I came across an interesting article that connected the rise in better contraception with the decline in parent’s indoctrination about the hazards of premarital sex, which, in turn, has led to the rise of out-of-wedlock births. The study, which was done by economists, showed that paradoxically, even if better forms of contraception are made available to people, this doesn’t make women less likely to get pregnant outside of marriage. In fact, the opposite is true. With the rise of technological advancements in contraceptive measures, the less likely a parent is to talk or socialize their children to know the costs of premarital sex (daughters in particular). When a parent spends less time talking to their children about the negative effects of promiscuity, this has a profound effect on a woman’s perception about sex. It gives her a more permissive attitude towards it. From shame to game in one hundred years: An economic model of the rise in premarital sex and its de-stigmatisation (February 2010)
What is more disappointing is the fact that Christians are developing more and more permissive attitudes towards sex outside of marriage. An excerpt from a synopsis back in 2006 by William H. Gross on The Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience which was written by Ron Sider, reveals that supposed “Christians” and “followers of Jesus” make claims about faith and conscience but live in total contradiction to what the Bible says. In the area of sexual disobedience for example, “ In the 1990’s, the number of unmarried couples living together jumped a lot more in the Bible Belt where evangelicals constitute a large portion of the population than it did in the rest of the country – over 100% versus 72% in the rest of the country. Josh McDowell said years ago that evangelical youth are only 10% less like likely to engage in premarital sex than non-evangelicals. Since 1993, 2.4 million young people have gone through a program called True Love Waits. Only 12 percent kept their pledge to wait until marriage for sex…The rate of cohabitation among born-again folk is 25 percent versus 33 percent for the general population. Fully 26 percent of traditional evangelicals do not think premarital sex is wrong, and 13 percent do not think adultery is wrong. Among nontraditional evangelicals, 46 percent say premarital sex is morally OK, 19 percent think adultery is morally acceptable. The percent of Christian men involved in pornography is not much different than the unsaved.” http://www.onthewing.org/user/Ev_Scandal%20of%20the%20Evangelical%20Conscience.pdf
These statistics are disconcerting but not unbelievable. I can hardly sit through a TV program (unless it is the news or some wildlife channel) without feeling sad about how blatantly sexual a lot of the content is. This doesn’t even include the kind of garbage that is accessible on the Internet – for free and in private! Societal and popular role models live without a sense of morality or conscience, or without reference to objective truth, making people believe that it is okay to pick and choose a sense of morality that is comfortable and in agreement with their lifestyle choices. People think that absolute truth is judgmental, prohibitive and outdated. Sigh.
When I observe the climate of today, I refer back to what God’s word says about these days.
2 Timothy 3:1-5 “1 You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times. 2 For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. 3 They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. 4 They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. 5 They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly…”
My heart aches when I think of how people have failed to see that God intends to give us what he calls the “abundant life.” (John 10:10) His principles, his statutes and guidelines are not meant to deprive us of joy or pleasure. On the contrary, they are intended for our ultimate good and welfare. This is the approach I want to take with my own children. It is our responsibility to teach our children about sex – that sex is not a bad thing. It is a good thing in the context for which it was designed. And if we obey God’s principles and commands for right living, we welcome the blessings that come with obedience.
I love how King David put it about the statutes of God in Psalm 19:7-8:
“7 The instructions of the Lord are perfect,
reviving the soul.
The decrees of the Lord are trustworthy,
making wise the simple.
8 The commandments of the Lord are right,
bringing joy to the heart.
The commands of the Lord are clear,
giving insight for living.”
When people reject God’s way in favor of a more convenient perspective on lifestyle choices, the root issue is theology. What we believe about God defines what we believe about ourselves and the world. It becomes the basis for our moral standards and it determines the choices we make. More importantly, it determines our destination.
A.W. Tozer put it best when he wrote, “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us. The history of mankind will probably show that no people has ever risen above its religion, and man’s spiritual history will positively demonstrate that no religion has ever been greater than its idea of God. Worship is pure or base as the worshiper entertains high or low thoughts of God… the most portentous fact about any man is not what he at a given time may say or do, but what he in his deep heart conceives God to be like. We tend by a secret law of the soul to move toward our mental image of God…Were we able to extract from any man a complete answer to the question, ”What comes into your mind when you think about God?” we might predict with certainty the spiritual future of that man.” (Chapter 1, The Knowledge of the Holy available for reading from this site http://www.heavendwellers.com/hdt_chapter_1_koh.htm)
Tozer’s words ring true for my own past experiences. When Edric and I were single and dating each other, we struggled with purity. We didn’t go “all the way” but we tried everything else. And to think, we were both Bible-believing Christians from godly families! The problem was, although we believed in God we were mistaken in what believed about Him. We had painted a picture of God – that he was loving, forgiving, and gracious, but forgotten that he is also holy and righteous. I praise God for parents who emphasized over and over again while I was growing up that obedience leads to blessing and that God is a rewarder of those who seek him (Hebrews 11:6).
