Does Virginity Signify Purity?

Today’s post is by my daughter Courtney. She has such a unique and personal perspective which I feel certain will encourage you.

Courtney

 

At a young age I found myself in love with an incredible man. I had a singular focus and couldn’t be bothered by the other boys I found myself surrounded by. The only problem was, my sister and I were in love with the same man. Shocking, I know. My poor mother! Before jumping to conclusions, let me explain my unusual behavior.

I grew up in an environment that encouraged open communication, purity, and, the notion that true love waits. From an early age, I decided that all I wanted to do in life was get married and have the cutest of all babies. Then, the man I mentioned came along and my perspective changed. I realized that love really did exist and I didn’t want to give my heart away to any young chap. This man, however, was certainly not a young chap. My sister had the same sentiments.

How did this all happen? Well, my sister and I both attended a conference that talked about how dating young was pointless. Nevertheless, we left the conference infatuated with this dreamboat of a man. To be honest, it all feels a bit foggy now. In any case, we left totally, completely, and utterly in love with…Jesus. From that point on we both made a commitment to wait to date until we were at least able to consider marriage.

From the sweet age of 12 I made a commitment to not date until I was 16. When I was 16, I extended it until I was 18. By the time I turned 18, however, I was smitten with Jesus. He was the perfect gentleman, protector of my heart, friend, lover, and pursuer. He loved me well and his grace was astounding. From that point on I stopped looking for prince charming and embraced Jesus. I even went as far as to rip up one of my old journals written to my future husband. Yes, this was probably a bit dramatic, but if you knew me you would know that I tend to be a passionate person. *chuckle*  I sort of wish I still had the journal, because it was really sappy and I’m sure extremely embarrassing but the remains are now strewn about in some random landfill.  Oh well.

With a brief glimpse into my story, I wanted to share some of my thoughts regarding dating and purity. When I was younger I believed that purity was simply abstaining from sex. As the years have gone on, however, I have come to discover that purity is more of an attitude of the heart. While I used to wear my purity ring with pride and flaunted my virgin lips with superiority, I have come to understand that purity of heart can still be tainted with my v-card intact. This revelation all started with a friend of mine. This friend got married to an incredible man, but he had a past. I had considered that this might happen to me, but only briefly. Nevertheless, the whole situation, along with a few other circumstances, caused me to wake up a bit and realize that my thinking, regarding purity, had a serious flaw. You see, I waited, but it was stemmed in religion and it was attached to the lie that if I waited then there would be some magical prize at the end of the tunnel and if I didn’t then I would be in big trouble. Never a big fan of getting in trouble, I lived in fear and it ruled my decisions.

So, I waited.

I waited because I was told to.
I waited to please my husband.
I waited because I didn’t want God to be mad at me.
I waited because I wanted to avoid sin.
I waited to avoid pregnancy.
I waited because I believed the alternative would have caused my parents to have a heart attack.
I waited because it seemed like the logical thing to do.
I waited because I lived in fear and, to be honest, did not get out much.
I waited to have sex, because it was biblical.
I waited because my close friends waited.
I waited because I wanted a good story.
I waited because I thought that if I waited then my future spouse would wait too.

I might have waited, but I waited for the wrong reasons.

Most of my life I waited upon many things and inadvertently lived deeply within religion. Religion was my god.  Doing “the right thing” was my life.  Pointless. Religion without relationship is dead. 

I have been serving religion and have missed living within relationship. Sure, I have had glimpses of what this relationship might be like, I mean, come on, I practically dated Jesus, but I want more. I mostly want to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that this relationship, with Jesus, is not because of my own doing.

Grace.

I want to know that I am so fully embraced by the Father that I can make any choice that comes my way, but I will choose not to simply because I am embraced by Love.

I want to make choices from a place of love versus fear.

Would I have waited if I knew all along that I was fully embraced by the Father? Absolutely. But I would have waited because I wanted to and not because I felt like I had to. I would have viewed my purity as a gift instead of a “right.” I would have thanked the Father for holding me and keeping within His grasp. I would have responded differently to the pain and suffering of others, because I would have known that He had them too. I would have run towards the pain instead of cowering away in judgment and reaping the fruit of my thoughts. I would have forgiven easily, because like my purity, grace is a gift. It is a free gift. There is nothing expected by the recipient.

Even a gift, such as virginity, can be restored. Purity can be redeemed. If purity is what matters, I would rather be pure in heart and mind versus just pure in body. Virginity does not signify purity. You can still be pure even though you may have made different choices with your nether regions. I hope you can see what I am getting at. I am simply trying to convey that virginity is not the goal, but it is a beautiful gift to give at the proper time. When virginity becomes the goal, chances are there is a bit of religion and fear interlaced. The fruit of this mindset is judgment and fear versus love and freedom.

I feel like this is important for parents to hear. Instead of harping on virginity, speak identity to your children and encourage them to get lost in God’s love. If you are unsure of what this is yourself, take some time to encounter God’s magnificent and breathtaking love. In return, this love will naturally spill over into every area of your life.

