Let's just, for the sake of argument, say that everything that they negatively say about purity culture, looking back on it, is true. Just for the sake of argument. Does that change the fact that God has a clear design?
And the answer is not even a little bit. Like, God is not the one who's moved on this. You know, the Scriptures have not moved.
It's the culture that's moved. So, I'm going to tell you something that's just as clear in the Bible as loving your neighbor, and as helping the poor, and as forgiving those who have wronged you, and that's God's design for this. Welcome to Family Life Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I'm Shelby Abbott, and your hosts are Dave and Ann Wilson.
You can find us at familylifetoday.com or on the Family Life app. This is Family Life Today. So, I become a Christian my junior year in college, and I start being mentored by Bill, Bill Cremins. You've talked about Bill a lot on our program. Yeah, I mean, he was a senior student, actually. You know, you think he's a staff member. No, he was just a student.
He and his wife Corky were living in married housing. Anyway, the first meeting we had after I'm a brand new Christian. I mean, I'm a college kid. I just gave my life to Christ.
I'm coming out of the world and the culture. My first question, very appropriate, was what's the Bible say about sex? And I mean, that is number one question.
That was my question, too. And I remember, like, I didn't grow up in a Christian home. I started going by myself to a church that taught the Bible, but nobody was talking about it. So, I go into a Christian bookstore at 16 years old, totally embarrassed. Like, I'm not going to ask the lady up there if there are any books on this topic. But that was my question, too. Yeah.
You know what? You wish there was a book that I have in my head back in the day called Pure. And we've got the author here, Dean and Sarah, is back with us at Family Life Today.
Thanks, Dean, for coming back. It's great to be with you to discuss this important topic. It is. Is this pretty common, you know, that question for a college kid?
I think it is. They want to know how they're supposed to be thinking about this topic. But here's what I think slipped in our culture. Each of you wanted to know, you know, what the Bible said about sex as believers. Now we have a lot of believers that don't really care, you know, what it says. Now they're professing believers.
Are they really? We don't know their hearts, obviously. But they don't really care because we're letting culture really define how we approach this topic. I think a lot of believers are really unaware of how influenced they have become by what the society says about sex and sexual ethics rather than actually the scriptures.
So we have to talk about it. And our kids are being discipled by the culture. Oh, completely. And if we as parents aren't being intentional, that will be their worldview. From YouTube to social media, TV, friends, older siblings, you know, everyone is already framing the narrative for them.
Oftentimes, before parents even begin to talk about it. Yeah, well, you're a pastor of City Church in Tallahassee, so you're right next to, are you like on the campus of Florida State? We're real close, and we have a lot of college students in our church. We have a large college ministry.
Yeah, that's what I figured. So me as a college student, you're dealing with that every day. So I'll mention your book, it's called Pure, Why the Bible's Plan for Sexuality Isn't Outdated, Irrelevant, or Oppressive. Obviously, this is a very important topic, not just for college kids, especially us as parents of teenagers or college kids or a five-year-old, ten-year-old as they're walking into this culture.
So what was your thinking? Why a book called Pure? Well, I started noticing all this pushback, including a New York Times op-ed on what people refer to as purity culture.
Oh, yeah. Which was the true love weights movement that I grew up in in the 90s. We didn't call it purity culture then, it's called that in retrospect. But they acted like it was the most oppressive, worst thing to ever happen to the history of like the faith.
And I'm just kind of looking at it going, well, I was okay during that time, but then I started thinking about it and started thinking about friends of mine who maybe went through the same time I did, and now maybe are in living with a boyfriend or girlfriend and maybe had been married multiple times, never really had a biblical sexual ethic, they lived out. They were part of those meetings we had and rallies and signed a true love weights card committing that. Purity ring. Purity ring, all the things. And the big idea was the whole word waiting.
That was the word that was always used. You're going to wait. Or they would say, save yourself. So the goal is to get you to sign a card that I make equipment to God, to myself, and to my future mate, is what the wording was used, that I will basically not have sex until I'm married. Did you sign the card? I did sign the card.
You did? Yeah, and if you didn't, I mean, you were like frowned upon. It's kind of like passing the offering plate and everybody puts something in but you. It kind of felt that way. Well, I'm thinking even listeners, some hear that they recall it, they remember it, with fond like, oh yeah, I'm so glad I did that.
