Today's sex-saturated culture sells teens and young adults a lie that will steal their future, their families, and possibly their lives. Time for a Pure Revolution is a hard-hitting and well-researched look at the truth directed at parents and leaders of young people. Doug Herman gives practical strategies for pursuing sexual purity and personal integrity.
|Publisher:||Tyndale House Publishers|
|Product dimensions:||5.46(w) x 8.22(h) x 0.64(d)|
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Time for a Pure Revolution
By Doug Herman
Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.Copyright © 2004 Doug Herman
All right reserved.
Chapter OneLonging to Connect? pure beginnings
there's something enchanting about a garden, wouldn't you agree? Maybe it's the beautiful colors or the variety of scents emanating from such a rich bouquet. Perhaps it's the unique design, textures, and the restful allure that captivates our souls and stimulates our imagination, just as it must have fascinated Adam and Eve back in the original Garden.
Few things are as pure as an innocent beginning. And if we are to understand what God really wants for us in our quest for purity and our longing for connection, we need to know his plan and design for humankind in its original form.
If we are the creation, then we were created. A Creator formed us. And we find in the Book of Beginnings-also known as Genesis-that this Creator was a sole God. And yet he also had plurality in his essence-God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit-revealing the importance of community.
The Book of Beginnings reveals how the Creator knelt down and began forming man from the earth. The soil was a good place to begin life. After all, every living plant drew nourishment from its richness. As the Creator shaped, the animals must have watched, fascinated. This was another creation, a pure beginning.
Imagine seeing flesh and bone take shape in the hands of that Creator. And looking at this perfectly formed body, you and I would call it good. No, we'd call it magnificent! This was the prototype of humankind, perfect in every way. But the brow of the Creator was certainly creased. For something was missing-the human being was still dead.
It's All about Life
Until the Creator breathed life into man's body, it was useless. It only resembled his handiwork and shaping. But once man was fully alive, the Creator could see his reflection in this creation.
The first man must have come to life with amazement. Can you imagine what it must have been like for him? Fully adult and fully conscious, Adam arrived. Unlike a baby born today, who can't remember his birth (and for that I say, "Thank you, God!"), this man was able to think, talk, and recognize. It's another of God's wonderful mysteries-that, as God, he can create anything, and in any time, stage, or development that he chooses.
Next, God named Adam, giving him an identity. Adam's identity didn't come from what he did-his career, economic status, etc.-since he'd lived only an hour. Nor was that identity determined by a group he associated with, since he was the only human. Instead his identity was found within, in his soul and spirit. He was a child of the Creator. And this relationship and identity fulfilled and completed him.
Not Good to Be Alone
The Creator enjoyed his relationship with Adam. And Adam enjoyed it too. As the first person on the earth, he probably had a blast naming all the animals and other parts of creation. And I'm certain he tasted each of the fruits and vegetables before naming each one. His life was full, and he was happy.
In the cool of the evenings God and Adam walked together. They talked together. We can only guess what intimate conversations occurred between them. Maybe they spoke of the creation of the world. Perhaps Adam learned the keys to farming crops from the one who designed them. Most likely they discussed the interactions among the created animals as well, including pregnancy and birth. Peering into his reflection at the water's edge, I can imagine Adam wondering about his own young. Would he have any? And what about his mate? Later, maybe he expressed his heart to the Creator about companionship, and the Creator said, "This is not good."
Not good? How can anything made without sin in a garden of perfection be "not good"? But the Creator answered this question himself. "It is not good for man to be alone."
You may have questions here. And so do I. Why didn't God create companionship along with Adam in the first place? Why is it not until later that the Creator says, "This is not good"? I believe it's because he wanted Adam to establish what it meant to be a leader first, while developing a deep desire for someone to connect with. Adam needed to see the blessings of companionship. And to fully appreciate that, Adam needed to be completely alone and independent first.
You see, God could not complete his work in Adam until Adam had experienced life without human companionship. And that experience itself prepared him for a new relationship.
What was true back in the original Garden holds true today too. There comes a time in all of our lives when we must move out of our parents' home and live on our own. That goes for our kids too. We all long for our children to become independent from us, but not disconnected. At least most of you want that! That's natural. And that change in the parent-child relationship was also designed by the Creator. But do we want our grown-up children to be single forever? Or do we long for them to be happy and content in a marriage, where they may have the opportunity to birth or adopt children-and therefore learn even more about unconditional love? Such a match is also part of a larger design.
