About the Guest
What does it mean to teach purity to your children? Is it teaching them a list of dos and don'ts? Or is it something deeper, something about their relationship with God? Michael and Hayley DiMarco address this subject with a biblical foundation.
What does it mean to teach purity to your children? Michael and Hayley DiMarco address this subject with a biblical foundation.
Bob: Your kids are going to mess up and so are their friends. What happens at your house when somebody messes up? Here’s Michael DiMarco.
Michael: Where is it safer to confess? Is it safer to confess in the locker room at school or in the living room at home? How do we respond, as parents, when we hear about So-and-so’s daughter who did this or slipped up doing that? Then, is our daughter processing: “Oh, that’s how they respond to that. That’s something I can never bring up or confess.”
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Tuesday, May 27th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine. If true purity is more than keeping a list of do’s and don’ts, what exactly is it? We’re going to talk about that today. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. This is something that you have felt strongly about for a little while; right?
Dennis: Absolutely. I mean, we’ve been challenging young people through Passport2Purity®; through Interviewing Your Daughter’s Date; through the book I wrote about aggressive girls—
Bob: Aggressive Girls—yes.
Dennis: —Aggressive Girls, Clueless Boys—trying to prepare them to handle what’s going to come at them so that they stay pure.
Bob: Well, the issue of sexual temptation in the teen years is something that parents have got to know how to address. Honestly, sometimes, it’s not addressed as well as it could be, even in Christian homes.
Dennis: It’s not. I’m thrilled we have a couple of best-selling authors who are really in touch with the youth movement.
Michael and Hayley DiMarco join us again on FamilyLife Today. Welcome back, guys.
Michael: Yes, it’s great to be back.
Dennis: They’ve written a book called True Purity: More than Just Saying “No” to You-Know-What. [Laughter] I love that.
Michael: That’s right, and you didn’t edit that. That’s exactly what the subtitle is. [Laughter]
Bob: We should ask you, before we get into talking about this—we had wanted to ask you about how, at your church, you helped lead the guys at your church through the Stepping Up® men’s 10-week series that FamilyLife put together.
Michael: Yes, we did.
Bob: Tell our listeners how that went over.
Michael: They hated it. [Laughter]
Dennis: Well, this broadcast is over! [Laughter]
Bob: Don’t buy any of the DiMarcos’ books, either. [Laughter]
Michael: Okay, so the crazy thing is—as you know, our home church had a couple of vacancies. They needed to fill some holes. They asked me to serve, in an interim role, as a minister to young adults there.
One of my first kind of executive ministerial mandates, if you will, was: “We’re going to do a series, just for men, every Sunday night. We’re going to use Stepping Up.”
We had a lot of guys—I have to say a lot of guys, when it was leading up to the time of the launch—they said: “Ahh, we’ve kind of done this thing before,” “Well, is it going to be like this or be like that?” I said: “Nope! It’s going to be different.” I hadn’t seen it yet, but I just knew. [Laughter] I had previewed it, but we did—Sunday morning, we pulled a big smoker out. We barbecued right at the front doors of the church before worship and put a sign up.
Bob: You know the way to get a man to come to the Bible study; don’t you?! [Laughter]
Michael: Oh, it was great!—like mesquite and wood chips and all that.
Dennis: There you go.
Michael: So, we had barbecue; but the first night—that first 20- / 30-minute video that we watched—guys were rapt!
They were just: “Wow! This is going to be different.” It was really a band of brothers—as far as the men that went through it. When they found out that we were coming over to see you, they just wanted me to convey their thanks for—not just the content but the quality of how it was produced, really, with a man in mind. It was phenomenal!
Dennis: Well, that was Bob’s. He can say, “Thanks,” to him.
Michael: Well, thank you, Bob.
Bob: And at this point, I should probably say: “Go to FamilyLifeToday.com if you’d like more information about Stepping Up, and the video series, and how your church could go through the material, or just how you could go through it with a group of guys. We think it is helpful material.” It’s great to hear how God used it in your church.
Dennis: Yes, and we’re calling men to step up toward purity as well. This book you’ve written—this is really for a younger audience. Actually, it’s for the parents who are raising the younger audience.
Michael: Yes, it is. We’re kind of stealthy that way. We write books that get stocked on the youth and teen shelves; but we’re really targeting the parents as well because, a lot of times—especially in the subject of purity, you all know—there can be some shameful tactics that are used out of fear and keeping young people from making mistakes with their bodies and their lives.
Bob: I mentioned that and, in fact, the genesis of this book was in a phone call you got. Tell our listeners about that.
