Teaching Kids About Healthy Sexuality

The question “When and what do I teach my kids about sex?” comes up in parenting huddles, where moms gather together and air their concerns about how difficult it is to protect our children from the sexually-charged world we live in. It is seemingly impossible to completely shelter our kids from the images and messages that blatantly celebrate sexiness and sex outside of marriage.

Moms have opened up to me about their children being exposed to pornography at ridiculously young ages. My own kids constantly feel the need to turn their eyes away from magazine racks that exhibit half-naked women on their covers in places like groceries, hardware stores, and bookstores. These places are supposed to be family-friendly places! However, our children’s eyes are hardly “safe”. It’s also difficult to sit through television programs because the ads between shows aren’t always wholesome for kids.

Let’s take a realistic look at how challenging it is to raise our kids with healthy views and convictions about sex and sexuality:

– Nearly 60 percent of sixteen to eighteen year olds have had sexual intercourse.

– Nearly one third of thirteen to fifteen year olds have had sexual intercourse.

– Nearly 60 percent of sexually active teenagers do not use a method of birth control, and the same number of kids have never once talked with their parents about birth control.

– Ninety percent of kids surveyed believe in marriage, yet 74 percent say they would live with someone before or instead of marriage.

– Thirty-one percent of teen girl virgins say they have felt pressured by a guy to go further.

– Sixty-seven percent of teens who have had intercourse wish that they had waited.

– Over half of the young people in America claim to have had oral sex by the age of twenty-two.

– The average age of the first Internet exposure to pornography is eleven years old.

– Three million new cases of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) occur each year among teenagers.

– In the summer of 2000, Twist magazine did an online survey of ten thousand girls, over half of whom were under fourteen. Amazingly, 24 percent of the girls who said they were virgins responded that they engaged in oral sex.

– There are fourteen thousand acts of intercourse or sexual innuendo on primetime TV. (Teaching Your Children Healthy Sexuality by Jim Burns pg. 17 – 18)

Even if our kids are growing up in a morally toxic world, the good news is we don’t have to resign to this reality. There are several ways that we can be part of the solution to help our children grow up with healthy views and convictions about sex.

First, we need a mindset change. Sex is an amazing thing! Sex is God’s beautiful design for creation, intimacy, and pleasure in marriage. Why have we let the media, wrong experiences and inherited perspectives distort this truth so that we are ashamed and embarrassed to talk to our kids about it?

Unfortunately, this means that most kids don’t have conversations with their parents about healthy sexuality. They also hear confusing, negative messages about sex from their peers, role models or media. When it comes to the “sex talk”, many parents simply avoid the discussion, wait too long before educating their kids on the topic, or they simply tell them, “Don’t do it!” The message that religious organizations often pass on is that sex is a BAD thing so don’t do it outside of marriage. As for the rest of the world, it’s all about safe sex practices — how to do it without getting pregnant or STDs.

We need to have positive conversations with our children about sex, letting them know that it is neither ugly or dirty. It is wonderful! So wonderful it’s worth protecting and safeguarding for marriage.

After having five children, I realized that all kids, at some point wonder how they physically arrive into this world. Some kids are curious at younger ages, others at later ages. By the age of 7, our kids pretty much understand what sexual intercourse is and why it is beautiful in the context of a husband and wife relationship. Edric and I have this conversation with them early.

We answered (and continue to answer) their questions without substituting cutesy names for their private parts. Here’s a summary of what we cover…Girls have a vagina. Boys have a penis. There’s nothing immoral with those words. The two parts fit together according to God’s design so that a husband and wife can express their love for one another in the most intimate and special way. When sperm comes out of the man’s penis and goes into a woman’s vagina, one of the sperms will meet the egg inside the woman to form a baby. When you get to a certain age, you will start to find a girl beautiful or a boy handsome, and you will want to share this experience with them. But God wants you to save this for your husband or wife because it’s such a special thing.

Whew. That wasn’t too tough, was it?

We try to have these dialogues in a straightforward, non- squeamish way. Edric is better at this than I am. Sometimes I get uncomfortable going through the details. But I praise God that we are on the same page about educating our kids on sex in marriage early. If they hear unbiblical views on sex from friends or media, they can cross-check this info with the truth we’ve told them.

It’s also important to explain gender differences early. Because we’ve helped our kids to properly identity their body parts and the differences between female and male anatomies, they understand gender distinctions as early as 2 years old.

I remember asking our sons one time, “How do you know you are a boy?”

One of them blurted out, “Huh? I have a penis!” Like, hello, mom, did you intentionally ask a dumb question? Of course he didn’t say this. But I loved that his answer was so confident and uncomplicated.
On a comedic note, when we moved into our home and our 4-year old daughter walked into her bedroom, she announced, “No boys allowed. This is the vagina floor!”

Edric and I busted out into laughter. Basically she meant, “This area is for girls only!”

Beside teaching our children gender distinctions, we also need to tell them that their sexual organs are to be treated as sacred and private, educating them on what is appropriate and inappropriate when it comes to being touched. 

So many kids today become victims of sexual abuse, molestation and even rape. Tragically, most of it happens in their own homes and they get confused about whether it is wrong or not. If these is anything that makes me angry, heartbroken, and terrified at the same time it is that children are so commonly violated in this way in this country. About 60 to 70% of the people who come to me for counseling can recall at least one instance when they were abused by someone, and usually it was a relative. And they aren’t coming to me for counseling for these past experiences per se. However it comes up during the session as I ask questions or as the person opens up to me about their history.

My struggle as a mom is not to live in fear and pass on this fear to my kids because of my own past trauma as a rape victim. Yet at the same time, I want them to be aware that this can happen to them. So they need to protect themselves.

Edric and I tell them, “Don’t let anyone touch your private parts. These are private parts. Other people aren’t supposed to see them or touch them. And if anyone ever does that and tells you not to tell anyone, you can always tell mommy and daddy and we will protect you.”

