seemed that their only options were shame, depression, and thoughts of suicide (pray-the-gay-away) or romantic companionship with someone they’re drawn to even if they doubt God approves of their relationship (revisionist), do you think it more likely that the teen would eventually adopt a progressive sexual ethic or even leave the faith entirely?

  • What is your church doing to embody a historic perspective and offer gay Christians a place where they can enjoy deep intimacy and belonging in the body of Christ while honoring God with their bodies?

  • Do your children believe that the best way to avoid loneliness as an adult is to get married? What are you offering your kids as the solution to loneliness?

  • If God calls your child to lifetime singleness, is your church a place they could thrive?

     

(2) Initiate Conversation: ask good questions

With your deepened understanding of the topic, initiate conversation with children and teens with age-specific questions.

Conversation about LGBT+ topics should take place within a broader conversation about the need for everyone to steward their sexualities in God-honoring ways. Here’s a brief summary of what all children need to know about sexual stewardship—please ensure your children have grasped these foundational truths before exploring sexual minority-specific conversations:

  1. God created all of us to enjoy human intimacy in the context of life-long, lived-in family, and we find that family through one of the vocations God created: Christian marriage or vocational singleness. As our kids enter their young adult years, they will begin to discern with (ask) God which vocation He has given to them.

  2. Humanity’s sin has bent and broken the goodness of everything God created. We see the results of this bending and breaking everywhere. We are all broken in the area of sexuality, and none of us can do intimacy or family perfectly. Encourage your child to share with you when they discover where broken sexuality is part of their story.

  3. We are still able to find beauty and goodness and flourish in this broken world because God offers us His wisdom through the Bible and the Church. When we follow God’s wisdom, we’ll find the greatest joy, the deepest meaning, and the richest belonging in this life.

 

Conversation Starter for Ages 2-6

If you have children ages 2-6, use this discussion guide to start a conversation with them about following God’s wisdom.

Say, “Have you ever heard this Bible verse: ‘[God’s] word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path’ (Psalm 119:105)?  We know that God’s word is the Bible, but what does it mean that His word is a lamp for our feet and a light for our path?” (Answers will vary)

“God’s word—the Bible—gives us wisdom (the ability to make good decisions and do the right thing), so His word is like a lamp or a flashlight when we’re looking for the right path to walk down. When we need to figure out the right thing to do or the best way to live, we can look in the Bible for wisdom.”

“You know, there’s lots of people in the Bible who chose to follow God’s wisdom. Daniel and his friends are some of the people in the Bible who obeyed God. Do you remember what happened to Daniel? Daniel and his friends were captured by an enemy nation and taken away to serve the foreign king.  But Daniel and his friends still followed God’s wisdom—they did not eat foods that would defile them before God (Daniel 1:8-16), they would not worship a false god (Daniel 3:4-12), Daniel was trustworthy and did his job well (Daniel 6:4-5), and Daniel prayed three times each day (Daniel 6:10).

When Daniel’s friends would not worship a false god, the king had them thrown into a fire to kill them, but God saved them; the men came out of the fire unharmed (Daniel 3:27). 

Some of the king’s men didn’t like Daniel and wanted him to get in trouble. But the only thing they could find that he did “wrong” was that he prayed three times each day. The king made a law that people in his kingdom could only pray to HIM, but Daniel chose to follow God’s wisdom and continue to pray to God. You know the rest of the story! Daniel was punished by being thrown into a den of hungry lions, but God shut the lions’ mouths and saved Daniel. After that, the king declared that Daniel’s God was the true God

Daniel and his friends followed God’s wisdom, bringing great glory to God and good to themselves.”

Ask, “What are some ways you can follow God’s wisdom from the Bible?” (Obeying parents, caring for others, being generous, running away from doing wrong, worshipping only God, etc.)

Ask, “Why is it best to follow God’s wisdom?” (Because He knows what is best for us and when we follow God’s wisdom we bring glory to Him and good to our own lives)

Find opportunities to remind your kids often that God knows what’s best for us (Psalm 23; Proverbs 3:19), God shows us His wisdom in scripture (Psalm 16:11, Proverbs 16:16), and we follow God’s wisdom for His glory and our own good (Deuteronomy 10:12-13; Psalm 37:4; Proverbs 9:11-12 and 16:3).

Conversation Starter for Ages 7-12

If you have children ages 7-12, use this guide to start a conversation with them about following God’s wisdom.

Say, “Have you ever heard this Bible verse: ‘[God’s] word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path’ (Psalm 119:105)?  We know that God’s word is the Bible, but what does it mean that His word is a lamp for our feet and a light for our path?” (Answers will vary)

“God’s word—the Bible—gives us wisdom (the ability to make good decisions and do the right thing), so His word is like a lamp or a flashlight when we’re looking for the right path to walk down. When we need to figure out the right thing to do or the right way to live, we can look in the Bible for wisdom.”

“You know, there’s lots of people in the Bible who chose to follow God’s wisdom. Daniel and his friends are some of the people in the Bible who obeyed God. Let’s read about Daniel and his friends.” Read Daniel 1:8-17, 3:3-28.

