shooting target with bullet holes in the head and chest

Sex and guns

Sex and guns—both can be fun and rewarding. Either of them used in the wrong way can cause serious, sometimes irreparable trauma. 

Children, youth, and young adults are curious. It is natural to be curious. 

One 15-year-old boy was curious about guns. He bought a couple of his friends home and entered into his parent’s room, pulled out his dad’s .45 pistol and showed his friends. Because he hadn’t received any training or warnings other than “don’t ever look at or handle the gun,” he didn’t know how to handle the gun. His curiosity led him to break into his parents locked room to show the gun to his buddies. 

Waving around the gun, one of his friends said, “Hey, don’t point that at me.” 

To that, the teenaged boy replied, “Don’t worry about it, it’s not loaded, see…” And he pointed the pistol to his head and pulled the trigger.

The gun was loaded. 

He died. 

His curiosity about guns was normal and natural. Sadly, his parents are still feeling the pain from that event even though it happened many, many years ago. 

Rules can keep us safe. We might not know how to teach them. We might be uncomfortable teaching or talking about these things, but it is our responsibility as parents. 

When it comes to guns, we need to know the four core safety rules. 

  • Treat every gun as if it’s always loaded. 
  • Never point at anyone or anything you’re not willing to kill or destroy. 
  • Keep your finger straight and off the trigger until you’re ready to shoot.
  • Know your target, backstop and beyond. 

If it’s a little kid, tell them to don’t touch the gun and get an adult. Even with tiny kids, I’ve told my children, “If you’re curious, let me know and we can get the guns out of the safe and handle them and touch them safely.”

But here’s the thing. 

As a firearms instructor and former law enforcement officer, I don’t want other people to teach my kids about guns. That’s my responsibility. Besides, there are too many adults I don’t trust with guns. Even good people don’t know the core safety rules. It’s nothing against them. They just don’t know. They don’t have the experience I have. 

Likewise, I know some things about sex. I’ve been married over 25 years, and I have six kids. As a therapist, I’ve counseled couples about intimacy and sexuality. I’ve helped people who struggle with porn addiction, betrayal trauma, and the trauma and regret of infidelity. 

In my law enforcement capacity, I investigated multiple sexual assault cases, and I have testified in court over such serious sexual crimes. Recently I attended an intensive Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) training. I’ve entered houses, executed warrants, and arrested people for Child Sexual Abuse Materials (CSAM). I’ve arrested prostitutes, pimps, Johns, perverts, and pedophiles.

I’ve talked with my children about the dangers of pornography. It’s fake, and it can be addicting. The curiosity and natural feelings of sex need to be talked about. Just like there are rules surrounding firearms use, it’s important to have boundaries when it comes to sex and sexual conduct. I certainly don’t want my children learning from Google or Hollywood or their friends or even other adults. I want to be their guardian and their protector.  

From sexual harassment in the workplace to inappropriate touching, there can be dangers when someone does something another person doesn’t want. Communication is key. Boundaries, rules, and guidelines are healthy. I know far too many people who have had or currently have negative feelings surrounding sex because of past experiences, traumatic or unharnessed and unleashed promiscuous activities or infidelity. I believe we ought to “bridle all [our] passions” (Alma 38:12). 

There are appropriate ways to talk about intimacy and sex. There are differences of opinion among the peoples of the world. Often, “anything goes” is the standard. I know of no movie or television show where a person who is propositioned for sex refuses because of a religious conviction or moral purity standard. If something like that existed, those people might be made fun of. Yet, that’s the standard I embrace. It’s called a law of chastity—no sex before marriage and only sex within marriage between a man and a woman, legally and lawfully wedded according to God’s higher and holier law.

That doesn’t mean sex is bad or negative or dirty. On the contrary, sex is and can be amazing. It is the ultimate expression of love between a couple. 

I believe it’s important to talk about these natural feelings and expressions. I believe we need to be sex positive and have a sex positive culture. I believe if people don’t live up to their own standards or the Lord’s standards, that simply shows us we are human. Thankfully, we can repent. We all need a Savior. Jesus Christ and His Atonement can satisfy the demands of justice and we can obtain mercy through honest and sincere repentance. 

It is important, however, to live in a way that is physically and emotionally and spiritually safe. That’s what I want for my kids. Just like we shouldn’t go around doing drive-bys or shoot at random people, we shouldn’t engage in physical “hook-ups” or random sex with people without commitment. Giving ourselves to people through the vulnerability of a sexual act can create feelings of bonding. Hooking up destroys us emotionally and spiritually, even if we don’t feel it. Truth is truth whether or not we can see it behind our own biased lenses. 

For emotional and physical and spiritual wellness, I believe sexual acts should be reserved for marriage. That’s what God commands as well.

When alcohol or drugs get involved with intimacy or sex, it can cause problems. Aggression, threats, or control should never be part of any intimacy or intimate act. Oh, there’s more, much more. 

Mostly, sex is wonderful and positive. If our children constantly hear negative messages, that can make them associate sex with being negative. Likewise, people can experience shame when they give in to their natural feelings of sexuality even though they may try to embrace certain moral or religious standards. Additionally, some people may feel shame if they are victims of abuse. 

We need to love other people. We need to protect children. 

Finally, I believe in the standards of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, and I believe in a living Prophet of God who recently said, “The baseless notion that we should ‘eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die; and it shall be well with us’ is one of the most absurd lies in the universe.” (Russell M. Nelson, “Think Celestial!”)

If we want to be safe, we would do well to follow celestial laws—laws, rules, and commandments that can help us find peace in this life and in the life hereafter.

Jeffrey Denning

Jeffrey has written award-winning articles for the Washington Times,, and other publications. He is the author of seven books, including Warrior SOS: Military Veterans’ Stories of Faith, Emotional Survival and Living with PTSD. He teaches courses on peer support, suicide prevention, and other mental wellness and resilience to public safety professionals. If you would like Jeff to speak at your event or training please contact him HERE.

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