It’s February, and romance is in the air.  Or maybe that’s the aroma of the mass marketing machine that creates a fake holiday to pressure us into buying more stuff.

Either way, I’ve used each February for the last few years as an excuse for teaching about God’s design and plan for sex.  It was all fun and games until one year I looked up and my 11 year old daughter was sitting in the youth group.

Gulp.  This just got real.

I think that with her addition to the group, the teaching didn’t change but my sensitivity to how YOUNG these kids are changed.  We should not be having to have these conversations so soon!

But the world is, so we better.

If you’ve got kids nearing middle school, and you are dreading the big talk, let me put you on an amazing resource.  Family Life produces an amazing tool for parents called Passport to Purity that we’ve utilized at our church for years.  It’s a weekend experience for one parent with their emerging teen, where you pair fun life experiences with CD’s and journaling that explore and inspire on one of the most awkward and important conversations you’ll ever have.  Our church owns a copy we loan to parents, so if you’re one of my locals, let me know.  Otherwise, make the investment, buy the product, and make a memory.

For the rest of us, I want to share a simple concept that we reinforce with our teens every year.  If you’ve got teens, you should use this.  If you’ve got little ones, learn it well, your time is coming.

We live in a culture that is sex saturated.  It’s used to sell everything from shoes to hamburgers.  To live in modern western culture is to be sexually abused, at least on a visual level.

And all the while, we keep telling kids that they should stay pure.  But why?  Because God said so.  But why?

I’m going to share the most helpful explanation I’ve ever encountered.  Thank you Andy Stanley for being so clever with your simple phrases.

The the ultimate goal for our lives is not purity.  It’s intimacy.  

What is intimacy?  It’s knowing someone, and being fully known, without fear of rejection.

Purity paves the way for intimacy.

This simple, brilliant concept is true in both human and spiritual relationships.  We want intimacy with people.  In a marriage relationship, sex is that amazing glue that helps form intimacy, as you learn, know, and enjoy someone in all of their exposed awkwardness.  You’ve got the security of a lifetime commitment to them, so sex draws you together.

Before marriage, sexual experience works as a type of glue, but one with no promises or insurance.  When you get involved sexually with someone before the commitment of marriage, you’ve given a piece of yourself to them and the fear of rejection skyrockets.  This is why we start making so many stupid decisions when we get physical with people too early.  We ignore their obvious flaws.  We cling when we should run.  We’ve spent our glue on them and don’t want to go through the ripping process.

So how do I get to know someone in a healthy way before marriage?  Pursue purity.  Purity paves the way for intimacy.  I learn them, watch them, see how they are around others.  All of this is done while guarding my heart, mind, and body.  I’ll still get emotionally connected to them.  But I won’t raise the stakes of rejection to the level of panic.  Purity paves the way for intimacy.

Spiritually, it works the same way.  Purity paves the way for intimacy with God.  He already fully knows me.  Through Christ He demonstrates that He fully loves me and won’t reject me.  But when I pursue sexual pleasure outside of the confines of my spouse, I feel the distance with God.  Shame comes.  Regret.  It’s impossible to continue a path of failing sexually without repentance while walking with Jesus.  So at some point, we must chose.  Intimacy with God or doing whatever I want.

There’s much that goes along with this, I’ll explore it in the days ahead.  But for now, remember this:  Intimacy is the joy of fully knowing someone and being fully known, without fear of rejection.  We all want intimacy.  Purity paves the way for intimacy.

Look first to your own life.  Examine your heart.  Turn your actions and attitudes towards the path you know Jesus would have you walk.

Then teach your kids.