Ok, wait a second. I’m not really going to share exactly what my children and I discussed during “The Talk”. None of your business, really. Plus, we don’t really have “The Talk” with our children. We have talks. A number of them. You think we can cover everything a young person should know about sex and intimacy in one discussion? Anyhow, those discussions with our children are pretty special to us…so I’m not going to violate that confidence.
But I will share some central truths about sex and intimacy that we are trying to teach. There is no order of importance to this list, and we don’t teach the whole list at once. But here are some principles that are important to our family, and I’ll write it as if I’m writing to my children:
1. Physical Intimacy is Good.
Sometimes in religious settings, people send the message that sex is bad. It isn’t. Physical intimacy is ordained of God and is an important part of life on earth and in marriage. I realize that we’re telling you to be careful so often in relation to sex that it seems like we’re saying “Sex is bad and only bad people participate”. That couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, our prophets have taught the following:
We declare the means by which mortal life is created to be divinely appointed. (The Family — A Proclamation to the World)
I’m sure you know this, but the phrase “the means by which mortal life is created” is referring to sex. Sex isn’t something people came up with to rebel against anything. Simply put, God intended for us to participate in physical intimacy during our time here on earth. Sex allows more of Heavenly Father’s spirit children to come and experience mortality. Sex strengthens marriages and bonds parents to each other, increasing the chance that they’ll, as a couple, be committed to raising their children together. I don’t want any of you to think negatively about sex. We can talk about it, acknowledge that it is a part of life, and you can look forward to that part of your future marriage!
2. Timing is Everything
With all of that said, there is a companion principle, and it has to do with timing. Our whole family likes apples. Apples are good. But if you walk out to the orchard and eat an apple that is only a few weeks old, you’re going to have a pretty sour experience. It wasn’t the apple’s fault. It was your timing. Physical intimacy is ordained of God between husband and wife, and those titles imply that they are married, which of course, implies that you will be a bit older than you are now before sex is part of your life. In the book of Ecclesiastes we learn that
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens. (Ecclesiastes 3:1, New International Version)
The point here is, sex in and of itself isn’t bad at all, but timing is everything. If you participate in physical intimacy before it is time (marriage) you don’t have the same promises from God than if you wait and do things in His way. For some reason I hear of youth who feel like they’re “falling behind” if they don’t have their first kiss, their first boy/girl friend, and their first sexual experience at a young age. They’re worried that they’re missing out on what everyone else is experiencing. Let me tell you this: by the time ten years of marriage rolls around, you won’t be behind anyone, as far as these experiences go. Don’t be worried about that. And, I’ve never, ever, heard any adult say, “Wow, looking back, I sure wish I had experienced sex at a much younger age…”, but I have heard adults share that they wish they would have waited until, well, the right season.
3. Sacred Things Should Be Protected
God has ordained one way to create life and that act of intimacy is also an incredible part of marriage. Think of the role that sex plays! It is special. In fact, a better word would be “sacred”. And anything that is sacred is usually meant to be protected from being abused, destroyed, or used for ways that cheapen it or hurt ourselves or others. We protect children because they are sacred. We protect religious places because they are sacred. And we protect sex because it is sacred. Since God ordained sex, God also gets to created some protective rules to protect it and you. You can find a wonderful explanation of those principles and commandments in the For the Strength of Youth section entitled “Sexual Purity” on LDS.org, so I won’t cover those in depth here. Let me just say that though commandments sometimes seem restrictive, mom and I see them as more “protective”. They protect you and they protect physical intimacy.
4. Just Because Something is Natural Doesn’t Mean There Are No Boundaries
Sometimes people will make the argument that if something is natural, it is unnatural or unhealthy to try to put limits or boundaries on it. That’s clever, I suppose. But can you imagine what earth life would be like if people followed everything that seemed like an instinct with no self-discipline? I know that our bodies are created in such a way that we will be naturally inclined to want to participate in physical intimacy, and I think that was a wise choice by Heavenly Father for the sake of family units. But I also know that some of these natural desires and inclinations are part of the test of life, so to speak. We really are on earth, in part, to overcome and control certain physical desires; to channel them and be in charge of them rather than allow them to be in charge of us. When we allow our appetites to take control of us, we are not becoming more like Christ. The growing desire to be physically intimate with someone is natural, but needs to be something that you control, not something that controls you, your thoughts, or your decisions.
Well, of course, there’s more I could say. I mean, I’m your dad, with an advanced degree in lecturing. We have time to continue this conversation according to your needs and age. But please keep in mind that you have parents who love you and are excited about your future. In all we have taught, there is a chance that at some point you might find yourself in violation of some of the commandments God has shared with us in relation to sex. You need to know that we still love you and God still loves you and He has sent His Son to allow us the chance to repent and be and feel clean again. When needed, mom and I stand ready to help you in that effort in any way you need. Finally, if we can help you have a healthy, balanced, principled and optimistic view of physical intimacy, then we’re doing our jobs. If you have any questions…ask your mother… 🙂