If you are starting conversations about purity with your child, you have probably come across the phrase sexual integrity.
You are familiar with the word integrity–being honest and strong in moral principles. Essentially, a person of integrity does what is right even when no one is watching.
Sexual integrity is living according to the highest moral sexual standards, consistently guarding our mind, will and emotions from sexual impurity. A person pursuing sexual integrity has committed to raising the bar and upholding high moral principles as it pertains to all these areas of their life. As Thessalonians 4:3-5 says, “For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you knows how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God.”
Sexual integrity is often not modeled in today’s culture. As your child’s parent, you have the unique opportunity to share the truth and model what it means to pursue sexual integrity and live a life of purity.
It may seem daunting or intimidating to start conversations about sexual integrity with your children. Take heart! God has given you everything you need to be prepared. As your child’s parent or guardian, it is good and right to desire that your children hear about God’s model for abundant life from you first, and not a friend, relative or other adult who could share information contrary to God’s good design.
God would not give parents this duty without equipping them. God’s Word holds all the knowledge needed to “train up a child in the way he should go” as it says in Proverbs 22:6. It is the revelation of a God who has infinite knowledge and can therefore give you the absolute truth. God’s Word presents an accurate and comprehensive picture of children, parents, family life, values, training and discipline-all you need to be equipped for the task of parenting.
Sexual integrity doesn’t just happen. As humans, we are naturally inclined to rebel from God’s intended design. We must actively evaluate our hearts and repent when we fall short of the standard God has given us. The Bible’s teachings on sexual integrity apply to everyone at all stages of life.
For some parents, conversations about sexual integrity are surrounded by shame and apprehension based on past personal experience. Recognize that sexual integrity is a lifelong journey as we are constantly aligning our attitudes and actions to the standard that God has given us. Psalm 86:5 is a tender reminder of God’s mercy, “You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to you.”
God knows our tendency toward sin, yet in His grace, He offers forgiveness and a new path. Romans 3:23 states that “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Ephesians 2:8 declares “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God.”
If you are in Christ, you are made new. As Psalm 103:12 says, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”
Before talking to your children about sexual integrity: Is there any unrepented sin that can be brought before God? Do you believe that He has forgiven you? Do you believe you can live in the freedom that He has granted through the death of His Son on the cross?
Teach your children about the boundaries that God has given for relationships. Share the fruit that comes from walking in accordance with His will for their life! For example, in the context of a marriage relationship, two people have taken responsibility for one another. They are committed to love, honor and respect each other for a lifetime. God has given us a blueprint for true intimacy, true love.
In addition to teaching your children God’s design for relationships and intimacy, offer your children practical tools to pursue sexual purity. Teach them what to do when they find themselves in situations that would come into conflict with their convictions. Encourage them to find friends who hold their commitments, make a list of goals for their life and develop personal boundaries that uphold purity. As your child grows older, help them find an accountability relationship or mentor, who will encourage them and help keep them responsible for their thoughts and actions.
As you shepherd your child’s heart through all life’s seasons, parent graciously. Throughout your child's lifelong journey pursuing sexual integrity-whether single, dating, married or widowed- pray that they will joyfully see and glorify God as the author of life and love.
The most important thing to remember and keep in mind in conversations is that we are constantly under God’s forgiveness and grace. We have been given new life in Christ’s death and should seek to do His will in all things and in all areas of life. If we struggle to keep God’s design for sex, we can be assured of forgiveness when we bring our sin before God. 1 John 1:9 is a beautiful reminder that God can and will forgive: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”