Sex - Part 1
Your teenager is in a daily fight. Make sure you are there in the trenches with them.
FamilyLife Today® Radio Transcript
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The Deadly Traps of Adolescence
Day 3 of 10
Guest: Dennis and Barbara Rainey
From the series: Sex
Bob: If you're a parent, have you challenged your son or your daughter to wait until marriage to become sexually active? Barbara Rainey says maybe you haven't given enough of a challenge.
Barbara: We've realized with our kids that the standard of maintaining their virginity is not enough, because when a young girl and a young boy get together, and they decide they like each other, and they begin holding hands and hugging and kissing and other things, what's happening is they're damaging their purity; they're losing their innocence.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Wednesday, July 11th. Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. As parents, how can we challenge our teenagers to a high standard of moral purity? We'll talk about that today.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us on the Wednesday edition. This week we are spending some time looking at the traps that have been set for our teenagers throughout our culture and what we can do as parents to help steer our children around these traps so that they don't become ensnared. And what we're talking about comes from a book by Dennis and Barbara Rainey called "Parenting Today's Adolescent," and Barbara joins us in the studio today. Hi, Barbara, nice to have you back with us.
Barbara: Thanks, Bob.
Bob: Dennis, these traps that face our teenagers can be invisible to us, as parents, but they can also be deadly to our kids.
Dennis: They can, in fact, I think that's why much of the scripture is warning us about snares and traps. There are more than 50 references in the Old Testament and New Testament to avoiding the snare of the enemy, or the trap of the evil person, and over in Proverbs, chapter 7, there's the warning against the adulteress, and although it's talking about a married man, I think it relates to our teenagers as we help them navigate the dangers of all the traps set before them.
It's speaking of the adulteress here in verse 21, "With persuasive words, she led him astray. She seduced him with her smooth talk. All at once, he followed her like an ox going to the slaughter, like a deer stepping into a noose, 'til an arrow pierces his liver like a bird darting into a snare, little knowing it will cost him his life."
Then Solomon says, "Now, then, my sons, listen up, listen to me, pay attention to what I say. Do not let your heart turn to her ways or stray into her path." Why? Because there's a snare there – there's a trap there, and it may cost you your soul. It may destroy your life.
And, Bob, I think, as parents, we need to assume the responsibility that Solomon was with his son when he penned this book and sought to instruct his son in the way of righteousness. We need to help our children isolate and determine what those snares are, where the traps are being laid, and then help them understand how it happens, and he described the harlot here of persuading the young man with her words and then with her eyes, and he explained to his son how it all happened, and, you know, that's a picture of how we, as parents, are to help our children around these traps.
Bob: And, Barbara, the trap that Dennis has illustrated from the scriptures for us is the one that we're going to be spending time with today and tomorrow – it's the trap of illicit or premarital sexual relations, and whether it's a young lady who is subtly enticing our sons to be sexually involved with her, or a young man who is putting pressure on our daughters to be sexually involved with him, our kids are undoubtedly going to experience, going to face this temptation, this snare, of how involved they're going to be with a member of the opposite sex.
Barbara: And it starts earlier than many of us would ever expect, and that's what I think catches us, as parents, off guard, is that it begins in junior high, and our kids, our girls and our boys, our sons, are faced with this temptation very early on by children who are more grown up, who are raised in a more promiscuous background than we were, who have been exposed to more things in the sexual area than our children have been, and our kids are exposed to that, and they need to know what to do, they need to know what their standards are, they need to know how to make a decision about it.
Dennis: One of the reasons why we have come up with this material, Bob, is out of our sixth grade Sunday school class. We taught that class for more than 11 years and taught more than 500 11- and 12-year-olds. Now, that's a lot of sixth graders, and when we started teaching that class, we looked out over them, and we made a wrong assumption.
We thought, "They're little, they're small, they're young, they're not ready to be challenged in some of the most fundamental areas of life." And I’m going to tell you, over the 11 years we taught that, if those children taught me anything, it was that assumption was dead wrong. Eleven and 12-year-old children, and I believe even down to the age of 10, are capable of beginning to hear some very mature material around building their own convictions and beliefs and taking a stand for certain things.
In fact, one of the things that shocked me was, one of the times when I was teaching about sex to these kids, and I wouldn't talk about the birds and the bees – I always talked about the character issues – your choices and what are you going to do with the opposite sex when you get alone with them?