Here’s a great book that teaches kids how to protect themselves. Available through @belugadreams


We also tell our household help not to touch our children’s private parts, unless they are bathing the little ones. (By two or threeyears of age children can be taught to wash themselves.) We teach our little daughters to dress modestly and cross their legs, too, so they aren’t exposing their underwear. We tell them, “Sit like a lady.”

As parents, we also have to model for our children how a woman and man interact with one another, relate to each other, and how we fulfill our roles within the family.

Furthermore, dads should spend time with sons to mentor them and moms should spend time with daughters to mentor them. Edric took Elijah to Mt. Apo when he turned 13 so he could have a rite of passage into young manhood. During their climb they were with a seasoned mountaineer and his son, too.

After four days, Elijah came home scruffy, stinky, and weathered! He learned how to have grit, to push himself and survive difficult weather conditions. He also watched Edric very closely. On the mountain, they spent time worshipping the Lord, sharing the gospel with other climbers, and reading Elijah’s letters from family members for his 13th birthday.

Not too long after this event, Elijah wrote a touching letter to Edric that included these lines, “Dad, thank you for teaching me what it means to be a man because I need you to be my role model. I really look up to you and I want to be like you…” With happy tears, Edric and I glanced at one another and smiled. What a privilege to meet this need in our kids!

Our children’s first concept of gender identity comes from us. Whether we acknowledge it or not, they are observing us and looking to us to understand what it means to be a man or woman according to God’s design.

At the same time, we need to affirm their worth in the Lord because relationships at home have a significant effect on the choices our children make and will make, especially when it comes to sexual purity.
My dad used to tell my sisters and I something like this: Each of you is like a “Rolls-Royce.” Think of a common car versus something like a Rolls-Royce. Everyone gets to drive a common car. Not a Rolls-Royce.

What he meant to say was, “No test-driving allowed! Don’t let guys treat you like a common car because you aren’t!”
Granted, it was totally a guy thing for him to compare us to cars, but the principle behind his advice was important. He wanted us to realize that we are special, that HE THOUGHT WE ARE SPECIAL, that guys should treat us as special. More importantly, he demonstrated what it means to be treated as special by being available, encouraging, and discipling us. (My mom was the same way.)

Very recently I was counseling a beautiful lady who suffered the after-effects of a painful breakup and bad relationship with a guy who was controlling and manipulative. When I asked her about her family culture, she told me she never felt good enough or important to her parents. So she thought it was normal for a guy to treat her badly, too. After all, she was brought up in a family where she had to prove her worth in order to be loved. Her father also made her feel incompetent and incapable. She tolerated her unhealthy relationship with her boyfriend for a miserably long time until God opened her eyes to see that marrying this guy would have been a huge mistake. Up till this day, as an adult, she longs to have a loving relationship with her parents but she feels misunderstood and rejected so often by them so she finds it difficult to ask them for advice when it comes to boyfriend-girlfriend relationships.

As I listened to her, I was convicted to put extra effort into strengthening my relationship with my kids. They need that security from Edric and I, and they need to be able to trust us with their hearts so we can influence them to make wise choices.

In her book, Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters, author Meg Meeker writes that parent connectedness is the number-one factor in preventing girls from engaging in premarital sex and indulging in drugs and alcohol…Girls with good fathers are less likely to flaunt themselves to seek male attention…76% of teenage girls said that fathers influenced their decision on whether they should become sexually active…

It’s only by God’s grace that my parents met this need for affection and the desire to be valued in my siblings and me. As a result, we weren’t as eager to seek out this need in the opposite sex. Okay, so I floundered the most in this area because I actually had one boyfriend in high school and it wasn’t a very healthy relationship. But my sisters and brothers, wow. My youngest sister’s first kiss was at the altar! She made it very clear to her boyfriend (the only guy she had a serious relationship with) that she had strict boundaries. No kissing before marriage!

Maybe you were more like me and made mistakes. And maybe you are a parent reading this and you know that your child is not staying pure. I hope this bit will give you hope, as you come alongside your child to pray for them and restore them back to the Lord.

If you’ve been a follower of my blog, you know that I had two serious boyfriend relationships before marriage. I didn’t have sexual intercourse with my boyfriends, but I did everything else. So I tell people that I struggled with sexual impurity to call it what it is.

Even if I was raised in a good home, I made the choice to go against God’s standard of purity by going “too close to the edge.” The fact that I was a victim of rape and sexual abuse probably made it easier for me to rationalize my choices but that wasn’t an excuse.

I remember my mom calling me long distance one evening while she was away on a trip, and she gently asked, “How are you and your boyfriend doing? I dreamt about you guys last night and you were doing something you weren’t supposed to.”

I knew what she was alluding to and I must have turned five shades of pale. God had spoken to her through a dream! Can you believe it?! I was so convicted and bothered. I admitted to my mom that my boyfriend and I were indeed doing something inappropriate. This wasn’t the only time I had to make a confession to my mom or my dad.

However, their emphasis was not on lecturing me, embarrassing me, or judging me. Were they hurt? Yes. Were they concerned? Yes. Did they have to set restrictions? Yes. But they did these things in a manner that was redemptive. There was grace and forgiveness in the context of an existing love relationship with me. This inspired me to please God because I knew that my parents wanted what was best for me. They had proven this for many years prior to me ever being in a boyfriend-girlfriend relationship.

Author Jim Burns said that as parents we need to convey to our kids that “God created sexuality, and in the light of marriage, He sees it as very good. Our children need to know that God wants the best for each of them in this area of their lives. He is not the great killjoy but rather the creator and sustainer of life.”

Unless our kids are convinced that we are for them, that we are on their side and want what is best for them, they won’t listen to the values we want them to internalize when it comes to their sexuality. So let’s start investing in our relationship with them from the very beginning so that the truths we pass on to them about safeguarding purity will sink deep and take root in their hearts. They might not make perfect choices (like me) but may their relationship with us and with the Lord, through the power of prayer, hook them back and get them back on track.

