Let’s begin by answering some of the questions that millions of teenagers ask. What is purity? What is modesty? How do you practice these things? What are some of the consequences if you don’t? How "far" should you go? What if you’ve already gone too far?

What Is Purity?

Purity means very simply to have sexual self–control—to stay within certain boundaries. The result of purity is inner peace and more self-respect. People who remain pure feel more free. They enjoy many things in life more because they are not focused in on one thing—sex. Those teens who remain pure are more free to develop healthy friendships because they don't have to play any kind of dating game.

People who remain pure are like a breath of fresh air and a burst of laughter. Even though the media would have you believe that having sex is the only thing in the world, people who maintain their purity are actually having more fun than people who are engaging in illicit sexual relationships. The lives and hearts of people who remain pure are open to many wonderful adventures and they have many heart-satisfying relationships. They are not dragged down into the emotional entanglement and confusion that premarital sex brings on. They are also free of the fear of disease and unwanted pregnancy. Being pure is a wonderful thing.

Even in today’s world, people are practicing purity. In America, the birthplace of the Sexual Revolution, more and more teenagers are choosing to stay sexually pure. Why? Because they don't want to experience the emotional suffering premarital sexual relationships can bring, with their lack of deep commitment and lack of mutual responsibility. They don't want diseases and unwanted pregnancies. They want true and lasting love—which only springs out of sexual purity.

If we do give in to the temptation to have sex before marriage, even if it feels good for a while, we wind up feeling very muddied inside. When we then meet someone who is pure, we feel ashamed of ourselves. The only way to avoid feeling ashamed is to stay pure in the first place.

Another way to look at premarital sex is to think about what we wear each day. None of us would want to wear someone else's stained, used clothes. Yet premarital sexual relationships are the same as wearing stained, used clothes except that the stain is inside us. Maybe no one can see it, but the stain is still there. When we have lost our sexual purity, sooner or later we will definitely feel the difference, and we will regret our decision to have sex without marriage.

How Do We Protect Our Purity?

Sooner or later, we will face sexual temptation. What will we do then? We need to prepare for this moment by developing a pure mind, clean speech, modest dress and virtuous actions now. Otherwise, the temptation may be too strong for us.

How do we develop a pure mind? We have to stay away from the mind’s "junk food." The mind is an amazing gift. It has the ability to take in information and store it so we can use it later. However, the contents of our mind are not easily erased. What goes in stays. If we fill our mind with images of sexual passion, disobedience, rebellion and violence, how can we ever develop good character traits like being loving, considerate and kind? What goes in is eventually reflected in our actions, speech, or attitudes.

Think of a popular song or advertisement theme that you may have heard recently. After listening to it enough times, don't you find yourself singing along with the music when you hear it on the radio? Doesn't it sometimes play in your mind without you even wanting it to? That is the power of the mind to absorb things. Or take speech. If you are around others who use dirty words and swear all the time, you eventually speak in the same way. The same is true for sexual images. If you surround yourself with sexual images or pornography, it doesn't take long to begin to look at those around you in a sexual way rather than as a loving, caring friend. How we speak also reflects the content of our mind. Telling a dirty joke simply says to others that we regard our sexuality—and theirs—very cheaply.

Dressing immodestly sends a message "For sale—cheap!" It looks like we don't respect ourselves. So how will others respect us? How can we expect them to look at our minds and hearts—the most important parts of us—when we are advertising our bodies so loudly? Dressing immodestly also stimulates lustful desires in others. Even if we think we just look fashionable, if people of the opposite sex begin to express lust toward us, commenting on our clothes or bodies, then we need to think about wearing clothes that are less revealing. We want people to like us for who we are and what we are like inside—not because we are wearing jeans so tight they show every muscle!

Virtuous actions would include avoiding being in tempting situations. Sexual passion can flare up very quickly, so it is important to avoid being alone with a member of the opposite sex, especially in private or dark places. Don't tempt fate by thinking you will only go so far and then stop. It gets harder and harder to stop once you've gotten started kissing, touching each other, French kissing or holding each other very close. Many young people have thought they could control themselves and only go so far only to feel regret later that they gave in to their passion and had sex with someone.

How Is Premarital Sex like a Frog in Hot Water?

Did you know that if you put a frog in a pot of water and heat the pot very slowly, you will soon have a boiled, dead frog?
However, if you put a frog into a pot of water that is already boiling hot, the frog will jump out to safety.
The reason for this is that as the water heats up slowly by degrees, the frog doesn't notice how hot it is getting until it is too late.
Sexual passion is like that. It heats up slowly, by degrees, until before you know what has happened, it is boiling hot and it is too late to jump away to safety.

