Parents may tell their children about sex, may even tell them to wait until marriage to do it. But very few do a good job of teaching their kids why to have sex. They need to.
While most people think about sex a lot, most people don't feel comfortable talking about it. Most people feel really uncomfortable discussing it with their children. The most awkward conversation in the world is when a parent sits their child down for the first time to have “the sex talk.” This is especially difficult for families that have worked to protect the innocence of their children. How do you discuss the act of intimacy with someone who does not yet know what the parts are, much less what the parts do?
I remember well when I had the conversation with my son. I did not want to have it but knew that the sex education instruction program at the school was approaching and felt it was up to me to make sure he heard it from me first.
As I prepared for the conversation I was struck by the fact that I needed to discuss more than basic anatomy and physiology. There is more to sexual intimacy than just the “what.” If I was going to teach my son, I needed to teach him the “why” as well. I realized in that moment how neglected this aspect of sexuality is within our culture and within the church. In spite of the neglect, I think the answer to the question, “Why have sex?” is crucial.
There are really only a few possible answers to the question, and taking them one by one provides significant insight.
Possible Answer 1- Pleasure. There is no argument that this is a primary motivation for many. But is it really the main reason? Is this why it exists? Is this a good motivation? I argue it isn't. There are many essential things in life that have pleasure as a secondary benefit. Eating and sleeping are good examples. The purpose of eating is not pleasure, it is nutrition. If people eat primarily for pleasure they will become obese and their health will be harmed. I think this is also true for sexual intimacy. It is pleasurable, but that is not its purpose. We miss its value if we believe this is all it is about.
Possible answer 2- Procreation. From the very beginning God instructed men and women to have children. Families are His idea. While sexual intimacy can lead to reproduction, I do not think this is its primary purpose. Think about it, if this was the primary purpose, then it would lose its value with age or infertility. Sex happens to be how babies are made, but it is not the main reason it was created.
Possible answer 3- The biblical answer. To create a bond of intimacy that unifies and unites one man with one woman for a life time. I have no doubt that this is the correct answer. It is declared in scripture that “a man would leave his parents and cleave to his wife and that the two would become one flesh.” Physical intimacy is intended to strengthen the bond. This is universally true and evidence for this is seen in societal responses to infidelity and in the increased intensity of emotions teens feel when they break up with someone with whom they were sexually involved. Pleasure and procreation are not negatively impacted by unfaithfulness or breakups, but intimacy and oneness are. Sex is about oneness.
It is my opinion that our culture has rejected this third answer and insisted that only the first two apply. The result is broken families, confusion about marriage and the decline of the institution in our society, along with a dramatic increase in pornography and perversion. Parents need to make sure that their children are taught differently, that they learn that sexual intimacy is a sacred gift from God that when honored and protected can form a powerful bond between a man and a woman. “Why” matters, and we owe to our children to tell them
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