Here are some facts that tell us why sex is best reserved for marriage: (Source – Ray Short)

Fact 1 – Premarital sex tends to break up couples.
Fact 2 – Many men do not want to marry a woman who has had intercourse with someone else.
Fact 3 – Those who have premarital sex tend to have less happy marriages.
Fact 4 – Those who have premarital sex are more likely to have their marriage end in divorce.
Fact 5 – Persons and couples who have had premarital sex are more likely to have extramarital affairs as well.
Fact 6 – Having premarital sex may fool you into marrying a person who is not right for you.
Fact 7 – Persons and couples who have premarital sex experience sexual satisfaction sooner after they are married. HOWEVER –
Fact 8 – They are likely to be less satisfied overall with their sex life during marriage.
Fact 9 – Poor premarital sexual habits can be carried over to spoil sex in marriage.

As I end this, I want to propose that committing to purity is a family thing. When Edric and I were a younger couple, we watched a bunch of cool TV series on certain evenings to relax and unwind. These shows had great plots but they also had scenes in them and values that blatantly celebrated unbiblical perspectives on sex. We would close our eyes through those parts or press fast forward to avoid watching the “unholy” stuff. But after awhile we were like, What are we doing? This is a waste of time and it is not honoring to the Lord.

We realized that if we can’t sit through programs like these with our kids because we don’t want their minds polluted, then why do we think our minds are exempted from being corrupted as well?

We are all called to holiness. Furthermore, it’s easier to encourage the entire family to pursue purity if we all use the same filtration standards. Here’s a great passage that gives us guidelines for what we should watch and listen to: “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” Philippians‬ ‭4:8‬ ‭

There’s nothing inherently wrong with media. But the evil one uses these channels to influence and infiltrate our minds. Therefore we must be discriminating as a family about the kinds of shows, programs, music, and movies we entertain ourselves with. Everything that we take in shapes our values and perspectives. 

Psychology Today tells us that “Today, children are being sexualized earlier and earlier, in part because they are exposed to sexual material in movies, television, music and other media earlier than ever…A 2012 study shows that movies influence teens’ sexual attitudes and behaviors as well. The study, published in Psychological Science, found that the more teens were exposed to sexual content in movies, the earlier they started having sex and the likelier they were to have casual, unprotected sex.” (Psychology Today)

When our oldest son, Elijah, started using an IPad he purchased, he installed restrictions on it to protect himself from going on sites or accessing media that could be pornographic. I praise God that he was convicted to do this on his own, as a child. Now that he is entering the crazy hormonal phase of young adulthood, my prayer for him is that God will continue to keep him pure hearted. I pray that for all my kids.

Even if Edric and I try our best to raise our kids with healthy sexuality, it’s no guarantee that they will stay pure in heart and mind. However, I believe they have a better chance of doing so if we start teaching them young. As the Scriptures say, “How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to Your word.” Psalms‬ ‭119:9‬ ‭

I really like what Paul said to his young disciple, Timothy: “But you must remain faithful to the things you have been taught. You know they are true, for you know you can trust those who taught you. You have been taught the holy Scriptures from childhood, and they have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus.” 2 Timothy‬ ‭3:14-15‬ ‭NLT‬‬

I don’t know what your perspective on sexuality has been. Maybe you are a young parent, trying to figure out how to raise your kids right. Or maybe you have older kids who are interested in the opposite sex or already dating someone and you are worried about the choices they have made or will make. Or maybe you are a person who is struggling with gender identity or sexual promiscuity. Or you didn’t grow up in a home where you saw healthy gender roles modeled by a mother or father, or you experienced sexual abuse.

Whatever your life state may be, I want you to know that God has a plan for you, as the man or woman that he designed for you to be. Everything that you have been through He can redeem and make beautiful. If no one has ever valued or treasured you and if you don’t feel like you are not worth much because of your choices, you need to know that God sees you. He knows you. He wants to have a personal relationship with you. He loves you and He died for you because you are so precious to Him! He can purify you and me and restore whatever sexual brokenness we have gone through.  

“Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.” Psalms‬ ‭51:7‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Virginity

10686858_10100145141048251_3658527888600755339_n-2

My beautiful sister, Candy, is visiting from the U.S. with her family. She gave her testimony about purity to a group of young people two weekends ago. I asked her for a copy of what she shared for the benefit of all my single readers. May this post bless you!

CANDY: Growing up my parents always talked to us about staying pure, guarding our hearts and bodies from sexual sin, and saving ourselves for marriage. They said we have to make the choice ahead of time to stay pure and abstain from sex before marriage. If you don’t decide ahead of time, when the temptation comes, it will be harder to say no.   This applies to other areas of our lives…. Whether it be saying no to drinking, to smoking, to drugs, and even sexual orientation.

As a teenager, I actually struggled with the thought, what if I become a lesbian someday?  I played a lot of sports and I women from opposing teams were hitting on me…even while I was playing basketball against them! I talked to my mom about this and confessed my fears. I said I don’t want to be a lesbian because I know it’s against God’s word but I’m afraid I might become one. She said it is a choice. I just need to decide ahead of time to follow God’s design and trust in Him.

Amazingly, when I decided I would never become a lesbian or even experiment with things of this nature, I had a peace that came over me. The worry vanished. (I’m so glad I communicated with my Mom what was going on in my head, too, because she was able to help me.)

Another way my parents helped me was encouraging me not to be in an exclusive dating relationship until I was ready to get married. So in high school, I never had a boyfriend. However, when I started attending college, I told my parents that I needed to start dating so I would know what kind of man I wanted to marry. To me, that sounded logical and I thought I knew more than my parents about this subject. Their ideas were old fashioned to me.

Instead of reacting or belittling my ideas, we openly discussed this train of logic. I soon realized I had it backwards. First, to pray and decide what kind of man I wanted to marry… and then ONLY date the man that fit my criteria, a man who had the godly characteristics I longed for. I didn’t need to date a lot of guys to figure that out. It would be a waste of my time and open me up to more temptation.

Because I was able to internalize this truth while talking to my parents, God protected me from a lot of heartache, wasted relationships and time, and potential immorality. I still remember my Dad telling me… “someday there will come a point where you think you know more than me, but I will still know more than you.” Now that I’m an adult and have my own children, I full-heartedly believe that parents do know more than their children since they have the added wisdom of experience.