But sometimes we forget that living "as a single," like the first man on earth did for a while, can also be important and valuable.
Single and Celibate
Celibacy. What comes to your mind when you hear that word? Perhaps you think of a priest or monk, banished from a relationship with others due to a religious commitment made on a foggy, gray day. Or maybe celibacy evokes a picture of Mother Teresa, a person devoted fully to God and committed to love the "unlovable" people around her.
Or perhaps you think of celibacy as "the gift nobody wants," as a good friend once told me. And you know what I've found? He's not too far off! I've spoken with scores of single adults and teens who find themselves on a journey through this valley of singleness. They ply me with questions about relationships and hammer me with queries about the theology of God's role in the interpersonal connection. But under the surface, most of them are longing for a soul mate, someone to walk alongside them.
The truth is, few people like to be single. Well, let me rephrase that: Few people like to be alone. Single may be the posh marital status for some, so long as their activities are filled with friends and their bed rarely has a cold side. But is this right? Where do we find a pure relationship?
If you want to make a single adult angry, simply share with them the formula that goes something like this: "If you want to find the perfect man or woman for you, then you need to learn the power of contentment. See, being content is the essence of loving yourself in a godly way. Once you find that you don't need a relationship but simply want one, then the right person will come along-maybe they've been there all the while!"
Although there is truth in that response, the search for connection is often much more complicated. Too easily we who are married or happily connected to another will share our advice with a "single." But then we leave and go home to our spouse. Meanwhile, the sole sojourners surrounding us continue their journey. They open their sails wide and await God's winds to direct them to a deep place of contentment, even if no one is on board with them. At times this aloneness or loneliness can be incredibly painful, causing many things to surface, both good and bad.
Over the past couple of decades, singles have been finding the road to relational contentment increasingly littered with garbage and obstacles. Buried under the surface of that road are land mines that threaten the very existence of the single. Whether dodging emotional pain, strange invitations to connect, or even diseases, the journey has become perilous. As a result, many singles are looking beyond themselves for guidance. Teens and adults alike are turning to faith to guide them. "Undoubtedly, the push towards chastity is being led by the religious, who have the most to gain as they consider the darkest details of the afterlife," writes reporter Rebecca Fowler for a Sydney, Australia, newspaper. "But it is not their exclusive preserve."
Fowler writes about two women discussing their newfound celibacy in London. Nicola Baxter, a 29-year-old drama teacher, explains that she had endured three consecutive relationships with 30-something professional men in which each ending was a bit more disappointing. As a result, she now abstains from sex in her relationships. "It's really refreshing," Baxter says. "Just removing it as an option and concentrating on other things. I'm sure you learn to focus that energy elsewhere. And you no longer feel a freak. I've got friends of both sexes who feel the same. Just for now, I'm happier going home with myself."
And she should be. Young men and women need to "concentrate on other things" if they are single. That way their minds won't be needlessly pounded by the continual question of where their soul mates are hiding. In fact, the usually less complicated lives of singles is a great time to connect, reconnect, or connect more deeply with the Creator, allowing his message and life purpose to flow through them. Even Baxter, who would not put herself in the "faith camp," claims that "being celibate for three months has given her a more spiritual sense of life. She is convinced the energy she might once have put into sex and boyfriends is now focused elsewhere." Good for her!
Not Only for Christians
So is celibacy strictly a Christian phenomenon? No, observes Fowler. "Outside Glasgow's central mosque, boys in traditional Islamic dress play football while their veiled mothers wait for them in the car park. Inside, a group of young men who call themselves 'the circle' have arrived for their weekly meeting to discuss the Koran. Those who are single do not have girlfriends and expect to have arranged marriages. Those who are married remain celibate during Ramadan between sunrise and sunset, and consider adultery a crime worthy of stoning."
So "purity in a single life" is not some Christian's intellectual property. But to be a Christian requires purity in single living. Sadly, we are having to look harder today to find that standard.
