Planned Purity

Reeling from the pain of personal experience, Dannah Gresh set out to equip teens to say "no" to sex

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?

Its not like I didnt want to live a life of purity as a teen; its just nobody was telling me how to do it.

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?

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May 25

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