I asked them how far they would go with the opposite sex, and I'll share later on, in the next couple of broadcasts, what they said, but what shocked me was they already knew. They had already drawn some lines in their mind of how far they were going to go in terms of physical involvement with the opposite sex, and what hit me about this is that, here they are, many of them haven't even broken into puberty yet. They haven't experienced electricity, and they're already figuring out how to turn on the light bulb.
What's going to happen when the electricity is turned on? What's going to happen to their standards then? And it so shocked me and so took me back that I began to restructure everything I was teaching and began to challenge them much as I would challenge a high school senior – challenging them to think through what their convictions were as they related to the opposite sex.
And the bottom line for a parent right here is you need to look at that son or daughter who may be 9, 10, 11, 12 – not quite a teenager yet, doesn't have a teenage body, not gone through puberty at all – let me tell you something – you have a wonderful opportunity now – not two years from now, not six months from now – today, right now, to begin to instruct them and to shape their convictions around one of the biggest temptations a human being will ever face.
Bob: Barbara, at the core of what you and Dennis have encouraged your kids to do in this area is a conviction that the standards most people are setting today are way too low.
Barbara: Yes, we've realized with our kids that the standard of maintaining their virginity is not enough, because when a young girl and a young boy get together, and they decide they like each other, and they begin holding hands and hugging and kissing and other things, what's happening is they're damaging their purity, they're losing their innocence, they're getting involved with each other emotionally. They're giving away part of themselves to another person that was not intended to be done until marriage.
And so we realized that we wanted to challenge our kids to a much, much higher standard of purity. We didn't want them to just end up in marriage as a virgin, we wanted them to enter marriage pure, we wanted them to enter marriage with everything that God wanted them to have intact still there to give to their marriage partner.
So we began challenging our kids with the idea of not getting involved physically at all – not kissing, not holding hands, not hugging, those kinds of things, and we began to talk to them about what that does to them physically and emotionally and how that makes them feel, and what's happening, what's going on when – if they would do those things and why we feel that way and what our standards are, and it's provided lots and lots of interesting conversations, because that is dramatically, radically opposed to what the world is saying.
Bob: Yeah, how long did it take, Dennis, before the word got out at the kids' school or in church that the Rainey kids are really weird, and their parents are really strange, too?
Dennis: You know, it's interesting, Bob, I don't know that the word's out yet.
Bob: Oh, is that right?
Barbara: Not as much as we'd like, I think.
Dennis: Well, you know, that may be true, too, but I think what children are looking for today are some standards that build security. When you build a fence around a playground, that enables the children to use the whole playground, and teenagers are no different. They need to learn how to establish relationships without defining those relationships physically.
Teenagers, given their natural bent, are not going to define and develop relationships verbally and emotionally – they're going to define and develop those relationships romantically and physically, and so what Barbara and I had to determine was, hey, we can either take our teenager head-on and say, you know what? We're going to tell it to you like it is.
We're going to challenge you with what we believe is the right standard for you, as a young person, and it's a high standard, it's a holy standard, but it's the right standard for today, and you know what? We're not going to compromise by mumbling or stuttering or stammering.
We're going to step up, and we're going to tell it to you straight, because we believe, as we do that, that's going to liberate you and free you to be able to get on with what you need to be focusing in on right now, which is developing relationships and friendship on a casual basis and not on this in-depth romantic basis that all teens naturally move to. What insanity.
I mean, think about it – that Christian parents would be herding their children off down this path into the gaping jaws of romance, dating, and sex. I want to tell you something, that's what a lot of them are doing as we move our children even into our Christian groups. We're encouraging these kinds of relationships. And it's the parents who need to seize the high ground. It's the parents who need to take the child by the arm and guide them through these traps.
Bob: Barbara, as you have challenged your children in these areas, have they thought about it for a second and then said, "Boy, I can see the wisdom of that, Mom and Dad, and I'm with you 100 percent. No kissing for me until I get to the altar."
Barbara: Never. Well, it's so different from what they're seeing and hearing that it's taken them a long time to kind of swallow, but, you know, I was just thinking of the old adage, "Rather be safe than sorry," and I would much rather battle my kids and go over and over and over this than have them have regrets someday. I don't want them living with regrets.
If there's any way that we, as parents, can help them avoid making mistakes that they're going to regret for the rest of their lives, I'm going to do it, and so what it means is that we stay after it, and we go over it and over it and over it and continue to reinforce those things and continue to reteach and explain why, because they're out there in the culture all the time, and the culture has given them all these other signals, and so you're having to battle all that, and it just takes a lot of time and a lot of energy to continue to do that and guide them in the right direction.
