Most of you who read this blog are here because you want to enjoy all God has for us with marriage and sex.

But a lot of times we’ve got roadblocks from our family of origin. Maybe sex wasn’t taught well, or you grew up thinking sex was shameful–or your body was shameful.

Camden Morgante, a licensed clinical psychologist, has written a ton on how the purity culture has negatively impacted women’s sexuality, and I invited her to join us today to talk about how to raise kids with shame-free sexuality!



Every night when my husband and I bathe our two-year-old daughter, I take the opportunity to teach her about her body.

“Now we’re washing your arm,” I say as I glide the washcloth over her little arms and hands.

“Now your tummy,” I say as she giggles, repeating the words after me.

“Let’s clean your legs.”

“Ok now your bottom…ok, now let’s get your vulva.”

Many of us remember getting “the talk” from our parents when we were teenagers.

My parents gave me a James Dobson book about adolescence, sent me away to read it, and told me to let them know if I had any questions.

Instead, education about sexuality should start at birth and continue into adolescence when we talk more about puberty, romantic relationships, and sexual values. Rather than a one-time event, teaching our children about their bodies and sexuality is an ongoing conversation.

I’m a Christian psychologist who works primarily with women and couples in my private practice. In my work, I see the baggage of shame that many Christians carry. Shame because of the harmful messages they received about their bodies. Shame because of the myths of purity culture they were taught. Shame because sexuality has always been something taboo and sinful, rather than something to be celebrated.

My research focuses on the harmful effects of these Christian teachings about sexuality.

Many of us who were influenced by these messages are now raising children of our own. Before we can teach our children about their bodies and sexuality, we have to be clear about our own beliefs and hang-ups. It’s our responsibility to identify and heal from any toxic beliefs instead of perpetuating them to our children.

My daughter is only two, so I have several years before puberty arrives and these conversations accelerate. I’m sure in the next decade, I will learn more and change some of the ways I plan to teach her about her sexuality.

But whether your children are toddlers or teenagers, there are some guidelines to teach our children a shame-free, healthy view of sexuality:

1. Sexuality is more than just sex.

You don’t have to be married or sexually active to be a sexual being. In fact, Debra Hirsh defines sexuality as:

“the deep desire and longing that drives us beyond ourselves in an attempt to connect with, to understand, that which is other than ourselves.” (p. 26)

Debra Hirsh

Redeeming Sex: Naked Conservations about Sexuality and Spirituality

If healthy sexuality is about more than just sex, then my daughter, even at two-years-old, is a sexual being.

God created all of us with the desire to be known and loved and the capacity for connection. It is natural for a toddler to want to be touched, held, cuddled, and kissed (and ok if they don’t want that). And it is natural for a teenager to desire physical and emotional connection with others. Let’s affirm our children as sexual beings, created for intimacy.

2. Your body is good.

If I believe my daughter was created by God and made in His image as a female, this means that her body, including her genitals, are good (Gen. 1:27; 1:31). I want her to appreciate and celebrate her body, rather than feel shame about it. This starts by using the correct terms for her genitals, like my bath time story illustrated. Using other names just shows our discomfort and shame about private parts. And if we feel discomfort and shame, so will our children. We don’t create “cutesy” names for other parts of the body, like elbows. Why use them for genitals?

3. Your body is beautiful.

We know how important it is to encourage a positive body image in our children, especially our girls. Research has found that 80% of girls have tried to diet by age 10 and girls as young as 5 are influenced by their mother’s attitudes toward food.

Since becoming a mother, I’ve been convicted about my own body image. Playtime with my daughter frequently involves “chases” that end in tummy tickles. I will say, “I love your belly” or “this belly is so sweet” while blowing raspberries on it. If I can’t appreciate my own stomach–despite the lingering effects of pregnancy–how can I teach my daughter to value hers?

I also want to focus more on the function of her body rather than the appearance. My toddler’s belly is not just adorable, it lets her know when she is hungry so she can fill it with good food. Similarly, in marriage, breasts are not just for the pleasure of a woman’s husband, but also may nourish a baby. We can celebrate our whole bodies when we pay attention to what they do for us, not just how they look.

4. Consent belongs to you.

The topic of consent has recently gained considerable attention in the #MeToo movement. Consent with our children means respecting their bodily autonomy—their right to make decisions about what’s best for their bodies. Of course, there are challenges to consent in childhood. I still have to change my daughter’s dirty diaper and suction her snotty nose even when she protests! But unless health and safety are at risk, I respect her boundaries. She doesn’t have to give me or anyone else a hug and kiss if she doesn’t want to.

In adolescence, we want to give our teenagers increasing amounts of freedom and privacy. We also want to teach teens that no one should demand to touch their bodies or force them to do something that makes them uncomfortable. This reinforces the autonomy and consent we instilled in our teens since childhood.

5. Sexual purity is God’s best for you.

Because many of us grew up with purity culture messages about sexuality, we may feel lost when it comes to how to instil biblical sexual morals in our children. How do we teach purity without the myths of purity culture?

I believe we first need to pay attention to which purity culture myths affected us and banish this talk with our children. We want to avoid the extremes of either demonizing sex, or idolizing it. Sexuality is a gift—a blessing to enjoy but also a responsibility to steward. Instead of offering false promises or using scare tactics to teach purity, let’s emphasize obedience to God, faithful submission, and integrity. Let’s teach our children that purity is a life-long spiritual discipline that is God’s best for us.

As part of my ongoing conversation with my daughter, I hope to say to her,

You were created in the image of God and your body is good and beautiful. Sexuality is a gift, and we believe God asks us in the Bible to save sex only for your spouse when you are married. We want to honor and obey God with our bodies. We hope that as you grow older, you will talk to us, ask questions, read the Bible, and pray and ask Jesus what He wants you to do and what decisions he wants you to make with your body and your sexuality.”

Thanks so much, Camden, for sharing today! And be sure to take Dr. Camden’s quiz “Which Purity Culture Myth Affects You?

So what do you all think? I’m intrigued by the idea that we are all sexual beings in some way. What do you think? Did anything else resonate with you? Let’s talk in the comments!

Camden Morgante

Camden Morgante

Psychologist, Writer and Speaker

Dr. Camden Morgante is a licensed clinical psychologist who writes and speaks about Christianity, sexuality, and gender equality. She offers online Coaching services for purity culture recovery, egalitarianism, and faith reconstruction. She is currently writing a book on the myths of purity culture. Camden lives in Knoxville, TN with her husband and their daughter.. Be sure to take Camden's free quiz "Which Purity Culture Myth Affected You?"

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