Michael: Oh, yes. Well, it’s confession time. In every book that Hayley and I write—either together or separate—we always have personal confessions. So, I might as well do one on national radio. [Laughter]
I got a call. I don’t know how this youth pastor got my cell phone number, but I answered this call. He said: “Hey, we’d really like you to come out and do a purity weekend. Every year, we have a purity weekend at our church. We’d like you to come and speak.”
I said, “Oh! I’d love to, but I’m busy that weekend.” There was this pause on the other end of the line. He said to me, “I haven’t told you the dates yet.” [Laughter] I was busted! I said, “Well, let me tell you about my impure answer.”
I said: “What most churches want, I can’t do because a lot of churches—I’ve seen them—they will herd all of the students into a room—sometimes scare / sometimes shame—using scare tactics or just shaming those, unintentionally, those that have already gone too far in their physical lives—and then have them sign or wear something that basically allows parents and pastors to sleep at night—like:
“‘We’ve checked that box. We’ve covered that—’”
Michael: —“‘we have inoculated them.’”
I said, “I can’t do that.” He said: “Well, okay. What would you do?” What I said I would do was really the genesis for this book—and that was to talk about purity from a holistic standpoint of: “We don’t find our purity in our behaviors, but we find it in a Person—and that is Jesus Christ. It’s in our identity with Him that we get our purity and then that informs every decision that we make—whether with our bodies, with our relationships, with our motivations for doing things—it’s that walking in the Spirit that is really where we find our purity.”
Bob: Hayley, can you explain what Michael just said? “We find our purity in a Person.” Help unpack what that’s all about.
Hayley: Well, I know for both of us—for a long time in our lives, we looked at purity as something that we wanted. We understood it, and we did all that we could to try to protect it. For me, I wasn’t going to have sex before marriage; I was going to be perfect. I was tough. I was doing all that I could to try and remain pure.
Michael had a similar—well, dissimilar but same focus—trying to have this purity. So, this idea is normal—that we think: “I have to do this. I can’t do this. I’ll make a list of things.” We attempt to do them in our own strength. What we’re saying is purity isn’t really a list of what you do or what you don’t do. The Bible tells us that Christ is our purity. We were not—we have this false idea that we are born pure and, at some point along the way, we mess up and we lose our purity.
The truth of the matter is that we are not born pure. We’re all born sinful. We gain our purity through accepting Christ as our Savior. He gives us our purity. For so many kids who think: “I’ve messed up. I’ve just not been perfect.” Well, yes! You’re human: “There’s no one righteous, not even one.”
We want people to understand where that purity truly comes from—not from self—but from Him.
Bob: Well, it’s one thing, though, for a teenager to say, “I messed up because I”—you know—“got mad at my little sister the other day.” It’s another thing to say, “I messed up because I’ve been having sex with my boyfriend.” Those are different levels. Can we just simply say: “Well, yes, you’re human—so, we’re all going to do that kind of thing”?
Hayley: Oh, no. Yes, that’s what it sounded like I said. Thank you for correcting me because, no, that’s definitely not what we’re saying. What we’re trying to get the point across is that purity isn’t about you. It’s about Him. As long as we think that it’s something that we can do, then, we’re going to fail.
That’s my testimony—that I failed. I said, “I’m not going to do this.” And every month / or every week / every year—just as my life moved on, I went farther. The line kind of moved. “How far is too far?” became, “Um, over here.” I would move it farther and farther out because my humanity warred so much against me that I couldn’t keep it up.
But if your entire purity is wrapped up in who He is. The question of “How far is too far?” really doesn’t come up because you want to know Him, and Him alone, and “What does He want?” Your life is centered on searching Him out and knowing Him more. As you’re focused on that, those questions don’t pop up. The line doesn’t move because you’re not even looking at the line. You’re not trying to satisfy yourself, or please yourself, or even your parents. You just want to know Him—you want to know Christ more. In that, you find your purity. You find that you aren’t sleeping with your boyfriend because “Why would you do that?” It’s completely inconsistent with the life of Christ in you.
Bob: There’s still the question that a teenager’s going to have when they meet this girl. They go, “I would like to kiss her.” And then they think, “Is that okay for me to kiss her?” How does pursuing an understanding of purity in Christ help you answer the question of whether it’s okay to kiss this girl or not?
Michael: And that’s the great thing about things like Passport2Purity—is it is parent-generated—spiritual—whether it is biological parent or spiritual parent—it’s parent-generated conversations about the motivations behind why you want what you want—why you want to do what you want to do.
Bob: “Why do you want to kiss that girl?”
Michael: That’s right.
Michael: So the question is, “Why do you want to kiss her?”