Two years into our dating relationship, Edric and I had a serious discussion about this truth with one another and acknowledged that our relationship was not glorifying to God. We wanted God’s blessing for marriage, but we were not letting God be in the center of our relationship. Therefore we did something very difficult and painful, we decided to break off our relationship and allow God to speak to both of us separately. Did he really want us to be married? Would our parents give their blessing for marriage if they knew the dark secrets about our relationship?
We did a second very difficult thing. Edric and I sat down with my parents and confessed everything to them. He also spoke with his parents. It was embarrassing and humiliating to reveal our sin but we did it in obedience to God – “be holy for I am holy,” he says. And part of pursuing holiness was coming clean about our struggles. At the time that we did this, Edric and I were no longer dating each other. But about six months later, we got back together with the blessing of both our parents to get married. God restored our relationship when we set things right before him, when we honoured him as God. “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” Mathew 6:33
I am not proud about the wrong choices I made when Edric and I were dating, but I am also thankful that God has used my failings to speak to the hearts of singles. As a parent, it has made me more aware of the real temptations and struggles that my children will face. And I want to do my best to raise my children to be sexually pure.
Sexual purity begins when our children are very young and must be taught, role-modeled and reinforced by us as parents. After going through a book called Raising Sexually Pure Kids by Tim and Beverly LaHaye, I have summarized their insights on how to raise virtuous children and added some of my own. (You can read LaHaye’s full list on pages 31 to 59, Chapter 2 “How to Raise Virtuous Children.” Tim and Beverly LaHaye are also co-authors of the popular book, The Act of Marriage.)
Love them. This seems like common sense. But it cannot be overemphasized. A child that grows up feeling confidently loved and accepted by the most important people in the world to him will develop a healthy sense of self-worth. The LaHayes share that girls who had very good relationship with their fathers, who felt that they could “climb up on their father’s lap anytime they chose to and find his heart’s door open, seldom had sexual hang-ups in marriage. Girls who were rejected by their fathers in childhood often showed signs of frigidity within six to eighteen months of marriage or after the birth of their first child.” More essentially, a child who is unconditionally loved, frequently hugged, cuddled, and touched in a loving way is less likely to seek sex in the wrong places because their need for affection and acceptance is satisfied at home.
Provide Your Child with Two Loving Role Models. More often than not, parents are the first two people of the opposite sex that children observe. They need to see that their parents love each other. LaHayes call this the “best kind of sex education.” While sexual intimacy between husband and wife is reserved for privacy, children need to witness the tenderness exchanged between a husband and wife. Edric and I kiss and hug in front of our kids (not in a scandalous way!), but they see us be sweet and romantic with one another. They also know that we have date nights, special evenings where we go out as husband and wife.
In Hebrews 13:4 it says that “Marriage is to be held in honor among all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge.”
A married couple that is faithful to one another provides the example that a child needs to live out faithfulness to his or her future spouse. The LaHayes reveal that “many a girl has traded her virtue more out of revenge for her father’s unfaithfulness to her mother than as an act of passion.”
Start Teaching Your Children About Sex Early. Parents need to teach their children about sex before they learn it from the wrong sources. According to the LaHayes, “as they begin asking questions, give them clear and appropriate answers. Be honest. Use the proper nomenclature when referring to body parts and try to be relaxed…In early childhood, the most important thing for them to know is not all the details about sex but that he or she can come to you for them…What is important at this stage is to treat a child’s questions about sex as casually as we do his questions on any other subject.” Furthermore, “if they know the correct terms, they will be less likely to think there is something mysterious about them which can unnecessarily increase their curiosity.” (Read more from Chapter 3, “Even Toddlers Are Curios About Sex” on pages 63 to 70)
When one of our sons was three years old, he asked “how does a baby get into a mommy’s tummy.” Edric sat him down, man-to-man, and explained sex using the right terms. He was relaxed and easy going as he explained sex to our son and after the conversation, our son said, “Okay daddy, I’m glad we had this talk. What else can we talk about?” It was a completely normal conversation to him. And just like that, he learned about sex in the right context from the right person, and since then, we have continually affirmed the fact that sex is what happens between two people in marriage, just as God designed. It is something amazing and worth waiting for.