However, even though I believed my parents and wanted to protect my purity, I didn’t always listen to their advice. One of the guidelines my parents taught me was never be in a room alone with the opposite sex. Until dental school, I had never kissed a guy.  However, there was a man who started courting me. He was handsome, musical, and smart. One night we were in my room alone and before I knew it we were kissing. I remember feeling guilty afterwards and realized I shouldn’t have done that. I had wasted my first kiss on somebody that I wasn’t sure I was going to marry. Even though I knew this in my head, there was a strong temptation to be physical with him.

I finally shared with my parents what was going on with me and this guy. Being accountable to my parents gave me renewed strength to put boundaries when it came to the physical aspect. I also asked my parents if they could meet the guy because I didn’t want to get into a serious relationship unless they approved of him.

As my parents sat down with him and asked them questions about his plans and life goals, his answers made me realise that he wasn’t God’s best pick for me. With difficulty but conviction, I was able to end the dating relationship.  I praise God that my parents lovingly intervened to help me process and think through my affections for this guy. Because of their wisdom, it was apparent that I shouldn’t be with him.

After this experience, I committed to honor my parents and marry someone they approved of.  Second, I knew what kind of man I wanted to marry… someone who really loved the Lord and had a mature relationship with Him. In time, God brought His best choice to me with the full blessing of my parents. In fact, he was a man whom my father identified as someone I should consider. When my dad broached the idea to me this man, Jeff, had a girlfriend. But soon after Jeff broke up with her and began expressing interest in me.

Even though I had given my first kiss away, I was able to stay a virgin and give Jeff that gift when we got married. Seven years ago, we got married and today we are blessed with a growing family — three boys — Corban, Levi and Joshua. We are both dentists, serving the Lord together, and we share a burden for dental missions.

10342921_10152236400073589_5060749323828169543_n-2

God’s way is the Best Way. There is no better life lived than one that obeys and follows the Lord. God’s will for us is to be pure and to guard ourselves against sexual sin.  It takes commitment to be pure and holy, to preserve one’s virginity, and to set guidelines in order to avoid the temptation that is out there.  The decision must be made long before a relationship is in the picture. Furthermore, letting our parents have a say about a major choice like who we date and marry may not always turn out the way we hope, but he uses their wisdom and experience to protect us and help us make wise choices. I am so glad I didn’t continue in my relationship with the guy I was seeing before Jeff. If I hadn’t heeded the advice of my parents, I would have missed out on the blessings God intended for me.

To those who aren’t virgins, make the decision today to be pure. My husband wasn’t a virgin when we started dating. He had slept with his first girlfriend and deeply regretted what he did. I praise God that he was a changed man before we dated. He and I decided NOT to have sex together until we got married. So you can say that he was a spiritual virgin in our relationship.

Psalm 51:10 “Create in me a clean heart oh Lord, my God, and renew a right spirit within me.”

—–

MY POST NOTES…

As Candy’s older sister, I’ve witnessed first hand how God has directed the course of her life because she sought to honour him and his principles. By His grace, she was preserved from the heartaches that many women experience today. She bypassed the broken heartedness, deceit, betrayal, and depression that are very often the aftermath of sexual sin (not to mention the possibility of pregnancy and STD’s, too). As a bonus, God led her to a man who respected her for her convictions and who wanted to honour them. Yes, these men still exist in the world! Jeff is a man who loves God and Candy deeply. He is also intelligent, wise, successful, and good-looking. He may not have had a perfect past (none of us do), but when he gave his life to the Lord, he too committed to purity.

I have yet to meet a woman who celebrates her sexual exploits and experiences outside the context of marriage.  Sooner or later women come to a point of recognition — that sex as portrayed by a world that has rejected its DESIGNER, is a fleeting pleasure that doesn’t satisfy the greater longings for love and happiness. It may be fun at the onset, but the reality is we do not gain by giving away what is precious to us to a man who is not our husband. It is never a fair trade to exchange our bodies for the promise of their love and devotion. An honourable man will not expect a woman of worth to do this for him. This is a privilege reserved for the security and sanctity a marital relationship provides.

In contrast, I have met many women who committed to purity who are enjoying marriage as God intended them to. They do not carry the ugly baggage that sexual sin attaches to their souls. Although it is common to think casually about sex and to lose one’s virginity early, the blessings of purity are worth the wait — peace, joy, protection, and God’s favour.

When everyone is saying that sex is okay outside of marriage and giving hearty approval to those who engage in it, it’s easy to buy into the same perspective and do the same. So the company one keeps is important.Whether it is family members or a group of friends who share the same convictions, accountability makes the commitment to purity more plausible.

It’s also necessary to be sensitive to the values we are exposed to. From billboards, advertisements, TV shows, movies, internet sites, music, and even people we look up to and see as role-models, we are developing appetites and patterns of thinking that impact our concept of right or wrong. If we are constantly bombard by messages that tell us sex outside of marriage is the norm then we will believe this. Furthermore, what is to prevent us from remaining faithful to our spouse in marriage? Whatever habits we form before marriage will be difficult to undo later on.

So my dear young people, I would like to encourage you to make God’s word the standard. Sexual purity isn’t about staying a virgin, it is much more than this. Virginity is first and foremost a condition of the heart towards God. It is about seeking to be holy in our thoughts and actions as He is holy.

1 Corinthians 6:20 “For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.”

For those who have made choices that have not glorified God, there is hope. Purity is a byproduct of what we fill our minds with and what we believe about God and ourselves. Don’t focus on pursuing purity. Pursue God and his will for your life and he will be the one to purify you inside and out.

Some people have said, but what about the guys? Are there any guys out there who will save themselves for us? That’s God’s department. I was blessed to marry a guy who was a virgin. (I can talk about this in another post.) There are men out there who love God, who have also committed to purity, but I doubt you will encounter them at common social venues that one might expect to. Forget about bars, for instance. Broaden the horizon. I like what one pastor said and I will paraphrase it here… “If you want to find God’s best, run as hard and as fast as you can towards God, then look to your left or right. If you see someone running in the same direction, grab their hand.” Some of the sweetest marriages have happened when two persons who give themselves to God’s work find one another in the context of serving God. How amazing it is when we recognise a shared passion to build God’s kingdom in the heart of another. How greater still when this recognition leads to a marital union that makes two better as one!

