marriage bed symbol

marriage bed symbol

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Doctrine or Myth: Don’t Talk About Sexual Things; It Keeps Kids Innocent and Safer Longer - Conclusion


 Click on the links here if you missed and would like to read Part I , Part II Part III  or Part IV of this series.

Tips for Effectively Teaching Sexuality in the Family

The time to avoid openly discussing sex and intimacy in tandem with the gospel is over. If we haven’t done this consistently in the past, it’s never too late to start, even if our children are grown.

·         If we’re having trouble in our marriage relationship, address the challenge quickly and solve (or at least manage) it. Young eyes watch us, and will do what we do someday in their relationships.

·         Keep your married sexual relationship sacred, but be open with your children about age-appropriate biological principles. The goal is to let the children know we enjoy marital intimacy, but the details of that part of our life is not for them. Children don’t want to know about our sexual activity anyway. Teach them to respect private time.

       If you’re planning to engaging in marital intimacy, set the kids up so they are otherwise occupied (headphones, a movie or video, somewhere away from your bedroom. Find a babysitter, or send them out of the house for a time). Let them know this is sacred time.

·         Don’t pretend your sex life doesn’t exist in the name of keeping your children ‘innocent’. It can backfire on you. Fear of your children finding out you have sex can lead to a sex-starved marriage, which will hurt your relationship with your spouse and your children’s future relationships.

·         If we aren’t directly teaching our children and our grandchildren, the Adversary will – he will bombard them through the television, the radio, stories, magazines, the Internet, and people in the world learning from sources that are quick to profane holy things– and what our children will learn from these sources can be as much as 80% incorrect. 

      It has to be constantly countered with pure truth, from the gospel and from prophets and apostles. Family Home Evening is a great time to talk with kids about the law of chastity, how our bodies work, what sharing bodies mean, and what to do if someone tries to share bodies with them. 

·         Keep the talk age-appropriate and the tone reverent, but we must talk about sex, about love and lust, about bodies and body parts, and do that in context of gospel principles. Penis, vagina, clitoris, labia, vulva, scrotum, testes, breasts, nipples, anus, anal sphincter, rectum, perineum, menstruation, semen, sperm, ejaculate, nocturnal emissions, ovum, ovulate, foreskin, urethra, lactate, mammary, sex, intercourse, etc… teach children these are sacred (not dirty, filthy, naughty, sleazy, smutty, etc…) words and that they are okay to use when spoken of reverently.

     Practice saying them so you are comfortable using them yourself. If you don’t know what they are, find out. These are parts of your children’s bodies as well as your own. They can’t escape them or put them in a box until they are married. They will need words they can use to describe challenges they may be having with those body parts.

·         If you’re worried about arousing sexual feelings in young people with all this talk about sex, we’ve found that not to be true. Our children are sexual beings, just as we are, and sexual feelings arise naturally. 

     Children need guidance in how to process and channel these feelings so as to make the best choices for themselves and their future families. Uncontrollable arousal is actually more likely to happen when parents aren’t talking about sex. Under those circumstances, children are driven to other sources out of embarrassment, desperation for knowledge and their natural curiosity. 

·         If you don’t know what to teach, find trusted sources that triangulate with gospel sources to teach you. (D&C 109:7) Some good sources include Laura Brotherson’s book, And They Were Not Ashamed, as well as her other resources at her website.[i] 

     The Church website has instruction called ‘A Parent’s Guide’ that gives guidelines for sexual instruction in the family based on gospel principles.[ii] I was pleasantly surprised to learn that they use terms such as ‘penis’ and ‘vagina’ when teaching what to teach.

      The Mormon Channel has a series of videos to help families have healthy conversations about sex.[iii] The Eternal Marriage student manual is excellent for your own marriage and teaching older children about preparing for courtship, temple marriage, sexuality, birth control, and other challenges that come with marriage. 

    The Eternal Marriage student manual can be purchased for about $10 at Don’t forget there is also my website for lots of articles about married sexuality, dispelling myths, and other helpful topics, and I’m available to those with more specific questions at my email.

Result: Myth!
“Don’t Talk about Sex at Home; It Keeps Kids Innocent and Safer Longer” is a myth with many unfavorable obvious and unforeseen consequences, and one not based in gospel truth.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Doctrine or Myth: Part IV - Don’t Talk About Sexual Things; It Keeps Kids Innocent and Safer Longer

 Click on the links here if you missed and would like to read Part I , Part II  or Part III of this series.

