We have added an Articles page to our site where you will find some of the articles that we have read. As you will notice, not all are in support of abstinence or directly about purity. We will write here about such articles and how we are using them to better improve how we reach students and families.
Today's entry will address an article about Josh Harris, who wrote, "I Kissed Dating Goodbye," when he was 21 years old. This is actually a book that we recommend and used with our oldest son. The article's title, "Author of Famous Abstinence Book “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” Admits It May Be a Big Mistake" caught my attention because it seemed make it look like Josh regretted the whole thing. After reading the article, you can see that the thing that Josh may regret is the backlash from people feeling this was a "how to" book on having a good relationship or marriage. As if his book was setting a standard so high that they couldn't reach it and since they didn't they complained about the book. The approach to dating in the book is a good approach, but people are too busy looking for cookie cutter, 3-step programs that they can follow without thinking. People prefer the bad IKEA drawing instructions to thinking things through.
I know this first hand when I applied a generalized idea to a relationship when I was 21 instead of thinking things through. I had grown up seeing family after family that had started when the parents got pregnant before getting married and then married because of the pregnancy. The examples that I saw were ones where there was no love in the home. I took those examples and applied them to my situation when I got Jenna pregnant. I didn't want a home with no love in it. Using the examples of what I saw, and even applying the thought that getting married "the right way" caused me to choose to not marry or even stay with Jenna.
On the other hand, if I would have focused on the fact that any relationship takes work to build it up and maintain it, regardless of the situation you are currently in, then my choices would have been different. The same applies to the people who read this book expecting it to make their life happy if they did the actions. You can't just go through the actions of a happy relationship and expect a happy relationship. You can't fake it. You have to take what you learn as tools and then apply them through action.
When it comes to living a life of purity, it, too, isn't just going through the actions. You have to work on it, think things through and apply the tools you pick up along the way at the appropriate times. Apply tools means that first you have to recognize it as a tool. Second, you have to know what that tool is used for and why. Finally, you have to know how to use that tool.
Saving sex for marriage, or, as one of Josh's suggestions in his book, boys and girls not hanging out together one-on-one are tools to help you have the best foundation to build a healthy marriage on. If you don't recognize that these are tools, you won't even try to use them. If you, instead, see them as the way, then you will be disappointed when it doesn't do the job it was intended to do. It would be like expecting a tire iron to get you from here to there when you have a flat instead of using it as a tool so you can get to your destination.
Second, after seeing something as a tool, you need to understand why it is a tool and how to use. it. Abstinence is a tool because it is a form of protection, among many other reasons. It, like shield, protects you not only from unwanted pregnancies or STD's, but also it protects you from physically bonding with someone who isn't your spouse. If you wait for marriage to bond with someone, then your body won't ever be trained to break that bond. The 1=on=1 boy-girl concept is a tool because it protects you from potential confusion or misunderstandings. It also keeps you away from the cliff of our sinful nature. We are fallen and sinful and our flesh desires that physical contact that was designed for the marriage especially when we aren't married. Is it a sin for a boy and a girl to hang out 1-on-1? No. But is it safe? No.
If you see abstinence as something that is saying that sex is bad, then you are misapplying that tool. It is like trying to use a tire iron as a key. Instead of seeing it as a useful tool, you will see it as useless but yet you will keep misapplying it in your marriage. This leads us to applying, or using the tool correctly. Misusing tools leads to damage. Damage of the tool or the object the tool is being used on. Yes, I could use a tire iron to open my car, but my window will be busted. Using abstinence as a tool for protection will allow for a good foundation to build your marriage on. Using abstinence as a tool to say sex is bad will harm your marriage. Both ways may end up in looking the same on the outside, not having sex until marriage, but it truly comes down to a heart issue and why you are using abstinence.
