Julie Lyles Carr: Reader Questions

Friday, February 25, 2011

Reader Questions

Reader Questions: I love 'em.
After my post on Wednesday about 4 of 8 and her purity ring and commitment, I received this email in the ol' Octamom Inbox...

Hi Julie,
I read your recent post regarding the promise ring of 4 of 8. I am just curious. What is exactly meant by “she committed her dating life and purity to the Lord”? Does that mean that she will never marry?
Sorry for the question but this really got me thinking. Is it a Christian tradition? I belong to a Roman Catholic family so I am not aware of those things J

Hope you can shed light?

Warm regards,

Would be happy to go into more detail, Sweet C!

4 of 8 taking a purity vow does not mean that she has decided to not marry. It's that she will wait until marriage to engage in sexual activity and will be cautious in her dating life. This is not some set of 'rules' that Mike and I have placed on her: this is her decision. Mike and I have told our kids that they are responsible for their relationships with the Lord and they are responsible for walking before Him in the way He leads.

We've been very frank with our kids. We've told them that we know we can make all kinds of rules and have all kinds of 'speed bumps' and chaperoning and internet filters and all the rest, but the reality is this: people will do what they want to do. We've seen many a time parents who thought they had developed a fool-proof system for controlling their kids' dating and sexual lives, only to discover that loopholes not only existed but were exercised.

That's why we start the conversation about dating and sexuality with our kids by asking, "What is your goal? Where do you want to be as a person on your wedding day?" And after listening carefully, we ask them if we can coach them toward that goal.

And so far, the oldest four have asked us to coach them.

1 of 8 waited until she was almost 19 to date, and then chose to date an awesome Christian man whom my blog readers know as Da Boy or Awesome Nick. Their relationship was built on a long friendship that has spanned many years and miles. They are adorable, yes, they kiss and are affectionate, yes, they love each other. And, yes, they are committed to saving certain things for marriage.

2 of 8's goal has been to wait to date until she is in college and then to seek more of a courtship model, not dating in a casual way. She feels that will be the best approach for her personal purity goals. She would love to have her first kiss at the wedding altar, but is not legalistic~~she just thinks that could be crazy romantic.

3 of 8 determined that he just wanted to have friendships with girls and that he is not interested in dating until he is in late high school/ early college. He prefers hanging out in group settings with both genders and enjoys his friendships with guys and girls, liking the fact that he doesn't feel the dating pressure and perceived awkwardness of junior high romance.

4 of 8 likewise has observed the stress and pressure amongst her friends who are dating and has happily decided that she wants to wait to enter that arena. She thinks she might like to have a boyfriend by college.

Perhaps there are some parents out there rolling their eyes at our approach. But all I know to respond at this point is to say that our kids are walking in their choices. We have extremely open and frank conversations about sexuality. Our kids know that they can ask us anything and we will tell them, no embarrassment involved. We start this process when our kids are young, being very blunt in letting them know where babies come from. Mike and I are very affectionate with one another, often kissing and hugging in our home. We want our kids to see attraction and commitment and covenant modeled appropriately before them. I don't think any 'fool-proof' system exists out there, but I do think Christian parents who desire for their kids to walk in purity must, must, must talk about these issues. The world loudly shouts at them about it, from images to music to clothing. If believers remain silent, or, if not silent, uncomfortable in conversation about it, the message the kids take from that is that their parents have no clue. As I told a group I spoke to about teens and purity, "If you are uncomfortable talking about sexuality with your children...GET OVER IT. They deserve for you to be the first point of information, the first place they come to get their questions answered."

And here's a final thought: Naivete does not equal purity. I sometimes hear parents saying they don't want to splotch the 'purity' of their children with these kinds of discussion. But what they are calling the 'purity' of their children is, in reality, naivete. Not knowing about something is not purity. Purity is choosing to abstain and exercise self-control in a buffet of choices.

Well, Sweet C, hope that helps answer your question! I don't necessarily see our purity ring ceremony as a Christian tradition, but it has become a tradition in our home and is also offered by our church. Please feel free to email me any more thoughts!

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