Talking with little ones about the Sixth — Guest post by Holly Scheer

the-human-skeleton-1380377-mThe Sixth Commandment isn’t less relevant with on demand sex around every virtual corner

In the not-so-distant past pornography was disseminated in print or video. Plenty of titillating images were shared on the playgrounds of our youth, but it was often limited to what was available- magazines or pictures, perhaps a movie snatched from an older family member’s collection. No longer. These days the internet has a dizzying and wide amount of porn available — much of it likely to induce a lot more questions in kids than answers.

It isn’t only the already existing images and videos online that kids share now, though. With almost every cellphone now incorporating a powerful camera and video camera, kids have the worrying ability to spur of the moment take their own pictures and send them to friends and crushes. The technology doesn’t come with the wisdom to know that the internet is forever. The permanency of images and words uploaded to the internet can be incredibly difficult to grasp and understanding the idea often seems to come laced with regret after less than prudent information has been shared.

Online communities for kids and teens often have a subtle lean toward permissiveness and experimentation for sexuality. Arcane sexual knowledge is no longer hard to find — if you can google it, you can find it. Following one idea to another, even on a site like Wikipedia where the initial search may be purely informative, can often lead to some dark subject matter.

Navigating this ever changing world of modern sexuality can feel helplessly complicated and overwhelming enough thinking about how we should use or not technology, let alone how we should guide our children. The world around us is exploding with new ways to tempt us — and our families — and we may assume the answer or solution is complicated and evolving as well, but that truly needn’t be so.

How does the Sixth Commandment — you shall not commit adultery — something written so long ago, have any hope of not only addressing the locker room questions of exactly what line of date night shenanigans must be crossed to no longer be a virgin but all the rapidly shifting virtual quandaries as well? Is there a more complete paradigm we need to guide our children (and ourselves) through this?

Actually, we need just the opposite. As our world and the temptations around us becomes more complicated, the answer here is simplification. Let’s back up and pause for a moment. How do you explain something like adultery and what it is and isn’t and how not to do it to kids? Is this a cause for breaking out the anatomical diagrams and talking about exact what is what? I have long explained this commandment to the younger set in general terms. Instead of talking about sex, I make it more basic.

Don’t share your body with someone you aren’t married to. Don’t ask others to share their body with you. Our bodies are special.

These basic points may seem ridiculously simple, but they can easily be applied to the scenarios discussed above. That line to be crossed on date night becomes a moot point if you never start down the path until marriage — Don’t share your body. Taking pictures of your posterior and sending them to anyone is an understood no-no — Don’t share your body. Seeking out porn, regardless of media, is obviously outside moral bounds — Don’t ask others to share their body with you.

Do you see what I’m getting at here? Instead of trying to think up every possible way our teens and preteens (and us adults) might come up with to sin and get in trouble, let’s get back to a far more basic principle. Your body was created by God to be special. You are special. Those around you are special. Let’s save that and keep it in mind.

And when mistakes are made — and they will be made– and when someone messes up — which they will, let’s remind them there’s a whole lot of room for forgiveness here, as well. Making the conversation about a present tense set of guidelines helps it be easier to explain that our missteps in this area do not have to define us as people. A mistake made today does not have to set our course for tomorrow.

This difficult part of modern life can be simple and clear. We can outpace the changes before they come by seeking to address fewer ideas instead of more.


Talking with little ones about the Sixth — Guest post by Holly Scheer — 8 Comments

  1. You are a very wise young woman. Thank you for sharing these insights…especially the next to the last paragraph.

  2. What a beautiful, simple and loving message! This language delivers the most important lesson of “why we should not” and “what happens if we do,” while keeping it very basic. This simple message is one that parents can deliver, and kids can hear without feeling awkward and uncomfortable.

    Thank you for sharing, Vanessa.

  3. Great point. Simplification is key, but it doesn’t have to be simplistic. Children are able to understand concepts, sometimes even complex ones, without all the nitty-gritty details. I think too many people, in too many endeavors, are impressed by their own knowledge and share too much because they think others will be impressed also. Thanks!

