How to teach children about sex

So the question came up, how does one teach gospel truths about sex and chastity? Particularly so in a day when sexual misbehavior has become a plague. I have had two bishops claim that having approximately 20% of ward being addicted to pornography seemed like a reasonable estimate. One of them felt like 20% was a minimal estimate.

So how does one teach gospel truths about sex and chastity?

Well, this is a topic in which I don’t claim to have all the answers, and yet there are some incontrovertible principles that I think are being largely ignored. I may not know what the building looks like, but I can tell when the foundation is cracked.

Teaching by precept and example

A first observation is that we tend to think of teaching sex as being primarily presenting our children with the so called “facts of life”. That is an important part, but it is a small part as well. Most of our teaching has to do with what they see us do. If your children believe from your example that when they become adults, or after they are married, or when they are 13, then they can watch movies with innuendo and provocative material without offending God, then you have failed to teach them how the gospel relates to sex. You may have conveyed some basic truths to them, and whatever truths you presented will be of value to them. But if what you have taught isn’t what prophets and apostles have counseled on the matter, then it is not the gospel, and you aren’t teaching your children what the gospel teaches about sex.

The other part of our teaching comes along in the day to day decisions of life and how we teach our children in those circumstances by precept and example. If your daughter is wearing a bikini to the swimming pool, then you have failed to teach her gospel truths about sex, regardless of what words you used to teach her the facts of life. The same is true if she wears short skirts or tight clothes. If your children think a little moral misbehavior on dates is normal, you have failed to teach them how the gospel relates to sex.

If our precepts about what is acceptable to watch, read, listen to, and become involved in differ from what the prophets and apostles teach then we are not teaching how the gospel relates to sex. We are teaching something else.

Not matters to be taken lightly

Chastity is a fundamental part of the gospel. Everyone knows that adultery is next to murder in seriousness. So we shouldn’t treat the dark alleyway leading up to it as a light matter.

If ye receive not the Spirit, ye shall not teach

The most important principle in teaching anything about the gospel is found in the scriptures.

D&C 42:14 And the Spirit shall be given unto you by the prayer of faith; and if ye receive not the Spirit ye shall not teach.
 15 And all this ye shall observe to do as I have commanded concerning your teaching, until the fulness of my scriptures is given.
 16 And as ye shall lift up your voices by the Comforter, ye shall speak and prophesy as seemeth me good;
 17 For, behold, the Comforter knoweth all things, and beareth record of the Father and of the Son.

If you don’t have the spirit you shall not teach. This is not just a commandment, it is an absolute truth about spiritual knowledge. When you are teaching about sex you are treading on sacred ground and you cannot teach it correctly without the spirit. If you do not have the spirit you will not be able to teach it truthfully. Sure, your facts may sound correct, but that is different that being able to convey a topic the way Heavenly Father wants your children to think of it.

You must be keeping all the laws regarding sex:
 – multiply and replenish the earth (not popular, but there it is), do not dam up the waters of life
 – no media that is in any way pornographic, provocative or that portrays immorality as acceptable
 – no innuendo in your media (President Monson has spoken out against innuendo)
 – you must not think you are Big Enough to see sleazy scenes now that you are grown up / married / whatever…
 – you must be modest, avoid tight or showy clothing and wear temple garments night and day.
 – you must not partake of sleaze or allow it into your own home for any reason. Instead you must fight to keep it out.

If you violate these there are two iron doors you cannot get past when attempting to teach your children about morality:
1. You have offended the Holy Ghost, and he will not accompany you on that topic.
2. You have given the adversary power to influence you, he will use that power to blind your mind when you want to teach your children on the matter.

We are accountable for knowing we need to do these things (as we all know), and if we do not teach them to our children by precept and example, then the sins will be upon the heads of the parents. That does not mean the children will not reap the harvest of misery and spiritual destructiveness that any violations always bring with them.

That is the main requirement for teaching your children about chastity. You must keep the commandments related to sex as purely as you can so you can have the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost will then accompany your teaching. There is simply nothing else that compares.

DC 121 teaches that the doctrine of priesthood will not distill upon us if we do not garnish our thoughts with virtue continually. Thus the answer is to be very pure in chastity and in how you treat the waters of life, search the scriptures and the doctrine of the priesthood will descend, and then you will know what to say and when and how. Then you will teach by the power of the Holy Ghost and thus what you teach will be the mind and will of the Lord and the power of God into salvation. Understanding how family, marriage and intimacy really tie into the gospel is part of the doctrine of the priesthood that is only given by revelation. It is a mystery of the kingdom. We cannot get it by some other path than the ordained one.

There is no other method that works. Any method that is not about putting aside our rampant culturally accepted lusts so the holy ghost will be with us when we teach about sex will fail, because if you do not have the spirit, you cannot teach the gospel and the gospel is about gaining a body and subjecting it to the will of the father by being chaste, garnishing your thoughts with virtue continually, and receiving with joy the blessings of posterity like the sands of the sea promised to Abraham, even if like Abraham you only receive the full measure of that in the resurrection.


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John Robertson

I am nothing more than a regular member of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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