Unpacking Parenting and Purity

(Photo by Selma Komisky)

Parenting and Purity

By Patrick Herman  

The young men and women, the teens, and even those younger seek truth in a Christian world that seems to be bent on raising sanitary and proper-looking Christian children. Cleanliness is not, nor has it ever been, next to godliness.  The “True Love Waits” and “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” self-help purity propaganda books were likely well-meaning but the root of the problem is that those authors, in many ways, exchanged purity for Christianity.   

If we’re not careful, we can easily swap the message of the cross for morality. The Purity Movement of the 1990s and 2000s became the prize most cherished and coveted. The idea was to keep our kids pure and away from evil but let me ask you this; Since when have kids been pure?  I challenge you to name one child that is free from sin.   

Luke 11 gets to the basics. Here’s verses 11-13, Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead?  Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion?  If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”  

But herein lies the problem. We cannot give our kids purity like we give a son a fish or an egg.  There’s only one option for us as parents and it’s found in Proverbs 22 verse 6 “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” 

Some would say, exactly! And Proverbs 22:6 is starting them off on the right way with good morals like purity. I would say No, that’s not the right way. That’s the moralistic way or the “be a nice boy or girl” way.  Are we hoping to just raise “nice” boys and girls? Those children that say the right things but have no meaningful relationship with Jesus as their Lord and Savior?  The right way is with Jesus. Period. We hope our children will learn to follow and love the God we know and love whether they keep themselves pure or not. First and foremost, we want them to have a relationship with Jesus.   

I have constantly said to my own children “Know what you believe, and WHY you believe it.”  Even when I would say these words I knew that some of my children might decide…”Nope! I don’t believe in your Jesus.” But I want my children to be as Jesus instructs…for them to be either Hot or Cold but not Lukewarm. (See Revelation 3:15 and forward) 

We all want what’s best for our children. But trying to force them into a movement (like the purity movement) instead of learning to follow after God and His ways may be the very thing that eventually makes our clean-cut and perfect family selfies turn into something else altogether. 

As a father of four, I’ll leave you with this final thought.  It’s from preacher Paul Tripp. He says: “Recognizing what you are unable to do is essential to good parenting. God has tasked parents with many things, but nowhere in His word has He tasked you with the responsibility to create heart change.” 

Finally, forget rewriting a purity movement. Ephesians 6:4 says “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”  You can only do that by daily giving your children over to Him, and by praying for parental wisdom every step of the way.   

Patrick Herman is the Community Relations Director of the Pilgrim Radio Network and has his own radio program called “Catching Up.”  www.PilgrimRadio.com