It's summer—the season of warm weather and, unfortunately, revealing fashions. Take a stroll through your local department store and once again you'll be confronted with the challenge to find modest—yet fashionable—clothing for your child. But beyond the too-short shorts and the skimpy tees is the message our over-sexualized society sends children about their sexuality. What's a Christian parent to do?
Christian Parenting Today decided to talk to Dannah Gresh, 37, a nationally recognized expert on the subject of teen sexuality and the author of the bestselling books And the Bride Wore White: Seven Secrets to Sexual Purity for Teen Girls and Secret Keeper: The Delicate Power of Modesty (both Moody). In 1997 Dannah (pronounced like "Hannah") and Bob, her husband of 15 years, founded Pure Freedom, a ministry that seeks to equip people of all ages to live a life of purity, to experience healing from past impurity, and to build a vibrant, passionate marriage. They conduct roughly 25 youth conferences and retreats a year, some co-ed and others specifically for girls or for girls and their moms. In 2004, the Greshes were invited to take their message to Zambia, where they taught purity in the AIDS-ravaged cities of Ndola and Lukasa.
Dannah's most recent release is Secret Keeper Girl: 8 Great Dates for You and Your Daughter, a DVD and workbook aimed at helping a mother build a strong connection with her eight- to 12-year-old daughter. Dannah knows from firsthand experience—she's the mother of Lexi, 11, and Rob, 14—the importance of providing children with the tools to remain pure until marriage.
Christian Parenting Today: What triggered your desire to take on the issue of sexual purity?
Dannah: About 11 years ago, as I was driving down the highway with my six-month-old daughter, Lexi, I heard an interviewer on a radio program about teen sexuality ask his guest, "What's the number-one question about sex on a teen girl's mind?" Without hesitation, the interviewee said, "Mom, did you wait?" Suddenly engulfed by ten years of grief and denial, I pulled my minivan to the side of the road. I realized I didn't want my daughter to experience the hurt I had from stepping outside God's plan for sexuality.
CPT: Had you been sexually active before marriage?
Dannah: Yes, when I was 15 and in a Christian dating relationship. I'd thought I was incapable of that kind of sin, but I got tangled up by lust. So here I was ten years later, holding my baby in my arms, crying and thinking, OK, God, how do I protect her from making the same mistake?