By now, some of you may be asking “Wait a minute - how is teaching my kids about sex going to help my married sex life? Aren’t we supposed to hide the fact that we’re having sex from our kids? Keep it sacred?”  

Doesn’t It Protect Our Children’s Innocence to Conceal Our Married Sex Life?
While it is advised that we keep the sacred details of our married sex life confidential, evading the fact that we are happy in the sexual relationship with our spouse (if we are) can actually backfire on us and our children. 

Some couples, in the name of protecting their children’s innocence, can become so private in their intimate relations that they will only have sex when they know they are absolutely alone. They fear that the children will hear them, or accidentally walk in on them. They may believe it will “plant ideas” in their children’s heads that will make it too great a challenge to keep their thoughts pure, and drive them to break the law of chastity. In any case, we found this to be unsupported.

The opposite is actually true. Keeping it a secret instead tends to overstimulate their natural thirst for knowledge. An obsession with trying to keep it a secret can also lead to marital anxiety that can make your lovemaking experience unpleasant, instead of an enjoyable, relaxing, passionate, bonding and joyful time together. 

Does this mean you should tell your children about the details of your sexual interactions with your spouse? We shouldn’t do that, any more than we should tell them every detail of the temple ordinances.[i]  In fact, our Church leaders have counseled us to keep what we do sexually with our spouse very sacred and guarded.[ii]
What you can do is let your children know that you do have sex, that sex is good and that it’s very sacred. You don’t have to say it out loud all the time; actions count as well as words. 

Kiss each other in front of the kids. Hold hands. Be playful with each other. Let them know when you will need some private time.[iii] 

Subtle messages such as a “do not disturb” sign on your bedroom door, the sound of loud music coming from the master bedroom when the door is closed, a locked master bedroom door, or putting out special snacks, this helps them to know to go to another side of the house to read a book, watch a movie, play a game or go outside to play. Discuss with them beforehand that these clues mean this is “sacred mother and father time”. That it is a time to be respected.

Addressing sex this way with your kids gives them a positive example of a healthy sexual relationship in marriage, something to look forward to when they marry, and a sense of safety knowing their parents intimacy keeps their relationship and family bonds a priority. It also creates a model of how to address their married sex lives with their children.[iv]

Next week: A final roundup of tips for effectively teaching sex to children.

[i] Preparing to Enter the Holy Temple, (2002), 1–37,  "These Things Are Sacred: A careful reading of the scriptures reveals that the Lord did not tell all things to all people. There were some qualifications set that were prerequisite to receiving sacred information. Temple ceremonies fall within this category. We do not discuss the temple ordinances outside the temples."

[ii] A Parent’s Guide, (1985), iv–3, Introduction,,
“Intimacy is related to the level of trust and confidence that exists between two people or within a family. Confidential matters between husband and wife are important in making their relationship unique and binding. When that trust is broken, the marriage partners feel betrayed and that which was formerly intimate has been made common. Intimacy between them may be greatly strained. This is particularly true when a marriage partner shares information with another person about physical relations between husband and wife. “

A Parent’s Guide, (1985), 22–33 Chapter 4: Teaching Children: from Four to Eleven Years
“Be cautious to keep your own bodies and intimate sexual relations private. Children do not need to see or hear details of your private sexual life. They see and hear enough in the normal course of family life. They may feel threatened if a parent becomes too descriptive. Children usually learn subtly and cumulatively from ordinary daily contacts.”

[iii] A Parent’s Guide, (1985), 22–33, Chapter 4: Teaching Children: from Four to Eleven Years
“You and your spouse can be your children’s best examples of intimate relationships. A father teaches intimacy to his sons and daughters by how he speaks to, touches, and generally treats their mother. The same pattern pertains to the mother. In some ways this relationship between you and your spouse is more important than the parent-child relationship in teaching your children about intimacy.”

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Doctrine or Myth: Part III - Don’t Talk About Sexual Things; It Keeps Kids Innocent and Safer Longer

Click on the links here if you missed and would like to read Part I or Part II of this series.

Last week we talked about our personal experiences teaching our small children about sexuality. 

How then did we teach our children about sexuality as they grew to be teenagers and young adults?


As our children grew, we made ourselves available for questions they had, and sought out opportunities to discuss topics with them. 

If they had sex education at school, we asked them about the class and what they learned.
We had frequent Family Home Evening lessons on how to live the law of chastity, all the while emphasizing how wonderful sex can be when it’s done right and kept sacred – in the covenant of marriage. 

