Although we’ve made leaps and bounds in the past few decades, the sex talk is still horrifically awkward for many parents. Some even plop their kids down at church and say, “Here, you tell them what they need to know!” And for years, we did. Youth workers instructed teenagers to save sex for marriage because it’s sacred. We reminded them that true love waits and sealed the deal with a silver ring.
But the purity talk is much more profound. And helping moms and dads start that conversation is just as crucial as any lesson or sermon we give.
The purity talk is a bit like my checkbook (no, not empty). If I focus solely on the balance, I’ll eventually overdraw. That’s because the balance is just the final number, not a full picture of what’s actually happening in my account.
Purity conversations are similar. If we stick to the final balance—“Don’t have sex until you’re married”—we forego many transactions that define how we arrive at that final total. And if a young person makes a mistake, he or she immediately feels overdrawn. Sometimes a teenager’s church or family even starts assessing fees for non-sufficient funds.
After making errors in judgment, teenagers feel marginalized. They don’t think they can recover because the account is in the negative. So they just toss the checkbook out altogether, giving up on purity.
Youth workers can stop this cycle by reminding parents of their influence and how to wield it. These conversational guidelines will help parents keep accounts in balance when discussing purity. (They might even guide your youth talks, too!)
Start early. It’s never too soon to discuss purity at home. We began telling our kids their bodies were special—fearfully and wonderfully made by God—as soon as they were born. We quoted Bible passages while dressing and changing them. As our kids became aware of their bodies, we encouraged open dialogue using accurate terminology. That inspired ongoing dialogue about how to care for and honor their bodies. This is a key transaction in the purity checkbook.
Encourage modesty. The sooner parents instill this, the less resistance they’ll face. Contrary to popular belief, modesty has little to do with clothing styles. To communicate the concept to our kids, we instituted a rite-of-passage moment by making a big deal out of their first bathrobe. We went out for a special dinner and gave the robe as an intentional gift. The conversation ran along the lines of “Our bodies are amazing and special, and they’re also private and ours to manage.” It was one more regular entry in the checkbook.
Address impurity. It’s everywhere in our culture, which is why the sex talk must extend beyond “don’t have sex.” Parents can help kids exercise caution when choosing TV shows, music, fashion styles, internet hangouts, words, and more. My wife and I instilled a mindset that everything was about purity. So when conversations about sexuality, masturbation, pornography, dating, and relationships needed to happen, they were simply a natural progression of conversation. The talks lost all awkwardness and stigma because they were just more purity discussions—regular, recognizable entries in our checkbook.
Guard the heart. This is key to making sure the account doesn’t become overdrawn. Purity conversations in the home, at every age and stage, need to focus on our hearts rather than our actions. In the checkbook metaphor, it’s the daily balancing of accounts. “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life” (Proverbs 4:23, NLT). This sums up why purity talks matter so much—and why they must address more than what not to do. Helping teenagers realize that their physical decisions are also spiritual decisions is key. Helping parents grasp that truth changes everything.
Simply talking about abstaining from sex before marriage is akin to saying, “If I have checks, I have money.” The check register is the only true determination of available funds. When parents grasp the breadth of the purity conversation—and when we embrace that in our ministries—young people can avoid overspending.
Looking for a good youth ministry curriculum on purity? Try this best-selling resource, Pure Sex Starter Kit.