How do I start a conversation about sex?

As we’ve taught and written about the principles for godly, parent-directed sex education in the Christian home, we’ve heard from parents over and over again, “I think you are right that I should have such conversations, but I don’t think I can talk to my children that way. I wish there were something we could read with our children to get us started in discussing these matters.”

The children’s books in this series are designed to meet that need. They are not meant to provide all the information kids need but rather to be starting points for Christian parents to discuss sexuality with their children in a manner appropriate to each age. They provide an anchor point for discussions, a jump-start to get discussions going. They put the words in your mouths and put the issues out on the table. Don’t simply hand these books to your kids to read, because our whole point is to empower you as the parent to shape your children’s sexual character. The books are meant to guide the conversations with your children that will deepen your impact on them in the area of sexuality.

Here are some additional thoughts:

Principle 4: We Should Seize Those “Teachable Moments” and Become “Askable” Parents.

Many of the most precious opportunities to shape your children’s character happen unexpectedly. The pregnant mom at church, the foul word or leer in a movie preview, the news item about sexual abuse or the sexual affair of a celebrity, the mating animals in the zoo—these and hundreds of other events provide rich opportunities to discuss sexuality with your kids and thus to shape their character.

Principle 5: Accurate and explicit messages are best.

There is an old joke about the child who is looking around the parent’s bedroom with a curious but doubtful look on his face. The puzzled father asks, “What are you looking for?”

“The shovel,” replies the son.

“What shovel?” asks the father.

“The shovel you use when you have sex.”

“Come again?” asks the father.

“You told me that having sex is when you plant the sperm inside mother’s body, and you plant things with a shovel, so where’s the shovel?” replied the boy.

Accurate messages are always best. Being straightforward tells children you care about them, that you respect their questions, and that you are a trustworthy source of truth. Being explicit does not mean being graphic or crude. It means that you give direct, truthful answers in an age-appropriate way. As we move through the ages in this book, we will give numerous examples of how to give such appropriate messages.

Principle 6: Positive messages are powerful.

We rob Christian faith of its power when we shrink the Christian teaching about sexuality to a list of “don’ts.” The first messages about sexuality in the Bible in Genesis 1 and 2 are wildly positive (see Genesis 1:27-28 and Genesis 2:18-25). God the Father and Creator made humanity—the first man and woman—as physical and sexual beings, male and female created equally in God’s image. He made them (and us) so that the one man and one woman could be blessed to form an exclusive and lifelong marital union, to unite sexually and become “one flesh,” and to experience the joy of sexual and personal union. They could also conceive and raise children. We even learn in the New Testament that Christian marriage serves as an earthly model of Christ’s love for his Bride, the church (Ephesians 5:25-33). Yes, the Bible has to warn us that God hates sexual immorality, but this negative message is grounded in a profoundly positive reality.

Principle 7: Stories are powerful teaching tools.

As you have these conversations, don’t forget the teaching tool Jesus used so effectively: the story. The power of the media is grounded in their powerful practice of telling stories. Why teach your children only lists of dry concepts like “immoral sex can have bad consequences” when you can have a powerful impact by sharing with them real stories that engage their hearts and emotions? We start, of course, with Bible stories, but we add to these the stories around us about real life, such as the difficulties faced by a person who cannot have children due to a previous STI.

Some content taken from HOW AND WHEN TO TELL YOUR KIDS ABOUT SEX, by Stan and Brenna Jones. Copyright © 1993, 2007, 2019. Used by permission of NavPress. All rights reserved. Represented by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. To purchase books in the GOD’S DESIGN FOR SEX book series, go to