Raising Girls of Faith: Sex, Virginity and “Waiting”

blonde girl

My daughter has come to a good place now that the pressure and newness of middle school has worn off. Instead of refusing to get off the bus, she is now happy to attend but that is just a small part of the challenges we face this school year. With puberty completely engaged now, my daughter is at risk from a whole new set of dangers besides new kids, new building, new responsibilities and new fears of bullying. The questions of sex, virginity and “waiting” loom above her head.

I feel ill equipped to handle this this new world of sex, virginity and waiting, especially after reading, “I Waited Until My Wedding Night to Lose My Virginity and I Wish I Hadn’t.” I can’t even tell you HOW many problems I had with that post, but firstly, it discusses a situation that is incredibly rare in this day and age, and very particular to the writer. What bothers me most is that she puts that title out there, so you get eyes on it, and young girls who don’t bother to read much, see the title and think, “See? That happens to married people, so there’s proof I don’t have to wait. And probably shouldn’t.”

THAT is how young girls think.

Because that I how *I* thought. I needed to know it was ok to do it before marriage. I didn’t want to, honestly. I didn’t think it was some great fandango thing, just something you had to get through and then one day it’d be lovely. Maybe. I believed it was something you had to do to get or keep the “great guy,” the one you’d end up with. I never did get promiscuity but I was ok with sex outside of marriage with the “One”, which led to it’s own special breed of problems.

I had no understanding of sex. And if I sound super old-fashioned for a girl who went to college in the 80s, it’s because my mom grew up in the 1930s, married in the 40s, and was taught that you don’t even DISCUSS sex with your mom until you’re home from your honeymoon. Why she thought a conversation about sex would fly after my honeymoon, at age 33 and after I’d been living with Chris for years, I have no idea.

How was my WHAT, Mom?

Then last week, I read Anna Voskamp’s post, “Dear Kids: Why Wait till Marriage — What No One Tells You & What I Wish Someone Had Told Me” in answer to that other post and it was so what I needed – not NOW, but when I was 12 and got my period. Or even before. Anna discusses what sex is and what it is meant to be in God’s plan and for a Christian. If you are a Christian, then sex:

  • is not about two people getting what they want. (Aren’t we all familiar with the “me me me” of marriage. Not from us, from our SPOUSE. Yea, right.)
  • is not about chemistry, biology, evolution, physicality, attraction, pheromones and all those worldly things. (I’ve always been turned off by that “science-y” approach that some people push about sex.)
  • it’s not even about procreation. (NOPE. It’s only necessary to reproduce, not the other way around.)

What it is is a metaphor for God’s great love for us. You wait for your wedding and then, when all the rituals and party parts are done, you two come together for the ultimate expression of your love in an ideal marriage.**

This is the way God invites us believers to partake in a “marriage” with our savior in a love fest that will last for all of eternity. There’s nothing else to do. Nothing to prove. No matter how you look. What you’ve done. No matter if you were scared. No barriers anymore. No shame.

Just. Pure. Love.

But even more, because we as Christians believe that our bodies are the temple of the living God (that is, the Holy Spirit), passing them around to who we think we want without a healthy marriage commitment* is violating that temple, throwing out God (can He really dwell in a sinning presence?), and entering into sin. And that separates us from Him, the way cheating on your spouse separates you from your husband.

Do I wish I waited? I wish I could say “I do!” With my particular issues, I was actually worried that it would go horribly wrong if I waited for my wedding night (like the lady who wrote that first article) and I’d end up divorced. So to ask me the question is silly because that right there shows you I didn’t have a CLUE about sex on any level.

I wish someone taught me what purity and waiting is really all about, even if I didn’t get it, if I wasn’t a believer at the time. I wish I could have seen sex as a wonderful union, a promise, a blessing, a deepening of commitment. I wish I had an idea what the waiting was all about, what the devotion, commitment and love signified, what the connection truly meant, rather than just the “you must or else!” – because nothing else will get a teen to violate your wishes faster than telling her that.

No one ever taught me.

This, then, is what I need to teach my daughters: sex, virginity and waiting for a man who can be a husband. They won’t be privy to the “practice” part of it, naturally, but they can see the fruits of that practice in my marriage. So for me, to teach them about sex really means teaching them about God’s design for marriage and the more difficult parts of marriage: tough love, sacrifice, commitment, and serving your spouse. In nearly 20 years of marriage, that’s what I’ve learned!

Sorry, kids, I can’t roll it any other way.