  4. Good article. I was one of the plenary speakers at the recent “Taboo” conference for LCMS college students (see here: and here:!/index/G0000kWsgdCr684Y/I00000tBfBSSpewE). In my introduction to my lecture on Scripture’s teaching re: homosexuality I began with Genesis and explained that God created to take place between one man and one woman within marriage and that His gift of sex has two purposes: 1. The procreation of children (who are best cared for by their biological mother and father who are committed to each other in marriage) and 2. For a husband and wife to celebrate their promise of love (i.e., life-long commitment) to each other.

    It is this second purpose for sex that is often lost on our culture today. Sex has become a form of entertainment that is separated from the life-long commitment of marriage. Therefore, we need to teach our children that when we engage in sexual behavior with someone who is not our spouse we are thereby using him/her as an object of our lust because God’s purpose for sex is that it is to be a celebration of the life-long commitment between husband and wife – and if you have not made that commitment to the person with whom you are having sex then there is nothing to celebrate and sex is reduced to self-centered pleasure and “taking” from another. This must be explained to our youth and adults today because so many think this way: “As long as we use birth control what’s wrong with sex before marriage?” Eve we Christians are tempted to think this way about sex because our culture has completely separated sex from the commitment of marriage.

    One last thing. Youth (as young as junior high!) have asked: “How far can we go on a date?” First, I point out that the purpose of dating is to determine if someone could be a lifelong marriage partner – and so if one is not old enough to consider marriage, one should not be dating! (This is important because for so many of our youth – as young as 12 or younger! – as well as many adults “dating” has been completely separated from marriage and, instead, simply means that you now have “friendship with benefits”) Second, I often give youth and adults this rule: “Don’t do on a date what you wouldn’t want your future spouse to do with someone else.” Think about it. This means even erotic kissing on the lips should be avoided if you are not serious about marrying the person. Some will say: “But kissing on the lips isn’t sex!” Really? Well, let’s say one day in the future when you are married you come home and discover your spouse on the couch engaging in erotic kissing with another person. You then ask: “What’s going on?” Your spouse answers: “Don’t worry, honey. We’re only kissing and nothing more.” Then you say: “OK. Fine. Proceed. Sorry I interrupted you.” I don’t thing so! The reason we all would be deeply hurt if our spouse engaged in erotic kissing with another person and nothing more is that even erotic kissing is supposed to MEAN SOMETHING! Simply put, if we engaged in sexual behavior before marriage with someone we will likely not marry, then we are guilty of adultery in advance because we are given our bodies to a person who is not our spouse and thereby sinning against our future spouse. Both our youth and ADULTS need to think about this because this whole biblical understand of sex and why it should be saved for marriage has been completely lost on our culture – and since the Church has done a horrible job teaching about the purpose for “God’s Gift of Sexuality” we have left our people to learn about sex from the world, and the result is nothing less than tragic!

  5. And as a purely practical matter :“Don’t put anything on the internet that you wouldn’t want to see on a billboard in your home town.”

    Don’t send anything that you wouldn’t want a future employer to “google”! Because they are doing just that.

  6. The message can’t just be, “don’t, don’t, don’t!” Children can understand the idea that someday they will be grown and will be mothers and fathers. They can understand the idea of marriage as love and care for the spouse. When you start the discussion with the subject of their own future children and work back to marriage and then to finding a spouse, the discussion makes more sense. Otherwise it is just rules and prohibition. Ok. just 2¢

  7. Thanks for the good article. Simplicity in explaining the Scriptures (either Law or Gospel) is, I think, a good way to cut through the ever evolving complexity of evil. Truth is fundamentally simple, if infinitely deep. Evil is contorted and twisted, an ultimately shallow.

    My only other thought as I read this, was that while knowledge of the difference between good and evil is necessary for our kids (and for us,) there is also the matter of individual will. In my experience, while I’ve come across people young and old who don’t know about Biblical morality, I’ve come across far more that simply don’t care. There is no fear of God before their eyes, because they either don’t believe He exists, or if He does, He’s a big softy who really won’t condemn anyone for their wickedness. Many of the kids I run into today are either Darwinist atheists or universalists… for many and sundry reasons.

    While they do desperately need the Gospel, in an antinomian age such as ours, I think we all desperately need a preaching of the Law that is unvarnished and brutal. Only broken sinners can ever really receive a Gospel of forgiveness with a living faith.

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