It may feel awkward to explain these things to our children because of the ways society portrays sex – dirty, carnal, pornographic, and very often outside the context of marriage. But children need to understand sex as something beautiful, designed by God for marriage. And loving parents can explain the Biblical perspective on sex better than school, friends, TV, books, magazines or the Internet.
Teach Them Who They Are. Children need to understand what it means to be a child of God. God has a special plan for their lives and part of that plan is the call to purity. They need to understand that safeguarding their innocence and purity leads to blessing. I have seen God redeem my dating mistakes but I have also seen how committing to purity has helped people to avoid the pain of my mistakes. My siblings, by God’s grace, committed to purity before marriage. Even my sister (the only remaining single among us), who is now engaged, has committed with her fiancé not to kiss her until their wedding day. We are all helping them to stick by this promise by holding them accountable and praying for them! My older brother, younger brother and younger sister all married godly spouses and are enjoying the rewards of their obedience and if I might say, we are all enjoying intimacy with our spouses, too!
Help Your Children Select Their Friends. As bad company corrupts good morals (1 Corinthians 15:33), the wrong kinds of friends can have a profoundly negative effect on our children’s moral standards. Most of us would probably agree that many of the foolish things we learned were from friends!
Homeschool Your Children. A parent who takes on the responsibility of teaching their children protects them from the secular philosophies and amoral traditions that prevail in the world – especially in schools!
Make Innocence a Family Virtue. Be careful what you watch on TV and what your children watch on TV or see on the internet. We have avoided watching alot of shows, movies, and programs when we see things through the innocent eyes of our children. Edric and I will ask ourselves, “Why are we watching this stuff if our kids can’t be in the same room because of the content? We probably shouldn’t be watching it either.”
We also teach our children to avoid crass toilet humor and encourage the boys to speak like gentlemen. When they pick up words from outside our home that are inappropriate we talk to them about why these words are not wholesome. One time, Elijah said to me, “I head a song in 7/11 and the words were really bad! The song used the _ _ _ _ word and I didn’t like it.” He was able to discern this because he had already heard this word before, asked us about it, and we explained to him why it was inappropriate.
Innocence is different than naivety. The Bible says in Matthew 10:16 “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves.
I’ve counseled young ladies who have been wrongfully taken advantage of by men. I really feel for these ladies because the circumstances they put themselves in could have been avoided if they had thought through their actions. It is never right for a man to abuse a woman no matter what the circumstance, but women can also protect themselves by avoiding situations that make them more vulnerable. We need to teach our children to be wise and discerning about the way they conduct themselves, as well as the places and people they associate with.
Teaching our children to be modest is part of being innocent. Our children know what parts of the body are to be kept covered and out of site. The boys don’t run around without their clothes on (for the most part, but sometimes they forget). Edric is very particular about this with Tiana. He always tells me to put bloomers on her when she is wearing a dress. Even if she has a diaper on, as much as possible he says to “keep her diaper covered too.” I get it though. I feel that the virtues of modesty and innocence begin when a child is little and you can’t overemphasize this enough.
Do Not Give Children A Lot of Unmonitored and Unsupervised Internet Time. This is like a worm-hole for the evil one into the hearts of our children. All it takes is one wrong click or one wrong pop-up and they can develop an appetite for pornography. I’ve sat down with our older son and had a heart to heart with him about guarding his eyes. I said, “hon, there are things that people put on the internet that we are never meant to see – things like nakedness, violence, evil. If you ever see anything like this accidentally pop up on the screen while you are using the computer, I want you to run away from it.” As often as possible, we are at home when they use the computer and we have put safety measures on our virus protection software that prohibits bad sites.
Teach Your Children to Protect Themselves. Edric and I have told our children never to be afraid to tell us if someone ever touches them in the wrong way. We have told them that their private parts are to be kept private. Even though our children are still young, we warned our older two about the dangers of touching themselves when they became naturally curious about their body parts. But we didn’t talk to them in a threatening or embarrassing way. We simply said, “God designed those pleasures to be felt in marriage so do not let others touch your privates and avoid touching them yourselves.” My own parents taught us this when we were young, too.
Since we have househelp, I have sat down with them and told them about our house rules. And one of them is, “Don’t ever ever touch my children’s private parts. They will tell me if you do so because they know that no one is ever supposed to touch them there.” It may seem like a weird thing to do but househelp have to know that you are a protective and aware parent. Periodically, I will also ask my children if anyone is doing anything to hurt or harm them. After counseling and talking with people who have suffered continued sexual abuse from relatives or people they know, Edric and I have tried to pay extra attention to what is happening in the lives of our children. A majority of the time children undergo abuse, their parents never know or worse, choose not to know.
