The Bullseye on Your Kid's Chest

When I was a teenager, I remember seeing a movie about a couple of street gangs in 1950’s New York who were fighting over a disputed piece of “turf.” I’m not sure if I even knew what turf was at the time. I remember being really puzzled about why a bunch of thugs would be so concerned about somebody’s lawn.

Things escalated to the point of scheduling a fight in a neighborhood park where the gangs would settle things once and for all. A few days before the big night, their leaders got together to discuss the rules of the rumble. It was like a miniature Geneva Convention right there in the pool hall. I had no idea that street gangs could be so diplomatic. 

In particular, I can remember them discussing what weapons could be used in the fight. One guy suggested sticks. Another said that pipes would be appropriate. One really tough guy started listing an entire arsenal of chains, knives, and guns. They debated for a while and finally decided on a few suitable “accessories” that would ensure a fair fight later that week. I thought it was a rather strange dialogue, but apparently, meetings like this happen all the time between parties in conflict.

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The Silent Negotiation between Parents and Satan

There is a war of great significance being waged over human sexuality. In our current culture and on the battlefield of the next generation, we have to admit that the church is not very effectively engaged. Moreover, as it relates to parents doing real battle in this area for the futures of our kids, we have been quite passive. If the same type of pre-fight negotiation I saw in my gang movie were to take place between Satan and most parents today, the discussion might look something like this:

Satan:  We know we can inflict maximum damage on your children with minimal effort on our part by attacking their future sexuality.

Parents: The future is a long time from now. We aren’t overly concerned.

Satan:  We will bring every resource we have to bear in this fight. We will steal their innocence early with pornographic images. We will use their peers to convince them that they need to have a boyfriend or girlfriend. We will show them through dozens of different media outlets that sexual behavior is normal behavior. We will encourage them to fall in love and break up over and over again, making them less and less able to stay committed in a marriage relationship. We will literally bombard them with our anti-biblical perspective until even the most committed Christ-followers see our way as totally acceptable.

Parents: You’re really going to do all that?

Satan:   Yes. That’s our plan…our rules of engagement. What are you going to do about it?

Parents: Actually, we’re not going to do much of anything. Our plan is to passively let you beat the snot out of us and our kids, inflicting untold amounts of damage on the next generation, all because we are not comfortable talking about sex.

Satan:   We will see you on the battlefield.

The likely response for all of us when considering such a negotiation is to assure ourselves that we have not been passive. Sure, our crafty and influential enemy has placed a bulls eye on our kids' chests, but they are prepared. After all, we have taken time to have “the talk” with our kids. We have tried hard to keep the lines of communication open. Sure, there are plenty of unengaged parents out there, but that’s not us.

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Passive Parents Raise Unprepared Kids

Before any of us assume that we have done an effective job of equipping and protecting our children, we should consider what our kids say. According to research done by ABC’s Primetime, while about 90% of parents say they've spoken to their teens about sex, only half of their teens agree. There is an obvious disconnect.

So the enemy bombards our kids with lies while those tasked with giving them the truth are largely silent. It is as if we are fighting an enemy armed with rocket-propelled grenades using an arsenal of squirt guns. It is obvious who is winning. The world gives a perspective over and over and we don’t say much of anything. We should not be surprised, in the absence of truth, that there is little difference between how Christian kids and their non-Christian peers approach sex and dating.

As Jennifer Parker wrote in Christianity Today, “Specific studies of sexual trends among Christian teens have been limited, but all indications are that, on average, there is little difference between their sexual behavior and that of non-Christian youths, other than a tendency to delay their first sexual experience slightly longer.     

Make no doubt that we have a God who wants to equip and empower us to address the relational and sexual dimensions of our children and teenagers. They are His kids, after all. When we commit ourselves to tackling these issues on behalf of our kids, we are preparing them for success on the battlefield that we know they will encounter through their teen and young adult years. More importantly, we are giving them the tools they will need to experience all the best things that God dreamed up when He first gave them life. 

If we do not, they become easy targets for our enemy to pick off at his whim. We know this because human sexuality has become the spiritual battlefield that impacts more people and destroys more relationships than just about any other. Regardless of our best intentions, passivity and reluctance to talk will make us parents who continue to arm our kids with squirt guns when they are fighting an enemy who is truly armed to the teeth.

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*Check out my brand new book: The Talk(s): A Parent's Guide to Talking about Sex, Dating, and Other Unmentionables. It has been developed to assist parents as they help their kids navigate our hyper-sexualized culture. Whether your kids are 6 or 16, it provides practical help to help your kids to make wise choices in a messed-up world.

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