God’s Signpost Q&A

Erica Travis

Dec 5th

  • Countless times over the past few years, parents have asked for my advice about how to speak to their children about issues of sexuality, especially about same-sex sexuality. They’re often thinking of when it is best to speak to middle or high school children. But my answer is that it would be good to have already spoken with children about God’s design for marriage, and how marriage is meant to point beyond itself to the covenant love God has shown us in Christ. If younger kids have a biblical vision of marriage, then it provides a positive framework for when, later on, they encounter the various biblical prohibitions about other forms of sexual behavior. Otherwise, it is too easy for children to have only a view of what God is against, and not a positive vision of what God intends for human sexuality. 

  • Primarily for parents and grandparents, to read to younger children. My hope is that it will help them start healthy conversations with young children about the unique Christian shape of marriage in the Bible and help to establish something of the Bible’s narrative so that when they encounter our culture’s narratives about sexuality, they already have a biblical framework in place.  

  • It is vital because our culture is very, very good at discipleship, and we are being relentlessly taught by our culture when it comes to sexuality whether we are conscious of it happening or not. The pervasive message of western culture today is that you need to be romantically or sexually fulfilled to be complete, and that this trumps all other considerations or concerns. So we need to establish a better, biblical framework before these other narratives take hold in someone’s life. Failing to teach children about marriage doesn’t mean they’ll be untaught; it just means they’ll be taught only by the world around us.  

  • I think I first came across the idea from a writer who was describing human marriage as something like a movie trailer for the ultimate marriage between Christ and the church. I was thinking of other ways to teach that, especially to a younger audience, and hit upon the idea of a signpost. It is something we see time and again in Scripture: our relationship to Christ being spoken of in marital terms, so it is good to try to establish that concept with younger children. 

  • I hope it will be a first step in helping parents and kids begin to build out an account of why marriage has the particular shape that it does in the Bible (being covenantal, lifelong, and between a man and a woman). We need to establish a distinctively Christian understanding of marriage as the world around us uses the word in a very different way. It is not enough to show how the Christian understanding of marriage is different; we need to show why it is different.