The article concludes with, "The church is at a crossroads where it needs to step back, evaluate some of the teachings we’ve held about purity, sexuality and relationships, and carefully consider how God would have us revise." If this means that we need to teach people how to think through using tools and that there isn't a 3-step program for life, then yes, I fully agree. However, as the overall tone of the article suggests, it is saying that the church needs to change how it teaches people in order to allow them to give into their fleshy desires, then I wholeheartedly disagree. We need to teach God's word and also teach people how to have a heart like God as King David did. And just as King David wasn't perfect, we have to understand that we won't be perfect either. Our hearts just need to be going in the right direction.
We took a nice long drive recently and ended up in Iowa. Along the way, we were able to visit our son and daughter-in-law in their new place in Arizona along with a good friend that moved to New Mexico almost a year ago. Our initial reason for coming to Iowa was to celebrate Rob's parent's 50th anniversary. What a great excuse to get away and to see friends and family! If you follow either of Rob or Jenna on social media, you have seen some of the fun things we have been able to do while here in Iowa, like visiting the Iowa State Fair. Something we haven't done in many years.
But it isn't all fun and games, we are also having fun with work. We are reaching out to local youth leaders and connecting with other ministry leaders and pastors between here and California. We want to get our message out, of course, but we also want to get in touch and learn from as many different leaders as possible. As we move to Colorado, we want to be as equipped as possible to handle all that the Lord has in store for us.
This is where you come in. This is a big transition in many ways and we need your support. First and foremost, we need your prayers. Paul puts it this way in his second letter to the Corinthians, "You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on your behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many." Our story is of us first doing things our way and then turning to the Lord. How glorious would it be if we were able to help many, many people live purely for the Lord first... and with no second after that. How many people would give thanks for the reduction in teen pregnancy? What would it look like to have youth group after youth group actively living purely for Jesus? Your prayers for us, for the students we speak to, for the youth leaders we come along side of will help accomplish these things.
Second, we do need help financially. Living in Colorado will have a much lower cost of living for sure and we are looking forward to that. However, having your financial support will help with the transition as well as help with us reaching more students. If your church helps support missionaries, please contact the mission board about supporting us, a mission team here in America. If your work gives donations to support non-profits, please connect us with the person in charge of that.
This is a very exciting time for us as we will literally and figuratively be heading up a big mountain. Just in the recent months, we have been connected to a variety of different ministry leaders in church and para-church organizations. Again, this is where your prayers will be appreciated. This push up the mountain will require a lot of energy. Please pray that God would give us that energy and focus to keep going. We know He is good and faithful to sustain us. There has been many times when He has given us the energy, sent someone to give us encouragement out of the blue, or provided other ways for us to get where He is leading. And, again, as Paul says, "On Him we have set our hope that He will deliver us again."
We would appreciate your words of encouragement, feel free to leave a comment or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To donate, please click HERE. Thank you.
As we set up our ministry, we wanted to find ways to promote what we do, to reach out to more and more people. In today's society, what better way to do this than through social media! So, we set up accounts on different platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. (Note: We have made a commitment to never have an account on Snapchat) And with a social media presence, as minimal as it is, we have opened ourselves up to attacks. This is something we expected since we are dealing with purity and teaching people to live purely for Christ.
The other day, we started to get a lot of re-tweets and likes on a couple of our posts. This surprised and excited us at first. But then I noticed a post that seemed to start the whole thing off. We are a small ministry that is growing and this is very minor, especially compared to the attacks larger and more known ministries probably face over and over. Even as small as this was, it has shown us a few things which is only going to help us grow and help more and more people as we move forward.
First, the "attack"! Once our notifications started dinging every few seconds, I started looking into some of the accounts that were re-tweeting or liking our posts. I found one that had take a screen shot of our home Twitter page and posted it with the following quote, "rt if you could break the soul of the person running this acct."
For those of you who are not familiar with Twitter, let me explain the "rt" part. On Twitter, when you post something, it is called a "tweet." If you want to post something that someone else posted, you can re-tweet it. That is where "rt" comes from. This person was asking people to re-tweet a post. I am not sure if this person wanted people to re-post his post or a post from our account. Either way, we started getting notifications of people liking and re-posting our posts. From it, we have been able to get a glimpse into to society of the online personalities. Below are a few of our take from this experience.