Ask, “How did God honor Daniel and his friends for their faithfulness (Daniel 1:17)? Rather than bowing down to the statue, Daniel’s friends chose to honor and obey God’s commandment to worship only Him (Exodus 20:3-4). How did Daniel’s friend bring honor and glory to God by following God’s wisdom? How did Daniel’s friends experience goodness in their own lives by following God’s wisdom?”

“So we saw that God’s wisdom was good for Daniel. Do you think it’s good for you? For me? For your friends? Our neighbors? (Yes) That’s right! All of God’s wisdom is good for all people.”

“You know how a lot of your friends who are boys are drawn to girls in a special way? And a lot of your friends who are girls are drawn to boys in a special way? Did you know that there are some boys who are drawn to other boys in that way? And girls who are drawn to other girls in that way? I’ve got a question: do you think God’s wisdom is also good for those boys and girls who experience same-sex attraction?” (Yes!)

“How does God’s wisdom apply to people who experience same-sex attraction?” (God’s wisdom applies to gay people just like it applies to everyone else—following God’s wisdom from scripture will lead us to enjoy the most good in this life and bring the most glory to God. God’s wisdom is good for gay people!)


Discuss the following question with your child:

What do you think God-honoring sexuality looks like for people who experience same-sex attraction? What do you think God-honoring sexuality looks like for people who experience opposite-sex attraction? (Parents, chime in here! You know that God-honoring sexual stewardship looks the same for everyone, regardless of attractions or marital status. Gently correct any revisionist or pray-the-gay-away beliefs your child may have or be confused about by referring to the historic beliefs in the “Sexual Ethics and Empty Words” blog post.)

Remind your child that if he or she begins to experience same-sex attraction, they can safely share with you, and your love for them will remain constant and God’s love for them won’t change. Encourage your child to come to you with questions about sexuality and sexual expression.

Let your kids know now (because they could experience same-sex attraction in the future):

“I want you to know that we are all broken—none of us are how God intended us to be. If one day you realize that you are attracted to other kids like you, I want you to know…
-You don’t choose who you are attracted to
-You’re not alone and you don’t have to make sense of this alone
-You don’t need to feel ashamed—it’s not your fault
-God doesn’t love you any less and He has great plans for you
-I’m not going to try to make you straight
-Please let me in and let me walk through that with you”

 

Conversation Starter with Ages 13+

If you have children ages 13+, read the blog excerpt below with them and then discuss the following questions.

The revisionist church teaches from a young age that God made some people gay and some people straight—regardless, He desires for all of us to enjoy romantic companionship with people we are sexually attracted to. These churches encourage same-sex attracted children to identify as gay and proudly share that with family and friends. Revisionist churches often only use the Bible in limited ways—when it aligns with a humanist ethic that they believe God has revealed to mankind through reason. These churches do not talk about celibacy or support it in any meaningful ways, and why would they? God has offered marriage as the solution to loneliness and you can marry whomever you want.

The historic church talks about sexuality and the brokenness of everyone’s sexuality from a young age. These churches recognize that while some people will develop same-sex attraction, they are still loved by God and have a beautiful role in His story. Historic churches encourage same-sex attracted children to share with their parents, pastors, and friends to discover what God-honoring stewardship of their sexuality looks like. These churches are places that talk in theologically accurate ways about celibacy and marriage, and both celibacy and mixed-orientation marriages are normalized, supported, and modeled in the church.

The pray-the-gay-away church makes clear that God is against homosexuality, but says little more. If a gay teen comes out to his or her parents, the child is connected with therapists and para-church ministries to help the child become straight. They are commanded to reject homosexuality in all forms. This rejection looks like avoiding gay people and culture, identifying as straight, fleeing from and ignoring any “gay thoughts,” and seeking out marriage with someone of the opposite sex. Christians who continue to struggle with same-sex attraction are challenged to lean farther into their spiritual disciplines and a romantic relationship with someone of the opposite sex. These churches do not talk about celibacy or support it in any meaningful ways, because marriage with someone of the opposite sex is God’s answer to loneliness.

Discuss some or all of the following questions with your teen:

  • Where do you think our church lands? (revisionist, historic, or pray-the-gay-away)? Which perspective do you think reflects most of your friends’ beliefs?

  • Which perspective best reflects your own beliefs? (Parents, share which one best reflects your beliefs)

  • What does God say about lifetime singleness? Read Matthew 19 and 1 Corinthians 7 together.

  • How do you feel about the possibility of lifetime singleness?

  • Did you notice anything similar about the revisionist and pray-the-gay-away perspectives? They both believe that God intends for everyone to marry and neither teach about lifetime singleness as an option; neither is really a place where single people could thrive.

  • Is our church a place where you could thrive in lifetime singleness if God were to call you to that?

  • What are some things our church could do to be a place where single people could thrive?

  • What are some things our church could do to be a safe place for gay teens to come out?

Equip’s on-demand Parent Course includes over 50 example scripts you can use with kids ages 2-12 to talk about marriage and singleness, intimacy and family, sex and sexuality, and gender. Check out a free preview and get access here.

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