We have six daughters and two sons and a very intimidating shotgun. We are doing the best we two fallible humans can to raise our children with commitment to purity. Unfortunately, as you know if you watch Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (which you should watch, because it’s one of the best musicals ever), a shotgun is not enough to keep your children safe in or out of the nest. What they need is a commitment to purity, and that commitment has to be their own, not their parents.
While purity is something I’ve talked and prayed about with our kids since before they were old enough to feel awkward, we’re both well aware that not all families take this approach. Some of us parents had no direction in this area as teens and young adults ourselves, so how do we begin training our children toward purity in a trusting and comfortable manner when we’re still learning ourselves? That’s where Abby Ludvigson’s course Sex by Design fits in.
What is Sex by Design?
First what it isn’t: it is not a sex education course, no birds, bees, or other flying creatures.
It is a purity course for boys and girls. It presents information on purity based on God’s principles, scientific research, and statistical analysis, and gives your young men and women the tools to grab the blessings of purity for themselves. The course is also a catalyst for conversation with parents or other mentors for lifelong support in this area. Finally, it’s a workbook for personal reflection and review.
There are seven sessions in the course. Each one includes the following:
Each video is of Abby discussing the topic with a group of teens. She offers guidance, provides memorable action steps, and calls your child to a higher place. That higher place is not entirely unlike standing on the counter to reach the cookies Mom stashed high in the secret place, except your child will be standing on Bible-based convictions, solid science, and serious statistics to reach a commitment to purity which sometimes feels like it’s hidden away in a secret place, impossible to reach.
A very eye-opening segment of the video is the opener, which features some of today’s teens explaining what they or their peers think about the current topic. Scary biz, people!
A teen discussion guide.
While the video may appear to be the main focus of the program, the greatest determining factor in your child’s chances for success are in your hands–if their parents are on their side, children are far more likely to succeed. This is the heart of the program. Discussing views, seeking out mentors, establishing family guidelines together, creating an open atmosphere for communication–all of this together is the key to success, but Abby opens up the floor for the conversation. Each segment contains the following:
- A note from Abby
- Film outline
- Follow up for discussion, personalizing your commitment, and applying it today.
At the end of the discussion guide is a Bible study and a 1st Peter principle section (prepare, rehearse, and share) to coincide with each segment.
A parent discussion guide. This parallels the teen study guide. Please take these discussions seriously. By seriously, I mean do them. I don’t mean assume your pulpit or lecture voice–save that for when someone sneaks your chocolate stash from your undie drawer. I also don’t mean do them once and done. This series should open your home to discussing this on a casual, consistent basis, so your children aren’t uncomfortable talking to you about this at any time.
The big differences between the parent guide and teen guide, besides the parent guide having put on a few pounds, are that the parent guide includes following:
- An introductory section (to go with the introductory video) entitled Getting the Most from this Series begins the guide.
- Each segment contains the script from the film, which is great if you want to highlight for future discussion because, you know, you forgot how to take notes…or is that just me?
- In the follow up section, the discussion questions are not left as open-ended. It offers some guidance for the parent. Thank you.
- Endnotes are included at the end, so you can tackle that Snopes-obsessed naysayer in the family who thinks your family’s pursuit of purity is a joke and isn’t afraid to say it to your kids’ face. (Oh, you know they’re out there!)
Additional resources. Each segment of the guides indicates helpful articles and additional videos which are available through a link in the guides. These reinforce and expand on some of the topics, offering more perspectives.
What are the topics?
The program is broken up into seven sections. I’m listing them below. I watched all of them, so I also listed a few thoughts–and I kept it brief..which is a minor miracle, if you know me. I had to keep a cookie in each hand to keep from typing too many words!
Segment 1: Plan Ahead: living pure in a sex saturated culture. The ticket to success in part is making a commitment before your brain has been disengaged by your hormones. It’s more than just knowing what’s right and wrong. It’s having the tools to follow the right path when inner and outer pressures are pointing you down the wrong path.
This segment doesn’t simply throw a commandment at you and tell you to memorize it or make you write it ten times every time you mess up. It’s not just a “thou shalt not,” although those are important, too. It tells you why thou shalt not, teaches the benefits of obeying the shalt not, and gives you the tools to continue shalt notting…I think I’ve carried the shalt nots too far. It offers tools–strong tools–to help you make the right commitment. It also lets you know that you are not alone on your pursuit of purity. That’s very important.
