Is Abstinence Realistic?
I frequently find that Albert Mohler has some very provocative articles on his blog albertmohler.com. His radio program is also very engaging (KNIS Pilgrim radio plays it on Saturdays). On 2/19 he had an excellent article on the Bristol Palin interview. I watched the interview and Bristol seems like an average 18 year old girl. The comment she made, however, that is subject of Mohler’s article, was that although teens shouldn’t have sex, abstinence isn’t realistic.
It is not my intention to rehearse Mohler’s points, all of which were excellent. However, I began to wonder how many of our teens at Grace might think the same thing. I began to wonder how many of our parents think the same thing. There is no doubt that we live in a sexually charged and pornographic culture. We also live in the dating culture, where having a girlfriend or boyfriend whom you just “hang out with” is the norm. Here is one of Mohler’s points worth repeating, “abstinence is not a reality if young people are in situations where sexual activity is likely.” Certainly, sin and temptation are formidable foes, especially when allowed to set the stages and circumstances of life. But is it possible to raise sexually pure kids in a sexually impure age? Yes it most certainly is. It is not easy, but it is not impossible. Here are a few suggestions I offer as a pastor and a father:
1. Challenge the concept that Jr High and High School students need to date in order to get to know people of the opposite sex. There is a peculiar folly to recreational dating. I am not a courtship only nut, but parental involvement and some courtship model help prevent unnecessary male-female relationships and dangerous situations.
2. Truly have some principles, based on Scripture, on what is and what is not acceptable. Don’t assume because you dated at 14 that your kid should be allowed to date at 14. Read a few good books on the subject, listen to some messages (I recommend Pastors Mitch Lush and Jeff Smith, as well as Alex Chediak’s, which are all available from our tape ministry). Talk to your kids about the principles and communicate the convictions.
3. Think and teach redemptively, not just morally. “Be a good girl, be a good boy” only goes so far. “Don’t get pregnant because you wouldn’t want to embarrass us” has no moral persuasive force. Go to the Proverbs, especially Prov. 5, 6 and 7 and look at sexuality from a wisdom perspective. Go to such passages as 1 Cor. 6:12-20 and look at sexuality within the framework of redemption. Wisdom and redemption must shape our moral convictions. When our appeal is simply moral, it degenerates into a powerless moralism. When our appeal is based on the wisdom of the Word and the redemption of Christ, there is powerful motivation.
4. Supervise. You cannot be omniscient nor omnipresent, but you can supervise and direct. If you are blessed, you will have a child who seeks your counsel and asks you questions about what is proper and improper. You are doubly blessed if he or she is sensitive to the Holy Spirit and wants to please Christ. But parental supervision is a non-negotiable. As trust is earned, there can be some safe privileges granted.
5. Help your sons and daughters think through what they want in a husband or a wife, and discourage them from pursuing those who do not meet certain qualifications. For instance, the most important one, does he/she really love Christ or just profess to be a Christian?
6. Fathers, take an active and interested role in your kids’ lives. Fathers are critical here. Dad, require that any young man who will spend any time with your daughter must pass the Dad test. They must meet you. Show them your firearm collection (just kidding). Be involved. Don’t be passive. Don’t be an ogre or a jerk. When my kids are all married off I will publicly confess my failures for your edification. But not until then. Your involvement, even flawed involvement, means more than you may be able to gauge right now.
Raising kids who respect others, revere marriage and believe sexuality is sacred is no easy task. But the God who gave us His Word and Spirit can use us to shape a generation that goes against the currents of culture for the glory of God.
“If following Jesus does not feel dangerous, I should probably pause and check to see if it is Jesus I’m following.”