A couple of weekends ago I took my oldest son away, so that he and I could complete the Passport 2 Purity curriculum. Almost two years ago, Kathy purchased the CDs and workbooks, but they gathered dust on a shelf in our mud room, waiting on my convenience.
I wish I hadnâ€™t waited so long. At 14, my son is mature and knowledgeable, but the Passport 2 Purity materials were designed for a younger, less mature audience. Even worse, in the past year Joshua has really begun to exercise a greater level of sovereignty in his life, and is becoming more and more reluctant to talk about certain subjects. I understand it is a natural (and possibly unavoidable) process, but it still makes me sad to see it happen, and it made for some awkward silences during the time that we had.
We had a great weekend. As recommended by authors Dennis and Barbara Rainey, we organized the time around a recreational event, which I wrote about in an earlier post, Travels with Faramir. We completed all five of the sessions, with time to spare for questions and general discussion.
The choice of theme verse seemed a bit unrelated to the study. On reflection, though, it provides a common thread that permeates the discussion in a very satisfying way. Christ should be the head of every aspect of your life – relationships, purity, studies, and so on.
And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.
Iâ€™m not going to say a lot about the content of the Passport 2 Purity sessions, since there is some element of surprise to it, and I donâ€™t want to ruin the event for any of my younger readers and their parents. Suffice it to say, that the material is an excellent way for a parent to begin to discuss the topics of sexuality, purity and dating relationships with a child on the brink of their transition to adulthood.
One of the things I really liked about the weekend course is that it covers the basics without being too heavy-handed. The tone is light and informative, and Rainey repeatedly circles back around to emphasizing the importance of the child-parent relationship.
Perhaps the most surprising part of the material was the fourth session, in which the Raineys talk about purity. He quickly gets your attention: â€œIâ€™m not going to tell you that the standard for Christians before marriage, is virginity.â€ Instead, he teaches that the Biblical notion of purity extends well beyond that â€˜line in the sandâ€™ which so many well-intentioned folks have drawn. Using the metaphor of a cliff-edge, Rainey walks both parent and child through an exercise of arranging various levels of physical contact in order, from â€˜least dangerousâ€™ to â€˜most dangerousâ€™. He talks about the tendency to progress through levels of physical intimacy, as a relationship extends in duration. â€œWhere will you draw the line?â€ he challenges. â€œHow much of your purity will you give away before your wedding day?â€
These are sobering questions. Many parents of my generation are in the unenviable position of having to tell their children: â€œDonâ€™t do what I did.â€
Were we ever that young?
Parents today cannot assume that their children will remain pure by default. Our culture bombards children with sexual innuendo and explicit images, through TV, movies, magazines and the internet. As one of my friends recently joked, a parent dare not assume that his children are innocents in this area:
Dad: Well, son, now that youâ€™re a freshman in high school; itâ€™s time that we had a talk about sex.
Son: Sure, Dad. What do you want to know?
Rainey works hard to bring the listener (both adult and child) to the understanding that a decision about purity must be made in advance, in order to hold to any kind of a moral standard. He warns that if you wait to decide what you will do when you are already in a relationship, you are practically guaranteeing that you will bow the knee to temptation.
I wish my parents had walked me through a curriculum of this nature, while I was still in their home. Although Kathy and I stood at the altar as virgins on our wedding day, there are lines of intimacy that we crossed, before we were married, which I regret.
Ultimately, an unmarried young man may find it helpful to think of himself as guarding his own purity and that of anyone he dates, in trust for their future spouses. I think this is a teaching that would have resonated with me, as a man who highly values honor and integrity. I think young Christian men are entirely capable of restraining their lusts, especially if they see themselves as honor-bound to guard and preserve the purity of the young lady they accompany. For some reason, this concept never took root in my mind, though it seems blindingly obvious, in hindsight.
Parents with eleven- or twelve-year-old children should rush out and purchase the Passport 2 Purity package, and start making plans to get away with your son our daughter for a weekend as soon as you are able. I strongly recommend this curriculum to your immediate attention. Kathy and Rachel are already scheming about their weekend away together.