Segment 2: Counting the Cost: every decision has a price tag. This chapter is where the rubber meets the road. Here you will learn the numerous costs to premarital sex, often using the analogy of a credit card–you know, instant gratification. Buy now, pay later. And the costs are amazing.
Don’t worry, this isn’t a long list of diseases (although disease is definitely part of the “debt load”), and there are no photos or graphic details. There is one sentence that gives me pause to show my teens, because I don’t want them thinking about this too much, so I’m holding off with this section.
Segment 3: Dating: doing relationships God’s way. Abby doesn’t give you rules–no straight answers. She assists you in thinking through principles to create your own rules and your family’s rules. She clearly emphasizes the need for teens to find mentors, to have their parents on their teen, and to work through these issues together.
I especially loves her dating principles. Her number one was that the fella must love Jesus with all his heart. When I was a teen, I was just looking for a Christian, but Christians can be all over the place in their walk. Oh yeah. And some just wear the name tag.
Another excellent point she makes here is the importance of waiting to date. Statistically, the older you are when you begin dating, the more likely you are to stay committed to purity. Statistics are fun.
Segment 4: Sex: God’s purpose and plan. There is a purpose and a plan for sex. It was created by God, so God should tell you the why-for and what-not, correct? I mean, you wouldn’t ask a baker to explainyour homeschool math curriculum, would you? So go to God for the reasons for sex.
Abby explains God’s three purposes for sex and provides and explains–are you listening, because this is important–the freedom and blessing of doing things His way. (His way=God’s way, not some guy’s way. Just clarifying if you’re not really paying attention.) Here’s the icing: by resisting sexually impurity, you are not saying no to blessings–you are saying yes to something better. What’s that something? I’m not writing out the whole course for you, people. I’m just reviewing it! Okay fine, you’re saying yes to the blessings God intended.
You must talk about this and equip your kids with this information. Culture is talking about it and answering questions the wrong way. Talk about it! Please!
Segment 5: Modesty: God cares what I wear. We’ve seen Christians post the viral “Why I don’t worry about modesty” article, and it makes me…sad. As I strive to raise our son to be pure, I’m sad that Christian girls are disregarding God’s call to be an encouragement to others and not a stumbling block–where are their hearts, on themselves or Christ?
This chapter helps girls and boys understand how their clothing choices can be a hindrance to another person’s struggle for pure thoughts, what their clothing says about them, and how their choice of clothing is a sign of respect for their current or future spouse as they save their flesh for that person’s eyes only.
There’s also a fun extra on how to do a few modesty tests for your wardrobe. There are no hard and fast rules about skirt length and such; there is more of an emphasis on modesty being a state of the heart. Although you may hear a potentially offensive comment on yoga pants, but think about–keep an open mind and, uh, ask a guy. If he says, yeah, yoga pants are hot, then…
(We started with this one, because it is a gentle introduction to the series. My kids said they knew all this already because we talk about it quite a bit over the years, but we shared a discussion anyway. Some of my kids talk about these things deeply, and others stare. The main point I wanted to make with my kids is that modesty is a state of the heart, not a set of guidelines, your modesty is a blessing to others, and you have to make a commitment to it yourself, not just follow my rules. And, of course, they came up with the zinger, “It’s cold outside; who wouldn’t want to dress modestly?” Truth.)
Segment 6: Pornography: its deception and steps to get out or stay out. The mental control that pornography has over a person who begins to slide into its snare is almost unbelievable. I’ve heard these facts before, but they never fail to knock the wind out of me.
Maybe this doesn’t seem like an issue for your family, but it is–it is an issue for anyone who watches television, uses the internet, walks to the mailbox, walks through Walmart, or checks out at the grocery store. Preparing your children to avoid this snare will be a boon for their entire lives–your grandchildren won’t know to thank you, but they will in heaven.
Segment 7: Secondary Virginity: running back to God. This is an important section. Seven out of ten teens have had sex outside of marriage by 19. Here’s the shocker–the statistics for Christian kids are the same. If you have fallen into a pit, don’t despair, “Who’s going to want me now?” and take whatever comes your way. There is forgiveness. You can return to a pure path. Of course, you can’t erase all consequences, but you don’t have to continue down the wrong path or mire yourself in shame. So important! This is a beautiful, grace-filled section about how God can use your past to strengthen your future and even make you a warrior for Him.
