Consider these suggestions for ways to enhance your teen's commitment to purity.
Prudes and Prejudice
"I don't like friends thinking I'm some kind of prude."
The girl sitting in my office made one thing clear: She didn't enjoy her reputation as the innocent teen who didn't understand the sexual culture of high school. Her parents reported that she was enduring a difficult environment, with serious pressure from friends to participate in and approve of their lifestyles.
Sadly, this wasn't the first time I'd heard a young person express that sentiment. The language varies, but Christian kids have long voiced the same concern: I don't like feeling weird and uncool.
Being different can be difficult, but we can help our kids recognize that being "set apart" from our world helps us honor God with our lives.
Set apart. The word prude didn't always have such a negative meaning. In Old French, the original word referred to a woman worthy of respect. A prodefemme was generally seen as wise, good and virtuous. Today, the term is used to criticize someone as being self-righteous, excessively modest or unwilling to do something sexually.
I want to teach my kids that original concept of a prude — to be men and women who value virtue and strive to reflect such values at school and with their friends. This goal requires two things: teaching them about God's design for human sexuality, and then inspiring them to hold true to those values while living in a culture that rejects His ways.
Be the teacher. It's critical that parents are the ones to teach their kids about God's design for marriage and sex. Kids are going to learn about sex, often much earlier than parents are comfortable with. Who do we want them to learn from? The kids at school? The internet? Children benefit when their parents are the primary source of information about marriage and sex.
Inspire them. We must continually help our kids recognize the basic truth that Christians live by higher values than what the broader culture does. Our secular peers may be hostile to those values, but not conforming to the culture's ways is simply part of the territory of the Christian faith (Romans 12:2).
Let's challenge and inspire our kids to exercise virtue and prudence as they establish the architecture of their life.
—Danny Huerta, vice president of Parenting and Youth at Focus on the Family
I asked my son Nathan, who is 24 years old and has been committed to sexual purity since he was a teenager, what he sees as the most important factor for staying sexually pure. His answer, in one word: accountability.
As a dad, I admire the intentional and consistent example of my friend Harold in this regard. For a number of years he has gone out for breakfast once a month with his two teen sons, individually, with the intention of asking Will and Luke how they are doing spiritually and how each is handling sexual temptation.
Sexual temptation comes with being a guy. Harold and I understand this. In years past, my family subscribed to an Internet filter service for our two home computers and Nathan’s laptop. More recently we downloaded a free software program from the Internet that records the names of questionable Internet sites visited and regularly sends e-mails listing those sites to one or two accountability partners.
Nathan has chosen his girlfriend and me to be his accountability partners. He also continues to meet with three guys who attended his youth group. They keep each other accountable both in staying pure and in other areas of their lives.
Teen girls are more likely to remain sexually pure when boundaries are defined and they’re given a clear understanding of why God requires abstinence.
Parents can encourage their daughter to solidify her desire for godliness by having her write letters to her future husband and to God, expressing her promise of abstinence until marriage. After signing and dating the letters, she can put them in a safe place, assuring herself that no one else will read them. (It might be helpful for her to reread the letters occasionally as a reminder of her commitment.)
Each year, celebrate the anniversary of her pledge by honoring her with a special gift — a family heirloom, jewelry or a getaway for just mother and daughter. Meaningful (not necessarily expensive) gifts will demonstrate how important her accomplishment is. Use this celebration time to discuss the previous year’s struggles and victories. Develop open, honest communication with your daughter to build her trust in your relationship and counsel.
- Join a church or community-based abstinence group
- Partner with another mother/daughter team
- Find accountability friends
- Have teens create a list of qualities they would like to see in a future husband or wife.
- Help them concentrate more on internal than external qualities.
- Encourage them to dream big and wait on God to meet their needs and desires.
- Pray for their future spouse with them.
- Have teens reflect on Romans 8:28. Remind them that God has known them from before they were born. He's in charge of their lives. They need to trust His timing for all their relationships.