SERIES NOTE: This is a recurring series of posts on parenting skills based on biblical Proverbs
Purity matters – in the pasteurization of milk, the quality of olive oil, and… oh yeah!… in relationships according to God!
When we are very young, male and female doesn’t matter to us much so long as the other person respects ‘my’ toys and is ‘nice’ to me. Then we reach an age when we notice gender more and, perhaps, the opposite sex is ‘icky’ to us for a season. Then somehow they get cured – or we grow up further – and attraction comes roaring to the forefront.
God made us ‘male’ and ‘female’ according to Genesis 1:26-27. And God is clear to point out the equality of value men and women have despite their obvious differences in strengths and abilities. Each gender is typically ‘better’ than the other in some areas of life. Respect for the people individually and their skills particularly is key to any good relationship between men and women.
We must teach this to our children. Inequities and gender conflicts exist because of the poorly held views of adults who teach them to children (and others around them). In the absence of healthy teaching, so many pains and losses are incurred. God wishes us to have excellent relationships so there are plenty of instructions on ‘how to.’ And when it comes to men and women, purity matters.
“It will save you also from the adulteress, from the wayward wife with her seductive words, who has left the partner of her youth and ignored the covenant she made before God. For her house leads down to death and her paths to the spirits of the dead. None who go to her return or attain the paths of life.” Proverbs 2:16-19, NIV1984
Now… in context this was written from a man to a younger man. But the lessons and wisdom apply to us all.
The covenant of marriage is intended to be for a lifetime and maintaining purity within a marriage – albeit challenging – is a call and desire of God.
For every person of the opposite sex who is NOT my spouse, I am called by God to live in purity toward them, showing respect for the person over the body in which they exist.
Teaching this purity calling to children can be a joy and the results in their lives even more so!
There are a few ways we’ve sought to accomplish this for our children.
Sex education. At home, from you, earlier than their peers.
We started sex education at age 3 – yep, 3. There is a wonderful series of read-along books for children we’ve used and recommended. They are in the ‘God’s Design For Sex’ series by Stan & Brenna Jones. There are four books for ages 3-5, 5-8, 8-11, and 11-14. By their content and format they encourage your children to understand you are an honest and available source for real answers to their real questions. They are attractive books and a tremendous boon to create healthy communication with your kids about a crucial and amazing part of life!
If you wait for the school, or worse, the locker room, to be the source of information on sex for your kids, you are doing them a great disservice. Yes, it’s an awkward topic. For them and for you. But who would you rather they learn from? A stranger or their parent? Rumors or truths?
2. Genuine expectations regarding dating/courting.
People nearly always rise or fall to the level of the expectations communicated. So, when it comes to dating or courting the opposite sex, set real and mutually beneficial expectations for them to attain.
I have a baseball bat in our entry way with four points engraved on it. They are our set of expectations for anyone interested in our children. My children gave it to me as a gift. We have used it as our ‘notes’ for that early interest moment for most of our kids AND… for a number of friends whose families are simply not attuned to such expectations. They REQUEST me to give that talk, believing it will serve them and the person interested in them very well.
All four points are built on a verse of the Bible. And the ‘heart’ of that talk has far more to do with that gut-level, intentional respect than any ‘rule.’
However you might prepare your kids for dating/courting, prepare them. Don’t abandon them to the selfish whims and uncontrolled hormones of kids who need guidance and mentoring to make good life decisions! Provide those things for not only your own kids, but anyone who is showing enough interest to indicate motives beyond friendships.
3. Rites of passage can be powerful!
In so many cultures worldwide there are rites of passage – ceremonies and events that signal a promotion from childhood to adulthood. While some are perhaps gruesome and strange to us, they can play a key part in helping a child/teen become more thoughtful and intentional with their life. And, unfortunately, most of Western culture lacks any such ceremony.
There are graduations and obtaining driver’s licenses, but those are connecting to academics and skill behind the wheel, not maturation per se. There are negative ‘passages’ like a teen’s first sexual experience or getting drunk. They might signal something but are more likely to cause damage and poor choices than healthy and growing wisdom.
In our home we have a ‘purity ceremony’ that happens at age 13 for each of our children. We as parents spend time with our kids as they approach that birthday to discuss the standards of purity that we practice to maintain and strengthen our marriage. We outline and/or review the expectations for dating/courting that we have as a family. And we ask them to take those standards on for themselves and their own lives. While we still have half a decade before university/working years, we can then practice purity alongside them, still instruct them, and hold them accountable to those healthy standards. It is not easy. It is absolutely worth it!
So… purity matters because God says so.
And we as parents have the chance throughout our children’s lives to influence them by modeling, teaching, honest conversations and ceremonial moments how to live with the purity God prescribes and to enjoy it’s benefits. What a tremendous opportunity!
Take care and parent on purpose!
For more from Dr. Phillip McClure, CLICK HERE
To read the first in this series, GO HERE