In my opinion, we don’t talk to kids early enough or often enough about purity.
I think most parents desire purity for their kids. They just don’t consider how to lead their kids to desire purity.
It’s easy to confuse purity with abstinence.
And yet there is a big difference between purity and abstinence. If you abstain from sex, it doesn’t necessarily mean you value purity. It just means you’ve done a good job waiting. Purity involves more than simply refraining from sex. Purity involves protecting more than just the physical body but protecting the mind and heart as well.
Television, billboards, music, movies, bathroom stalls, the school bus—the list is interesting and more extensive than my naivete cares to go. But clearly we don’t have to go far to acknowledge that the purity of our kids is at stake. The consistent barrage of sexual content is inescapable. I can limit my son’s television consumption, blindfold him when we drive down the road and never lead him across the threshold of Abercrombie & Fitch, and I still won’t get away from the prevalence of sexual innuendos.
Can I be really honest here?
Just a few weeks ago, I made a joke around a group of other adults. In an effort to be funny, I completely failed to remember the teens present. Oh. My. Word. I walked away completely ashamed of how I redirected their thoughts to someplace they didn’t need to be any time soon.
Our kids will confront sexual content on many different levels as they engage with society. Learning how to maintain purity today is a survival skill that lays a foundation for a healthy marriage in the future.
Kyle and I started talking to our son, Keegan, about purity when he was 8 years old. I’m having similar conversations with our daughter, Josie, now. Each are learning that we cannot always control what people put on a billboard, but we can control whether or not we look at it. And we need to be wise about what we look at.
The more we broach the subject and the more honest we are with them, the more they trust us to ask frank questions. And that’s where we want to be.
So, if you’re waiting until your child starts dating before you talk about purity, consider sowing that seed today. Purity is a skill that takes time to hone. Give them every advantage to excel in this.
Gina McClain is a speaker, writer and children’s ministry director at Faith Promise Church in Knoxville, Tenn. Her marriage to Kyle keeps her marginally sane, while their three kids (Keegan, Josie and Connor) keep her from taking herself too seriously. Visit her blog at ginamcclain.com for more information about her ministry.