The Issue of Faith: Why it Matters and How NOT to Apply It When Having “The Talk”
In honor of this Easter weekend, I thought it fitting to tackle the role faith plays in teen girls’ decision-making when it comes to sex.
From the time we were born, we were taught to chase the momentary satisfaction. We were taught to find the largest high to fulfill our greatest lows and for me, that was sex. I gained my ultimate satisfaction from the opinion of man. It wasn’t until I discovered that a righteous, pure, just man died for me, that I found my true value and worth, Jesus Christ. Now I no longer have to chase the momentary satisfaction because I’ve found a permanent one. ~High School Junior
The truth is, religious beliefs are a very strong reason why some teen girls (and guys) abstain.
According to the National Survey of Family Growth, more than half of teen girls—57 percent—said that they had never had sex, and nearly one-half of these young women said that the main reason they had abstained from sex was that it was against their religion or morals. 1
And I have received numerous letters from girls that confirm this survey’s results.
If I wasn’t already sold on being sexually abstinent because of religious and emotional reasons, I surely am now. ~High School Sophomore
I am a Christian girl and my biggest fear isn’t STD’s or the emotional distress, etc. It’s the fact that my God would be disappointed in me. I am not trying to say that I would have sex if I didn’t know my God but I’m saying why don’t you explain to people that you can find love through something else that’s not a person or material things. ~High School Freshman
As a Christian myself, I understand why Christian parents would approach their “Talk” from a biblical perspective. And I think that’s great!
But time and again I see teens reject their parents’ teachings.
The problem isn’t WHY parents like you may choose to include your faith in your discussions about sex with your teens.
It’s HOW you go about it.
What NOT to Do
The following are a few Don’ts to consider:
- Don’t avoid discussing sex at all. Some parents think if they talk about sex with their child, it will put ideas in their heads. But it could be the opposite.
I lost my virginity at 14…I’ve never had ‘the talk’ with my mom, mainly because she is extremely religious. ~High School Sophomore
- Don’t assume that just because your daughter isn’t having sex, that she’s not making other poor choices. Do you know how many girls have told me they watch pornography or they’ve engaged in oral sex in order to keep their virginities intact? Too many!
I am very religious and had always been determined to save myself for marriage. However, I had been online a few days ago and stumbled upon a porn page. It had been going through my head a bit and I had been considering looking it up again and [trying to decide whether] it was right or wrong. I’m so glad you talked to us when you did, because your talk about porn was what I needed to keep me from temptation. Thank you! ~A sophomore female
- Don’t think telling your daughter not to do it just because it’s in the bible is enough. Let’s be honest, the struggle is REAL! The sexual images and messages teens are bombarded with today make it tough for even the most devout to withstand.
I’ve been raised Baptist my entire life so abstinence has been continually preached to me. No explanation was ever given to me except that I would be a disappointment and a sinner if I did have sex. It is hard in today’s time as a teenager to live this way with no exceptions and sex happening all around us. However, these classes made me realize that there are other reasons to abstain.
Prior to you coming I’ve always heard adults enforce the fact that you should wait until marriage before having sex. I didn’t fully agree with that, just because it said it in the Bible & that that was expected of you. ~High School Sophomore
- Don’t tell your daughter sex is bad. If you make her think sex is bad, will she always think it’s bad even when she gets married? Or will she just dismiss what you say all together?
I’m a Christian and all my life I’ve heard sex before marriage is bad but I never agreed. I thought it was stupid not to have sex just because it’s in a book and the preacher says it’s wrong…After hearing you speak, I no longer feel pressured to do anything and know now how to prevent it from happening. ~High School Junior
What to Do
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As the survey I referenced earlier shows, faith can have a positive impact on your daughter’s decision-making regarding love, sex and relationships.
So how do you connect the dots and weave your religious beliefs into your discussions with your daughter?
Do make it personal and practical.
Y’all know that I teach about sex and healthy relationships in the schools. Obviously, I can’t discuss sex from a biblical perspective with my students.
But that doesn’t keep me from talking to girls about how valuable they are.
I am a 17-year-old kingdom Christian girl, which is another way to say that I already heard the sex talk about a million times. Something, however, became clearer when you talked about it. It is not just about showing respect to God; it is also about respecting yourself. It will be hard to keep this promise that I made with myself but I now know that it is worth it. ~High School Senior
It also doesn’t keep me from talking to girls about…
…how to love and respect themselves first,
…how abstaining from sex can help them reach their future goals,
…how important it is to establish friendships and relationships where their decision to abstain is supported and encouraged.
…how to establish boundaries for themselves and the person they’re dating.
The good news is you don’t have to beat your daughter over the head with the bible to get her to practice what it preaches.
Instead, DO show her how to practically apply its principles to her everyday hopes, dreams, and struggles.
I come from a very religious home, so I have always had abstinence as one of my morals. However, you taught me the logic and importance behind my moral standing. There is a huge stigma behind abstinence. People say that people who wait are ‘too uptight’ or ‘not fun’ or ‘just a righteous freak.’ People don’t realize that abstinence is more than just being prude. You taught me and hopefully the rest of my class that abstinence is a way to care for yourself, not only physically, but emotionally. ~High School Senior
If you’re a Christian or person of faith, how do you weave your religious beliefs into your discussions about sex with your teen(s)? Leave your comments in the box below.
1 The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. (2013). Tips to Help Faith Leaders and Their Communities Address Teen Pregnancy. Washington, DC: Author.