One of the rites of passage in our family of four boys has been the one-on-one camp out with Dad. Around the age of ten or eleven, before they were interested in girls, before their bodies started to take on a mind of their own, my good husband took them away for a weekend of canoeing and hotdogs; tenting and s’mores; swimming and “The Talk.” He had all kinds of resources to serve as a broad outline, but the main reason why the whole experience was not bathed in awkwardness is that he has had an open-door policy for “that kind of question” ever since he was changing their diapers. Obviously, I have been involved in our boys’ sex-education as well — I was with them 24/7 when they were all young. But their dad has been their go-to guy, and he’s happy about that. If More Than Just the Talk by Jonathan McKee had been written a few years earlier, he would have read it and used it, because the author candidly addresses topics that might not occur to the average middle-aged parent. He would rather run the risk of offending his reader with startling truth than to allow them to be blind-sided by real life after it’s too late.
Running through the book is the all-important Deuteronomy principle that you don’t just sit down and discuss “plumbing and mechanics” with your children when they hit puberty and consider that your work is done. Our children receive inaccurate and damaging information about sex from entertainment media and technology — McKee calls them The Pseudo Parent. Kids get this information about dating, sex, and friendships a little here, a little there, when they are sitting in their house, when they are walking by the way. . . Anyone hearing an allusion to Deuteronomy? This is the premise of More Than Just the Talk: if you want to be the one who shapes your child’s bedrock beliefs about sex, you have to be available for explicit day-to-day conversations about issues you might prefer not to acknowledge, at times of the day (or night) when you’d rather be doing something else — like sleeping. The Pseudo Parent is explicit (think about song lyrics for a minute), so the REAL parent has to avoid the trap of using “irrelevant words from a different era” in conversations about sex.
Speaking frankly from his own regrets, McKee shares personal experiences that have shaped the way he deals with questions in his present-day ministry with teens. Most of the questions he has heard from teens over the years about the “rightness or wrongness” of specific behaviors boil down to one clear answer: “Lusting is wrong.” Based on this biblical truth (Matthew 5:27-29), McKee encourages believers to flee sexual sin in all its forms and provides some very specific and practical conversational guidelines for teaching our sons and our daughters what it looks like to pursue righteousness, for this truly is the path, more than just the avoidance of sin, which leads to life and freedom.
More Than Just the Talk is based in reality, and parents may gulp at the startling statistics around sexual activity, use of pornography, and the prevalence of STD’s. However, they are offered with hope that readers will take on their kids’ unanswered questions about sex with explicit information that is offered like a calm voice of hope in their child’s ear saying, “Sex is good. It’s a gift from God. You can talk to me about anything.”
Disclosure: This book was provided by Bethany House Publishers, a division of Baker Publishing Group, in exchange for my honest review.