1. The body is a temple.
As the Lord describes the body he declares, “know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you” (1 Corinthians 6:19). God created our bodies, our entire bodies. This means from our heads to our feet and every part in between. When the private, sacred parts of the body are referred to with slang terms, nicknames, or in disgusted tones, a part of the body God created is being mocked.
I’ve had a few parents confide in me that they feel the actual names of the sacred parts of the body feel dirty. However, we've been counseled to use the appropriate names Heavenly Father has given these body parts: "Talking to children frankly but reverently and using the correct names for the parts and functions of their bodies will help them grow up without unnecessary embarrassment about their bodies" (Gospel Principles, 2009, 225). This creates an appropriate attitude for our body parts, rather than invoking feelings of shame or filth.
Speaking with reverence and using proper terminology will give children an understanding that their private body parts are not dirty, but divine. When something feels divine, we treat it with reverence and respect. Your child’s body is a temple. Anytime we are speaking with our children about their bodies, we are standing on holy ground. The feelings, words, tone, and spirit should reflect the ground upon which we stand.
2. Physical intimacy is about relationships.
What is the purpose of physical intimacy in a marital relationship? One reason is to have children. However, there is more to physical intimacy than creating a child. God has given couples physical intimacy as an incredible way of creating oneness in body and spirit. Physical intimacy bonds a marriage in a unique way that no other act of love can replicate or replace.
Your children will see that the world around rarely emphasizes the purpose of physical intimacy for creating children. If you only teach your child that physical intimacy is for creating a child, the world will fill in all the gaps about the power it has for relationships. Getting right to the “don’t do it until you’re married” messages and glossing over positive intimacy messages will leave children with an incomplete understanding of the powerful cohesion physical intimacy creates within marital relationships. These relationship messages about love, respect, and communication create a healthy respect for the purposes of physical intimacy that encourage children to wait for the proper time to experience this type of intimacy.
3. Physical intimacy is positive.
When you discuss the temple with your child, what language do you use? You set their sights on the temple and use encouraging words. Usually, you use a phrase like, “you will go there someday.” We look to the future and focus on what our children will experience in the beauty and sacredness of the temple.
Set your child’s sights on the beauty and sacredness of their body and encourage them to channel their energy into preparing for a proper time to benefit from physical intimacy in marriage. You can use a phrase like, “you will be able to share this experience with a loving spouse one day” instead of “don’t do it until you’re married.” Physical intimacy is an exquisite part of a marital relationship—let your children look forward to it! They may be more likely to want to wait if they understand the positive power of physical intimacy in marriage.
Learn how to teach children about physical intimacy with Cherri Brooks in Teaching Children About Sex Using the Temple As Your Guide.
It's time for the talk. Teach your children the truth about sexual intimacy in a world of shifting values and ideas. With expert advice and age-appropriate wording, you learn how to use the temple as a beautiful analogy to discuss with your kids the sacred subject of physical intimacy. Timely and clear, this book is a must-read for parents, teachers, and leaders.
4. There are reasons for limits on physical intimacy outside marriage.
It is vital to teach children limits regarding physical intimacy and the body. However, also make sure your child knows the reasons for the limits they follow. For example, young children are taught that they should keep their bodies private.
It is common for children to engage in games like “playing doctor” where they explore play related to their bodies. If a child is only taught the limit, to keep their body private, they are not able to fully appreciate the lesson a parent means to convey. The lesson is to respect the body because it is sacred and special. We keep certain body parts covered to show reverence and respect. This gives children the limit and the reason for the limit. Children are more likely to follow limits when they have an understanding of how the limits are protective or why there is a limit.
5. You will always be available to lovingly answer questions.
Talking about physical intimacy can be a bit uncomfortable. It is sacred, private, and intimate. We don’t talk about certain things regarding the temple outside the temple walls because they are sacred and we don’t want to defile these things. Physical intimacy is also sacred to a relationship, and we don’t want to defile it or our spouse by discussing it outside of the marital relationship.
However, you can discuss things of the temple inside temple walls. You can discuss physical intimacy within the sanctity of a family relationship. The parent-child relationship is the most sacred place to discuss physical intimacy. When your child comes to you with a question, you should always answer it lovingly and with the Spirit. Remember, you are standing on holy ground when discussing the body. The more questions you answer for your child with a positive, sacred attitude, the more your child will feel confident coming to you with additional questions.
You can help you child build a solid foundation with a sacred attitude toward physical intimacy by helping them understand that their body is a temple and the positive and beautiful nature of physical intimacy in relationships.