Quite possibly you have been reading this series on how to share with your children about sex, but your children, or even you, have already made different choices with your sexuality than you would have wanted. There is so much grace. If your kids are still young, I encourage you to implement the things in this series but do so in a way that focuses on captivating their hearts. Empower your children to make powerful choices and let them know that you trust them and believe in them. You can give them a purity ring, but without captivating their hearts first, this will merely be a relic. I am so thankful that my parents were open with me about sexuality. If I could add one thing, however, it would simply be to share more about God’s grace. I am still making wise choices, but I am now doing it from a place of love versus servitude.

Personally, I am realizing more and more about how purity is a gift. Perhaps this gift will one day bring freedom to another and demonstrate grace in a tangible way. While I may not know who I will end up with and what their story is like, I know the Author of every story and am beginning to understand, for the first time, what everyone’s story is truly about…

The discovery of GRACE that leads us directly into the Fathers embrace through the Sons sacrifice.

Perhaps, instead of viewing purity as “saving myself”, I can now begin to let thankfulness rise up in my heart for the One that has truly saved me.

 

Courtney Werner graduated with a degree in Psychology. She is a self-taught artist from San Diego and is constantly looking for new creative outlets. Courtney has always enjoyed art but recently decided to pursue it with a bit more vigor. In addition to painting, she also dabbles with writing, interior design, DIY projects, and composing music.

Let’s Talk Sex – With Our Tweens & Teens (11-14)

Brace yourself. Your child is now entering puberty. While this is often marked as a time of turmoil, I would like to focus on what you can do to support your child during this transition. One of the key things that you can do is exercise patience and understanding. I am sure you remember what it was like during this season of your life. Pull from these memories as you relate to your child and remember that your child is starting to grow up and become a young man or woman. Extend grace to your children as they enter this season.

Preadolescence

Adolescence marks physical, emotional, and mental changes. As such, it is an extremely pivotal time for children where they learn how to think more critically and discern both what they believe and why they believe what they believe. Along with this comes an increasing influence from peers. This combination can sometimes be difficult, because your child starts to challenge what you are saying and seek their peers for advice instead. While this might be disheartening at first, do not retreat. Continue to engage your child with patience and understanding and try to get to know their friends. Seek to hear your children and connect with them on a heart level. This will look different for each child, but it is important. These intentional times are a good avenue to bring up topics such as crushes and dating. Help your child to begin to think critically about how far is too far on a date, what the purpose of dating is, if it is even wise to date at this age, and what can happen with innocent touching. Adolescents begin to develop their own ideas about these topics and it is beneficial to be talking about them as a family. I encourage you to discuss what you feel comfortable with as a couple and why, instead of just setting black and white rules, so that you can clearly articulate these values.

Along with sex, it is important to talk to your children about homosexuality, date rape, sexual abuse, and abortion. I encourage you to discuss how these topics are mentioned in the Bible and how they are outside of God’s plan. Ask your children questions and allow them to actively participate in the conversation. This will empower them to think critically and work through some of their questions in a safe environment. Other topics to mention are masturbation and birth control. Explain how there really is no such thing as “safe sex” outside of the context of marriage, and condoms don’t offer long-term emotional protection. These topics, however, might best be discussed with each child according to gender. Once again, decide as parents where you stand on each topic before talking about them. This will keep you unified as a team.

For young men, it is important to talk more in depth about lust, pornography, and masturbation. One of the greatest dangers threatening the hearts of young boys today is the prevalence of pornography. Pornography has reached epidemic proportions within the ranks of Christian men, and it starts at an early age.  Having unsupervised cable TV or Internet access in a young boy’s room is like putting a bowl of candy bars in the room of a child that is deathly allergic to chocolate.  To help guard your sons eyes, consider installing an internet filter on your home computers and phones. While pornography is especially common amongst young men, don’t be naïve. Girls can also struggle with this addiction. Talk to both your daughters and sons about porn. Whether they were exposed to porn through a friend or through their curiosity, if your child admits to struggling with this, do not shame them. Listen to your child and be supportive. They are vulnerably sharing this information and, by communicating this struggle, they are asking for a way out. Your response will often set the stage for what they choose to discuss with you in the future.

During the onset of adolescence, revisit the influence that media has on inaccurately portraying sex. Talk about how sex is not to be done outside the context of a covenant relationship. While this might feel uncomfortable, remember that if it is not addressed by you then it will be addressed elsewhere. Talk about physical touch and what is appropriate.  Help your child understand that it only takes a spark to ignite a fire and remind them that there is an actual spiritual battle going on around them. It is important to be aware and have a plan. One way to be aware is to be mindful of what your children see and hear on TV and through the media. “Garbage in is garbage out.” Rarely are the right values portrayed on TV, yet the average teenager watches about 20 hours of TV a week. If they aren’t watching TV, they are listening to music and possibly fueling their emotions through this, or they are on the Internet killing time. In either case, be aware of what your children are possibly gleaning from the media and continue to encourage them to make wise choices when they are away from the home. Ask them questions about what they did, whom they were with, and how they enjoyed their time away from home. If a movie was watched, take the time to discover what the movie was about and, if there was questionable content, ask your child to share their thoughts. Open communication is so important. This is why I truly encourage you to be aware of what is going on in the media and be intentional about getting to know your child’s group of friends. Create an environment that your tweens and teens will want to bring their friends to.