If it is so hard to remain single and pure, not only in physical expression but in thoughts, character, and relationships in general, what should singles do? "It is better to marry than to burn with passion," the apostle Paul instructed. So for generations, young men have stepped into marriage to escape the fire, only to find another heat burning at their core. What were they to expect? They were escaping the temptations of lust rather than developing the strength to conquer them. And without that strength in a marriage, affairs are imminent.
But that's just the men, correct? No! In most circles, men have certainly secured the role of sexual predators on the run, but women have fought for their right for flight as well. Just take a look at the periodicals at the newsstand, where more than one try to mask the stigma associated with women who have had multiple sexual partners. For too long it's been a symbol of "strength and virility" for a man to have many women in the parlor of his history. In fact, the greatest king in the history of Israel accumulated many wives. No, I'm not describing Solomon. I speak of his father, David. It was this accumulation of wives, by the way, that was David's initial sin against God's instruction. This sin gained strength until it consumed David and led him to seduce Bathsheba, a married woman. Ultimately, David's lack of self-control led to many deaths and further division within an already war-torn kingdom.
It's not okay to have many wives-or lovers. Period. The innate drives in man grate against it. Why are most singles so curious about how many sexual partners the person they are dating has had? Part of that may be competition. But it's also the God-given longing to be solely connected as one.
Glamour magazine featured an entire article by writer Lynn Harris to advise women who are questioned by men about the number of their sexual partners. She quotes "specialists" in sexuality, specifically Paula Kamen, author of Her Way: Young Women Remake the Sexual Revolution. "Today, women see their number more like an astrological sign than as a reflection of their morals," says Kamen. "As in, 'I'm a nine, which means I'm bold yet circumspect.' So the real question isn't, 'What's your number?' it's 'Does your number reflect the way you see yourself (or the way you'd like to)?' Most women say yes."
In efforts to make themselves feel better about their history and sexual experiences, many try to amplify the positive. Paula Kamen continues her report: "'I don't have an issue with my current number, which is 27,' says Karen, 32, a scientist in Washington, D.C. 'I don't think I'd have as much confidence if I hadn't experienced the things I have.' It all adds up to a woman who's comfortable with her sexuality."
My heart breaks for Karen because 27 also represents a number of noncommittal moments. She's been used and not committed to. Her decisions to have sex also place her in a category of high risk for physical pain and even death (more on STDs later). And just because someone doesn't currently feel regret doesn't mean that, given time, regret won't be a natural response.
The truth is, all the sexual conquests in a single's life will never measure up to those breathtaking moments married couples regularly experience. In that same issue of Glamour a married woman shared her "number"-one. She was a virgin when she married at age 18, and she had been married for 12 years. This attractive, healthy-looking blonde had practiced abstinence as a single and now reports on the bliss of married sex: "'I've had more sex than most of my single friends, and I've been with only one person,' affirms Hillary happily, a 30-year-old lawyer in Canada who has been married for 12 years."
In contrast, a woman pictured holding a sign displaying the number 43 purposefully posed with the wind blowing her brunette hair across her face, thus hiding her identity. I wonder ... why? Is it pride or regret?
The Glamour writer's own bottom line when it comes to connecting with so many men? Ms. Harris tells you straight out: "When I meet the guy who makes me want to quit counting, I'll do so without regret." But when she finally does meet him, perhaps she'll do so with regret because she wishes she'd have waited and had higher standards until he came along. And maybe he'll be wishing the same thing too.
Excerpted from Time for a Pure Revolution by Doug Herman Copyright © 2004 by Doug Herman. Excerpted by permission.
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Table of Contents
|Introduction: Unlock Your Passion!||xi|
|Chapter 1||Longing to Connect? pure beginnings||1|
|Chapter 2||Finding Beauty in a World of Ashes: pure identity||25|
|Chapter 3||The Great American Love Story: pure culture||43|
|Chapter 4||Intimate Encounters: pure love and pure sex||67|
|Chapter 5||What Teens Wish Parents Knew about Sex and Love: pure education||89|
|Chapter 6||To Be Sexually Active--or Not? pure choices||105|
|Chapter 7||The Real Facts about STDs: pure prevention||125|
|Chapter 8||When Is Enough, Enough? pure revolution||147|
|Chapter 9||It Takes a Family First: pure connection||157|
|Chapter 10||Get Ready to Fight! pure resolve||183|
|Chapter 11||Drawing Lines in the Sand: pure strategies||201|
|About the Author||237|