Dennis: I think if a parent who is raising an adolescent today was asked – what are you challenging your teenager to? What's the standard when it comes to sex? I think most parents would say, "Well, we want them to be virgins when they get married." And yet I think that goal, as such, sets our children up to get much closer to intercourse than if we were building a fence at the top of the cliff that is a ways away from the edge.
And you may disagree with our little challenge that we've given our children, but, you know, whether or not you agree with us is not really the issue here. The issue is what do you believe and where do you draw the line?
I fear today that the Christian community is being conformed to the world and doesn't want to draw any lines, and the reality is the culture is drawing the lines or it's erasing them. Really, the culture is erasing those lines, and our teens are being pressed further and further and closer to the edge. And meanwhile the parents – what are we doing? We're stepping off to the side and going, "Well, kids will be kids."
God gave children to us, as parents. We're to be the protectors of our children's sexual purity, of their emotional purity, of their sexual innocence, and the issue – what are we doing with that? Are we leaving them to their own devices, or are we going to challenge them with a standard that forces them to think long and hard about the culture and about who they are and about their decision to follow Christ.
And I wonder, Bob, if some of these decisions that we've made haven't resulted in our older teenagers – who have now moved on into their 20s – if it hasn't resulted in them – of them taking a stronger stand for Christ because they had to courageously begin to adopt some of these standards.
Bob: Barbara, Dennis talked about not only their sexual purity, but their emotional purity as well. How far, physically, do young men and young women need to go before their heart begins to get swept away?
Barbara: Well, they don't need to go very far at all, and even these junior high kids can get paired up with another guy or a girl, and just the contact that they can have in a school setting is enough for them to be giving their emotions – where they begin to feel attached to that person, where they need to talk to that person, and that's what we're talking about – it's the sense that these kids have of, "I have to be with him," "I have to have his attention, and if he doesn't give me that attention, then I feel lost or I feel insecure," and that's what begins to develop, and we don't want our children's security dependent on another kid at school. Their security needs to be in who they are as a person and who God created them to be.
So it does not take much physical interaction at all for that emotional side of them to get caught up in it, and then, all of a sudden, they're hooked on this person, and they have to have that person.
Dennis: The Bible is so wise. It recognizes the emotional connection that occurs when two people get involved sexually, and I think that's why it warns us over and over again to avoid it. 1 Corinthians, chapter 6, verse 18 through 20 – "Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body."
Let me just say there – where are the emotions in our body? That's what the scripture is warning us about. "Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you whom you have from God and that you are not your own? For you were bought with a price. Therefore, glorify God in your body."
2 Timothy 2:22 also says, "Flee also youthful lusts but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call upon the Lord out of a pure heart." What's God after here? He wants a pure heart.
I want to read you something from our book. It's something we wanted to capture in words just to give parents a picture of what our goal ought to be – "Picture a beautiful, exquisitely wrapped package. Inside is the most delightful, untainted pleasures you could imagine. Now, wouldn't you want to be able to give that gift to your child? Wouldn't you love to give your child a gift that would be good, wholesome, something to treasure for a lifetime? That's what this gift of innocence is all about – helping your child understand who they are as a sexual creature reflecting the image of God. That's your goal, and once you make it your goal, it will begin to change the way you think about how you guide your teenager down through the dangerous, trap-infested street through Teensville."
Bob, I think every parent is jealous for our children to experience all of life that God intended, and it needs to be experienced in God's timing, and I believe sex, and that is all of sex, was intended to be experienced in marriage.
Bob: Barbara, I can think of two big reasons why parents are intimidated in talking about high standards with their children. The first reason is because they feel like hypocrites, because they compromised their own standards when they were young people.
The second reason is because they know it may cause them to have to change some things about their own behavior today – movies they're watching, television shows, or even their interaction with members of the opposite sex, even in the context of marriage.
Barbara: Well, I think parents need to just evaluate what's more important – is your child's life more important than your life and your pleasures and your interests? Is your past going to keep you from doing what's right? I mean, most of us grew up and lied, but do we ever say that we shouldn't teach our children not to lie just because we made that mistake? I mean, we've all made mistakes in different areas of our lives, but that doesn't meant that we can't teach our children what is right and hold them to a standard of godliness.
