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"Mom, Did You Wait?"

Answering the Number One Sex Question On Your Daughter's Mind

By Dannah Gresh - June/July 2000

I was driving down the highway listening to the familiar voice of Dr. James Dobson. Suddenly, the host asked his guest,

"What is the most common question a young girl will ask her mom about sex?"

Without delay the woman responded,

"Mom, did you wait?"

I pulled my mini van to the side of the highway and allowed ten years of tremendous denial and grief to engulf me. I reached for my brand new baby girl in the back seat and held her as I cried. I would not lie to my little girl.

My heart's desire was, is and always will be to live a lifestyle of purity, but in high school I detoured from that pursuit long enough to get tangled up by lust. Like no other sin, moments of unbridled passion had intertwined my life painfully into another's.

That evening, it took me three hours to tell my husband in the darkness of my bedroom. Satan had me cornered into a prison of blackmail until the very moment that my lips uttered my long-awaited confession.

Oh, how I wish I had done that sooner.

Christ's forgiveness finally verbalized in the midst of my husband's warm familiar embrace suddenly began to heal the deep tear in my heart.

The church is as plagued by Satan's sexual blackmail, as it is by the actual sins of sexual misuse.

Forty two percent of today's married "religiously active" women engaged in premarital sex. Forty three percent of women overall will have at least one abortion by the time they are 45 years old, many of them sit in the pews next to you and I on Sunday morning.

These women are often suffering silently, desperately praying that healing will come someday.

In a world where AIDS, preteen pregnancies, abortion, infertility, and sexually transmitted diseases, are all-too common, there is a consequence to sexual misuse that is being overlooked. . . . . the broken heart.

Where does healing for you personally come from?

The day that I confessed my sexual sin to my husband, I did not know that it would unlock the key to my healing. Certainly forgiveness came because I have a great loving Savior, but why did healing not naturally follow my confession to Christ?

James 5:16 says "Confess your sins to each other, and pray for each other so that you may be healed."

God's word clearly says that healing from damaged emotions - whether from a sexual sin or any other type of sin-comes from confessing that sin to another member of the church body.

I asked Josh McDowell, one of today's leading speakers on the subject, how important confession is to the process of healing. He said,

"I feel confession is a very critical part of healing. Biblically, a part of forgiveness and the cleansing process is the body of Christ. "

Becky Tirabassi, author and speaker says, "I think that when you expose the truth about your past, it doesn't have the power to be a lie anymore. The embarrassment or the shame, once you confess it, is gone."

Confession is the place of your healing.

When I confessed to my husband, God released me from my shame and demonstrated his power in me. Yes, I had sinned sexually but that was followed by years of placing myself at Jesus' feet and asking him to teach me to live a lifestyle of purity.

Today, God uses my quest for purity - seemingly the weakest part of me at one time - to mentor young women into an aggressive lifestyle of purity. There is no shame. No guilt. I feel complete freedom and joy in the testimony that God has written upon my heart.

Healing begins with an honest confession to someone within the body of Christ.

Where does healing for your friends come from?

I have to be honest with you. I think my story may have been different had the church - or women within the church body - not been silent on the subject.

In Pure Sex, Ed Young acknowledges the truth that America is sex-crazed and seems to talk of nothing but sex. Then he writes:

"This would be true, of course, unless [you] happened to visit the church. Then [you] would probably wonder whatever became of sex. [You] might never hear it mentioned at all - or perhaps only spoken of in whispers or condemning tones. Historically, to its shame, the church has either ignored the God-given gift of human sexuality or smothered it with an avalanche of 'Thou shalt nots.' "

That was one of the problems with the Christian sexual education I received when I was a teen. It was all "no-no-no!" There wasn't anyone offering good ideas on how to say no, nor was there anyone willing to talk about God's intention for sex and His great blessings if it is not misused.

As I grew into a women there still wasn't anyone talking about it. So, I continued to hide in my shame. As I began to be vulnerable in Bible studies, accountability groups and informal church gatherings I found a lot of other women who also needed healing.

We must build a comfortable, God-based dialogue about sexuality within the church.

It is imperative to pursue healing for today's broken-hearted women and to aggressively develop a new legacy of purity.

Will you be the first to bravely step forward by sharing in your small group or Bible study or even with one close friend?