Teaching Girls with Special Needs About Christian Sex, Virginity and Waiting for Marriage

Since I can’t approach this any other way, I feel that I’ve already laid the groundwork. A few things that we’ve been working on:

Task: Teach Self Respect

I’m working on teaching them their body is a gift from God – and beautiful, with all it’s flaws! I do this mainly with words and compliments.
Challenges: My own struggles with body image, looks, and vanity and the self-deprecating comments: “I hate my belly.”
Lesson: God made us and loves us exactly as we are. Refer to Psalm 139 and “Audrey Bunny.”

Task: Teach Body Functions

We’ve always worked on giving things the proper name (I remember the babysitter who said to me, “Why don’t you just save ‘down there’ instead of the V word?” “Because if she’s in pain, how will I know down WHERE??” You can’t make this up.) I’ve also laid the foundation about where babies come from and how they are made in love by sharing with them how THEY were made in love. Yep, totally one sided, but I’m ok with that at their age.
Challenges: Menstruating training/prep for my autistic daughter. Really hard but that’s a whole OTHER post.
Lesson: This too can be addressed with how God made us & Psalm 139.

Task: Teaching Privacy and Safety

I think I’m doing an ok job with “this is private, no one sees this except Mom, Dad and the doctor” for Amelia. A little more challenging with Zoe since she’s not too body aware yet. As Amelia is getting older, I see her starting to seek privacy in changing, bathroom time and more, so we must be doing something right!
Challenges: Making the distinction between appropriate and inappropriate touching, and shifting to hugging/kissing less. (We are a super affectionate family with each other.) I have NO idea when boys as an object of attraction happens!
Lesson: Privacy might at some point need to be addressed through modesty, but we’re not really up to dressing crazy yet. Trickier but perhaps the less racy parts of Song of Solomon? “I am my beloved’s and he is mine” pretty much says it all.

Task: Teaching About Boys, Love and Marriage

I try to use Chris and myself as an example, and a few other couples we are very close with, but this overall is a challenge.
Challenge: Determining when and where dating boundaries start and end, since we’re still struggling with just seeing friends out of school. Plus both kids have best friends who are boys. Oy. Another challenge is having them meet other kids with disabilities on their level, assuming that this might not be just good for them as individuals but might factor into the future dating pool. Go ahead, call me out for thinking this, but PLAN AHEAD is the name of the game with kids with special needs. Always. For EVERYTHING.
Lesson:  I also introduce it when I’m reading Bible stories (like in the birth of Jesus, that was a NICE segue way this month, as my daughter’s teach went on maternity leave) or other books & movies in which families have babies. Matthew 1:18-25 has a pretty simple, concise version.

What have you used to teach your
kids about this topic?

I’m going to be writing more about raising my daughters in faith, especially dealing with the tough stuff when we have communication issues. I hope you’ll follow our journey!

*Of course, unhealthy marriages exist and even ones that are dangerous. I’m talking about what the ideal is, here, what we married people should be striving for.

**Technically, in early Jewish culture, it was business first (the dowry payment), then “down to business” while others waited to make sure you consummated, then the feast but close enough.

 

Originally posted October, 2014.

    • Yea I’m all to familiar with “a mom’s gotta do what a mom’s gotta do”. Not easy but we’ll manage.

  1. This conversation is also way off for me since my child is only a toddler, but as I sit here wathcing 19 Kids and Counting and the way their family handles courting, marriage, etc., it really makes me want to guide my son when it comes to this conversation. My parents never discussed these topics with me and I really wish they would have. Now at 30, I wish I could go back and change some things but as they say you live and learn.

    • Hey Cristy, I’m sorry your family didn’t talk about this stuff either. Now that we are more aware and more involved, you can right that for your children!

  2. This sis uch a great article, Gina! I hate what the author of “I waited” went through and I know some of her struggles but I think that she is looking at it all wrong. Her issue isn’t with God, it’s with the legalism of her old church.
    Anyway, I am raising my 3 girls to wait and I never considered the opposite side of what my teaching could do. You have given me a lot to think about.
    You are doing a great job! Your girls will be better women because of what you and Chris are doing now.

    • Oh Tiffany, thank you!! I struggled to write this article and put it out there, but now I know it must be the right choice if it’s helped you! Thank you for your kind word. I agree – she was a victim of legalism. And marriage? Well, it’s not easy but it’s our choice to make it work, IMO, if you are a believer and putting the effort even if your spouse is not. Good luck on sharing with your girls!