Rev. Debra Haffner wrote yesterday about her experience talking with teenage girls about sex and sexuality. One of the things she mentioned in her post was her five criteria for a moral sexual relationship:

  1. consensual
  2. non-exploitative
  3. honest
  4. mutually pleasurable
  5. protected if any type of intercourse occurs

She went on to list the four things that are needed in a relationship to know if it’s moral:

  1. time
  2. communication
  3. trust
  4. shared values

I really like this kind of sex education.

I was talking with a friend the other day, and she said that as a teenager she knew pretty much all there was to know about the physical aspects of sexuality. And so she believed she knew all there was to know about sexuality.

One of the problems my friend mentioned was her discomfort as a teenager and young adult in talking about sex with adults. She could get important information about STIs and safe sex, along with the nuts and bolts of how to engage in french kissing and oral sex, from books. But she couldn’t get conversation about discovering her own boundaries, how to say “No” to physical contact, or what it means and feels like to love and be loved.

How is it possible that our sexuality education has been downgraded to incorporating only the physiology? Why and when were morality and emotion taken out of the public discussion of sex? Regardless, I stand proudly with Rev. Haffner and many others, trying to bring these critical aspects of the conversation back into open conversation.

So when you talk with your children and teenagers about sex, don’t feel the need to mince words about the moral and emotional implications of sexuality. Providing substance in the form of your own values is far, far more effective and valuable to them than providing a vacuum.