What about the Birds and Bees?
About the Guest
How do you talk to your kids about sex? Author Denny Burk coaches parents on how to have age appropriate conversations with their children about sex. Denny shares how he's teaching his sons to be leaders and protectors of girls, and his daughters to be responders and nurturers like their mom.
Denny BurkDenny Burk (PhD, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is Associate Professor of Biblical Studies and Ethics at Boyce College, the undergraduate arm of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He also serves as associate pastor at Kenwood Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky. Burk edits The Journal for Biblical Manhood & Womanhood and speaks and writes extensively about gender and sexuality. He is the author of What Is the Meaning of Sex? and coauthor of Transforming...more
How do you talk to your kids about sex? Author Denny Burk coaches parents on how to have age appropriate conversations with their children about sex.
What about the Birds and Bees?
Bob: How do you define marriage, biblically? Does it even matter anymore? Here is author, Denny Burk.
Denny: With each passing year, a generation that held to a traditional view of marriage—a traditional view of sexuality—is dying. The generation that’s replacing does not agree with what their parents and their grandparents thought. The people, who are listening to this program—you need to know that your children and the children in your church are largely going to disagree with you on these things.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Wednesday, August 20th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine. We’re going to talk today about what the Bible really has to say about same-sex marriage and how we stand for truth in a culture that is changing its mind. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. We’re talking this week about gender, and sexuality, and about God’s design for those things. It’s always good for us to realign our thinking because the messages we are getting about gender and sexuality aren’t typically biblically-anchored; are they?
Dennis: Murky days for sexuality. We have the author of the book, What Is the Meaning of Sex?—Denny Burk—joining us, again, on FamilyLife Today. Welcome back, Denny.
Denny: Thank you so much. It’s an honor to be here.
Dennis: Denny, you and your wife Susan have four children. They are all seven and under; right?
Dennis: I want to know—you know, here you have—you’ve written a book about human sexuality—
Bob: Yes, I just want to know—did you tell them, while you were writing—when they said, “Daddy, what are you doing?”—did you say, “I’m writing a book on the meaning sex”?
Denny: Oh, yes, they’ve seen the books. They have asked me the question—six-year-old and under, when I was writing the book: “What does sex mean?”
Now, that’s what I want to ask you about because we’ve got a bunch of moms and dads, who would like some practical coaching, because, frankly—I had a woman come up to me, the other night, when I was speaking about one of the resources we have, here at FamilyLife, called Passport2Purity®. It’s a father/son, mother/daughter getaway for a Friday night, Saturday. It’s all on CD’s. You just listen to it, and interact, and have a student guide and a parent guide. You walk them through it, and you have the conversation.
She came up, all blushing and everything, and just wanting to know: “How do you do this? I mean, you’re asking me to do something that I don’t even want to talk about.” So, she was just confounded—
Bob: Outside of her comfort zone, a little bit?
Dennis: Oh, yes.
Dennis: Well, it—I think it is for most of us; you know? Frankly, I got sweaty palms. I played the CD at night, in the car, driving down the road. So, I didn’t have to stare at my son and look at him, face to face.
Tell us about how you answered the question, when your children said, “Daddy, what’s sex?”
Denny: Yes, well, let me just say: “My children are young. So, we’re still on the front-end of these kinds of conversations.” So, I want to say to your listeners, “You need to have age-appropriate conversations.
Denny: And before I say what I told my own children, I’ll tell you what happened with me. I remember—before I had the conversation with my father when I was nine—I asked him the question when I was about in the first grade—somewhere in kindergarten to first grade. It wasn’t time yet to go into all the details of what it meant.
I still remember asking him the question. I remember us sitting on the edge of the bed, where he gave me this long answer that didn’t tell me everything. But what he was doing was—he was being age-appropriate. There was a time when it would be appropriate, and that’s when he shared.
So, my daughters asked me, “Daddy, what is sex?” She saw the word on one of my books or something.
I just said, “Well, this is a word we use to talk about being either a man or a woman,”—which is true and which is what this book is about. It’s not just about sex, as in behavior. It’s about sex, as in “What does it mean to be male or female created in the image of God?” So, that’s how I explained it to her.
