How many times do we as parents or youth leaders tiptoe around, hoping the teens in our lives won’t ask us about that issue? For some adults, past sexual sins keep them from discussing sexual purity with their own children. Lack of confidence, fear of revealing past failures, and general awkwardness in this area can have major negative effects.
Confidence in Christ
What if your pastor only preached about topics in which he had never failed? Certainly, he would be guilty of not teaching “all the counsel of God” (Acts 20:27), as Paul’s example suggests. Somewhere between perfection (which is impossible, this side of eternity) and hypocrisy (which is clearly discouraged in Scripture) is the kind of broken, humble, genuineness (Psalm 34:18) that marks those who are close to God.
We can be confident that God’s Word will not return void (Isaiah 55:11), regardless of how imperfect the messenger may be. We can boldly and confidently share God’s Word as it relates to sexuality or any number of other issues, not because we’ve perfectly kept God’s law, but because it is true and righteous.
While transparency before your son or daughter can be daunting, it can also be freeing. Think about what you’re afraid of. Are you afraid that your child will realize that you’re imperfect? Let’s be real: It’s probably a bit late for that. Are you scared that he or she will follow your faltering example? If so, that could be described as “fear of man” (Proverbs 29:25), which God contrasts with trusting Him. We can be honest and open with others about our past sin and God’s gracious forgiveness, and then trust Him with their responses. Covering up sin is far from encouraged, but God’s ability to redeem sinners can glorify Him by pointing out His grace.
If your child follows your example of sinning, seeking forgiveness from God and humbly sharing his struggles and God’s graciousness with others, wouldn’t that be a triumph after all?
Discussing your past sin and topics such as sexuality will no doubt be accompanied by blushing cheeks and awkward silences. Those are good things, but at the same time, you want to try your best to alleviate any awkwardness you can. Openness, candor, and even use of humor can help lighten the discussion, as can admitting that you realize that it’s an awkward topic. However, failing to discuss it won’t mean your child never thinks about or learns about or talks about it. Wouldn’t you rather be his or her guide through these vital topics than to send the message that they’re completely taboo or—worse—unimportant?
In “And the Bride Wore White” by Dannah Gresh, she opens with the account of her telling her tween son about her own sexual failure. Afraid of his response, she asked, “Do you think you can forgive Mommy for sinning in that way?” His response was priceless: “Of course, Mommy. Isn’t that why Jesus died?”