What does your church offer that teaches women and teens useable skills to develop a lifestyle of purity and sexual contentment?

Where does healing and strength come from for the teens - especially your daughter?

Today's teen women are struggling equally as hard (if not harder) as you and I to live a lifestyle of purity. They don't only face the "thou shalt nots" within the church, but many of them are also getting, "but if ya do, be sure to use a condom!"

The message they are getting today is conflicting and incomplete.

The need to be vocal and intelligent about abstinence is not just moral or spiritual. It is about survival. The sexual epidemics of AIDS, human papillomavirus and other STD's, which have the ability to create infertility, agonizing pain and even death, make grave demands.

The church must build an intelligent and loving base of education for today's teens and single adults.

A survey conducted by USA Today found that 63% of teens don't want to hear the safer sex message, believing that it endorses casual sex. These same kids said they wanted "how-to-say-no" skills.

What does your church offer that teaches them useable skills to develop a lifestyle of purity?

Perhaps more importantly, I see teens today desperately searching for sexual and spiritual mentors. We must begin to tell our stories.

I recently attended the National Summit on Abstinence, which approaches the subject from a medical perspective. Perhaps the most valuable part of the weekend was when they brought several dozen teens and college coeds on to the stage to speak frankly to the adults in the audience.

One Texas college-girl boldly exuded a love for Jesus and named that as her primary reason to live a lifestyle of purity. During her time of sharing she began to break down.

Beautiful tears glistened from pain-filled eyes as she said,

" I didn't know it was going to be so hard. No one told me. You older women out there...we need to hear your stories. Don't you know that they make us stronger, braver... prepare us for how hard the battle is to protect virginity and purity? Please open up to us and share what you have learned."

If we are going to build a legacy of purity within the church, we must begin to share and mentor one-on-one with these young women. When I first began to share my story, I was so cautious. I asked another woman attending a retreat I was conducting to present it as a skit.

I wanted these girls to know that though I never experienced pregnancy, AIDS or any physical consequences, I bore the scars of a broken heart.

That is one of the consequences of sex that is nearly impossible for girls to avoid.

At the end of that retreat, I asked each girl to share something that had a deep impact on her. The girls began to recall specific parts of my masked testimony.

I decided to let the wall down and to begin to share openly. My only rule is that I make sure I don't give them any kind of a visual picture of my body, just a deep, long look at what happened in my heart.

And what about that question ... "Mom, did you wait?"

I am not afraid of that question anymore. In fact, I love to answer it. I firmly believe that when you let down the wall of secrecy and remove that mask of "perfect Christianity" a new ability to mentor your daughter naturally follows. I have watched many wise mothers of teenaged girls bravely share their struggles and past sins.

Those same teenagers face the issue of sexuality with a special determination.

I look at it like a vaccination. When we know that a deadly physical sickness like polio exists, we take a tiny amount of it and inject it into our precious little babies body. The body suddenly recognizes the disease and plans a defensive strategy against it. Why don't we do the same thing with our spiritual sicknesses? Why do we hide them as if they do not exist?

I believe we should take a tiny bit of the emotional sickness that results from past sexual sin and "inject" it into our daughter's spirit so that it learns to build a defensive strategy.

There is a Bible verse that reads, "My heart is stirred by a noble theme." That is how I feel when I talk about purity . . . like my heart is being stirred. That same verse finishes, "My tongue is the pen of a skillful writer."

As I answer the question "Mom did you wait?" I am trusting God to be my skillful writer and to place the right words on my tongue to answer that question for young women, but especially for my own little girl one day.

Copyright, 2000, by Dannah Gresh. Used by permission. Sources: Much of the content in the article is taken from And the Bride Wore White by Dannah Gresh, a new book for young women which unveils seven secrets to sexual purity.

Other sources used include: Kristine Napier, The Power of Abstinence (New York: Avon Books, 1996), 73. Interview with Josh McDowell conducted January 1, 1999 and used by permission. Interview with Becky Tirabassi conducted in May, 1999 and used by permission. Ed Young, Pure Sex (Sisters, Oreg.: Multnomah, 1997), 17.

Click here to visit Dannah's website "Pure Freedom." You will find more insights on sexual purity, and "how to order" information on her book "And The Bride Wore White."

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