And others like, that was horrible. Yeah, and I think the motives behind the true love weights movement were right. I mean, the fact that there were adults saying that we want to make sure that we're communicating the significance of abstinence outside of marriage, you know, to this next generation. I think we should give this some grace as well because a lot of them were coming out of the 60s is when they were growing up, which was, you know, it was sex everywhere in terms of the whole love movement and Woodstock and all those type of things. I want to give grace there because of that.
But I think we saw two kind of different results of much of the true love weights movement. And one was this kind of shame idea and guilt idea because, again, I don't think it was intentional, but the whole messaging was you don't want to be the one who doesn't save yourself. What if you get to your honeymoon and you're the one who didn't? And so people started thinking that because maybe they had fallen into sexual sin or given into temptation that they, and I can't stand this wording, but this was the words that were used. They felt like they were damaged goods. You know, they felt like that they weren't good enough for someone, you know, who had saved themselves. I put up air quotes. Or the other side was this kind of very legalistic, Pharisaical approach where I'm the one who's righteous.
I'm the one who did this. Therefore, I deserve someone who also has saved themselves. And both of those two extremes, I do not think is the gospel of Jesus Christ. So I wish that what would have happened was rather than simply the emphasis being on your honeymoon and your emphasis being on you're not being the one, we're 16 years old and talking about our honeymoon. It was just kind of hard to grasp that. But rather than that being the whole influence of save yourself or you don't want to be the one, I wish instead the focus would have been on God's design. Actually teaching us like what God really says about this and why it's for his glory, why it's for our good, how it plays out throughout the scriptures, how it's a gift God gives to us. Rather than more of an approach of don't be the one.
Make sure that you stay strong. That kind of idea was more of a willpower kind of approach than it was actually helping us unpack and understand what God's actually doing with this. So how the book came about was I started asking the question as I was reading all the angst out there. I said, let's just for the sake of argument, say that everything that they negatively say about purity culture, looking back on it is true. Just for the sake of argument. Does that change the fact that God has a clear design?
And the answer is not even a little bit. The Bible is just as clear on God's design for sex and sexuality as it is about the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It's that clear. So I'll tell our church now we talk about sexuality.
I'll say what I'm about to tell you is nothing radical. Christians have believed this forever. Like God is not the one who's moved on this. The scriptures have not moved.
It's the culture that's moved. So I'm going to tell you something that's just as clear in the Bible as loving your neighbor and as helping the poor and as forgiving those who have wronged you. And that's God's design for this.
So I just think it's so important for us to talk about. So I decided I'm going to write about it and just kind of take on the whole topic from a way that hopefully can connect with everyday church members. How has that been received from the pulpit to your congregation? You've got a lot of college students coming and you're just teaching out of scripture. This is what God says about it.
And how do people receive it? What we're seeing is a lot of folks who have only been told no. You know, that sex is like bad.
That you shouldn't do this. We have very rarely are people saying anything but, I've never heard that before. And again, we're still very clear on that. I mean, as clear as possibly can be that sex is not for ready people or in love people or mature people, it's for married people. And that God has designed marriage between a man and a woman.
So we're very clear on that. But what they never heard before is the big picture of it all. How there's a consistent thread throughout scripture of this design being held up. You know, when Jesus was asked about marriage, when Paul wrote about marriage, they referenced Genesis as an actual historical event. And referenced the one flesh union of a husband and a wife as what helps us understand what God was actually doing with this design. This oneness that marriage was intended to really symbolize the oneness of Christ in the church, the bride and the groom. And how the one flesh union we see in the scriptures is more than sex, but it's definitely not less.
So we have to understand the oneness side of marriage and how God intended it to be. And you have three kids? Three kids. How old are they?
Sixteen, twelve and eight. Oh, you are in it. In it. And so you've probably had these discussions for a while now. Definitely. And I had to tell my middle one even earlier that we had to talk about it because he has an older brother. So I tell parents regularly, if you think it's time to have the talk, you might be a little late. And that shouldn't maybe alarm you, but it should create a little bit of urgency.
