Many things aren’t the way they used to be and yet some things are as they have always been. So it is with teens and purity.
It is almost expected that teenagers and young adults will choose impurity over purity. And the opportunities to do so have seemingly increased. 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.
When it comes to teens and purity, 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.
1. Frame the call to purity for teens and 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 what ultimately leads to a pure life in “the long run.”
So, talk about purity and do so often (see point 2), but don’t talk about it only. 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, etc…
Follow the pattern of Proverbs. Purity was such a significant issue it takes up the better part of four chapters (Prov. 5-9), but it wasn’t the first topic mentioned, nor the majority of what is 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 and likeness to Jesus Christ.
2. Talk early, talk often and keep talking about teens and purity.
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 (see point 3 below).
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 Jesus 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 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 smartphone/device or has been asking for one for months, if not years.
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.
- Protecting Your Family Online: A How-To Guide for Parents
- Parenting the Internet Generation
- Raising Godly Digital Natives
- The Porn-Free Family Plan
- Let me know if there are other good resources you have found that help on this particular issue.
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, 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 possess 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 purity throughout their lives.