But there are actually things, now, that are age-appropriate that I want to be communicating to my children about what it means to be a man / about what it means to be a woman. There are certain kinds of values I’m trying to instill in them now, in advance of a conversation about sexuality, that’s going to come later.
Just one example with my son—I’m trying to teach him to relate to his sisters in a certain way and to his mother in a certain way because the way he relates to them is going to be indicative of the way he grows accustomed to treating women, in general, I believe. He gets in worse trouble when he does things against his sisters.
If he is rough with them, he gets in trouble more than they do when they do it to him.
Denny: And I’m trying to instill in him that: “You don’t do that! God has made you to be a protector for women. That’s your role towards women.” So, there are age-appropriate ways that you instill these things in your children, I think.
Dennis: And what about your daughters? I mean, what do you want them to know in terms of how they are to use who they are, as a female, made in the image of God?
Denny: Well, it’s interesting. This comes up in little ways in the way that they play with their neighbors—they’re of the opposite sex—the ways that I tell them to treat those boys—to not take initiative in certain ways, to not seek out primary friendships in certain ways. There are ways that I encourage—even in those areas.
But I would also say this—it’s just having a mother, like my wife—means everything—because what I want my children /my little girls to do is to be like their mother. She is the one that has her antenna up on these things.
From time to time, she’s just correcting and directing them in certain ways—that are appropriate for females.
Bob: Okay, but I’m still thinking about how you answered your son, when he said, “So, what’s sex?” Some of our listeners are going, “You dodged it, Denny, when you said, ‘It’s a word that we use to talk about men and women.’” Yes, it is; but your son is going to learn, at some point, that it’s more than that. How are you thinking ahead? How are you planning for those conversations, and what have you and your wife talked about in terms of when and how you will have this kind of a conversation with your kids?
Denny: Yes, it was my daughter. She was about five or six when she asked it. And yes, it was a dodge. [Laughter] It was intentional: “We are going to have this conversation. It’s just not going to be today.”
Dennis: Okay, let’s hold our hand up, if we’ve dodge some of these questions.
Bob: I have dodged as well.
Dennis: I’m holding mine up.
Dennis: So, you’re in good company here.
Denny: No, in fact, we’ve heard of Passport2Purity®. As the time is getting closer, we’re going to look into that.
Bob: Well, I think it’s a great tool; but I think it’s a part of, as you’ve said, an ongoing conversation that you have with your kids. It’s a—you can have some preliminary conversations before you get to Passport2Purity. There is a series of books written by Stan and Brenna Jones from Wheaton College. They’ve kind of got age-appropriate conversations that you can have with your kids so that—when they are in the early school years / when they’re in later school years—
Dennis: It’s very low-key—doesn’t get into a lot of description—but then, there are other books in the series that take you into a full-blown discussion. So, when you get to the Passport2Purity weekend, this is not new news to your child. They’ve heard it before, and this is reinforcing part of what they’ve heard.
Denny, we haven’t commented on this; but we have to go there.
That’s the whole controversy that is taking place today—that I wish we didn’t have to talk about—but it’s how homosexuality is, as a gender identity, is now being—wanting to be imprinted on our children and our young people, as they grow up, as an alternative choice in terms of their own sexuality. Comment, if you would, about how a parent should view that message from the biblical perspective.
Denny: Well, I’m—we’re in Little Rock, Arkansas, today. I’m cognizant of the fact that I’m in a red state. I was raised in a red state where—in the South, you have basically conservative viewpoints on many of these issues. In particular—when it comes to homosexuality——there has been, in the past, a kind of a cultural consensus. That consensus is eroding—it is crumbling around us.
I want you to know that your children and the children in your church are largely going to disagree with you on these things.
Their experience and the conflict that they are experiencing over these issues is going to be completely different than what you experienced. That is in every place in this country today.
So, this is an issue of great moral urgency. It’s one of those issues where what’s going on in the outside world is affecting us, within the church of the Lord Jesus Christ. So, parents, churches, pastors are going to have to sound a clear biblical voice on these things. Now, this is a matter of urgency for us because we are going to be called names. We are going to be called “mean" for teaching what God’s Word says.