While many parents look forward to getting through the teen years, I encourage you to celebrate your children’s coming of age. This might look like a “Purity Party” or simply an acknowledgement and celebration. As a family, we did this based on maturity versus age. There were various milestones that we felt were important for each of our daughters to have completed before we had a big celebration. This will look different for each family. Our family, for instance, had a purity party for each of our daughters where they made a personal commitment in front of close family and friends to save themselves for their future spouse. They clearly articulated why they were choosing to do this and were given a purity ring as a reminder of this choice. In preparation for this celebration, there were various books that I went through with my daughters. A few of these books are mentioned in the recommended resources.

Early adolescence is a delicate time for a child. Be communicative, engaging, and open with your child. This looks like asking questions and seeking to enter their world. Empower your children to make wise choices and celebrate them as they transition to early adulthood. While adolescence is challenging, don’t let it defeat you or get the best of you. You can do this!

Recommended Resources for ages 11-14

Let’s Talk Sex, Media Influence

songofsolomon

Our world has become sexually saturated. Yes, this is unfortunate, but we can no longer ignore it.  As parents, we must be vigilant in guarding what our children see so their sexual appetite is not aroused to early. Playboy magazines are no longer the only traces of sexual exposure that need to be tossed out.  There are now a plethora of digital challenges that face families. These include, cyber bullying, Internet safety, violent television shows and video games, and sexting.

With an ever-increasing exposure to the media, it is important to teach our children how to filter what they see. The adage “garbage in, garbage out,” holds true. As parents, we might not be able to keep our children from being exposed to sexually saturated material, but we can help them navigate through the television programs, movies, Internet, magazines, radio, and billboard messages that they will come across on a daily basis. An awareness and intentional parental involvement is required.

Before delving into how you can practically help your children wade through the media, I want to shed some light on why this is even important. For one, studies have shown that media exposure increases the risk of attention deficit disorder, drug and alcohol use, obesity, poor grades, smoking and premarital sex. In fact, 93% of 173 studies, conducted since the 1980’s on the effects that media has children, discovered that children with increased exposure to media had sex at an earlier age[i].

As you can see, media awakens sexuality and is an important thing to discuss with your children not only early but often as media does not sleep.

Having studied marketing in college, I was constantly intrigued by how media truly influences human behavior. Unfortunately, out of the 3,000 ads that the average American is exposed to every day, many are sexualized. Sex sells. Therefore, products that have absolutely nothing to do with sex are increasingly becoming sexualized. According to a recent study by the Kaiser Family Foundation, the average American child spends more than 38 hours a week on video games, music, TV, reading and their computers — nearly the equivalent of a full-time job. Sadly, 68 percent of the material the children watch contains sexual content, up from 56 percent just two years ago.

Not only does this expose our children to sexual material on a daily basis, it projects subtle messages that often impact how people view themselves. These messages include:

  • Perfectionism.
  • Beauty has an ideal or standard. This ridiculous ideal of beauty is controlled by the media and manipulated by Photoshop.
  • Live for the moment and do whatever you like as long as you enjoy it. This teaches our children to have an appreciation for instant gratification versus self -control and patience.

While most families have few rules surrounding their children’s media use, it would be wise to initiate a change. This is a very practical way to reduce the negative impacts of media exposure. One idea, from the American Academy of Pediatrics, is to create a media use plan as a family.

To help scale back on media intake, it is helpful to view media intake as a diet. Diets only work when you maintain self -control, implement healthy lifestyle choices, exercise the muscles, and eat sensible proportions. This might look like implanting the following:

  • Consider using the family media use plan.
  • Teach your children to cover their eyes when necessary.
  • Teach your children what self- control looks like while watching movies, listening to music, or walking in a place filled with sexual advertisements.
  • Have your children ALWAYS call you for your approval before watching a movie or TV show.
  • Encourage your teens to keep wise counsel and positive influences.
  • Discuss 2 Timothy 1:7 as a family. “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”
  • Find ways to serve God and others
  • Watch and discuss popular movies with your children.  Teach them to discern the redeeming factors.
  • Ask questions about the movie and televisions shows your kids watch. Take time to watch these shows with your children.
  • Keep media devices in open places.  I strongly encourage you to not allow televisions, computers or mobile devices in bedrooms.

Even the most vigilant parent would have a hard time shielding their children’s eyes from every sexual message or image, but you can teach them how to guard their eyes and protect their hearts. While this might be practical in the beginning, by setting some guidelines around media use, it is most important to instill a value for purity within your family. This includes making wise choices as the parents and leading by example. When my oldest girls were growing up, we would often cover the TV or have them close their eyes when inappropriate things appeared on the screen. To this day, I still see our girls guarding their eyes out of a habit that was established at a young age. Lead your children by example and encourage them to make wise choices so as to not awaken love until the appropriate time.

Media Links

songofsolomon


[i] Chow, Rueben. N.p.. Web. 31 Oct 2013. <http://www.naturalnews.com/025285_health_natural_child.html