My mom shared that when she was five years old a boy her age proposition her to look at his privates. She said, “No!” and ran away. Dangers lurk everywhere. We don’t need to be paranoid as parents, but we need to teach our children to protect themselves and turn to us for help. I’ve even told our kids, “If anyone does something bad to you and tells you that you cannot tell us because they will hurt you or hurt us, don’t believe them. Mommy and Daddy will protect you.”
When I was young, I wasn’t very street smart. It wasn’t until later on (after I went through a crisis which I will share at the appropriate time) that I learned to be more aware of my surroundings and wary of people’s intentions. There is a difference between judging people’s motives but knowing that sin makes people do evil things.
One time I was in the mall and a man was following me wherever I went. (I’ve had creepy people do this before where they have brushed up against me or groped at me so it has made me more conscious of how to deal with situations like this.) Elijah was with me and I paid close attention to the guy until I determined for sure that he was following me. I looked at him straight in the eye and said, “Are you following me?” embarrassing him in public because I raised my voice while asking this. The man turned around and left. Elijah was a little startled when he saw me do this and I took the opportunity to explain to him that we have to be aware and careful wherever we go. “Some people hurt others and we need to learn to protect ourselves. We need to be wise.” Then I encouraged him not to worry because God is always protecting us.
Warn Your Children About the Joys and Dangers of Sexual Attraction. When one of our sons revealed to us that he had crushes, I nearly fainted but it provided Edric and I with the opportunity to teach him about how to relate to the opposite sex. We talked to him about how to treat women with respect and how to guard his heart. We shared that it is normal to like girls and be attracted to them but that God wanted him to reserve those feelings for the person he will someday marry. Our son is still young so we will have to revisit these concerns again and again as he and all our other children grow up.
Teach Your Children the Law of Diminishing Returns. My parents taught this to us when we were younger. A relationship tends to move progressively towards physical intimacy. Eventually something as harmless as holding hands becomes less exciting than the prospect of a hug or kiss on the cheek. Eventually this too becomes less exciting than the prospect of kissing on the lips and so on.
When I used to give talks to the youth on sexual purity, I would say to them, “Don’t ask yourself how far can I get to the edge of a cliff without falling off?” Most people think they are staying pure by doing everything but the sex act itself. This is a fallacy. Purity is to be without blemish or stain. And, the closer a person gets to the edge, the easier it is to fall off it – plain and simple. That’s why the Bible says, “Flee sexual immorality.” Those who have already experienced premarital sex revert more comfortably to the same pattern when they date others. Therefore, parents need to help children determine boundaries when it comes to physical intimacy. I find that dating couples who avoid kissing on the lips, avoid touching anything below the neck and everything above the knee have an easier time staying pure.
Teach Your Children the Principle of Time, Place, Person. My parents always told my siblings and I, “all it takes to fall into sexual immorality with a person outside of marriage is three ingredients – time, place, and person.” If these three elements combine, the likelihood of falling into sin is that much greater. So logically, always keep one of those things out of the picture. For example, don’t be out alone and late at night with the opposite sex.
Ask Them To Make a Commitment to Purity. TMA Homeschool has a yearly Purity Ball in September for parents and kids aged 10 above. For a couple of weeks leading up to the ball, the parents and children attend talks on purity. During the ball itself, parents commit to purity themselves and to safeguard their child’s purity, and each child makes a commitment to purity. It is a very touching ceremony that makes parents cry!
Teach Your Kids to Spend Their Time Wisely. When kids are involved in sports programs, pursuing their hobbies and interests, prioritizing their studies, spending time with God, family, good friends, and contributing to ministry work, the chances of getting into a relationship too early decreases. First, there is not enough time. And second, they will find deep fulfilment as they develop their talents and gifts, grow in their relationship with God and with others, and maximize their youth for his glory.
Pray for them and their future spouses. Ever since my children were in the womb, I have prayed for them to grow up to love and serve God. But, I have also prayed intentionally about their protection, innocence, purity, and future spouses. My parents did the same for my siblings and I and we ended up marrying God-fearing people who also serve the Lord.
I step back from time to time and observe how innocent my children are, how free they are from the pain of heartbreak and immorality’s consequences. It makes me want to do everything I can to protect their purity. Staying sexually pure is a radical concept in this day and age. And I believe the earlier we start encouraging purity in our children, the easier it will be for them to make the concept their own reality and value.