You shouldn't feel bad about that, but you should feel some urgency. I think even earlier now we have to talk about it because now it's infiltrated even subtly in every area imaginable in life. From radio to references on TV to even in books that kids read. Just little things here and there.
Commercials on TV, ads on YouTube. So we just got to be even more intentional now about helping them understand. Yeah. And so obviously as a parent, you want to step into that conversation early. And it's not a one-time conversation.
Yeah, it really is an as-you-go. I think so much of discipleship is that. You know, with our children and with each other, just like life together. You know, community and fellowship, even with peers.
It's really an as-you-go sort of discipleship. So we had like the formal, like, I'm going to sit you down. The way I worded it, I said, I'm going to have a talk with you that my dad had with me. And that dads are supposed to have with their sons. That's how I worded it. And they're like, whoa.
You know, so they kind of saw it as a big deal, right? Like, wow, my dad's having this talk with me that grandpa had with him. How old was your first son? He was 10 years old.
Okay. And I felt like I was a little late. And this was my first go-round here as a parent at the time.
And I was late. What caused us to have the conversation was, and this is the whole kind of can of worms here, but a student in his class told him that the kid was transgender. And my kid comes home and says, what does that mean? And I went, oh, no.
Ten years old. Yeah, we got to talk about this. I mean, like, I feel terrible that you found this out on the playground rather than through me. So we went and sat down, and we had actually dinner together, and I just kind of walked him through everything about how we're going to think about this, about what is sex, you know, about how you got here, you know, just everything.
What God says about it, his design. And it went very well. You know, he was shocked, but it went well. And then my younger one, I had to tell him even earlier. So I was at a town on a preaching trip, and I brought him with me. And I was like, we're going to talk about basically half the trip. And he received it really well. And then for my daughter, for my wife, I was like, you got that one. And she's eight. So they're already starting to have conversations.
Yeah. Well, you know, I didn't have a dad growing up. He left when I was seven. And my mom, she was a wonderful single mom. And I could tell she's like, I got to talk to David about this, you know.
So you know what she did? She took me to the Episcopalian priest where we went to church. And I'll never forget this. I'm probably 11, maybe 12, which is late. But I sit down with this guy who I barely know. And I'm really, you know, it's really awkward. It was just too bad I didn't have a dad to do it.
And mom sort of tried to do it. But I asked him the same question, you know, as 11 years old. I was like, okay, what's God think of this? And all I remember, and I'd love to hear your comment on this, that he said was fornication is wrong, according to God's plan, until marriage.
And of course, I'm 11 years old. I asked one question that whole day. What's fornication? I didn't have any idea. I'm like, I'd never heard that word before. And again, we're getting pretty graphic here, but he said sexual intercourse. And so that was in my mind. It's like, oh, okay, I get it.
You wait for marriage, everything else is fine. So walk us through a little bit of what God's design is. I mean, Bill told me that in college. He started with God has a beautiful design for sexuality between one man and one woman in marriage. Here's what it is.
But a lot of people never really heard it. You write about it in your book. You've given us a book for parents.
Like, here's a game plan. I think if we walk out of a conversation and the thought is that the person that received the counseling or the instruction, that there's a thought is this is bad, that the sex is a bad thing, then we've really missed the mark because God's a designer of it. And it's important to know that marriage and sex, which were created together, God said they were naked and felt no shame, that for this reason, man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife and the two will become one flesh.
Again, that's more than sex, but it's not less. Genesis chapter two. You said Genesis chapter two.
And one. And one, which means it existed before the fall. So it's not marriage and sex that's the problem. It's sin and brokenness that's the problem. So this amazing institution that God has given us was existing before sin ever entered the world. So in brokenness, which means now this beautiful design God's given us of a man and woman in this one flesh union, it's been taken out of God's design. So of course it's supposed to bring about brokenness. Anytime we go out of God's design, it's supposed to be messed up. That doesn't mean we gloat in that or that we are Pharisaical about that. We're just saying this is the result. So now we need to recover and pursue God's design and to point people to what it actually was meant to be from the beginning.
And it is that one flesh union between a man and a woman. So one, that's God's glory. He created this. So we don't want to be people who attack his creation.