 

 

When Your Children See Half-Naked Women On The Cover Of A Magazine

“Don’t let Hollywood have a monopoly on what our children learn about sex” Dr. Peter Tanchi

20140210-160807.jpg (image from twentytwowords.com)

Our children don’t learn about purity today. They learn about immorality. Just turn on the TV or surf the net or heck, drive down Edsa. It’s hard NOT to be assaulted by the sexually charged environment we are in.

The other day, my ten year old, said, “Mom, they have pictures of half-naked women over there.” This happened at the grocery and Elijah came up to me looking disturbed as he made this statement. He was referring to the magazine rack display which was positioned in full view of everyone who was exiting the store. The most scandalous of them all were at his eye level.

Edan was over there too but he was looking at something else. When Elijah asked him if he saw the magazine covers, he was like, “Huh?! What pictures?! I didn’t see anything.” He was telling the truth. He didn’t notice them at all. Elijah, on the other hand, is getting older and more cognizant of what is inappropriate in women’s dressing. All the visible skin was shocking for him.

We talked about how women are not supposed to show off their bodies that way, that it is not pleasing to God. I also told him that he shouldn’t marry a woman that projects herself in that manner. I don’t even know why I added that, but he very emphatically responded, “I will never ever ever marry a woman like that!” GOOD. I hope he feels the same way ten years from now.

I know we cannot keep our children in a bubble. In fact, Elijah told me he has seen similar photos of women on billboards. Of course it upsets me that society doesn’t care at all that children are continually exposed to lewd and provocative pictures of women and even men. There may be some sanctions imposed on marketing and media companies but still, our children’s innocence is threatened so often.

I was upset about the magazines in the store, but it was my mom that went the extra mile. My mom was with us doing her grocery shopping, too. Immediately, she called the manager and said very nicely but with conviction, “You shouldn’t display magazines like these the way you do. Please find a way to cover them. It doesn’t speak well of your store and it’s not good for children.” And one by one she flipped over the magazines. No one stopped her and the manager acknowledged what she had to say.

I didn’t know if the store would do anything about it. But I was proud of my mom. (Elijah was, too.) I thought to myself, yah, you tell them, mom!

The good news is just today my mom dropped by the same grocery and she informed me that there was paper pasted across the bodies of the cover models. You can still see the names of the magazines that are being sold but no more half naked women visible to the public. She commended the manager for taking action on her request.

When Elijah and I found out that the grocery had “censored” the magazines, we were both thrilled. It was encouraging to know that people (represented by this grocery) still respect convictions. There are still people out there who know, deep inside, that it’s not okay for young women to be posing with a tiny strip of fabric to cover their private parts. Elijah, in his candid manner, just called it out and it was like, oh, right, hello, these women are not partially clothed, they are pretty much naked.

This is not an attempt to go out into the streets with a sign that says, death to all who let themselves be photographed wearing nothing but a tiny strip of fabric, death to all those who photograph them, death to all those who buy these photos, and death to all those who sell them. I am not so guiltless, not about the above, but about feeding my carnal appetite for immorality. There are times when I switch on the TV and get intrigued by the plot of a movie or show that outrightly condones sleeping around. And occasionally, I will surf the net and look up some Hollywood gossip and find it entertaining. I am ashamed to admit that there’s something interesting about all the garbage that goes on in the lives of famous people. By God’s grace, I don’t have much time to do any of the above these days. But it doesn’t mean that I don’t have the curiosity for it…a curiosity that needs to come under the control of the Holy Spirit.

I am writing this entry because I want to challenge all of us to practice and model holiness no matter how hostile the moral climate is today. I told Elijah, “We must never be ashamed to have high standards when it comes to purity. We don’t have to be like everyone else and think, well this is just the way it is.”

Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body. (1 Corinthians 6:18 NASB)

Personally, I need to be more aware of how easy it is to buy into the unbiblical standards that are becoming more and more “accepted” in our country. But God’s word says, As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, “Y ou shall be holy, for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:14-16 NASB)

If my mom had not said anything about the magazine rack, I probably wouldn’t have. I would have just let it go and thought, well, that’s just the nature of things. But because my mom spoke to the manager, I was blessed by her desire to protect my kids and every other person that comes in and out of that grocery store.

Society may continue to head in the wrong direction by promoting and celebrating immorality but we don’t have to become a causality of this inertia. We can say something when there is opportunity to do so. We can take a stand when necessary. We can hazard being ridiculed as outdated and boringly conservative. We can hold on to the belief that purity is God’s design, that sex is supposed to happen in marriage, between a husband and wife. Why? Because our children are watching and others, too. They want to know what to believe, what to value, what to uphold. If we guard, protect, and live out what is good, true, and holy, and if we are a testament to the blessings of doing so, then our children and others will have the courage to do the same.

20140210-160522.jpg

Going Back to the Garden (Part 2) – Intimacy in Marriage


DSC06264 copyAs my husband, Edric, becomes more of a public personality because of his TV hosting, he gets more attention from the opposite sex. I suppose this comes with the territory when you are on television. And as I was reflecting on how this might impact our relationship, I thought of writing an article on intimacy in marriage – Going Back to the Garden (Part 2).

Marriage will have to weather many seasons. But even if external factors may change, Edric and I have learned some important life lessons that have preserved the relational intimacy between us. I hope these insights will also make a difference for young married couples who want to get it right from the start.

Honesty and open communication. It isn’t always easy to tell each other our struggles, failings, and fears, but doing so has helped to build and maintain trust. Edric knows that I don’t have secrets and neither does he. Even though we risk hurting each other and bearing the shame of our wrongs when we choose to be honest, especially about sin, accountability makes our relationship stronger. The Bible says, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed…” (James 5:16 NASB)

One of the benefits of openness in marriage is that it invites the power of prayer. When Edric shares with me his temptations or struggles, it allows me to pray for him very specifically so that he can be victorious over sin. (He does the same for me.) Since we practiced open communication early on in marriage, there isn’t a stockpile of unconfessed sins and offenses that have built up that can cause grave damage in the future.