We don’t need to be mean. We need to be kind. We need to speak the truth in love, like the Bible says; but we, nevertheless, have to speak the truth that God’s design for marriage is one man and one woman for life.
God’s design for our sexuality is the covenant of marriage—anything outside of that—not just homosexuality—but adultery /all manner of fornication—anything outside of that is contrary to God’s design.
I feel a great deal of passion about this right now because I’m seeing that there is a great divide among those who call themselves evangelicals over this issue: “Who will sound a clear voice, and who won’t?” This is not an optional add-on to our faith. This is at the essence of faithfulness to Jesus, and we have to be clear about it.
Bob: And those who would say: “Well, there are people who just read the Bible and read it differently. We need to leave room for differing views, just like we do on baptism, or speaking in tongues, or when Jesus is coming back.”
Denny: Well, there are a couple of differences on this issue. Number one, no one has interpreted the Bible to say, “Homosexuality is good,” in the entire history of the Christian church—
—until about the last 40/50 years—have these revisionists’ interpretations emerged. On what other issue can you say that there has been that kind of unanimity? Not many; okay? In other words, the unambiguous witness of the Christian church has been to fidelity within marriage / chastity outside of marriage. It’s the—
Dennis: All based on the scriptural teaching.
Denny: All based on what the Bible teaches—from the first chapters all the way until the very end—marriage has been about one thing—one man / one woman, in covenant, for life. Sex was supposed to be enjoyed, exclusively, within that union.
Bob: Well, as we talk about this, you know and you’ve talked to families, where a son or a daughter has come to a mom or a dad—maybe in their adolescent years or beyond—and has said: “My experience in my life has been that I have always been attracted to people of the same sex. What am I supposed to do with that?”
Denny: Don’t deny that experience and don’t pretend like it hasn’t been a real thing for them. That’s been the story that many of my gay friends have told me—that they’ve experienced attractions that they didn’t ask for—but they were, nevertheless, there for as long as they can remember. We don’t want to deny that that’s what their experience was, but that doesn’t lessen what we say / what the Scriptures teach about what it means to have a relationship with Christ.
And this is where the rubber meets the road for me because, for all the people who are saying that homosexuality is not a sin, what they are actually doing is—they are inhibiting people from coming to Christ. Jesus says that you can only come by repentance and faith. If you tell people that they don’t have to repent of their sin—whatever it is—we’re not just picking this sin out of all of them. This is just the one where the culture is saying, “You have to call this good now.”
But whatever the sin is, you have to have an attitude of repentance towards sin and faith in Christ in order to come to Him.
And now, there’s a whole movement among some who call themselves Christians—that: “You can come to Christ without repentance from this because we’ve redefined it as not sin.” This is an issue of great urgency because those people are being confirmed in their lostness by that false teaching. So, this is why we have to be so very, very clear about this.
Now, for the person who is—who said, “Yes, I have had this experience my whole life,”—listen, I think Christians have done an unhelpful thing, in recent years, by saying that “Look, homosexuality is just a choice—just something you chose to do,”—but then, here we have all these people who have a different story. We need to leave that behind. We live in a fallen world. Who can account for where some of our fallen desires come from? It doesn’t really matter, at the end of the day.
What matters is what God’s Word says. What God’s Word says is—that wherever those desires come from, they’re out of conformity with what God’s will is. They are to be laid at the altar.
We are to die to ourselves and to give ourselves to Christ.
Bob: And I think we need to recognize that someone who has that as their story is carrying a burden—
Denny: Great burden.
Bob: —especially if that person is attempting to be biblically faithful.
Denny: And if I could just say this to all your listeners in churches—you need to have your arms wide open to our gay friends and neighbors who want to come to Christ and who want to walk with Him in holiness. You need to be cultivating communities and churches that are welcoming to them—
Dennis: I agree.
