Back to Basics: Teaching Children about Sinful Desire

One of Satan’s most devious strategies is to convince people that today’s issues are just too complex to determine whether something is right or wrong, truth or error.  This includes explaining human behavior, which secular professionals have worked overtime to establish as overly complicated.  We are all meant to throw up our hands and surrender our common sense, long-held beliefs, and consciences, checking any rationality at the door.  But the truth is that there is truth out there, which means we desperately need to go back to our basics, especially when it comes to teaching the next generation.  The minds and hearts of our children are under assault, and the only antidote is what it always has been–the fundamental truths of God’s Word.

So, let’s start with a basic truth that is most often ignored or dismissed–that human beings have sinful desires because we have sinful hearts.  Ever since our first parents desired the ONE THING they could not have (and then took and ate), our sinful natures also desire things that we cannot and must not have.  On some issues, Christian parents find it easier to teach their children about their sinful desires.  For example, we regularly tell our children:

  • It’s a sinful desire to want to take revenge on someone who hurts you.
  • It’s a sinful desire to covet something that is not yours and cannot be yours.
  • It’s a sinful desire to want to put yourself first, to not want to share, etc.
  • It’s a sinful desire to want to do something that is against the law.

But, then, we get to supposed more complicated issues that have to do with gender, sexuality, marriage, etc.  Yet, when we stick to basic truths, explanations become much simpler:

  • It’s a sinful desire to want a sexually intimate relationship with someone of the same sex.  It’s not a normal, God-given, righteous desire.  It’s not an irresistible feeling.  It’s not just part of my genetics.  It’s a sinful desire that if nursed will ultimately lead to sinful behavior.
  • It’s sinful desire to want sexual intimacy before and/or outside of marriage.  It’s the result of our sinful nature, and inconsistent with righteous living.  It’s not just an unavoidable result of teeming hormones.  It’s not just something people do.  God has called us to desire sexual intimacy within marriage between one man and one woman.
  • It’s a sinful desire to desire a different gender than what God created you to be.  It doesn’t matter if a boy wants to be a girl, or if a girl would feel better being a boy.  God has not given human beings the right to choose their sex.  No one is really a female trapped in a male body, or vice-versa.  For whatever complicated set of reasons someone wants to change genders, it’s ultimately just a sinful desire.
  • And, it’s a sinful desire to want everyone to be able to do what is right in their own eyes.  This is the great sin of the Judges generation.  It may appear to be loving and compassionate towards others, but it is really enabling and encouraging the hellish state of living out sinful desires.

More than ever before, our children need to learn the basic truth about themselves and other people–that we are sinners with sinful hearts who desire sinful things.  Worse than that, we attempt to rationalize that our sinful desires are actually good desires, or normal desires, or inescapable desires, or genetic desires.  While it may seem harsh and uncaring to tell children that some of the desires of their hearts are sinful, it’s actually that most loving and compassionate thing to say.  Until we diagnose something as a sinful desire, there is no hope for change, transformation, or redemption.  After all, Jesus came not to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance (Luke 5:32).

When we neglect to teach our children the basic dynamics of sin and sinful desire, we allow them to get caught up in all the wrong questions of today’s complicated world.  Think about two current questions:

  • Should homosexuals be allowed to be married?  If homosexuality is a sinful relationship born our of sinful desire, then this is the wrong question.  What people who are struggling with homosexual desires need is Biblical counseling and the power of the Spirit to turn away from sinful desires to righteous, godly ones.
  • Should transgenders be able to go to whatever restroom they choose?  Wrong question!  People with the sinful desire to change their genders need Biblical counseling and the work of the Spirit to embrace their God-given sexuality!

Decades of teaching children that they are basically good, and that all their desires, wants, and felt-needs are also good, have produced much of this current confusion.  This has always been the case (again, see the Book of Judges).  So it’s time to get back to the basics about our sinful hearts and desires.  This will not crush our children’s self-esteems, or produce shame and self-hatred.  It’s the only loving and compassionate way to point them to a Savior who must become the desire of their young hearts!



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