I imagine that it would be incredibly difficult for a spouse to divulge past sins and failures that were never talked about. And it would be incredibly difficult to listen without being deeply wounded or embittered if you were to be deluged by a sudden confession that you did not see coming. So it is a healthy practice to make honesty a habit from the very beginning of a marriage. It is certainly “easier” rather than realizing, later on, that you have not been honest about many things that you ought to have been.

For example, how do you start being honest about an affair because you want to try and restore your marriage? There is no simple way to break that kind of news! So do the preventive thing and express your feelings and uncover issues early on. It is much more challenging to rebuild and regain trust after it has been broken.

I remember occasions when Edric would say to me, “Hon, I am starting to feel awkward and uncomfortable about so-and-so (a woman). I want you to keep me accountable so I am telling you.” Being able to say this before it ever blossoms into something nips any potential threat to our intimacy in the bud.

Be a good listener to your spouse. If you want to encourage open communication, listening is key. “This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger.” (James 1:19 NASB) God gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason!

When Edric shares with me his struggles in the area of purity, I can be prideful and retaliate with self-centeredness when I am not Christ-centered. So, it is only by God’s grace that I am able to suspend subjectivity to understand that his truthfulness is an attempt at preserving the intimacy between us. Therefore, I try my best to listen instead of being combative or judgmental. I want him to know that his heart is safe with me.

Don’t be a policewoman. I don’t want the stress of worrying about Edric’s purity. I have turned that over to God by praying for him and our marriage. His faithfulness is not my burden to bear. Years ago, I remember saying, “Hon, if you are going to do something that displeases God, that’s between you and him. If you want to forfeit his blessing in your life, that’s your choice.” Edric knows I trust him because I trust that he loves God and wants to please him. God is watching over Edric and his choices, and mine, too.

Who can really know what happens in private, in the deepest parts of who we are? As transparent as we may want to be with one another, only God can uncover every nook and cranny to purify us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. One of my prayers for Edric is, “Lord, please help Edric to love you with all of his heart. Please help him never to come close to adultery. Keep his eyes, heart, and mind pure. Please protect him from evil women. And please help him to have eyes only for me and…help us to have a great sex life!” Hey, that’s a biblical prayer! 😉

Be overly cautious. No one is impervious to temptation. I remember my mom saying that Satan often uses the back door entrance into a person’s life. He rarely comes in the front. The Bible says, “Therefore let him who think he stands take heed that he does not fall.” (1 Corinthians 10:12 NASB)

Now, more than ever, Edric knows that he has to be careful to avoid people and places that could lead to compromise, so he tells me, “I can’t let my guard down.” But it is the same for me. I may not be hounded by a fan base of men in the same way that women crush on him but I have to make sure I don’t act flirty, too friendly, or try to get the attention of men.

Another thing I learned from my mom: When you start to find yourself thinking things like, “I wonder if this guy finds me attractive?” Or, “I wonder what he thinks about me?” that is a warning flag! (If he is not your husband, of course.)

Grow closer as you grow older. The gravitational pull on a marital relationship is towards growing apart. So we need to keep cleaving to one another — sharing passions, dreams, and activities that make you better friends. Last night I was having dinner with my parents and at one point my dad talked about how my mom is his buddy, his best friend. They thoroughly enjoy one another’s company. A couple of weeks ago, I found out that my parents-in-law escaped for the day to go on a movie marathon — just the two of them. I hope Edric and I can also be as excited to spend time with one another years and years down the road, too.

Meet your spouse’s emotional and physical needs. Edric has mastered the art of romancing Joy Mendoza, which does wonders for intimacy. Affirmation, affection, encouragement, compliments, outrageous professions of love and loyalty, chivalrous deeds…these gestures and demonstrations are big deposits in our relationship.

The other day, I called him to ask for prayers because my stomach was hurting so badly. Without hesitating, he asked, “Do you want me to leave? I can go there right now. You know I will drop everything for you.” I said it was okay and that I just needed his prayers. Thankfully, within a few hours, I felt better. Just knowing he was willing to interrupt all his plans for the day to be with me was comforting enough. It mattered a lot to know that of all the people in his life, he is most mindful of me.

As for me, I need to make sure Edric knows that he is my priority, that he has my respect and admiration. Of course, this includes meeting his sexual needs. I’ve talked to women who withhold sex because of all kinds of reasons. From pregnancy (some pregnancies are delicate, so fine), breastfeeding, fatigue, disinterest, age, don’t need it, don’t want it, not a big part of our relationship, etc. Whatever. Sex is an indicator of relational intimacy. An enjoyable sex life is part of God’s design for marriage. It is also a form of protection.

“The husband should fulfill his wife’s sexual needs, and the wife should fulfill her husband’s needs. The wife gives authority over her body to her husband, and the husband gives authority over his body to his wife. Do not deprive each other of sexual relations, unless you both agree to refrain from sexual intimacy for a limited time so you can give yourselves more completely to prayer. Afterward, you should come together again so that Satan won’t be able to tempt you because of your lack of self-control.” (1 Corinthians 7:3-5)

I’d like to quote my mom again for a very life-changing suggestion about sex that she passed on to me. “When you get married and your husband wants to have sex, remember the Nike slogan. Just do it.”

What about a woman’s sexual needs? Women are responders. If we feel cherished and appreciated, secure in the love of our husbands, Nike is not necessary!

Keep short accounts with one another. Don’t postpone asking for forgiveness. Don’t let unforgiveness linger. In some families, it is the norm NOT to say sorry. Family members just move on after a fight or conflict like nothing happened. Yet, dismissing issues, offenses and hurt is like collecting a huge reservoir of pain that can explode at any time. It will be a continual wedge to true intimacy when unresolved issues get compounded. And compounding interest is not pretty!

