Article Sep 25, 2017

How to parent toward purity

Many things aren’t the way they used to be, and yet some things are as they have always been. So it is with purity.

It is almost expected that teenagers and young adults will choose impurity over purity. And the opportunities to do so have only seem to keep increasing. We should think seriously about this challenge facing our children. Yet, things are just as they have always been. Driven by sinful desires, we are tempted to and often choose the temporary, fleeting pleasures of lust over the eternal, satisfying delight in the Lord. We should not shrink back in fear or sit still in ignorance regarding issues of sexuality.

While there may be new challenges facing a teenager’s pursuit of purity today, we can still point them to the old, but tried and tested, wisdom of God’s Word. Here are several ways we can do that.

1. Frame the call to purity in the broader call to sanctification.

The ultimate desire of a parent should be that their child would treasure Christ above everything else. If we place abstinence or any other good pursuit as their ultimate priority, we will misdirect students from what matters most and will, ultimately, lead to living a pure life in the long run.

So, talk about purity, but don’t talk solely about it. Talk as much about reading God’s Word, prayer, gossip, what they’re listening to/watching, living for Christ at school, dealing with conflict in relationships, and a host of other topics. Follow the pattern of Proverbs. Purity was a significant enough issue that it takes up the better part of four chapter (Prov. 5–9), but it wasn’t the first issue or the majority of what was said. Purity, like all godliness, begins with the fear of the Lord (Prov. 1:7).

Don’t neglect the urgency of this issue, but remember: the pathway to lasting purity is a growing love for and likeness to Jesus Christ.

Many parents are talking to their teenagers about sex and purity too late

2. Talk early, talk often, and keep talking.

Many parents are talking to their teenagers about sex and purity too late. In fact, you are probably late if you are waiting until they are teenagers. Statistics say that 1 in 3 children between ages 11-14 have seen pornography on a mobile device.

Be the first voice your child hears about sex and purity. Be the first to tell your child that God created sex and that sex is good. Be the first to warn them about the perils of pornography. Be the first to admonish them about the joy of purity. Be the first to point them to the One who can sustain them in their pursuit of purity and restore them from their impurity.

These conversations will not all happen in one setting, and they are often on a need-to-know basis when they are young. What matters is that you do not neglect to talk about it. Talk about it when they bring it up. Talk about it when your discernment prompts you to bring it up. Talk about it often, and don’t stop talking about it.

Remember that you do not need to talk to your teenager about this issue out of fear or anxiety, but out of wisdom in order to lead them in the path of purity. For some suggestions about helpful resources, see “When It’s Time for the Talk” by Tim Challies

3. Be slow to introduce technology and don’t do so without accountability and restrictions.

This is the frontline of the battle for purity. To give your teenager a smartphone or any wifi capable device without restrictions is to give your teenager unlimited access to porn. Odds are, your teenager already has a smart phone/device or has been asking for one for months, if not years.

But, let me be clear: technology is not the problem. It is our sinful desires that take advantage of technology’s anonymity and access to immorality.Parents must get educated on the resources available guiding teenagers to use technology with wisdom and set restrictions that point them in this direction. Here are some helpful resources:

4. Saturate yourself in God’s grace so you can lead your teenager to do the same in their fight for purity.

There will likely be a day your teenager is seriously struggling or has failed in the area of purity. When that day comes, point them to Christ as the source of forgiveness and the motivation for their continued pursuit of purity. In order to help your teenager pursue purity, and forgiveness, you need to know and dwell on the satisfying nature of God’s love and grace. You cannot give your child what you do not posses yourself.

When you are saturated in God’s grace, you will be able to help your teenager respond to whatever struggles and failures they experience as they seek to walk in purity throughout their lives.

A form of this article originally appeared here.