I said goodbye to my virginity when I was fifteen.
How old were you? If you had it to do over again, would you wait? I would. I knew none of the physical consequences of choosing to have sex early, but I was depressed. I felt like I'd given something precious away and could never have it back. That's why I've devoted my life to spreading the idea that sex is worthy of something more than a casual hookup. Is that a message you want to share with your daughter? Little sister? A friend you're trying to mentor? Read on, because the news today is better...and worse...than when you were a teenager and I have seven secrets that will reduce the risk in the teen girl you love.
Recent news in the sex culture tells me that a lot of people feel waiting is worthwhile. They are more virgins than ever in college, which means fewer teenagers are having sex. But among college students who aren't abstaining...well, they're having a lot of sex. And I do mean a LOT! By the time they leave college men will have an average of 9.7 sexual partners and women will have 7.1. A teen girl needs a decided strategy to reduce the risk. Here are seven secrets to sexual purity that she needs to know.
1.) Purity is a process.
So many of us mess up. If not by acting out, by the thoughts that we think. And my experience tells me that if a girl doesn't get healing from her sins and victory in her temptations, she'll give in all the more. She'll reach out for the help she needs if she knows she's not alone and that her battle has not ruined her. Tell her that she wasn't born pure and she's not alone in this process. Psalm 51:5 says, "Surely I was sinful from birth, sinful from the moment my mother conceived me." While we may have been born innocent, we were not born pure. Purity is the process of facing down the temptations, healing from the sin, and making right choices. It's where we're headed. Not where we've begun.
2.) Purity dreams of its future.
Getting caught on the boy-crazy train in middle school will trap a girl into a life of neediness. And being in a dating relationship in high school that's six months or longer increases sexual temptation, according to the Medical Institute for Sexual Health. Reduce the risk—not by telling her "no" to boys, but by helping her begin to dream of ONE! Help her dream of her future. Write a list of qualities she's looking for in a husband. Help her start a Pinterest page full of wedding ideas. After all, abstinence is not about not having sex; it's about waiting to have it right!
3.) Purity is governed by its value.
A girl who is confident in her value as a daughter of Christ will not have need to find it in a boy or giving herself to one in the backseat of a car. But with eating disorders, body image issues, and Photoshopped beauty lies on the rise, a teen girl needs a lot of reminding that her beauty is found inside her heart and not in the mirror. Take time to celebrate her creation story in Psalm 139 where the Bible records that God knit her together. She is a masterpiece created by God. Understanding that will govern her behavior.
4.) Purity speaks boldly.
Many teen girls lack what social science calls "refusal skills," that is the ability to say 'no' when temptation arises. The book of James says that the tongue is a powerful tool, compared to the rudder of a ship which has the ability to move a great vessel. Teach her to use her tongue to direct her life towards purity by practicing refusal skills. Simply take time to write a list of top ten comeback lines. Have fun with it and giggle. While she may or may not use these exact statements, writing this list is a powerful internal marking point that gives her permission to say 'no' and confidence to do so.
5.) Purity loves its Creator at any cost.
While it's great to dream about the future, it should never be in expectation that God has to or will provide a husband. A girl's value does not lie in a guy when she's fourteen or forty. Marriage is not the ultimate goal of her life. Being in a love relationship with Christ should be. Ephesians 5:31,32 teaches us that marriage is a picture of the love that Christ has for his bride, the Church. No one paints a picture well unless they have seen and studied the original. Help your daughter to understand the beauty of a true love relationship with Jesus and help her to be willing to protect that love at any cost. This will shield her from counterfeit loves that are unable to help her paint a picture of the love of Christ.
6.) Purity embraces wise guidance
Parent-child connectedness is considered the greatest risk reducer of teen sexual activity. Add a connected mom and dad to the power of God's Spirit in them and you have a wonderful recipe for discipleship. Of course, this means you have to talk about sex, and temptation, and sin, and pleasure, and the beauty of the marriage bed. You can do it, mom. And she needs you to talk about it.
7.) Purity watches burning flames
In one community where the middle school sexual activity rate was nearly 30%, the school system created a mentoring program pairing middle school students with high school and college students who were both sexually abstinent and sober. In just a few years, the sexual activity rate was reduced to 1%. The power of older and wiser friendships is tremendous. The Bible teaches that he who walks with the wise grows wise. Help your daughter select and connect to a mentor.
The backbone of these seven secrets are God's word, but I have given them muscle by depending on social science's agreement with God's word as I developed the list. They have helped nearly 300,000 young women walk in purity as they learned them and applied them while reading my first book, And the Bride Wore White: Seven Secrets to Sexual Purity. This fall, my friend Erin Davis and I are bringing you a special livestream Bible study where you and your daughter can dig into these topics together. You can register here today!
Sources not linked to in this article:
Sharon Jayson, “More college ‘hookups.’ But more virgins, too.”, USA Today, 3/30/2011. http://yourlife.usatoday.com/sex-relationships/dating/story/2011/03/More-hookups-on-campuses-but-more-virgins-too/45556388/1?csp=hf