MONDAY MARRIAGE MATTERS. When I was on a girls-trip with friends, some years ago, we had the chance to talk about hard things in our lives and in our marriages. I was the oldest by a year or two, though I hadn’t been married the longest. My friend who was the first of all of us to get married, had had a few children, and was now dealing with an eating disorder, and a husband who was an addict. They had been talking about divorce for a while. The other friend with us hadn’t gone to church regularly since she was a teenager, and she married a man recently who had never been a church-goer.

In our marriage discussions over that weekend, we had a variety of beliefs and practices represented, specifically surrounding pornography and masturbation. On one end, we had the wife of a sex addict who’s life, as well as her husband’s had been full of shame and embarrassment and secrecy and lies. On the other end, we had a wife who looked at pornography with her husband – not regularly, but at times, and with no shame. And they both believe that masturbation improves marriage and sexual satisfaction within their marriage.

I do not condone pornography in the least, nor masturbation. But, after talking to these two long time friends, I wondered if the one, though practicing both pornography and masturbation, had a more healthy relationship with herself and with her husband than the other that forcibly opposes both, but cannot seem to escape it.

And I know that those are not the only two options. But it was interesting to spend time talking with these two women and their experiences, and their beliefs and their intentional practices.When I was scrolling through podcasts recently, I came across this podcast of interviews with Dr Finlayson-Fife. I’d heard of Dr Finlayson-Fife. In fact, I have, for years, been subscribed to her mailing list. I respect her, and am always interested to hear what she as to say. She is not only a wife and a mother and a practicing member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, but she’s also a sexuality educator and coach.

“How do we teach our kids about their sexuality and the law of chastity without inviting shame, with children from infancy through the young adult years…

(Christianity) teaches that our body is an impediment to spirituality… Latter Day Saints’ theology is that the body is necessary for spiritual enlightenment… We need to embrace that theology better.”

I don’t think this level of maturity surrounding our sexuality comes in listening to one podcast, or in having one conversation, parents and kids. Or even in a dozen. I think teaching chastity and teaching that our bodies are our own and teaching healthy sexual relationships, comes after dozens and dozens of conversations, comments, even the example my children see everyday in how Bryant and I interact with each other – appropriately, of course.

This is how it all started in the Blanchard family. When Bry and I were newly weds, figuring out our sexuality, and discussing how we are going to teach our children, we decided that whenever they asked, we’d have an answer. And, when Ella was six years old, she asked. I was at a meeting in London when she approached Bry with the where-do-babies-come-from question. Because we’d agreed to answer when they asked, Bry sat down with her, right then and there, and told her everything he thought appropriate for a six-year old to know. And she had some follow-up questions. But she was young enough that it wasn’t embarrassing to her. I was sad to not be a part of that conversation, but I trusted Bry implicitly.

A year or two later, Laim, maybe 4 or 5 years old, was singing a song he’d heard on the radio about a “sexy lady”.

“Mum, what is a ‘sexy lady’?”

And it was then my turn to teach. This time it was pornography. And the song may not have been talking about pornography at all – I’d never heard the song before. But … he asked.

The way Bryant and I have taught the children about pornography goes something like this: When you are fasting – our children are very familiar with the monthly fast – our bodies want food, so so much! And the more we think about it, the more we allow ourselves to fixate on the food that we are not eating, the more we really want to eat and the more we feel really really deprived, right? That is one of the reasons, while we fast, we encourage the children to think about someone that could be blessed by our fast and by the money we donate each time we fast. Remember, our thoughts create our emotions which lead to our actions and results. If our thoughts are of deprivation, our emotions will be maybe resentment or frustration or “hanger”. If our thoughts are of the blessings of a fast, our emotions will more likely feel like peace and satisfaction.

But, whether we are fixated on food or not, while we are fasting, FOOD IS NOT BAD. We ask the children, Is food bad? And they know the answer, No no no, food is good and it is good to eat, but we have to tell our bodies NOT YET.

And that, my friends, is how we taught the children about pornography and the feelings that seeing pornography will elicit in their bodies – feelings of desire, right? And that desire is not bad. In fact, it is very very healthy! But we need to tell our bodies, NOT YET.

“Sexuality is part of being human. It just is. The question is if we will use our sexuality to do good in the world or to do ill in the world.”

We are so careful to teach the “ill” to our children and warn them of the ill sexuality can do in the world – abuse, unwanted pregnancies, disease, trafficking, etc. – that I think we overlook the incredible good. Sexuality is not only natural, it is a gift from the Lord.

So, in an effort to include my kids in this conversation (and they are pretty comfortable with this conversation), I asked them what good they thought sexuality can bring to the world.

12 year old: “It’s kind of essential for all animals because without it, you can’t reproduce. All living things would become extinct. In my twelve year old eyes, that is the only reason for sexuality.”

15 year old: “First off, children. If people didn’t have kids, the human race wouldn’t do very well. I think sex is sacred because it’s not just to procreate but to unify a man and a woman. It can literally bind a husband and a wife in a relationship.”

11 year old: He’s a bit grumpy tonight. He did not want the job of vacuuming the stairs. Who does, right? We will excuse him from this activity to get his job done.

Dr Finlayson-Fife offers us another way to talk to children about the good and the ill sexuality to cause in their lives, specifically. And she uses, without using the exact term, the principle of future-self. This is very very familiar to us, right? She asks her clients, as well as her own children:

“‘What is it that you want, ultimately?’ Then, ‘Is what you’re doing leading toward that or away from that?'”

And, of course, this applies to more than sexuality. But such a powerful question when teaching our children to think about their sexuality, and how they are acting on their sexuality. What kind of sexual relationship do you want someday? Is what you are doing now in your life with your sexuality leading toward that ultimate goal, or away from it?

So much good information here. I am going to sign off. Think about this question this week, in terms of sexuality, in terms of your marriage in general or your relationship with others in general. This is powerful, my friends!


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