Often we feel attracted to someone. Thinking that we can control ourselves and our half-formed emotions, we put ourselves in situations where we become closer and closer to that person. Before we know it, we are too close to pull away from the relationship, and we do something that we later regret.

The best advice is: Don't start. Save all your touching, kissing and holding each other for the love of your life. All that saved up passion will make your marriage wonderful! It's like putting money in the bank for a rich future.

But What If It Is Love?

Many teens ask, “What if you’re really in love with a person? What if you’re close and committed, and you’re almost married to them? Is sex okay, then?" Well, do you know that 50% of engagements are broken? That's a high percentage of people who thought they were really in love and "almost married."

What if older teens and even some adults tell you, “It’s okay as long as you are in love”? But what is love? Most people, even adults, are confused about what love is. It's very hard to tell if it is infatuation or love. Sex in those situations, even if sincere, only multiplies the confusion.

Nine-Time Olympic Gold Medalist Urges Sexual Purity

Carl Lewis has been voted the Greatest Olympian of the 20th Century. Some think he is the greatest athlete of all time. Lewis won nine Olympic Gold Medals and one Silver during his career as a sprinter and long jumper. Some people call him "King Carl."

During his career, Carl Lewis won 65 straight competitions in the long jump. He won his last Olympic Gold Medal doing the long jump at the age of 35. One commentator said that he defeated gravity, history, and getting older with that one great leap.

As a sprinter, Lewis was so fast that other runners sometimes felt like they were standing still compared to him. He won one of his Gold Medals by leaving the pack behind him by eight feet—a winning measure unheard of before in the Olympics.

At the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Carl took time out of a busy schedule to address a large crowd of young people who were taking a "Purity Pledge"—vowing to remain sexually abstinent until marriage. The crowd was gathered under the name of "True Love Waits," meaning that true love waits until marriage to have sex. Lewis urged young people to have the moral courage to remain sexually abstinent until marriage. He told them "Set yourself apart in your group by being a leader and not giving in to what others are doing."

This is a great and appropriate message from a man who so often left the pack behind him as he ran or leaped to glory.

Renewed Purity

What if you have already gone too far? Sadly, many teens have done this. Thinking it was love, they went ahead and had sex, only to find some time later that they really didn’t love each other. Sometimes one of the partners decides this and suddenly “dumps” the other. The result? Heartbreak, regret, disillusionment, distrust of the opposite sex, depression, and feeling used. Does it mean that everything is lost and that there is no way back?

Even if we make a mistake and go down a destructive path for a while, we can still recover some purity as long as we realize and admit our mistakes. In fact, the sooner we do, the better. Renewing purity is not as good as keeping it in the first place, but it is an excellent secondary choice if a person has lost his or her virginity. The person who makes this choice will enjoy many of the benefits of purity once he or she has been practicing it for some time. The essential thing is to be honest.

As a teenager, you do not have to suffer because of the sexually-cheapened culture you live in. With wisdom, courage and patience, you can discover the true and lasting satisfaction that springs out of sexual purity—and become one of the growing numbers of teens who are saving sex for marriage and real love.

Questions for Reflection

1. What is purity?

2. Why can we say that purity brings freedom? What kind of freedom is it?

3. What are some of the other benefits of purity?

4. What are some of the ways to stay pure?

5. How can premarital sex get in the way of learning about true love?

6. How can we develop a pure mind? Clean speech? Virtuous action?

7. What is renewed purity?

8. Is sex okay if you think you really love the other person but are still not married?

9. What are some of the dangers of engaging in a sexual relationship outside of marriage?

10. How might your choice either to be pure or to engage in pre-marital sex influence other parts of your life?

Exercise: “Movie Review"

Choose a movie and review it. You can follow this format:
-What was the main theme of the movie?

-What were the values of the main characters in the movie?

-Did their values conflict? If so, did this create any problems between the characters?

-What were the values that the movie was trying to teach?

-If sex was a factor in the movie, what was the attitude expressed about it?

-Do you agree with the movie’s attitude towards sex?

-Do you agree with the other values the movie conveyed?

-How do you think this movie may influence people?

Reflection Exercise: “Showing Personal Values”

Consider how the way you dress, speak and act shows your inner values. Look at other people and try to understand their basic values, especially regarding sex, by the way they present themselves and act with others. Write down some of your thoughts.
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