People are sheep
It took one person to post something and then numerous others who followed. What I noticed from the different accounts I checked out was that they tend to post the same things. If Johnny posts something or shares something, then so does Billy, Bobby, Betty and Carol. If Billy posts something, then so do the others. From the frequency of the posts, I doubt that they take any time to look into what they are posting. This is common across the board for people in general. We see that in the political, race and immigration issues that tend to be hot topics. It is important for anyone to look into a topic or article or account before posting anything about it to make sure that you first understand what you are posting, second, that you agree to it and finally that it is factual.
The enemy is aggressive
We have a very small following on Twitter. At the time of the above screen shot, you can see we only had 23 followers. Two of those are me and Jenna. In order for this person to find us, they had to search. The saying goes, if you are looking for trouble, you will find it every time. There is something to say for someone who searches out the opposing view in order to be further educated on an issue and to make sure they know and believe their own view. There is something to say about someone who is searching for information purposes. But, to search out something only to do harm is destructive and is only meant to tear down. The post, as you can see, is very aggressive and negative. Praise God that we know the only One who could break or even destroy our soul yet He desired to save our souls instead.
Social media gives a false sense of power
We all can fall for this point. We can think that our point, our post or comment is so important that everyone needs to read it and believe it. The person who posted this comment feels that they have a power to get others to do what he wanted them to do... which many did. He also felt that someone would have the power to break someone's soul. Posts on social media should be used for informational purposes only. Informing people of what you are eating, what your kid is doing right now, or even what you think on a certain subject is all fine. But when you try to use this false sense of power to get others to hate or tear down someone else, then you are misusing something that could be a great tool.
We must keep our focus on our goal
We know that we are teaching a message that goes directly against most of what the world wants. We know there will be opposition and that sometimes that opposition won't be of the "nice" kind. If someone has opposing views, we enjoy conversing with them in order to share facts. However, there are those who want to get their viewpoint out there no matter what without considering anything about the other "side." Our goal is educating, cultivating and motivating people to live a pure life. All we can do is provide facts and tools, show people how to use them and the be available to help guide them as they choose to live a life of purity. We can't make them choose it. We can't control them in anyway. We are here to equip them and support them. And whether they choose to apply what we teach or go against what we teach, we are here to love them.
James tells us to, "Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of you faith produces steadfastness." This trial may be minimal, but it will still have the same affect; producing steadfastness. We know that we are to continue our message of purity. And because of the attempted attack, we are stronger, more of our tweets have been shared than ever before and we have a few new followers. God is moving, even in the little things. We will focus on His truth.
At the end of our surveys, we ask the students if they have any questions. Most say they don’t, a few ask specific questions about a term they haven’t heard before and others ask off the wall ones. One question that stuck out to me recently was, “Do you really believe in abstinence?”
The obvious answer is, “YES!!!” Abstinence is the only 100% sure way to not get pregnant, not transmit sexually transmitted infections, not create depression from sexual activity, not cause premature bonding with others… the list goes on and on. So, yes, when someone practices abstinence it works. It is the only safe approach.
But what people say when they say that it doesn’t work isn’t about the facts above. It isn’t about the benefits, the outcomes or anything that actually applies to the “problems.” So the area that I think he is really asking is, “Do you believe that teens could actually practice abstinence?”
That’s really what it comes down to isn’t it? It isn’t that abstinence doesn’t work, it is a realization of our belief that teens can’t or won’t practice abstinence. So what is the real “problem” with abstinence? The problem is in the expectation.
After speaking to and with 1,000’s of teens, an all too often response about “the talk” comes down to, “Just don’t get pregnant!” or “Don’t get anyone pregnant!” Some parents even add in a condom or two. “After-all,” they reason, “kids are going to do it anyway!”
