Home Youth Leaders Articles for Youth Leaders Preteen Sex Talk: Addressing Biblical Sexuality With Middle Schoolers

Preteen Sex Talk: Addressing Biblical Sexuality With Middle Schoolers

If This Happens in Your Ministry

Pray about who to approach and when, says Bryan. Then “approach key peer leaders and encourage them to make Terry feel welcome by including him in their circles.”

Also, says Bryan, you must “approach Terry’s parents, first casually, then depending on the relationship, ask key questions as to what his interests are, how he’s doing at school, and so on. If the parents open up or are obviously concerned, direct them to local counseling resources.” One resource that helps parents focus on loving their child is Always My Child by Kevin Jennings and Pat Shapiro.

Above all, offer hope to the parents and acceptance to Terry. Remind them that God’s love never fails, and he has answers to all our life’s issues. Commit to walking beside this family as a support and prayer partner. Let them know you’ll be with them throughout the journey ahead.

Preteen Sex Talk: Gender Identity Issues

Since early childhood, Charles (now 10) insisted on playing with girls’ toys and wanted to dress like a girl. He told his parents he was a girl and wanted to be called Macy. Over the years, Charles never altered from this sentiment.

After much thought, medical advice, and counseling, the parents elected to start Charles on hormone therapy at age 8. It would change his physical development so he wouldn’t develop normally as a boy. Plus, it would prepare him for transgender operations later. Charles now lives as Macy. Macy and her family attend your church, and Macy is in your children’s ministry. What do you do?

Advice for the Teacher

“It’s a new world for those of us in children’s, youth, and family ministry,” says Dr. Jim Burns, author of The Purity Code: God’s Plan for Sex and Your Body. “We need to learn the critical issues of our culture and then realize issues like this one can’t typically be handled by a church worker with little expertise. We can help families greatly by finding the right referrals in the areas of family crisis.”

You need to have frank conversations with the child’s parents about practical issues, such as whether the child wants to be referred to as male or female, whether the situation is a public or private matter, what restroom accommodations you need to make (this can have legal implications, so check your state laws), and how you’ll handle special events such as sleepover camp.

Above all, “show the child absolute unconditional love,” urges Burns. “Our job in children’s ministry is to come alongside the kids and parents for spiritual insight and friendship and discipleship. The very best thing we can do is not try to argue or debate the issue but rather with the help of other leadership in the church find the most reputable clinical counsel and bring it to the parents. The Bible is clear, ‘Without wise leadership, a nation falls; there is safety in having many advisers’ (Proverbs 11:14).”

If This Happens in Your Ministry

Your ministry can’t shy away from the preteen sex talk. Ultimately you’ll leave kids who are struggling in the void. Typically they’re left to suffer alone without a trustworthy, healthy outlet for their emotions and questions. Yet it’s important to recognize when a subject is beyond your expertise and you must refer families to professionals.

“Today’s society is very different than even a generation ago,” says Burns. “We have to understand the issues and changes in our culture. It’s important to understand that today, at least 10 percent of kids will struggle with gender identity issues by the time they graduate from high school—usually more in the early or later teen years and after puberty. The church and parents have to deal with these issues in a practical, educational, and loving manner.

“Unfortunately, many young people feel alone with their thoughts and problems and don’t feel safe talking with someone about this very important issue,” says Burns. “Kids learn best when they talk—not just parents or children’s workers lecturing at them. Let kids talk about the subject. Let them learn what the Bible says through investigation. Allow them to learn to think critically on this issue. Because of our ‘new tolerant’ society, the discussions that were happening in church for 16-year-olds now need to be discussed in 5th and 6th grades.”

Preteen Sex Talk: The Language of Sexuality

Bryce, 12, casually tells you she’s “bi” (as in bisexual). As you dig into her comment, she reveals that kids her age don’t say they’re straight because that indicates a closed mind. So it’s more hip and relevant for kids to say they’re bi so people assume they have an open mind.

Advice for the Teacher

It’s time for a heart-to-heart preteen sex talk. Kids often use language they don’t fully grasp. And they place more importance on fitting in rather than standing up for what they think is right. Begin by making sure Bryce fully understands the words she’s using.