Similarly, a person who is bitter and unforgiving is repelling to be with. It’s very unpleasant to be married to a spouse who habitually resurrects past mistakes and failures, or uses them as ammunition. Colossians 3:12-13 says,“Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourself with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.” (NLT)

The most important: walk intimately with the Lord. Intimacy between Edric and I begins when we are intimate with God first. The secret to overcoming personal sin, especially something like immorality, is to fall more in love with Christ. Hebrews talks about “laying aside every encumbrance, and fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith.” The more we look to Christ, the more we will want to imitate and follow him. Our preoccupations will be pleasing to him and we will fear the consequences of sinning against him. We will want to be holy and pure.

When I was struggling with purity in college, it was my relationship with God that made me want to change. I thought, I cannot call myself a follower of Christ and continue in sinful behavior. I cannot say that I love God with all my heart if I am doing things that displease him.

In marriage, I have to depend on God’s work in Edric’s life to keep him pure. Do I constantly check his email, browsing history, Facebook, and cell phone? First off, I always forget his passwords so I can’t. Ha ha. His policeman is the Holy Spirit. And because there is open communication between Edric and I, he voluntarily shows me messages that women send him, whether platonic or questionable, or he will tell me if he stumbled in the area of purity. Sometimes, God will give me the inkling to ask him if he is okay in the purity area and Edric will be honest with me.

Purity in marriage is a team effort between God, Edric and me. By God’s grace, we have not experienced the damaging effects of infidelity. By God’s grace, we are still in love. But we know that it is not because of who we are or even the love we have for one another. God is the center, the glue that has held our marriage together and continues to bind it still. He is the covering of protection when our marriage is attacked from within and without. And he is the restorer when there is brokenness and hurt. With him in our marriage, we are able to go back to the garden to experience the sweet intimacy that he designed for a husband and wife.

 

Affects of Porn on the Male Brain

A must read article by William M. Struthers, Ph.D:Affects of Porn on the Male Brain

This article was forwarded to me by a relative and I actually started to tear while reading it. People get so enslaved to pornography without realizing how destructive it is to the formation and keeping of an intimate relationship between husband and wife; what kind of programming happens to wire the brain in ways that enslave it; and how clueless we can be as parents when we don’t filter through what our young children, our sons, have access to.

The author said that we live in a “pornified” society. It’s so true. But as parents, we are the guardians of our homes. What we allow our children to watch and view is still within our control, especially while they are young. And teaching them about godliness and purity is an absolute must. Children as young as 12 years old are having sex. That’s two years away from Elijah’s age! Wow. I am so glad he is homeschooled. But homeschooling doesn’t guarantee that he won’t encounter pornography or elicit images that can trigger an appetite in him. Vigilance, prayer, and discipleship are key. Preventive. Protective. Positive.

As parents, we too, need to guard our hearts and minds. We can say, I don’t look at porn but still watch shows that stimulate unhealthy sexual desires and fantasies. We can say, I don’t look at porn, but still develop an appetite for worldly values and perceptions when we do not consider whom we call close friends and the activities we participate in with them.

I was blessed by a verse that Edric shared with me. “I will set no worthless thing before my eyes…” (Psalm 101:3)

It seems like an impossible statement given that everywhere you go and look, you are bound to see something that at least alludes to sex. But, I believe that what God calls us to be — be holy for I am holy — isn’t without his enabling power. We can still go against the tidal wave of immorality that is destroying our society.

My prayer is that our home will be a sanctuary for our children, where they can stay innocent, pure, and unstained…where God will prepare their hearts to be devoted to him, unshackled by sins that render them ineffective for His great work, convicted to pursue holiness that they might see and experience God, and live the gospel with power.

“Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God.” (Matthew 5:8)

“It is by his deeds that a lad distinguishes himself if his conduct is pure and right.” (Proverbs 20:11)

Anatomically Correct

When parents ask how we teach our children about sex, I say, “We tell it like it is.” We don’t use codes or substitute words for anatomical parts. And we cover their questions as they come. As they ask, we answer.

The other day, one of our sons said, “Girls pee out of their butts, right?” Well, Edric couldn’t let him live with that delusion, so he explained, anatomically speaking, where the locations of parts were. There was no malice in the discussion. It became a science lesson.

Most of the time, it is our upbringing and exposure to sex outside of the context of God’s design that makes us squeamish about discussing sex-related topics with our children. I’m not saying that we need to pull out charts and diagrams and sit our pre-school aged children down to explain EVERYTHING. But when their questions do come, we are a better source for information than peers, movies, the Internet, etc. Please, not movies or the internet! As for peers, they don’t always have a biblical perspective on sex either.  So, we are it. This is it is part of our role to explain sex to our children in a way that makes them appreciate God’s design for it.

Some children seem to be more curious than others. I have seen the difference in our kids. One may snicker when they see a billboard of a woman who is not so modestly dressed. Edsa, unfortunately, has these from time to time. And another, may think nothing of it. But since we have three boys, I know that they all will, at one point or another, become interested in girls’ bodies.

We need to be attentive and available when we see signs of this. One of our sons was careening his neck when I was driving along the highway, and I asked him, “What are you looking at?” It was such an obvious attempt to look at something, I was interested to know what had caught his attention. He gave me an embarrassed and awkward smile, but after some prodding, he revealed to me that he saw a billboard that had the word “sexy” on it. There was a woman posing in a “come hither” manner and even though she was clothed (thank God), it was the word “sexy” that bothered him. We talked a little bit more about it and his fascination was addressed appropriately.

A couple months ago, another one of our sons told me that he was feeing guilty for imagining girls without their clothes on. Whoa! I was caught off-guard. But I stopped myself from panicking. I explained to him that our mind is very often the battleground, so when he has thoughts like that, he needs to replace it with “whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute.” As Philippians 4:8 tells us, “if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.”

We had this conversation while walking together, hand-in-hand, mother and son. These tender moments, when my kids reveal what is in their heart, are very often had during one-on-one time.  I didn’t want my son’s guilt to blossom into a fixation so I focused on the principle of filling your mind with God’s word to protect yourself from temptation.

