My children know that when they reach their eleventh birthday, they get to go on an overnight trip with Papa, i.e., me. They get to pick where we go and what we do for that entire day (within reason, of course–in other words, Disney world is not an option.) We have a grand time doing the things that they enjoy, and as a dad, I rejoice in the opportunity to focus on them entirely for the weekend. However, the primary motivation for the special trip centers around getting them alone for several hours in order to begin more detailed discussions about those ‘birds and bees’ that can be so uncomfortable to discuss. The goal is not to talk about it all, all at once, but to invite them to engage in a conversation with their dad. My hope is that this conversation will continue through their teen years and up until they say, “I do,” before God, their minister, and the gathered witnesses, and the chosen, complimentary mate says, “I do,” in response.
I have completed three out of an estimated five of these trips now, and they have each been wonder filled in their own ways. Some kids have had more questions than others; some have also asked me to stop when they saw where the conversation was headed. When that happens, I shift the conversation to the role of a father in the life of his children. I’ve told them that if I don’t instruct them in the matter of human sexuality, then someone else will. Whether it be their friends, the internet, the music industry, or Hollywood, someone will teach them about sex. In all likelihood, their father is the only one in the list of possible suspects that gives a rip about what God says about this beautiful thing called sex. We talk about how it is beautiful when it is “the marriage bed,” not when it’s simply two people in bed. He created sex to be a blessing in certain circumstances, i.e., within marriage, which means it will bring about a curse outside of that blessed union.
We begin our talk where God began: in the garden. We track the man all by himself, the man naming animals, the man finding no helper, and the man sleeping so soundly that part of his body is removed to make the woman. We talk about Adam knowing his wife, and we talk about conception, about seeds and eggs, and about fruitfulness and multiplication. If they seem to be balking at the anatomy and physiology of it all, then I keep the conversation strictly in the terms of Genesis, realizing that if we continue this conversation throughout the next decade, we can fill in the blanks as the years progress.
We talk about other things when other things come up; we stop talking when it seems like the conversation has ended, because I’m not in a rush. If God has given me twenty years or so to raise them, and I’m doing my best to use this time wisely, then I have plenty of time. He created this “nurture and admonition” thing to work in the time allotted, not to not work. God did not make us parents in jest to show how useless we are. He made us stewards of the next generation, because he wants to use us to fulfill his promises to be faithful to a thousand generations.
So far the extracurricular activities on these weekend excursions have ranged from horseback riding to 24-hour shopping sprees to ATV four-wheeling in the East Tennessee mountains. Through these trips, I have seen glimpses of the friendships that I hope to one day have with my children as adults: having mature conversations about mature topics, rejoicing in the beauty of God’s good earth, and sharpening each others iron as we spend time together under the sun.
God gave us our children to raise them, to nurture them, to teach them, and to one day send them out unto fields that are white unto harvest. In a world saturated with sex, may he use us to saturate them with God’s purposes for sex and an understanding how honorable it is within marriage. May it be part of the good, true, and beautiful life that identifies us and our children as cities on hills, whose lights cannot be hid. May he bless our feeble efforts as parents, as we apply his Word and his promises to the next generation of believers–the next generation of Christian lovers–the next generation of Christian parents.