EDITOR'S NOTEThe following is an excerpt from Teaching Your Children Healthy Sexuality: A Biblical Approach to Preparing Them for Life by Jim Burns (Bethany House).

Teaching Your Kids Value-Centered Sexuality

"How many of you received healthy, value-centered sex education from your parents growing up?" It's a question I ask parents everywhere. And the response is always the same. In a gathering of, say, four hundred people, usually four will raise their hands. It doesn't matter where I am—speaking in a church or another place—the ratio is consistent.

It's true: Our parents didn't talk to us about healthy sexuality, and, unfortunately, we're not doing much better with own children. A vast majority of young people say they receive more information about sexuality from their friends, media, and school than from their own home. This is not good news, especially when all studies show that the more positive, value-centered sex education kids receive in their home, the less promiscuous they will be.

A parent is almost always the person who has the best interest of their child in mind when it comes to sexuality. And you and I have the opportunity to provide our children healthy, value-centered sex education that is based on what God values. He has given us our sexuality. In the framework of Scripture, sex is not dirty. In the context of marriage it is rather beautiful. The world's culture has cheapened sex, but God's view of sexuality is wonderful and magnificent.

Frankly, it's not the primary job of schools to teach morals and values, and it definitely shouldn't be left to the latest rock star or media magnate. And friends? I now laugh out loud at what my friends told me in the fifth grade about the birds and the bees. Talk about wrong and misguided information.

Even though this generation of parents typically wants to do a better job of communication, too many well-meaning moms and dads are remaining silent for too long. Most didn't have a healthy conversation about sexuality modeled for them. They are afraid that talking about "it" will rob their children of their sexual innocence, or their children's sexual desires might be awakened early. Some parents avoid bringing up the subject because they might be asked about their experiences, and they aren't all that proud of how they handled their own sexuality. Regardless, the best person to teach your children about sexuality and relationships is you!

The Goal: A Lifetime of Sexual Integrity

For many parents, the foremost goal is to do everything possible to make sure their child stays pure until his or her wedding day. This is wonderful, but I believe we can and should do much more for our children. We can help establish in them lasting sexual integrity that starts at a young age and extends throughout their entire life, guiding their self-image, how they treat members of the opposite sex, and how they view and enjoy intimacy in marriage, as well as how resolute they are to remain faithful in mind and body. I compare it to teaching our children healthy eating habits. We certainly want them to eat their broccoli, whole grain breads, and other good things while living at home, but more than anything, we want them to continue reaping and enjoying the benefits of eating healthy after they have moved out.

This kind of a core belief in sexual integrity doesn't come from a one-time conversation or a sex education class. It develops as parents instruct, dialogue, and model a life of value-centered sexuality. When I talk with young people who have grown up with sexual integrity, they almost always mention having ongoing conversations with their parents that at least most of the time felt very natural. No matter what the age, kids learn best when they talk and dialogue, not just when parents lecture.