I listen to FamilyLife Today regularly on the radio, and was very encouraged by a series of interviews with Lisa Bevere, who wrote Kissed the Girls and Made Them Cry. As she told her story, and urged parents to protect their children's hearts and teach them about purity, I was reminded of my own past. If you knew my history, you would consider it amazing that today I would be telling my children about how to stay pure before marriage.
The fact is, I was trained as a child to become an adulterous Jezebel. That may sound harsh, but it's the truth. While I was growing up, my parents had a very unstable marriage. Mom didn't consider faithfulness as something worth maintaining, and she had multiple affairs while married to Dad.
Unbeknownst to me at the time, Mom was actually a call girl when I was between 8 and 10 years of age. A few years later, when I was a teenager, she coached me in luring young men sexually. Sadly, Mom's upbringing had been chaotic (her mother was married five times and her father rejected her), and she really did not know how to properly parent a child.
I was taught that physical beauty was my ticket to self-worth. I was taught that it was okay to have sex as long as it was with someone I loved. I remember Mom telling me, "Enjoy sex while you're young, because good sex won't last." She also told me to "never depend on a man."
I had a serious boyfriend when I was 16 years old. Mom drove me to Planned Parenthood and got me put on the pill. My parents thought it was fine if I was sexually active, they just wanted to be sure that I was "safe." That's why they allowed my boyfriend to spend the night with me in my bed at home. Somehow they believed I'd be protected that way.
I had no idea that there could be negative consequences of choosing promiscuity. I don't remember being taught about the danger of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
For about four years my boyfriend and I were intimate with my parents' blessings. Although there was something inside me that didn't feel right about it, I continued because he was pressuring me and my parents said it was okay.
A decadent lifestyle
I broke up with him when I was about 20. I was a beautician, and very confused. At the beauty salon where I worked, people were involved with drugs, alcohol, homosexuality, and bisexuality. I started hanging out with one gal who was doing the club scene and soon I was giving myself away to different men.
At one point three co-workers and I ended up at some guy's apartment, drinking and smoking marijuana. I think he gave me a drug because I remember not being able to move or talk, even though I was mentally alert. After everyone left but me, he proceeded to rape me. I couldn't even scream.
Not too long after that, I found out that I had a sexually transmitted disease. It was devastating news. My mother cried in despair when she found out I had herpes, and I thought, "It's all over. I'll never find any man who will want me."
By the time I was 24, I was in a deep depression and couldn't even dress myself. I knew nothing about the Lord and felt worthless thinking that my value was based on physical beauty. I had been so violated and felt like there was nothing left.
I was like a used paper plate—one with food stains on it. I thought I was only good for the trash, ready to be thrown away. I remember crying out to God: "Are you real? Do you care about me? Am I ever going to find a man who will be faithful to me? A man who will be kind and protect me instead of using me?"
"Who is this God you love so much?"
Just a couple of weeks later, I met a Christian man whom I'll call Pete. He said that he wasn't a virgin but that he had recommitted his life to Christ. He said that he had vowed that he was going to be pure until he got married and that he was looking for a woman who loved God. "Even if you tempt me, even if you try to seduce me, I am going to say 'No' because I love the Lord."
Because I had been raised to believe sex had nothing to do with marriage, Pete's words intrigued me. I thought, "Who is this God that you love that much?" I told him what I had done because I wanted to get rid of him. I even told Pete that I had an STD, because I didn't want to get attached to him and have him just walk away.
To my surprise, Pete took me to church with him. I still remember the sermon; the pastor said, "Don't model your life after any person. Model your life after Christ." Within days after the sermon I became sold out to Christ. I wasn't scared of God anymore and the Bible made sense to me when I read it. I remember sobbing in thanks and praise to God.
I started attending church regularly with Pete and learned that true beauty comes from having a godly character and making choices to do what's right. I really felt like God restored my purity. Pete and I continued to date and were sexually pure.
About a year after Pete and I met, we got married. I wore a white wedding gown and felt so at peace because I knew that Christ had made me clean.
Training our children according to God's blueprints
My parents did not know God when they raised me, so I don't hold the things they taught me against them. I know that they loved me, but they believed that purity was not worth teaching or pursuing. I think my parents thought that it was impossible to keep their daughter from having sex, and so they might as well allow it.
Pete and I no longer have emptiness in our hearts because we personally know Jesus Christ. We want to do all that we can to protect our children by teaching them about purity and the freedom it gives. Sure, we made plenty of mistakes ourselves, but our kids can make better choices. We don't want them to repeat our mistakes.
We teach our kids about God in everyday life and casual conversation. We believe when we relate situations to God's Word, we are obeying Deuteronomy 6:5-7: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up."
We do our best to answer the kids' questions with biblical insight. Living in the inner city, we often have opportunities to answer a lot of questions. Once, when we drove past a strip club on the way home, there were two women standing right outside the place in string bikinis. The barrage of questions flooded from our son: "Why are those women dressed like that?" "Why don't they want to be modest?" "Can we go tell them to put some clothes on?" "Why would the business owner want them to look like that?" We tried our best to explain that the world does not follow God's idea of modesty.
Pete and I hope our kids always feel secure in our love and never look for another place to belong as they grow up. We pray that they will save the gift of sexual intimacy for their marriage partners.
FamilyLife equips our family
I've been encouraged by many different programs over the years on FamilyLife Today.
I remember Nancy Leigh DeMoss, who talked about the lies women believed. And I've enjoyed numerous segments on marriage and motherhood, like Jill Savage's "Professionalizing Motherhood" about the value of full-time moms and "Helping Your Husband Step Up To Manhood" by Barbara Rainey."
I couldn't agree more with what Voddie Baucham said on another show—that it's the parents' job to teach and train their children in the ways of God. That it isn't anyone else's job. I tell my kids that God has a purpose for their lives, and that He has a special plan for each of them "today."
As I look back on my life, I think that God had been nudging me to Himself since I was 16 years old and felt that there was something wrong with a lifestyle of free sex. After years and years of emptiness, I now have so much peace. I'm not in a rat race, chasing the wind. Sometimes I think, "God made me. He knit me together in my mother's womb. I was no mistake."
Copyright © 2007 by FamilyLife. All rights reserved.
Read more remarkable stories of changed lives and legacies. Or read stories of HomeBuilders (how God is working through ordinary people to change lives for eternity).
FamilyLife is a donor-supported ministry offering practical and biblical resources and events to help you build a godly marriage and family.