Denny: —and that want to come alongside them, and walk with them in their struggle, and what they are going through because, sometimes, what they are walking is very lonely and very difficult for them to come out to people—frankly, in the Christian church. So, we need to have our arms wide—
Dennis: I agree.
Denny: —open to them, even as we’re being clear about what the Bible teaches on these things.
Dennis: I couldn’t agree more. We need to be expressing the love of Christ, the compassion of Christ, the grace of Christ, and His forgiveness. And the church ought to be the leader in the country in that.
You teach on a college campus. That means you’ve got a bunch of 18- to 22-/23-year-olds in your classes. Share with our listeners: “What does the average Christian young person, who is going to school today, in a Christian college, think about homosexuality and their convictions about that?”
Denny: Well, I’ll tell you, Dennis. Our students come from all different kinds of backgrounds. And really, your family sort of determines what you bring into your experience at college. We’ve got all kinds. I just will say that they have come up in an atmosphere where they’ve been taught—
Dennis: Oh, yes.
Denny: —no matter where you come from—they’ve been taught that to have a traditional view of marriage, and to believe that homosexuality is a sin, and to believe that sex should be limited to one man and one woman in marriage—
—to believe those things is actually akin to bigotry and to be sort of a Puritan.
If you want to—basically, in our culture, our culture knows two rules; okay?—if you want to define the sexual ethic of our culture—two things: “It has to happen between consenting adults / everybody has to be of age. Number two, can’t hurt anybody.” Outside of those two rules, our culture knows no other bounds. Now, I see no reason for those two rules to hold, in the long-haul; but right now, those are the two rules that are still standing.
So, the kids that are coming to college right now—those are the two rules that they’ve been having imposed on them. If you add anything to the two rules—one man / one woman marriage, heterosexuality—you add anything to that, you will be treated like you’re some sort of societal pariah. And so, it’s—they expend a lot of social capital—just in maintaining that Jesus Christ is the only way to be saved.
To add this other thing—this other thing of the sexual norms of Scripture is a huge burden. I think that there is a great dividing line, right now, according to those who are willing to hold to what Scripture says versus those who do not.
Bob: “How out of step with the culture do you want to be?”—that’s the question that young people are going to have to face. “How weird do you want to be in our culture today?”
Denny: Yes, Jesus tells us in John, Chapter 17, that we are supposed to be in the world, not of the world, for the sake of the world; right? He doesn’t want us to leave the world. We are supposed to be here; but while we’re here, we don’t partake of the mores and of the values of the world. We are supposed to look different because we belong to Him. His Word is our law. What He said defines what we think about sex, what we think about food, what we think about our radio programs, what we think about everything. His Word defines it.
So, we’re not of the world, but we’re not doing that just so that we can be self-righteous and cloister in our communities.
We’re doing that for the sake of the world. We’re trying to hold forth to the world who God is and how He is reconciling the world to Himself through Jesus. So, all of these things come together in that one great purpose.
Dennis: I want all the parents, who are raising the next generation, to listen very carefully to what you just said because you are raising children today in the midst of some incredibly stiff winds of the culture that are going to do everything they can to force your child to conform to be of the world, and be in the world, and to conform to it in his or her thinking.
And if you, as a parent, aren’t preparing your child to walk into the hurricane force winds, then, you’re going to watch your child move into junior high, and adolescence, and ultimately college, and adulthood—then, you’re going to turn around someday; and you’re going to say, “How in the world did they end up believing that?”
And the answer is: “If we don’t equip them from the Scripture, in terms of critical thinking, knowing that our convictions are based on the Scripture—
—then, the world is a powerful thing in terms of indoctrinating this next generation.
Bob: Parents have got to know, not just what they believe, but why they believe it. You’ve got to be able to give to your sons and daughters a rational reason for why you believe this is what the Bible teaches.
Dennis: And neutrality—I’d like for you to comment on a neutrality approach—the parent who says: “You know, I just don’t want to upset the apple cart. We’re just going to kind of take a neutral position on this.” That’s almost a guarantee, isn’t it, that the children are going to go the way of the world?
