“How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your word.” – Psalm 119:9
One month ago, my daughter married her high school sweetheart. It was a garden party with roses, peonies, and ranunculus all nestled in lush greenery with white lanterns and handcrafted farm tables. The china was old and mismatched with goblets of varying patterns of white and pink. The venue itself took your breath away with market lights hanging down over the reception area and gorgeous pine trees towering above. Gently placed behind the pastor at the ceremony was a handmade wooden cross, crafted by the groom. Everything was perfectly planned and in its place. But what was noticed, spoken of and acknowledged more than the exquisite surroundings was the clear recognition of the presence of the Holy Spirit. He was invited to attend, to capture our hearts, to speak to us and through us!
Hannah and Hunter began their “friendship” during their junior year of high school. While marrying your high school sweetheart is beautiful, it can also be a battleground for immature thoughts and actions. Young love must be steered and directed into a right relationship with Jesus Christ at the center. This couple chose purity from the start, choosing to not even kiss until they were engaged, which was during their senior year of college, five plus years later. Throughout Hannah’s childhood and especially during this time into college, the communication about boys and purity was an intentional topic.
Modeling and intentional living give us, parents, the leverage to greatly influence our children.
Sexual purity was openly discussed, but more important Philippians 4:8 was lived out – “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, think on these things.” As her Mom and a follower of Christ, I believed then, as I do now, that claims I continue to make or desire or for my children about purity must be substantiated by God’s Word. It is essential to be an example to them of how it looks to “work out” their faith. As parents, we need to live out and model how to keep our minds focused on Christ.
Can we incorporate the things of this world and still remain pure with movies, television, and music? How do others influence our position on purity? Can there be compromise? All these issues and more we discussed daily in our home, and we spent time role playing “what if” opportunities. The small decisions to change the channel during an inappropriate commercial or choose not to watch a movie that may have some sexual connotations began a pattern of thinking on the things of Christ — committing to purity in all forms.
Prior to the wedding ceremony, Hannah and Hunter met around a large tree. They did not want a “first look,” they wanted a “first prayer” together. We carefully moved them around a big, pine tree. There was no chance for either “to catch a glimpse.” As they joined hands, these two young adults, 22 and 23 years of age, cried out for each other to the Lord, and prayed for the covenant they were about to enter into. This picture was the most beautiful to me. The desire they had for each other was real, but the longing to have Jesus Christ at the center was evident. Their purity both in flesh and in spirit permeated the wedding. As a Mom standing and watching, I praised the Lord for purity. I praised Him for the privilege of being able to battle for my children. I praised Him for the Truth of His Word.
Creating an atmosphere of purity in the home can begin at any time, but it cannot be assumed that anyone understands the definition. This topic seems to be subjective, but God’s Word is extremely clear on His definition. An example of a way to begin teaching at home would be writing out Philippians 4:8 and placing this Scripture near your family breakfast table. Take time when sharing meals to discuss each portion of the verse. Also, there are incredible books for junior high and teenage boys/girls on purity. Be intentional. Pray for your children. Pray for their spouses. Pray for their future spouses. Challenge them on right thinking.
As with my own children, the focal point during their childhood was not only on sexual purity, but simply living a life of bringing to glory to God.
When my oldest was 18 months, I left her with my husband for a one day “purity teen conference” at the local high school. This powerful community rally challenged young people to abstain from sex and gain purity in their thoughts and minds. Prior to the event, I trained as a “counselor” and was ready to come alongside these amazing young people. When I left the house on that fall Saturday morning, my husband who had our daughter in his arms said, “Isn’t this a little early to be concerned about our daughter’s purity?’ I laughed out loud and yelled out of my car window, “It’s never too early. She needs to know and I need to know how to teach her!” We have referred back to this crazy moment many times. God prompted my heart and placed this issue as one I KNEW I needed to get right, to understand, and in due time, be able to explain.
Today, discussions continue on what purity looks like as a freshman in college, a college graduate and now purity in marriage. And as a Mom, I continue to stand in the gap and battle for my children, now adults, to our God who knows their needs before I do.