But second, it's also for our good. God cares for his people. And he wants his glory to be made known in this amazing institution he's given us. So the one flesh union side is so critical in understanding this. Because when Jesus is asked in Matthew 19 about divorce, he immediately points them to Genesis and says, don't you know? Don't you know that he who made them male and female, he talks about the one fleshness. He quotes Genesis. When Paul's talking to the Corinthian church, and this one's fascinating to me, in 1 Corinthians 6, they're engaged in temple prostitution.
So he rebukes them for that. So when you first hear that, you maybe think that Paul is rebuking them because of prostitution. And it's very non-controversial to say that prostitution is not a good idea. It's demeaning to people. It is, now in our country, it's illegal. It is, now in our country, it fuels human trafficking.
It's health issues. There's so many things I can point to of why it's obviously wrong. But what he points them to actually has nothing to do with prostitution. What he says is, don't you know that when you lie with her, you become one flesh with her? As in, you're taking God's design and placing it somewhere where it was never meant to be carried out. God does not want us doing permanent things with temporary people in our lives.
It was meant to be a one flesh union until death do us part. And then Paul, when talking about... I mean, I want to just sit on that.
It's incredible. When I read that, I'm just going, oh my. That's the whole point of 1 Corinthians 6. It's to point us to something greater. Well, I just love that you said to God does not want us to do something permanent with someone who is...
Temporary in our lives. Have you ever preached that? That's a big idea. We talk about that in our church a lot. But in that, they also want to lift up high grace to people as well. Because Jesus is also in the restoring business. That's what he does.
He came to save sinners. So, some of the marks of the True of Waits movement is they would maybe just leave you in that. Well, that was me. I thought, I've already blown it. Well, it's too late for me. So, you're impure. Yeah. You're no longer ever going to be pure again. That's sort of the idea.
It's like, I blew it, so... Right. Too late.
Might as well just keep messing up. Yeah, and what happens at our salvation? God makes us pure.
Right. All of us are impure apart from the Lord. He makes us pure. He makes us righteous.
So, it's good news for us. But he cares deeply for his people. And he's jealous for his own glory. So, he wants us to take his design and actually play it out in the way that he is designed for it to be that happened before sin ever entered the world. And then he'd get to Paul again in Ephesians 5, and he's talking about marriage. And then he's talking about Christ in the church in the same breath. And it's like, which one are you talking about?
Yeah. And it's like, yes, I'm talking about both. So, he's saying that this male and female husband and wife union points us ultimately to a greater union. And that's of Christ in the church, the ultimate wedding of the bride and the groom, as in Christ in the church. So, God has a much bigger design for sex than we could ever imagine. So, the conclusion to draw in all of that is that it's never just sex. That is a lie our culture tells us. At FSU, Florida State University, where I live, it's just sex.
It's never just sex when we read the storyline throughout the Bible. And I think our culture knows that. You feel like they're feeling the effects of it now?
I do. And I want to say this carefully and present this lightly. But let's say that, here's how much we know this. Let's say we find out that someone has been physically abused, as in, like, hit, punched, thrown against a wall. Horrible, right? And that deserves – that's a crime, right? Very serious. That is a totally different ballgame, as serious as that is. If it was a sexual abuse, it's a totally different ballgame. In the courts, emotionally – you know, both are horrible.
I'll make sure I'm clear on that. Emotionally, in the court of law, in popular opinion, Christian and non-Christian alike. Because we know that's not how it's supposed to be. It's different. For a couple, let's say a young high school couple or a college couple, I always tell people the two things happen when you're dating. Unless someone tragically dies. Either you get married or you break up. Those are the two things that happen.
No matter if you're 12 years old, you're a little girl from the playground, all the way to 50, right? Like, you either get married or you break up. So, let's just say they were just kind of – you know, they held hands and just sort of were that kind of idea. Maybe they had their first kiss. I'm not condoning that. But just say that's just what happened. And then they break up, which many young couples do.
They're either going to maybe embarrassed or had their feelings hurt a little bit, awkward, that kind of thing. But if a couple was physically involved sexually, how much different is the breakup? So different.
It's so different because you're doing permanent things. Our culture knows. I believe we're an unbeliever alike. But of course, we believe the lies that there's more to be gained by disobeying God than there is to be gained by obeying Him. That's to go around God for what I'm looking for rather than right to Him for the things I need in my life.