In other words, we are just lowering the bar to meet our low expectations and not teaching, training, building up and holding accountable the teens to step up and meet a very reachable standard. Please don’t fall into this trap. Teens can, meaning they are capable to make the choice to practice abstinence. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you are teaching, training and equipping your child.
If you put a low expectation out for a teen, they will meet it. The lower you set it, the more teens will hit it. So when someone comes along and puts a higher expectation on them, they aren’t used to it, end up not hitting it and go back to aiming for the lower expectations.
This isn’t anything new. Not every teen is a typical teen and just slouches on the sofa with their nose in their phone, radio playing and TV on. There are teens who won’t live down to the definition of a teen. We see this in different areas. Do Hard Things is a great example of elevating the bar far above even what it was before a “teenager” existed. We know that young men and women can and do make decisions to stay abstinent until marriage. We have heard their stories.
Just the other day, a former student that we got to know through clubs and other groups contacted Jenna to talk. When Jenna asked what it was about, the girl just stated it was too much to talk over the phone and she would share when the met. This usually sends red flags up for us. But when they met, it was quite different. She had committed to living a purity based life, keeping abstinent until marriage. Her cousin and her were going to do this together. Then she went to college and the group of students she had to be around due to her studies were very vocal about their not waiting. Then she found out her cousin has sex with her boyfriend. She felt the world falling around her and she needed some confirmation, reassurance and encouragement to keep living out her commitment.
Teens can choose to live a purity based life and they can live it out. The more students who choose it, the easier it will become. With direction, education and encouragement and support, teens will make the choices that will lead to healthier relationships now and in the future. Teen pregnancies will drop, teens being infected with STI’s will drop, depression rates will drop and future divorce rates will drop. You just watch. Raise the bar and watch. It will happen.
Our daughter loves music. Her nap and bed time choice is "Courageous" by Casting Crowns over and over... and over... and over. During the day, if we put a song on YouTube, she will replay it and replay it as often as we can stand it. And then play it again. Recently, the song that she is attached to is "Diamonds" by Hawk Nelson.
God is refining us in order to be able to use us for His purpose. Diamonds are used for different purposes. Jewelry, grinding, cutting, drilling, and polishing to name a few. In order to be used for whatever purpose, further cutting is required to bring out brightness, to reveal a sharper edge or in creating small enough pieces to embed in a grinding wheel. The purer the diamond is to begin with, the more options there are for the outcome. You aren't going to buy a diamond with a pebble embedded in the middle. You aren't going to use a diamond tipped drill that also has graphite in it to try and cut anything.
Living a life of purity will lead to trials, pressure and heat. It requires it actually. As you are being refined, your purpose will become more and more clear. You will start to see what God has planned for you and how you can best live for Him. Letting go of the things that are not of God allows you to see clearly His work and not be distracted by our own stuff.
let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
Hebrews 12:1b ESV
If we focus on the trials, we will stay stuck where we are and not move forward. But if we look forward to what we are being refined for, then we will be expectant, we will be excited to see the result, we will push forward trusting in the Worker's hands. "Oh it's not what I hoped for; It's something much better."
We use this as motivation to not only teach purity but to live it out in our personal life. We recently had one father comment during a parent meeting that we ran a very filtered home. With things like Covenant Eyes, Clear Play and researching PluggedIn online before watching movies, he is right. We want to make sure we control what we allow in. (His point in his comment was about what to do with our kids in the world with all of that filtering at home. We will be posting about that in the future. It is a very important point.) The more pure that we live the more resistance we find in areas of our lives. But we know that there is something bigger than we can even imagine just around the corner. "Oh it's not what I hoped for; It's something much better."
Our goals are big. We want to eliminate teen pregnancy. We want to end the transmission of STD's among teens. We want to eliminate depression that results from sexual activity in teens. And if we have to go through some refining so God can bring about something bigger... Then let it be so!