I have said this often, but it is so important that Edric and I remain vigilant about what our children watch and what they are exposed to. We don’t want to awaken desires prematurely. We tell our sons that it is normal to find girls pretty but they must safeguard their innocence and save their purity for the ones they will marry.

Grateful as I am for our homeschooling lifestyle because it allows us to filter through the positive and negative influences that our children are exposed to, I know that prayer is the real key. We need the Lord to protect our kids. We can’t monitor them 24/7. At the end of the day, they must internalize what it means to stay pure and experience the blessings of committing to obey God in this area. We can’t do that for them.

Two great books for young children that teach purity are: The Squire and the Scroll for boys (this was recommended by a friend. Elijah really enjoyed reading this.) For girls, a great book is The Princess and the Kiss.

The Squire and the Scroll by Jennie Bishop

The Squire and the Scroll by Jennie Bishop

The Princess and the Kiss by Jennie Bishop

The Princess and the Kiss by Jennie Bishop

First Kiss

Introducing Joel and Carolyn Pedro

I wish I had a professional camera to take photos at my sister’s wedding to share with you all. But I had to rely on my Iphone and Facebook to get photos of the event. (Will wait for the wedding photographer’s selections and share them when I can.)

It was an amazing wedding, which I believe really brought glory to God above all. My sister, Carolyn, and her husband, Joel, had never kissed until the wedding ceremony. They had tried their best to stay pure and not get physical before marriage and I want to applaud them for this choice. (Edric and I weren’t as self-controlled!)

The day after her honeymoon (the first night), she and Joel dropped by my parents’ house to pick up some things and say hello to everyone. What brave souls they were to enter into the dinning room with family members ready to pounce on them with a million questions about their first night together! But we were kind enough. I wasn’t super kind. I pulled my little sister aside and grilled her (in a gentle way, ofcourse). She said, “I’m so glad I waited. It was worth it.”

That’s all I needed to hear. And I’m writing this to encourage parents to be guardians of their children’s purity. We cannot control what they do when they are older, but while they are young and innocent, entrusted into our loving care, we can make a big difference in this aspect of their lives.

My parents discouraged us from dating or having boyfriends early. Unfortunately, I got a boyfriend in high school because my parents were more lenient with me. I went through a personal crisis when I was fifteen and my parents thought it was important that they give me more leeway. Looking back, I wish they could have been more strict about me and dating, but God has since worked all things out for the good. I do know one thing…My parents prayed for each of our future spouses ever since we were little children. And they told us what kind of spouse to look for way before we were ever interested in the opposite sex. (I call this preventive medicine. It becomes very difficult when we wait until they are emotionally involved with the wrong person to tell them that they should look for someone else or that they should get out of the relationship.)

Candy and Carolyn, my two sisters, did not have boyfriends in high school or college. They had guys who were interested in them and who pursued them, but they did not get into any sort of committed relationship with anyone. What helped alot was that my sisters were always busy playing sports, studying, learning music, being involved in ministry, spending time with the family, hanging out with friends etc. There was really no time for casual dating. Boys were friends but there was no need to get serious with any of them. Furthermore, we were very “tight” as a family and my siblings and I were very secure in our relationships with one another and with our parents. In short, there really was no desire for them to get boyfriends because their emotional needs were also met at home.

Naturally then, there was less temptation for sexual immorality. And the longer they did not date, the more they valued their purity and the more they realized that being single had amazing benefits. It wasn’t until they were both out of college and working that they were open to the possibility of getting to know guys more seriously. But even then, it wasn’t really a priority. Instead of making themselves “available,” they focused on maximizing their single state.

My sister, Candy, was married four years ago. But, Carolyn, had no prospects in sight. She met a lot of great Christian men who were wonderful. But none of them quite captured her heart. She never felt like any of them was the “one.” It wasn’t until my dad and my brother, Paul, got into the picture that Carolyn’s heart became open to Joel. She had never really gotten to know Joel as a friend because they only saw each other at Dgroup (or Bible study) meetings. When Paul asked Joel to consider Carolyn as a potential life partner, Joel was shocked. Here was my brother offering Carolyn as an option. Since Paul was discipling and mentoring Joel at the time, Joel considered it, even if he felt like Carolyn was not interested in him. He prayed about it.

In the meantime, my dad also spoke to Carolyn. He asked her to consider Joel. Carolyn was resistant at first but decided to pray about it and obey. With Carolyn’s heart now open to the possibility of getting to know Joel more seriously, and Joel open to the possibility that Carolyn could be a potential life-partner, they started to hang out as friends. And they connected on so many levels.

As family members, we watched their romance unfold like a storybook. I saw the hand of the Lord on their relationship. Joel hung out with our family often and Carolyn hung out with his family, too.  Every family member had some sort of involvement in their relationship, but by far the most valuable contribution was parental. My parents, as well as Joel’s, advised and guided both of them. Finally, Joel and Carolyn came to the point of recognition — that it was God who brought them together and intended that they should also marry. Soon after Joel asked Carolyn to be his girlfriend, he proposed marriage. By this time, Carolyn had truly fallen in love with him and opened her heart to him.

When I saw my sister walk down the aisle last Sunday, I was in awe of God’s faithfulness in her life. She is a woman who walked with the Lord and listened carefully to his leading. She obeyed my parents and trusted in their wisdom and insight about Joel. And because of this, she walked down the aisle to be wed to the man that God hand-picked for her — the first man she ever kissed or ever loved.

But I was most blessed by the tone and feel of the wedding. Joel and Carolyn wanted Jesus to be the central figure in every part of their wedding, and he was. The verse that God brought to my mind was this:

“…And in your book were all written the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them.”

Psalm 139:16

I pray that God will be the one to write the love stories of our children, too!

20120419-121848.jpg

20120419-121918.jpg

20120419-121924.jpg

20120419-121928.jpg

20120419-121957.jpg

20120419-122005.jpg

20120419-122051.jpg

20120419-122106.jpg

 

20120419-122155.jpg

20120419-122204.jpg

20120419-122210.jpg

20120419-122216.jpg

20120419-122221.jpg