And we rebel, right? That's the human story. God, no thanks. I don't want what you have for me.
I want what I want for me. And that's the human story. But what is God doing? He is restoring and recovering and pursuing a people to do things His way. So is that why you would say the scripture – because you walked us from Genesis all the way to Ephesians 5. You get into 1 Thessalonians 4 and you see abstain from sexual immorality. God said it's His will. Exactly. It gives God's will for you.
So the question would be, any high school kid or college kid is going to say, why? I mean, you hit it. It's more than just sex.
But even after I remember sitting down with Bill, I remember hearing the good. But I also walked away with, why? Why not? What's the harm? You know, I'm not married yet, but it can't be that big a deal, but it is.
Yeah. I compare it to fire in the fireplace. You guys are from Michigan. You know about a fire in a fireplace. It's a rare occasion down here in Florida where I live. But a fire in the fireplace is a wonderful thing.
You know, put on the fuzzy socks, light the Christmas tree, cuddle together, watch the movie. People love fire in the fireplace. Fire on the couch? Big problem.
It's not the fire that's the issue. It's the location of it. So I think we need to help people see that we are not anti-sex. God is not putting down a hammer and saying that sex is bad. It's the location of it.
It's where he wants it to be for its best, for his design, for its good. So I think for Christians, for professing believers who are in high school, who are in college, that needs to be a critical part of discipleship. And the same way there's other areas of your life where you're trying to grow, this is not exempt. If anything, this is maybe even more important than those things because God's so clear on this throughout the scriptures. So we're teaching people to have a quiet time and to have a prayer life, but we're not teaching them sexual ethics at the same time.
I think all those things need to go together. So what is the balance? Because the purity culture, you can see how the purity culture came about because they're saying, this is really important.
And yet there's some things that the purity culture, as we talked about, they weren't great. So that healthy balance. Here you're saying, here's God's will. This is what he intended and he planned.
So what's the balance with it? I think it is an all-in on God's design for every area of life. God's design for you at the workplace is to bring him glory, to be a missionary, to work unto the Lord. The president of my Christian university used to always say, if it's Christian, it should be better.
And by that he doesn't mean flashy. He means that if you're a believer and you're working in a business, there's the word. Because we're working for a greater purpose. We're working for a greater purpose.
Like all of us, what we do, we're working for a greater purpose than the people of this world. So that's God's design there. God's design for your family. God's design for sexuality. So I think we need to restore confidence in the scriptures.
So it's not just this one area. Not this one area, but in general, that God has given us his word. One of the things I pray regularly before a congregation, before I preach, is I thank God for the privilege of having the scriptures. Like how amazing our God has spoken to us. Like he has told us what he wants us to know.
It's amazing. Even thinking the creator of the universe has told his people what he has for them. So I think we need to restore confidence in scripture. I think it needs to be part of our discipleship process. And I think that youth ministries and college ministries need to be teaching it. Of course, I do believe for Christians, it starts at home.
And those conversations need to happen. So make it part of the, you mentioned earlier, kind of as you go. Put it part of the as you go Christian life story, rather than kind of isolated.
Now, and again, I do think we need to have that original, like, okay, here is what it, I think, explained to you, like as your father, as your, whoever's going to be in your life, as your grandmother, as your mom, you know, what God has designed and what this actually is. But from there, then it's like, let's play this out in every of our lives. So I would say then if you start dating someone, you know, to have a conversation.
I remember a family member of mine, when his daughter, my uncle, his daughter started dating someone. The guy came over to pick her up and he just pulled him aside. He wasn't trying to be, you know, macho dad guy, but he said, Hey, here's my expectations, you know? And he, and he explained to him, like his expectations in terms of how he treats her physically. And he said, I'm trusting you with her. Oh yeah.
Yeah. And he says, if her clothes cover it, you don't touch it. And that's what he said to her. And he wasn't objectifying his daughter.
It was nothing like that. He was just, he was just declaring expectations. So that young man knew right then. And then his daughter also knew how important this was.