If we saw something regarding sexuality on television or the news, we discussed it with them and pointed out where sex was being defiled in those circumstances, what the potential consequences were and what the people could have done instead.

Above all, we set the best example we could in our own marriage. 

Progression, Not Perfection, Required

This isn’t to say we set a perfect example with each other all the time – far from it. We could never claim what President McKay’s son claimed about his parents[i], to never have raised our voices or argued in front of the children. 

We faced marital problems as well – most couples do. When we did have problems though, we addressed them immediately and together until we resolved our conflicts as a team. Application of the Atonement regularly minimized hurt feelings, and cooperating as husband and wife to manage issues turned out to be a blessing. It strengthened our friendship.

 As we immersed ourselves in learning about the gospel and marriage and sex and applied what we learned, our relationship grew stronger over the years. So did our children’s confidence in our counsel about everything, including sexuality.[ii]
Out of the Best Books, and Videos, and Other Sources…

When we found good sources for learning about sexuality that were appropriate to their age, we let them know. Often, we watched or read about it with them. We discussed For the Strength of Youth[iii] with them – a genius guide to safe single living in a world that prizes immorality – and taught them how those concepts would apply when they were married also.

Line Upon Line…

When those teenage hormones kicked in, our kids asked more questions. Occasionally they made small mistakes. 

My wife and I knew they would, and when they did, we didn’t overreact. Instead, we calmly let them know we loved them. We let them know we understood how hard that challenge is. 

We reviewed with them the process of repentance, and helped them strengthen their testimony of the sacredness of sexuality and their bodies.  We went over with them what things they could do to avoid or defend themselves from future temptations and expressed our confidence in them. We followed up with them privately to check their progress and impress on them that their progress was important. 

And they did better. 

The situations they encountered grew more and more complex and challenging over the years, often beyond the situations we faced ourselves as teens. 

One of our daughters asked us what to do when a ‘friend’ sexted her on social media. One of our sons asked us what to do when a homosexual friend propositioned him. They had questions for us about bondage and transsexuality and pansexuality. We continued to answer their questions and keep the lines of communication open, grateful that they were not only willing to seek us out but trusted our guidance. 

We looked at raising teenagers as if we were staff sergeants given the task of preparing our troops for battle. 

How wise would it be to send soldiers out into a conflict without running them through drills and arming them, because we’re afraid of them losing their ‘innocence’? Only hoping and praying that they’ll figure it out on their own when the “time was right” or on the eve of their first battle?  

What would the results be when they actually faced combat? How would you imagine they would feel about our lack of preparing them?

Boyd K. Packer said, 

“Parents today wonder if there is a safe place to raise children. There is a safe place. It is in a gospel-centered home. We focus on the family in the Church, and we counsel parents everywhere to raise their children in righteousness.”[iv]

In addition, the Gospel Principles manual (taught to investigators and new members) gives the instruction: 

"Our Church leaders have told us that parents are responsible to teach their children about procreation (the process of conceiving and bearing children). Parents must also teach them the law of chastity...
By the time children reach maturity, parents should have frankly discussed procreation with them. Children should understand that these powers are good and were given to us by the Lord. He expects us to use them within the bounds He has given us.”[v]

What were the Results?

The interesting thing is, now that we have two single grown children and two teenagers, they know more about correct sexuality principles than most adults, yet they still maintain a strong sense of innocence, virtue and self-worth. 

They haven’t been spared any challenge that any other child faces, yet they’re confident in themselves and their bodies, and there’s no residual trauma in their lives from the challenges they’ve experienced. They don’t feel dirty or ashamed or unclean, because of someone else’s choices to defile the sacred.

They can tell you about sexually transmitted diseases and how they’re contracted. They know their body parts and how they function. They know how the brain and body work in the limerance state[vi], and what to look for in an eternal companion. 

They know what it takes to live the law of chastity and they know why they’re living it, and how to maintain those habits into their marriage.  

These habits and attitudes were not established in a single ‘birds-and-the-bees’ conversation. They were the result of thousands of interactions over their entire lives.

Some of their friends at church and school haven’t been so fortunate. Of the youth that we taught over the years, those who fell into transgression or who made terrible short-sighted decisions regarding their sexuality came from families where sex (or sometimes even the gospel) was never openly discussed, or discussed very infrequently.

Next Week: So how does all of this affect our sexual relationship with our spouse?

[ii] Ether 12:25
[iv] Packer, Boyd K. “The Key to Spiritual Protection”, October 2013 General Conference;

[v] Gospel Principles, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, The Law of Chastity, Ch. 39, 2009, 225