I’m not sure where I first came upon the term sexual integrity, but it both impressed me and intrigued me. I realized it should be included with several other values to pass on to my kids like: honesty, loyalty, trustworthiness, kindness and generosity. But what is sexual integrity? I asked a few friends, and here’s what they said:
- “I think sexual integrity implies having a clear understanding of the purpose of sex (to bond two people together/to create life) and respecting the power of sex such that you would not use it for any other purpose.”
- “Sexual integrity is having sexual strength and doing what is ultimately best for us—even when others aren’t looking or don’t know what we’re doing.”
My own definition would probably be a combination of these two. It would also include the added tenet that pornography is the opposite of sexual integrity because it promotes lust instead of love and the objectification and exploitation of others.
Sexual integrity is being honest and careful with my sexual power by using it only within a committed relationship to show love and affection for my spouse and to create a family. Sexual integrity means that I don’t use pornography to excite my body because that is misusing the purpose of my sexual power, as well as misusing others.
It could probably use a bit more work, but the point is that you can come up with your own definition. When you are clear about your own thoughts and feelings about sexual integrity, you’ve got a much better chance of instilling this value in the minds and hearts of your own children. But why is teaching sexual integrity so important?
Has Sex Divorced Love?
Because in popular media and in online pornography, sex has been entirely divorced from love. And kids are learning that you don’t need to love someone or even to like them to have sex with them. As recounted in So Sexy, So Soon by Diane E. Levin and Jean Kilbourne, a health education teacher discovered this sad trend in her 5th grade class. One of the most basic lessons she always tried to teach was that sex is a special part of a relationship between caring adults—between two people to show deep affection for each other. But one day a boy challenged her by saying, “Well, I think you don’t need to like the person. I saw sex on the Internet. My cousin showed me. They just do it ‘cause it’s fun, they like it.” (So Sexy, So Soon, p.27) That’s what pornography teaches: Sex is for fun, and people are for exploiting to get it. “Pornography objectifies people (especially women) and takes sex out of the context of even the pretense of a caring relationship. It is difficult for children to unlearn these attitudes.” (So Sexy, So Soon, p. 47)
Clarity on Sexual Integrity is Crucial
So, if you’re going to instill the value of sexual integrity into your children, begin by clarifying your own definition. And then start teaching it to your kids, and pointing out the positive consequences of maintaining sexual integrity in their own lives. A child that grows up with an understanding and expectation of sexual integrity will at least see the folly of porn use for what it is, hopefully before being mindlessly sucked into a vortex of lust and addiction. How do you define sexual integrity? Do you see any examples of sexual integrity in present or past media? Please share!