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.
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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I do NOT want you to think my husband is hot. In fact, I really don't want anyone looking at or considering him in that way at all. And how much more so if the person doing the gawking and ogling over my spouse is also married, or at the very least, in a dating or engaged relationship.
Being involved in a ministry that is based on purity definitely gives me a strong view on topics related, and even more so when it comes to my marriage with Rob. I waited too long for such a blessing to not be protective of him and us. There are so many different purity battles that we all regularly face, and unfortunately, we have a tendency to add to our discontent and wandering heart without even realizing it. When I pledged my heart, my love and my life to Rob through marriage, I did a couple of different things. I made a commitment to be there for Rob in all things, the good, the bad and the ugly. I also made a vow to keep myself my body, my mind, my eyes and my heart for him and no other. Until death do us part.
Now...If I spend the rest of my days with Rob, noticing other guys, commenting on another's physique, enjoying any other male companionship in any way that resembles what I should have with Rob, then I am personally putting up little time bombs into my marriage that will wait for just the right moment to explode. I certainly wouldn't want Rob to be doing those things to other women!! I spent many months watching his eyes as we began noticing one another again. What was he looking at, or better yet, what did he choose not to look at? Was he making his eyes available for the world, or was he choosing to have his eyes on the Lord, and therefore keeping his eyes on me.
There have been times in gatherings with friends that I hear the hypothetical conversations of, "If you could have one Hollywood star and no consequences who would it be?" Or another, "He is so hot! If I could just..." And then there is, "I wish my husband (boyfriend, fiancé) would: do that, be that, act like that, look like that, say those kinds of things to me." Maybe the most dangerous is the conversation between a couple, the one of, "If we could each have one other person for one night, no questions asked, who would that be??" Oh how we put our relationships in harms way with this kind of thinking and speaking. There is NO ONE that I want to do certain things with other than my husband, and I would never want him to think that I was desiring someone instead of him. The reality is, there is no option of "no consequences" and thinking this way only put chinks in the bond of my relationship with my spouse.
What has come to my attention lately is how common it is for us to flaunt not just ourselves, but our spouse for the world to see. This has become more prevalent as we have moved full speed ahead into the world of social media. Often, when we post details about dates with our spouse, or significant other, we are personally truly feeling real love and emotion with them and for them. We really did have a great time with them, or truly were surprised by a gift or special treatment from them. So then the natural tendency is to share our thoughts about how we feel with others. What ends up happening though, is we are posting how he or she may look, how they act, or our opinion about our attractions to our own spouse. (Which in and of itself is not a bad thing. I sure do hope that you are in love with your spouse and that you do tell them that as often as possible in fun and surprising ways.) However, what we post is, "look at my hot wife," or "I love you my amazingly handsome, charming, witty, smart, talented and best dad ever to our children...oh did I mention he's hot?" Many of the posts include interesting or crazy hashtags, none of which I am going to write here, because I really wouldn't want you looking there anyways. Remember, we are talking about purity here.
Now again, in and of itself, there is nothing wrong with these kinds of posts. May I just toss out there as a word of caution. If I advertise for the world, something that I hold dear, I also am putting a lure out there. It may not be an intentional lure, but the bitter taste of displeasure, of dissatisfaction, of loneliness in others, or the misguided desires of self and self pleasure can so easily be ensnared by such a comment. And when I have just advertised my spouse to the world via social media, I have just put little targets on my relationship and without proper protection through prayer we can easily be hit.
My hope for my marriage is to keep the doors of dissatisfaction closed. To keep my one true love as just that, the one that I adore and will love until death do us part. And I will not put him out there as a banner for "hottest husband ever," "the studliest stud muffin," or "Mr. Romance 101...in the flesh." (Even if I believe all of that stuff to be true to me.)
So please know that it is ok with me that you don't even pay my husband any mind when it comes to his romance, his looks, his brains, or his brawn. Those things are reserved for me through the covenant of marriage, and believe me, I waited a long, long time for my prince charming to come.
This picture was sent to me by a friend. Since receiving it, I have had a lot of thoughts running through my mind. It has sparked a lot of ideas and emotions. Maybe it is because of what we do, but most of my thoughts tend to be on how this scenario came to be and how the moment that is portrayed is not the important moment but somewhere earlier on. Below are different thoughts or questions that have come to mind.
What would the differences in tone be in the two pictured? The top picture seems like one of despair. Like she is saying she knows she messed up and the consequences are so huge that she doesn’t know what to do next. One could read into it a sense of need to cover it up. Similar to when Jenna found out she was pregnant with Colby. Her first thoughts were that no one needs to even know about this and she could take care of “it” before anyone found out. That anyone included her mom and me. Praise God that He intervened and showed Jenna truth.
On the other hand, maybe fear of disappointing her parents is the primary driver of her statement. “I have really let them down,” she might be thinking, “what are they going to do?” I knew about Jenna being pregnant for weeks before telling my parents. The fear of letting them down was so big, but I couldn’t hide from it. Whenever commercials came on about baby products I would freeze. “I can’t watch this, they will know that I got someone pregnant. But wait, if I don’t watch it, then they will know that I am avoiding it and think I got someone pregnant.” When I finally couldn’t take it any longer, and the “right moment” never happened, I told them through sobs and tears. My dad’s first action was to walk out of the room. My fears jumped up and started screaming, “See, you disappointed him so much.” But they were quickly silenced when he returned with a box of tissues.
The bottom picture has a completely different tone. More of disappointment, not in something she did, but in not having a chance to live. Here she is developing and growing at a rapid rate looking forward to what life has for her only to see that it would end before she even would get a chance to cry.
Those are the initial, almost of the surface responses that I had. But then, as I was thinking about it, it struck me that regardless of what kind of tone or thoughts going through the top pictured girl’s head, there was something bigger in play here. What lead to this moment? What caused her to feel this way to make that statement?