And she probably wore gloves every time she went outside. Yeah, seriously. But that kind of, we've kind of lost that, right? Either dad tries to be macho and just is more kind of trying to prove a point or he's silent and absent and passive during, you know, instead let's have someone who just is clear, just clear on expectations. And then for, you know, one of the things I tell my boys regularly, one of the most important things about you is how you treat ladies. So that starts with mom and their sister in our house, with my wife and their sister. And then from there, it's like that plays out into every other area of life. So I think we need to elevate that as well. That's what it actually looks like to honor people in our lives. Do you think there should be a modern day purity culture?
I think we- True love-waste type thing or just totally do it differently? I think we've seen, I'm not trying to oversimplify this. I just think we need to teach the whole counsel of God. I mean, you know, because if we isolate it, then you can see where it did become this, what is going on? You know, this intimidation kind of idea, this pressure, when really it should be a joyful thing to follow Jesus. A purity of lifestyle. Yeah, a purity of lifestyle. Yeah, the whole counsel of God, joy of discipleship, kind of like a make holiness great again. Not in a legalistic or Pharisaical way.
But we're responding to the goodness and grace of God. Last thought before we end this one. You have a dad listening to you right now. Or a mom. And a mom. Could be blended family, you know, whatever.
And they are being inspired right now. Like, gee whiz, I've got a 12-year-old, I've got a 15-year-old. We've got to have a conversation tonight. What would you say? Where do you start? Yeah, I would let them know that you're going to have a conversation. Instead of just busting out of nowhere, just say, hey, I want to have a conversation. It's really important for parents to have their kids.
My mom had it with me or my dad or someone had it with me. And it's what God says about men and women in marriage. And then to go forward and just see it versus teaching. Like, out of the gate, you're teaching. And then from there, there's no dumb questions. Let them giggle in awkwardness if they need to for a minute.
That's okay. Let the innocence and the childlike faith be there. And what's appropriate for that age, you know your child better than I do, you know what's appropriate for that child at that stage of their life, to go ahead and have that conversation. So my advice is don't hesitate anymore. You know, my dad used to always say that when I first started driving, I would say, do I turn my headlights on?
That's why they're all automatic, right? Show them my age. My dad would say, if you have to ask the question, the answer is yes. Like, if you had to ask and then turn my headlights on, you probably do. So if you think you need to have the conversation with your kids, you probably do.
And because I don't want someone else to have it first. With my oldest, I got beat to it. We'll hear some more encouragement from Ann and Dean as you engage with your kids about having this potentially awkward conversation. So I love this because he said, if you think you need to have the conversation, the answer is yes. There's no dumb questions. Let them giggle.
Let them feel awkward. That's really good advice, helping us to lean in and engage in those conversations with our kids. I'm Shelby Abbott, and you've been listening to Dave and Ann Wilson with Dean and Sarah on Family Life Today. Dean's written a book called Pure, and the subtitle is Why the Bible's Plan for Sexuality Isn't Outdated, Irrelevant, or Oppressive. The book is our gift to you when you partner financially with us today in order to make more conversations just like this actually possible.
So you can go online to familylifetoday.com, or you could give us a call with your donation at 800-358-6329. Again, the number is 800, F as in family, L as in life, and then the word today. All right, here's some more encouragement from Ann and Dean as you engage with your kids about having potentially awkward conversations. And I would add, too, there are a lot of mini conversations along the way. Kids are asking a ton of questions.
I mean, we have grandkids. They're asking questions at three and four, and so to not be embarrassed to even go there and have those conversations and be open about everything so that then when the most important talks come, they won't be like, this is weird or awkward. This is just an ongoing conversation.
Yeah, they know boys and girls are different. You know, those kind of conversations that God made us different, and that thing is great. As you go, that's the story. As you go. As you go.
Deuteronomy 6. We hope you'll join us again tomorrow when Dean and Sarah join us, Dave and Ann Wilson, once again, to talk about how virginity is not the goal that holiness is and that churches really need to be ready to receive with grace those hurt by the sexual revolution. That's coming up tomorrow. We hope you'll join us. On behalf of David and Wilson, I'm Shelby Abbott. We'll see you back next time for another edition of Family Life Today. Family Life Today is a donor supported production of Family Life, a crew ministry helping you pursue the relationships that matter most.
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