A recent survey showed that teens who take abstinence pledges are just as likely to have sex and are less likely to take precautions against pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. Many in the faith community are disheartened by such study results, but I can see how this happens. And it’s not a problem with the kids; it’s a problem of parenting. Parents assume because the church is has kids make abstinence pledges and wear promise rings, they don’t have to do anything. Parents are not taking their responsibility to parent and raise these kids; they get them to take the pledge and then take their hands off. They allow these young men and young women to spend inordinate amounts of time together alone and think that a purity ring on their finger is going to be the magic force field of protection. Listen, for teenagers to have sex, they have to have the opportunity to have sex and poor parenting is giving them the opportunities.
I am stunned at the number of people who allow their teenage kids to be in scenarios of temptation that they would never allow themselves to be in. Think about it — as a grown, mature adult, would you spends hours on end in a private place — such as a bedroom — talking, sharing, and forming a relationship with someone to whom you are not married? Of course not! That would be ridiculous. Yet, many parents consistently put their kids in this exact kind of jeopardy by allowing them to be in compromising positions where they are bound to be tempted and make wrong choices.
I was talking to a pastor of a church at an event that I was doing one weekend and he told me that his 16 year old daughter was at home for the day doing homework with her boyfriend. He told me that they did it all the time — holed up in her bedroom for six hours with the door shut as they did their studying. I couldn’t believe it! What was he thinking… that they were actually doing homework all that time?! Seriously people! Many parents are putting their own children in situations that virtually guarantee moral failure. As parents, we cannot allow our children to enter an environment where they can get totally alone with each other; where they have enough time to get naked and have sex.
When our kids were teenagers, there was no way in the world they were allowed to be alone with someone of the opposite sex where it would have been possible to have sex. We watched them like hawks. They had to be 16 years of age before they could even start dating and then it was dating as a group — never just two of them alone, over and over again. Think it through: serious dating commitments eventually lead to sex. To assume otherwise is to be derelict in our roles as parents and guardians.
I hear people say, “We trust our kids.” Good grief… If you trust your teenager to be able to handle temptations that you would never even allow yourself to be in, you are not being a parent — you are being a fool. When I was growing up, do you know whose houses we used to have the best parties at? Yep! The parents who trusted their kids! They never checked on anything and they left us all alone.
I hear of parents who give their kids their “space” or “privacy” by not going into their bedrooms or the basement or wherever, without knocking first. I can’t help but think about such parents, “are they out of their minds?!” Kids will often say, “this is my room!” My answer to that was simply this: when you start paying rent, then it’s your room. Until then, these are all my rooms — and we don’t go behind closed doors with people of the opposite sex — period.
I am stunned at how blatantly stupid some Christian parents seem to be when it comes to sexual things. They let their kids watch all kinds of blatantly sexual images in movies and on television with little thought of how those images and messages can affect them. I know of a pastor friend who allowed his young daughter to see the movie Titanic at least 11 times. This same pastor was all worried about anything she saw that he deemed to be satanic, like Harry Potter, but not at all concerned about his 14 year old daughter learning the lessons found in a movie like Titanic. And the lessons are very simple: If you really like a boy you can let him see your boobies and he can draw pictures of your boobies, and if you really like him, you can have sex with him two days later.
Look, the chances of your teenage daughter wanting to jump on a broom and fly around the room are pretty low. But, the chances that your daughter’s boyfriend will want to touch her boobies, well… I’d give that a pretty big chance, wouldn’t you? Talk about straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel! We need to get our priorities straight.
Am I against having our young people take abstinence pledges? Certainly not. But abstinence pledges will only start having a real effect when parents decide to be real parents.