This is why we do what we do.
This girl may have been told not to have sex. Or, as in a lot of cases that we hear, she was told to at least use a condom or her mom took her to the doctor to get on the pill. “After all, kids are kids and they are just going to do it anyway.” (One of the biggest lies out there, by the way.) Either way, communication did not happen soon enough and/or often enough. It has to start as early as possible with age appropriate information that builds on itself over and over.
The issue isn’t a positive pregnancy test. It was way before that.
The issue isn’t her having sex with her boyfriend, or the guy from the party, or whomever. It was before that.
The issue isn’t in letting her date or hangout with a guy by herself or whatever else. It was before that.
The issue lies in all the decisions that led up to that moment.
It isn’t the last turn that caused you to get lost. If it was, then you just need to go back to that crossroad. It usually is one turn after another that leads to being lost.
And who is responsible for these decisions. The girl? The parents? The boy? His parent’s? The answer is, yes. All of them are responsible.
We know that a couple hours in front of a student, usually their freshmen year in high school isn’t enough to equip them to set the appropriate boundaries they will need to get through life the way they have planned. (And by planned, I am talking more about avoiding what they don’t plan. No one ever plans to have a baby in high school or to get an STI… ever.) We know, that no matter how cool you think it is, our story is our story and as impactful as it may be, won’t be the deciding factor in the moment. Hopefully it will help them make choices before that point.
What we do know is that by training and teaching students on an ongoing basis, we can make a bigger impact than just ourselves in a health class. We can start to turn the tide of peer pressure to abstinence and living with boundaries be the norm not something to mock. We know that when students are taught the big picture, and not just what is impacting them now, they will take it and run.
Also, we know that it isn’t just a battle for students. We need to help parents. We need to show parents that it’s more than just “having the talk.” It needs to start when our kids are young and be a lifestyle that they are brought up in. Open communication. Trust building. Leadership. Guidance. All of these are important in raising children who will communicate; Children who will trust parents enough to share with them what is going on in their lives; Children who will follow and who will learn and be teachable.
Abstinence only education gets a bad rap sometimes… OK, many times. People believe that it is a message of, “Don’t have sex” period. End of story, see you later. Yes, abstinence means you don’t have sex, but it’s the “why” that is more important. Our purpose is to provide the students with tools and resources so that they can make a decision of abstinence because it is what is best for them and their goals.
Proponents of using birth control and other forms of protection are only addressing two issues when they talk about “safe sex.” (Actually now, the new term that they are using is “safER sex.”) The two areas they believe they are keeping safe from are pregnancy and STI’s. Safe means “free from harm,” or a 0% chance. In this case, safe sex would mean there is a 0% chance of getting pregnant or contracting an STI. And we know that there is no protection that can guarantee 100% safety from these two areas. Hence the term “safer sex.” But safer than what?
So-called “comprehensive” sex educators are called such because they talk about protection. But what they don’t discuss is that there is no protection from the social, emotional or spiritual consequences of sex or even intimacy. So a more “comprehensive” approach to the whole picture of sex and intimacy is actually abstinence because it is only abstinence that can and will protect you from not only the physical, (pregnancy and STI’s) but also the social, emotional or spiritual aspects of sex.
As part of our presentation, we ask who the students talk to or feel that they can talk to about sex. We get a variety of answers ranging from parents to youth leaders to counselors to siblings and friends. We always encourage them to speak to their parents first and also that they can reach out to their teacher, a counselor at school or contact us with their questions. What stands out a lot is the students show more ease with talking with their friends than with an adult about sex. This is what I shared with the students in response to talking with their friends:
I started by asking the students, "If you wanted to learn how to fly an airplane, would you ask me to teach you knowing that I have never learned to fly a plane?" Their response was an obvious, "No!" Then I tell them that one time when I was in 2nd grade my father and I actually went up in a small plane with a friend of my father's and he let me control the plane while flying. So based on that experience, I ask them again if they would let me teach them to fly. Again, they say no.
Next, I add another level. I explain to them that I have taken a graduate level course in aerodynamics and I have studied all the aspects of how a plane flies. I discuss the four aspects of flight: lift, thrust, drag and gravity. After that I ask again if I could teach them to fly. I had one student agree then to let me teach him. I reminded him that I don't actually know what all the buttons or gears do in the cockpit and he quickly changed his mind.
After this, I relate it back to who they ask about sex. I remind them to make sure they know the "qualifications" of the individual before putting their trust in their answer. I re-emphasize the important role that their parents play in their lives as well as remind them of the options they have on their campus.
Parents, if you don't feel qualified enough to teach your kids to fly, then it is time to get qualified. While you are doing that, reach out to the resources you have as well. Reach out to the school counselor, the teacher, the pastor and you can reach out to us as well. We can help equip you to speak with your child and provide a safe environment for them to feel free to share with you their questions.
There are many conversations we have where someone wants to know about our beginning. Meaning, “How did you get started in ministry?”, “How did you know you were supposed to teach teens?”, and “When did you get involved?”
Neither Rob nor I had a “specific person” (not counting parents) who spoke into our lives regarding direction, beliefs, choices, or correction. For us, this void left a lot of gray areas for us to play in.
Twenty years later, we now have the opportunity to share truth with students, parents and community leaders that is real, relevant and redeemed.
As youth workers in our community and beyond, Rob and I hope to be (and train others to be) that “specific person” in the lives of the many youth that we work with. Whether it be from a large assembly, a classroom presentation, or a weekly mentoring meeting, we want every aspect of our lives to be shared and be available to help teens and families as they walk through their Crossroads.
Rob and Jenna Crenshaw are founders of Crossroads Club