My husband and I recently had the privilege of explaining the divine role of men and women and their ability to create life together with our 8-year-old, almost 9-year-old, son. Through thoughtful prayer and discussion, we felt ready to share with him this incredible gift given to us from our Father in Heaven.
Going into this discussion, I was somewhat apprehensive. What would he think? Would we “scar” him? How would he process everything? He had been asking questions about how babies were conceived for a while, but they were so sweet and innocent, I knew he really didn’t know much concerning the logistics of the whole thing. My husband and I both felt the time was right to open the door to an ongoing discussion about healthy sexuality, and that our son was mature enough emotionally and spiritually to be receptive to the conversation.
Before we began we said a prayer inviting the Holy Ghost to be present with us. We firmly believe that creating life and solidifying the bond between a husband and wife are ordained of God, and the act of intimacy is sacred and involves a connection to heaven. As soon as we started, the feeling in the room was so peaceful and the Spirit was strong. It wasn’t at all weird or uncomfortable, and I wholeheartedly believe that was because we were teaching our son the appropriate and wonderful use of sexual relations: that they are meant to be between a man and a woman, within the bonds of marriage.
Hearing my husband share with our son his thoughts on being able to express his love for me completely, and how much that love brings us together was a very tender moment for me.
Our son had some sweet questions for us such as “how do you know when the right time is?” and wondering how the spirit gets into the body. We told him questions were always welcome, and that we wanted him to feel comfortable coming to us with any concerns or thoughts he had in the future.
We also stressed the importance of not sharing what he learned with his little brothers, but that we wanted to be the ones to discuss it with them when we felt the time was right, because of the sacred nature of the conversation. We told him now that he knew more about sex, he might begin noticing suggestive references or hear inappropriate jokes about it more often.
We told him the difference between being comfortable versus casual when it came to talking about sex. He took all of it in stride and seemed to understand the very special and incredible responsibility sharing oneself completely with another person carries.
I’ve recently read some articles and discussions on social media talking about the need to change or modernize old-fashioned ways of thinking about sex like the ones my husband and I apparently have. There were some comments made about how it’s perfectly normal and “healthy” to explore different aspects of one’s sexuality freely and openly, and not necessarily encouraging discussions to happen in a safe family environment like the one we had with our son. An argument was made that we need to come to the realization that our sexuality is just who we are.
While it is a very important part of who we are, it is still only one part of a large whole. Our sexuality does not define us.
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said in October of 2007, “You serve yourself poorly when you identify yourself primarily by your sexual feelings. That isn’t your only characteristic, so don’t give it disproportionate attention. You are first and foremost a son (or daughter) of God, and he loves you.”
The idea that we are carnal and sensual beings who can’t help but act on every desire and that we shouldn’t be ashamed to explore those is dangerous. This way of thinking makes it seem as though sexual urges are something we don’t — or shouldn’t — have control over.
Elder David A. Bednar, also of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, said in a talk titled “We Believe in Being Chaste" that sexual relations “are not merely a curiosity to be explored, an appetite to be satisfied, or a type of recreation or entertainment to be pursued selfishly. They are not a conquest to be achieved or simply an act to be performed. Rather, they are in mortality one of the ultimate expressions of our divine nature and potential and a way of strengthening emotional and spiritual bonds between husband and wife. We are agents blessed with moral agency and are defined by our divine heritage as children of God — and not by sexual behaviors, contemporary attitudes or secular philosophies.”
I believe the whole point of living on this earth is to learn how to rein in our passions and appetites, how to have self-mastery, and to listen to and follow what the Lord has taught when it comes to boundaries in sexual behavior and that it is only within those boundaries that true love is best expressed, received and enjoyed.