Some of you may shudder at the word “choose,” because Scripture teaches that He chose us, and we are not capable of choosing Him. I sense the word is used here in this manner: choose to embrace God’s grace and stop living in shame. Even as Christians, we can still walk around under an umbrella of shame, even though we know and believe that God has forgiven us. Abby is telling us to embrace (choose) that forgiveness and (choose to) live without shame, knowing that God can use you and guide you on a pure path. So, no doctrinal issues! Booyah! (Booyah is soup, people, so whenever I hear someone shout “Booyah!” I look for the soup. Why are all these people shouting “Soup! Soup!” if there isn’t any soup?!)
Some addendums, quid pro quos, habeus corpii, etc. (Other Stuff)
Age questions: You know better than I do when your children are ready for this information. If your child comes home from fifth grade and says, “I have a boyfriend,” you need to be on top of this information. Need to be. This can’t wait until after Downton Abby or whatever the current fad is.
Second, why we have discussed sex and purity from little on, and you may have also, there are some details perhaps you don’t want them having in their heads quite yet. Depending on your lifestyle, there may be a few things they will not be exposed to yet that children in a school or youth group (yes, even Christian youth retreats are not always as Christian as they should be) will need to be aware of. That is why you must watch this first before popping the corn and calling the fam.
Bible stuff: My favorite reviews on Amazon are the ones that say something like, “I didn’t know that Raising your Children with Scriptural Principles in a Material World was about the Bible! They lied to us! Christians are liars! They just want to get their propaganda in our heads and brainwash us all!!!” I love those reviews for many reasons, not the least of which is the excessive use of exclamation points–are they yelling? Amateurs. Wink wink.
Yes, this course does focus on God’s perspective, following God’s guidelines, and receiving God’s blessings. It is a Christian course. If you want to watch this and your family is not Christian per se, you will still benefit tremendously. The scientific information and statistical analysis is excellent! Go for it. And then might I throw a little propaganda in your face and invite you to my church?
Awkwardness: One of the greatest disservices generations of parents have done their children is not discussing these potentially awkward topics. People, if you have children, you have had sex. If you’re “big” enough to have sex, be big enough to talk about it. It’s easier than pushing that kid out of your body or riding the adoption roller coaster. The sooner you do this, the better, before someone else in your child’s life helps decide their purity’s future. If you’re watching these videos saying, “I wish someone had said that to me,” don’t you think it needs to be said? Say it to your kids!
Abby helps take the awkwardness out of the subject, because she does the speaking for you. You can watch it together and do a “Whoa, what did you think?” and they will say, “I didn’t like her sweater,” and you will say, “It’s just like mine!” and they will say, “I don’t like that sweater either,” and the ice will already be broken and you can move into the study guide or say, “I think it would be good to set up our own family guidelines together. What do you think they should be?” and, of course, your child will say, “No ugly sweaters,” but it will go beyond that. Just start the conversation…and continue it.
This is harsh, but if you don’t teach your children the way they should go in this area, you are failing them!!! And you know I mean, because I broke every writing rule and used multiple exclamation points. It’s that serious. You are subjecting them to the curses of segment 2 above, just because you’re a little embarrassed–that’s selfish.
Don’t fail them.
One Last Thing
Let me share a story. I was in a teen Bible class, and the leader was discussing sexual purity. It was all I’d heard on the topic apart from memorizing the commandments, and I was thrilled! I thought I was the only person on the planet who thought that you should be kissing one man–the one who put the ring on your finger. I thought I would never be married because there were no people left in my generation who thought like me. I thought I was a freak. But this Bible study gave me hope.
After the class, some kids were talking to the leaer and said, “So you’re telling me you’re not making out with your hottie.” The leader winked, “I never said that.”
Crushed. He was teaching it, but not living it, and my flicker of hope died out.
I’m not saying that Abby or I am drawing the line about what is okay for your family’s convictions at kissing or hand holding or whatever. We’re saying that there need to be convictions, they need to be discussed, lines needs to be drawn, there need to be failsafes, people need to be held accountable to each other, you need to know the consequences of that kiss, and it all needs to be talked about. Don’t let your own fears and failures stop you from guiding your children down the correct path. Don’t let your child wander or find the wrong advice. Don’t let their flicker of hope die out. Show them the path.
Then walk down that path with them. Guard your own purity with regards to what you watch, how you dress, how you talk about the opposite sex, how you vote. Live it out loud.
Enough from me. Thou shalt not talk so much, Christy! You can connect with Abby on Facebook. Plus, here are what other homeschool review crew parents are saying.