Denny: No position is a position. If you take a position of neutrality, your children are going to go with the prevailing voice that they are hearing. That will be the voice of the culture, which is going to take them away from what God’s Word is saying. You cannot be neutral on these things. You have to be clear.
Dennis: And the same thing could be said to pastors.
Denny: Oh, yes. Every pastor—on this particular issue—every pastor is going to be smoked out, eventually. Nobody is going to be able to be subterranean and just sort of off the record on this.
Dennis: “I’m going to avoid the issue. I’m not going to say anything about it.” You’re going to have to take a stand—
Denny: Yes, one way or the other.
Dennis: —what you believe the Bible teaches.
Well, Denny, I appreciate you. I appreciate your work. I just want to encourage parents and pastors to get a copy of your book, What is the Meaning of Sex? Thanks for being on the broadcast.
Denny: Thank you so much for having me.
Bob: And if folks are interested in a copy of your book, they can go to FamilyLifeToday.com. Click the link that says, “GO DEEPER.” The information on the book—What is the Meaning of Sex?—is available right there. You can order online. Again, the website: FamilyLifeToday.com. Click the button that says, “GO DEEPER,” in the upper left-hand corner of the screen, to get the information on Denny’s book. Or if you’d like to order by phone, call 1-800-FL-TODAY, 1-800-358-6329.
That’s 1-800- “F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then, the word, “TODAY.”
We mentioned a couple other resources today. We talked about Passport2Purity and about your book, Aggressive Girls, Clueless Boys, Dennis. Of course, those resources are also available at FamilyLifeToday.com. If folks are interested, they can go, online, for that.
And let me mention that all three of us are going to be in Nashville, October 27th-29th, for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Committee’s National Conference, which is addressing the issue of homosexuality, same-sex marriage, and the church—how all of that comes together. Al Mohler will be there—Russell Moore, David Platt. A great lineup of speakers—Rosaria Butterfield, Christopher Yuan is going to be there as well.
And you can get more information about the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission’s National Conference when you go to FamilyLifeToday.com. Click the “GO DEEPER” button, and there is a link there that gives you information about how you can register for that upcoming event.
I mentioned Dr. Mohler. He’s going to be with us, this Saturday, in Portland for the I Still Do™ one-day celebration of the marriage covenant that we’re going to be hosting at the Moda Center—still have tickets available. We’d love to have you come out and join us this Saturday. You can get more information at IStillDo.com.
And of course, those of you in Washington, DC, we’ll be seeing you in a couple of weeks. October 4th is the date at the Verizon Center in Washington, DC. That event is going to be simulcast, all across the country and around the world. Again, you can find more information about I Still Do or about the simulcast when you go to IStillDo.com.
And of course, we always like to take a minute and make sure we say, “Thank you,” to those of you who helped make today’s program possible. FamilyLife Today is listener- supported. The cost for producing and syndicating this program is taken care of by folks, like you, who pitch in from time to time—those of you who are Legacy Partners and make monthly donations to help support this ministry.
We are approaching the end of our fiscal year. August ends our fiscal year. We’ll start a new fiscal year in September. Of course, we are hoping to end the fiscal year in a healthy spot, financially. That’s why we are asking you to consider making a donation today. When you do, we’d like to say, “Thank you,” by making available some activity cards that will help you disciple your kids. These cards give you activities you can do together, as a family, to help your kids understand and learn more about God.
When you go to FamilyLifeToday.com, and click the button in the upper right-hand corner that says, “I Care,” and make an online donation, the activity cards are immediately available to you, at that point. Or you can call 1-800-FL-TODAY. Make a donation over the phone, and ask for the activity cards. Or you can mail your donation to FamilyLife Today at Post Office Box 7111, Little Rock, AR. Our zip code is 72223. Just mention that you’d like the activity cards.
We’ll get back to you with information on how you can get those cards downloaded.
And I hope you can tune in tomorrow. We’re going to introduce you to our friend, Paula Hendricks, who describes herself as boy-crazy. She says, growing up, and even today, she has struggled with caring too much about what the boys think. We’re going to talk to her about that tomorrow. Hope you can tune in for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I’m Bob Lepine. We will see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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