When it comes to talking about tough subjects with my daughters, I find that some of the best resources aren’t the ones that script the conversation for me, but the ones that shape my own thinking and help me approach the conversation as an ongoing one that won’t be neatly resolved in one intentional afternoon. With that in mind, I’m sharing a book today that isn’t meant to be read to or with children, but that can help us, as parents, think through a sticky topic and go into those conversations feeling prepared.

And by “sticky topic,” I mean sex. So we’ll be talking about that today.

The Pursuit, by Josh Livingston & Dan Martin | Little Book, Big Story

How we can or should or must not talk to kids about sex and sexuality is a big, big issue today, within the church as well as outside it. And dang it, if it doesn’t feel overwhelming sometimes! Like there are so many ways to get it wrong, and if you fail, your child will [insert devastating outcome here] and it will be all your fault. The separation between what the culture around us says about our bodies and what Scripture says about them feels pretty vast at times, and all of us enter that conversation with our own experiences and understandings about what sex is and what it isn’t.

I didn’t become a Christian until I was seventeen, so I only caught the tail end of the youth group discussions on sexual purity—up until then, my perspective was largely formed by MTV and those unsettling conversations in the back seat of the bus. So I come to this discussion having lived for a bit in both worlds, and from my vantage point the authors of The Pursuit have found a beautifully balanced way of discussing sexuality. They respond thoughtfully to the things many of us heard from our youth pastors as well as the things we’ve heard from the media, and they ask, “But what does the Bible say about our bodies and our sexuality, really?” By unwinding the language of purity culture, authors Josh Livingstone and Dan Martin help us see the beauty of how God created us and where our sexuality belongs as part of our lives as Christians. They encourage us to view sexual purity not as a race that ends at a “wedding night” finish line, but as a facet of our relationship with Christ—an aspect of our obedience to him that we continue to cultivate in differing forms throughout every season of life.

There are a lot of great resources out there on where babies come from that are meant to be read with children (I’ve reviewed a few of them here, and our family is currently working our way through this series), but The Pursuit is a great foundational read for parents. While so many approaches focus on either “finding our own truth” about sexuality or on prescribing a very narrow picture of sexual purity, complete with extra-biblical rules for living, Livingstone and Martin remind us that our sexuality is a good gift from God that is deeply woven into who we are. As Christians, they remind us, we are called to live it out in a way that glorifies God and creates a picture of his goodness and mercy in this broken world. This is, ultimately, a joyful picture we get to offer our children—one filled with hope and grace.

The Pursuit: Reframing Purity as a Relationship Not an Accomplishment
Josh Livingstone & Dan Martin (2022)

Disclosure: I did receive a copy of this book for review, but I was not obligated to review it or compensated for my review in any way. I share this book with you because I love it, not because I was paid to do so.