Guarding Your Heart

The other day, I took my daughter for her annual physical. To my surprise, towards the end of the visit, the doctor asked me to leave the room for a few minutes, so she could talk alone with my daughter. After a few awkward moments in the exam room, the doctor, very politely, asked me to leave again. I have had numerous conversations with my daughter about abstinence and sexual activity, so I wasn't worried about what the doctor might say.

My experience and the experience of many parents as they take their children to the doctor is that they don't use the word abstinence. As part of educating teenagers, doctors ask about sexual activity and caution this age group to use protection. Unfortunately, our pediatrician never mentioned abstinence.

I understand that many kids are not raised in the kind of household where parents teach them about the value of keeping themselves pure. I also understand that the statistic about teenagers having sex is very high. 80% of women, before the age 20, have had sex before marriage.  Sadly, 79 percent of teenagers who become pregnant are unmarried, but what message are we giving to our young people? Is having sex before marriage okay? Certainly not!  And this is only one example of how our children are bombarded by the wrong message that “having sex” before marriage is okay. Hollywood,  the media, friends, and even the school system send the wrong message about sexual activity. It’s all over!

We do need to warn our children about the consequences of sexual activity, but I think this doctor framed the conversation in the wrong manner. Single people need to be taught about healthy boundaries and how to guard their hearts, not just about using protection. This will help them to have a healthy relationship and a good marriage.

Let me illustrate my point in  another way.

A few days ago I had the privilege of talking to a 21 year old young woman about her personal values and married life. She shared how she was recently married and about the importance of purity in her courtship.

"We kissed for the first time on the day of our wedding," she told me.

You might think, what? Is she crazy ? In what kind of world do these kids live in? This couple understood how to guard their hearts in a very pure and wonderful way. They focused on friendship first.  Becoming closer physically was not the goal of their relationship and that gave their marriage a great start. This is the kind of relationship that single people should pursue. This is the kind of relationship that parents and older people should encourage. The goal of dating should be friendship first. This is what we call dating with a purpose. In this kind of relationship, the intention is to consider marriage as a possibility while protecting and honoring each other’s heart. In contrast, the moment you start making the goal of your relationship physical contact, you instinctively desire that person and your sexual desires become more important than that person's needs or God's desire for you.

I kissed my husband during our dating relationship. On his birthday, four months after we started dating, and four months after he asked me formally to be his girlfriend--we kissed. We were at my parent’s house. This was a great boundary for us. Everybody is different and you can choose different boundaries in your relationship to keep yourself pure. It is not unrealistic to save your first kiss for your wedding day, but it has to be what God puts in your heart.

Here are a few boundaries that I’ve taught my daughters regarding relationships and dating.

  • Have a conversation in which you honestly tell that person that you are committed to purity.
  • Determine what physical boundaries you’re going to have in the relationship. Commit to never having sex before you get married.
  • Be specific and discuss holding hands, hugging, kissing or not kissing.
  • Remember fondling is inappropriate before marriage.
  • Be proactive when spending time together. Don’t spend too much time alone if it is going to lead you to having sex.
  • Ask friends and mentors to hold you accountable.
  • Ask God to help you form the boundaries that are right for you and that special person.

Remember, sex is not wrong. It is a gift from God that should be saved for married couples. All the desire and passion that you have for love-making is normal and natural. God made you that way, especially men! What is wrong is to have sex before marriage. Think of how wonderful love-making will be when you get married and offer yourself to your spouse on the day of your wedding. You will never regret it!