Oh the joy of the lord
It will be my strength
When the pressure is on
He's making diamonds
- Hawk Nelson, "Diamonds"
One of our goals is to eliminate teen pregnancy. So today we are excited that there is a national day just for that. What we are facing, though, is there are so many organizations out there who want to reduce teen pregnancy.
Is this a problem?
Yes. It's not that they want to reduce it, it is how they are going about it.
We teach abstinence. Across the board, everyone says that abstinence is the only 100% effective option in preventing pregnancy. (And also STI's)
Our goal is to end teen pregnancy. You would think we would welcome all who share this same goal. After all, aren't we all going in the same direction.
That's true, but in only in one aspect. Ending teen pregnancy.
But the "how" is way different. Their way is using birth control. Ours is abstinence. These are very different.
We know that sex is not just a physical thing. It's mental, emotional, spiritual, social, and environmental. It affects in all of these areas. The effect on the brain alone should be enough for people to choose abstinence until they are in a truly committed, no turning back, in it for life relationship. Using birth control only addresses the physical aspect.
Will you help us eliminate teen pregnancy? Will you help us teach students, parents and families to live purely for Christ?
We are looking to spread our message to as many people as we can. Will you connect us to your church, your pastor, your youth pastor, family pastor, missions pastor... Whomever!!!
Here is what you can do:
Please forward this message to them with a short message on how you would like to see our message get to your church membership.
Some people say that squirrels look like rats with furry tails. At times, I can see that. But I think the overall thought on the animal is that they are cute. After all, who puts a small statue of a rat in their garden? I think they are cute. And now I have an unusual obsession with squirrels. I literally will be in a conversation with my wife and.. SQUIRREL!
We have put out bird seed to attract birds. Even our neighbors have noticed the increase in the number of birds in the area. So it is working! We even had some Lesser Goldfinches stop by on their migratory trip. (And by migratory trip, I mean from one side of the complex to the other. We ran out of seed for a day and they haven't been back) We love the activity on our patio and the sounds they make. (Not so much the mess!)
Along with the birds, we have had an increase in squirrels. There is Bella who we thought was going to be a mother when we first noticed her. She tends to stay the farthest away from us when we go out. There was Buster a male with a darker face but I haven't seen him for awhile. He used to come with Bella but now there is Chip. Chip is named after the chip out of his ear (Right picture above). But my favorite is Sammy (Left picture above). Sammy is the most aggressive one. He has even tried to scare me many times by jumping at me, chattering at me and shaking his tail at me. But he is also the one that will come close enough to get food from my hand.
At first, he would jump at me, but soon he would walk up slowly and carefully before grabbing the peanut or bread out of my fingers and running a few feet away. Now, I will hold the peanut tighter and he will put his paws on my hand to take the food.
One time, he took the bread and just went a couple feet away. I decided I would try to touch his tail. Guess what happened next? Yup! He turned and scratched my hand before I could even get close.
A couple of weeks have gone by and we are now at the point where he will sit on the fence and chatter to get my attention. When I come to the door, he runs down towards it and waits about a foot outside. I grab a peanut and as I come out, I point and tell him to get up on the fence. He runs around, climbs up and comes to where I am holding the peanut. I have done this quite a few times and it seems to work.
One day, I went out to give him his peanut in the same manner, but this time I brought out a bag of old cereal to put out for the birds. I gave him his peanut and he went to his normal spot a few feet away. I stopped keeping an eye on him as I started to pour out the cereal on top of the fence. All of the sudden I felt his front paws on my hand. Startled, I pulled my hand away before I realized what happened causing his claws to scrape across my skin. Squirrels have razor like claws. I barely saw any scratch marks, but just a second later a bead of blood started forming. Later, I could see the results of the scratch and it looked a lot worse than it did initially.
