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Parents: Help kids stay pure for marriage

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Plenty of issues surfaced at a True Love Waits summit for youth workers and student ministry leaders earlier this year.

Attendees noted the need for more emphasis on ministry to parents, specifically to support them in their role as primary spiritual developers of their children.

“The message in society today is one of encouraging teen sex,” said Jimmy Hester, cofounder of True Love Waits, which sponsored the summit to get input on ways to keep True Love Waits fresh and relevant. “We live in a culture that ridicules biblical standards and promotes sexual activity among unmarried young people as normal, making it increasingly challenging for them to live a life of purity.”

Many parents are in denial as to the scope of the problem and the ways their children are affected, summit participants often noted in the sessions aimed at better understanding specific challenges students are facing, needs leaders have in meeting them and ways in which True Love Waits can remain effective for future generations.

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Other issues listed by the youth workers and student ministry leaders included:

— dysfunction in families

— absence of parental supervision

— weak parental standards

— parents being reactive rather than taking preventive measures

— inconsistent lifestyle models at home

Ideas for addressing such problems included parent/teen True Love Waits events; teaching seminars for parents via podcasts or videoconferences; and resources to provide practical guidance to equip parents in raising children who embrace the True Love Waits’ abstinence-until-marriage pledge.

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As it turned out, the timing for one of those helps came more quickly than those who suggested it might have imaged, because LifeWay Christian Resources’ student ministry already was working a resource called “Pure Parenting: Teaching Your Teen Why True Love Waits.”

The study book, which was released in July, can be used individually or in a small group setting with other parents. A leader’s guide also is available.

“Our culture has made a god of sex, and we are bombarded incessantly with calls to worship at its altar,” said Lynn Pryor, author of Pure Parenting. “And here we stand as parents with our puny cry to wait for sex. We’re like the lone piccolo player surrounded by a platoon of loud, obnoxious trombones.

“As loud as the culture screams, though, it is still our voice our children want to hear.”

Pryor, who serves as editorial project leader for LifeWay’s student ministry publishing, said Pure Parenting aims “to share the heart and voice of other parents who have walked where we are walking. It also looks biblically at the role parents play in helping their teenager discover why true love waits, the basis for purity and the reasons why we should be pure. The heart of Pure Parenting is in helping us know how to help our teenagers practice a lifestyle of purity.”

The book also revisits True Love Waits’ roots. “We are going back to one of our original goals,” Hester said, “which is having parents talk about sexual issues with their children. Pure Parenting will help mothers and fathers fulfill their responsibilities in this important area and provide them with guidance in discussions they have with their children.”

Since the first True Love Waits national celebration on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., in July 1994, the ministry’s leadership has provided themes and direction for churches to help students live their lives in purity.

In February, True Love Waits released a gender-appropriate flipbook titled “Complete: A Life of Purity,” which is being used by youth leaders as a Bible study tool to engage students in conversation about the moral challenges they face.
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Don Beehler is a writer based in Franklin, Tenn. For more information about True Love Waits, visit: www.truelovewaits.com. Pure Parenting retails for $7.95 and the leaders guide for $9.95. Both are available at LifeWay Christian Stores or may be purchased online at http://www.lifeway.com/e9/shop/?Ntk=All&Ntt=true+love+waits.