I don't have a problem at all with holding my kids to a higher standard in all kinds of areas and in ways that I didn't live life the way I should have, because I know more now than I did when I was a teenager. I'm much more mature in Christ than I was then, and I want my kids to experience all that God intends for them to experience, and that is more important to me than my own interests or my own pleasures, so to speak, today. So I think parents need to pull back and say, "What is my goal? What's more important in life? Is the life of your child more important than your life or not?
Bob: And if they say to you – "Well, what about you when you were a teenager? What did you do? How far did you go?" How do you answer?
Barbara: If my children ask me that question? Well, I think that needs to be answered very, very carefully, because different parents are going to have different answers to that question, and I think that there may come a time when a parent may need to say to a child – but it would need to be when the child is much older – "Here are the mistakes that I made, and I am trying my best to preserve your innocence so that you don't make the mistakes that I made," but I think parents need to be very careful in what they say, when they say it, and how much they say.
Dennis: Yeah, I'd be careful about ever sharing a great deal of detail around sexual failures that you may have made as a teenager, a college student, or as an adult. Children at this age need models and heroes and, emotionally, I don't think they're ready to hear the whole truth and nothing but the truth from their parents. They need you to stand strong on behalf of the standard. Now, that doesn't mean you lie to them.
Barbara: Or that you act like you're perfect and never do anything wrong, either. They need a role model, but they need someone that they know that – you know – you've made some mistakes, but you don't have to enumerate them and spell them out.
Dennis: I might say something to a child to the effect, "You know, that's a great question, and someday you and I will have a conversation around that, but right now here is what I want you to focus on as a young man or a young lady, and move the focus off of you back where it needs to be – on the Scripture and on the young person who is beginning to develop his or her convictions.
All of these things we're talking about begin as convictions in the parent, but it can't stop there. It needs to be implanted in the heart of a child.
Bob: This is a significant enough issue that you devoted two chapters in your book, "Parenting Today's Adolescent," to this subject because there's a lot for parents to think through and be alert to and be prepared for. This is one of the big traps facing teenagers today, and we want to make sure that, as parents, we address this issue in a healthy, godly, biblical way promoting the standard of purity with our teenagers and helping them see that this is a good gift from God for husbands and wives in a marriage relationship.
You know, a couple of weeks ago we mentioned to our listeners a couple of classic books by Elizabeth Elliot that deal with this issue of purity. Her book, "Passion and Purity," and then the follow-up book, "Quest for Love" are books that are really timeless classics that promote a healthy, biblical view of romance and passion and intimacy and helps young people see how that can be lived out and some of the destructive things that can happen if someone violates God's standards for sexuality.
In addition to your book, "Parenting Today's Adolescent," we have Elizabeth Elliot's books also in our FamilyLife Resource Center. And I just want to encourage our listeners, go to our website, FamilyLife.com, and if you click the red button that says "Go" in the middle of the screen, that will take you to an area of the site where you can get more information on recources that we have available here at FamilyLife designed to help you, as a parent, not only wrestle with your own convictions but help you challenge your sons and your daughters to a biblical standard in this area.
Again, our website is FamilyLife.com, and you click the red button that says "Go." It will take you to the area of the site where you can order copies of these books that I've mentioned or get more information about them. You can also call 1-800-FLTODAY. That's 1-800-358-6329, and someone on our team will let you know how you can get copies of these resources sent out to you.
And then if you're a father, let me also encourage you to consider getting a copy of Dennis Rainey's new book, "Interviewing Your Daughter's Date." It's available in our FamilyLife Resource Center as well, but this month we also want to make it available to you as a thank you gift when you support the ministry of FamilyLife Today with a donation of any amount.
We are listener-supported. We depend on donations from our listeners to be able to continue this ministry on this station and on other stations all across the country, and we thought this month a good way to say thank you for your financial support would be to make available Dennis's new book. You can request it when you donate online at FamilyLife.com by typing the word "date" into the keycode box that you find on the donation form. You type that in there, and we'll send you a copy of the book.
Or call 1-800-FLTODAY, that's 1-800-358-6329, and make your donation over the phone and just mention that you'd like a copy of Dennis's book, "Interviewing Your Daughter's Date," and we'll be happy to send it out to you as our way of saying thanks for your financial support of the ministry of FamilyLife Today.
Well, we're going to look at this subject of sex and intimacy and how we can raise a standard of purity with our teens on tomorrow's program. I hope you can be back with us for that.
I want to thank our engineer on today's broadcast, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We'll see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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