In dealing with wild animals, even small cute little fury squirrels, you always have to be aware and on guard. It is easy to put your guard down, like I did. I would hope I wouldn't be the same way if I was dealing with lions. The same applies to purity. There are bigger things tend to keep us on our toes but the smaller ones we overlook. When we think that just a little crossing of a boundary won't hurt anything, that's when things can happen. We let our guard down and next thing you know, we have fully crossed the line. A little look here, a small flirt there, or thinking something is just an innocent gesture but hiding it are all little things that open the door for a bigger attack. You may even think, "What harm can this cause?" It isn't the harm that the action could cause that is the problem. It is the harm that that action will lead too down the road, that is the issue we need to protect from. The initial affect may not seem that bad, but later on, the real results will show up.
How we look at issues is important in knowing how we will approach them. If I looked at a lion the same way I consider a squirrel, I would probably try to feed one by hand and probably try to pet him too. But when I truly look at a lion for what he is, then I make sure I keep a safe distance and have enough protection between him and me. When we look at sin as a small thing, we tend to keep our guard down and don't respect the damage it could do. If we see pornography as just pictures or as something that isn't harming anyone, then we won't be able to comprehend the consequences that just looking at it will cause.
Living a life of purity is hard work. It takes effort. It isn't just about being nice. Some of the nicest guys I know have been addicted to porn or have had affairs. Living a life of purity is about being aware of where attacks can come from and then protecting yourself. You can't just float along and stay pure. The more you stand for purity, the more impurity attacks. Be prepared.
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. - 1 Peter 5:8
Living a life of purity in this world is like walking through a muddy parking lot. The way you walk through it will depend on where you are going.
Where are you headed?
If you are heading to a mud volleyball tournament, then walking through mud is no big deal. You don't freak out about a splatter of mud getting on your shirt or inside your shoes or even on your face. Why bother, you are going to be covered in mud soon enough anyway! You might even start kicking it up and flinging it on others.
However, if you were walking across that same muddy parking lot on the way to a wedding, you would be more careful. If it was your wedding, you might even ask someone to carry you. You wold guide others along the more solid areas and away from the sloppy ones. You would be careful to direct your kids in the same path.
So, where are you headed? We are headed towards a wedding. We are the bride and we want to be presented to our Groom as spotless. While walking along life's path, there is no need to join in the mudslinging or indulging in the "ease" of just letting the mud get on you. There are ways to protect your purity. Let us walk together to help each other.
Our goal is to help guide others through the mud and slop. We are available for speaking, mentoring and other events. Contact us for more information.
You might read somewhere that the teen pregnancy rate is dropping. That is great news! But reducing teen pregnancy isn’t our goal. Reducing teen pregnancy isn’t our message. Our message goes beyond abstinence. Our goal is far above reducing or even eliminating unplanned pregnancies. Our goal isn’t even to reduce or eliminate teens contracting or spreading STD’s.
Do we want teen pregnancies to drop to zero? Yes.
Do we want the spreading of STD’s to drop to zero, especially in the teenage population? Yes.
But these are not our goals! They are natural outcomes of what we want to accomplish.
If you have ever had the opportunity to try and break a board, (HIYA!) then you have been told to focus beyond the board you are trying to break. You punch through what you are trying to accomplish. So what is our focus?
Our goal is simple: We want to teach people to live purely for God.
We know that if we can educate students on how to live purely, cultivate in them a seed to lead others and motivate them to do so within this un-pure world, then:
So how do we do this?
We teach what love is in public schools while sharing the facts about STD’s, teen pregnancies and condom use. Facts like condoms may reduce the risk of pregnancy but can not stop the spread of HPV, one of the most common STD’s today that is causing cervical cancer in younger and younger females and throat cancer in boys.
We visit youth groups and share what God desires from each one of us and how we can live that out while supporting each other.
We talk with parents to help equip them so they can help educate their kids, no matter what age.
We share our story because God gave us a second chance in order to do just this. We chose to live life according to “me” instead of “He” and He allowed us. But now that we live our life according to Him, He guides us.
I fight for purity isn’t just a hashtag so we can sound trendy. We live this fight out daily. And we will go to battle for anyone, anywhere, anytime.
Will you help us fight for purity?
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Rob and Jenna Crenshaw are founders of Crossroads Club