Michael: That’s where we start; but if there’s a parent listening and saying, “Where do I start with questioning my teenager beyond that?”
Ask: “How do you base your friendships? How do you choose who’s a friend and who’s not?” because if you just go to that question, that’s going to reveal a lot about what their orientation is as far as their motivations: “It’s what I get out of the relationship—it is how they make me feel.”
Dennis: It’s the power of peer pressure.
Frankly, having raised six children all the way through the perilous peer pressure years, I’m going to tell you that by the time Barbara and I finished that process—it was the most challenging period in raising our children because you can give them good theology about who they are in Christ—but I’m going to tell you something—the power of peers—when you’re not there at school, and they’re rubbing shoulders with them, and they’re out on Friday night—hanging out with them, or going to a party / having fun. It’s the real deal. Parents have got to stay in the game and be really engaged with their kids around these issues.
Hayley: Well, that’s why the answer can’t be: “Here’s our list of do’s and don’ts: You can’t go this far. You can kiss. You can’t do that.” A lot of people want to know—they want these boundaries. We want boundaries so that we can feel free to run around within them and just feel free to kick our heels up—
Hayley: —and not feel guilty.
Hayley: That’s the reason that kids ask, “How far is too far?” But if we make it about that, then they’re always going to either push the boundaries or they are going to run around and have fun within those.
When a parent tries to do that, I think they make a mistake in that they don’t get, as Michael’s saying, to the root of the matter—and that is: “Let’s move all that aside. Let’s talk about your relationship with God because—if you understand the depth of His love and you love Him, in kind—then, your desires change—not only your desires for the opposite sex but for the same. You think: ‘Well, I have a friendship—not so that I can be more popular, or so that I can go to parties, or so that I’m not alone—but so that they will magnify my voice for Christ.’”
Hayley: And then, they start to think about life differently. It isn’t just something where you can just say, “You’ve got to do this, this, and this”; but rather it’s a walking through your life with them.
Bob: I really think the question that you posed—which is: “Why do you want to kiss? Why do you want to do whatever you want to do?” really takes us right to the core—right to the root—of all of this. I’m thinking back to when I was in high school. I was not primarily motivated in wanting to kiss a girl out of the fact that God would be glorified and she would be honored—
Bob: —by my doing that.
Hayley: Right; right!
Dennis: Had that thought ever occurred to you, in fact?
Bob: No, it was completely off the radar screen. “Why did I want to kiss her?”—because it was all about me! It was a whole selfish motivation. Now, let’s forget, for a moment, whether it was right to kiss her or not. To be selfish wasn’t right. It could be that we would say, “Well, kissing—that’s no big deal.” I would say, “Okay, that’s fine; but the motivation is where you get off the rails.” When we get to that—now, all of a sudden, we’re unlocking a whole different puzzle than just, “What’s your sexuality going to look like?”
Michael: And the core of purity is 100 percent. There is nothing on this earth that is 100 percent pure. You buy a gold ring, and it’s not 100 percent gold. There are always those trace elements. You buy a bottle of water that says—and here’s a little trick for you. Find any bottled water—it will say “purified water” on there.
It didn’t start pure; and, even then, there’s an asterisks that says, “Well, it might have—
Bob: —“trace elements.”
Michael: —“parts per million of whatever.”
Our rule for purity is 100 percent. Scripture points—Jesus Himself says that: “The greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God will all your heart—
Michael: —“all your soul, all your mind, all your strength” [Emphasis added]—as it says in the Gospel of Mark—so that’s 100 percent. What Jesus was saying was not that: “So this is what you do, and you’re able to do it.” He was summarizing the Law. Because Jesus came to fulfill the Law—fulfill the Law that we couldn’t keep—Jesus is saying: “This is impossible without Me—through Me you become pure.”
When we look at purity as that definition, then there’s no way that we can love God with our all—with our selfish nature / with our sinful hearts—but through Christ!
Then, the big picture is this—when we’re talking about kids / when we’re talking about parents. We have firemen, policemen, SWAT, Air Force, Coast Guard, Army, Marines—I left someone out.
Dennis: The Navy!
Michael: The Navy—
Bob: There we go.
Michael: —“Anchors away!”
We have all of these men and women that train for the worst-case scenario; but we encounter so many parents in our travels who never prepare for the worst-case scenario of: “What my child is going to come home and confess,” “What I’m going to find on my daughter’s cell phone,” “What I’m going to find on my son’s computer.” We hope that we never have to face the worst-case scenario, but parents are the first responders in the lives of their children.
Dennis: They are.
Michael: So we—Hayley and I—even though our daughter’s only seven, we drill for the worst-case scenario of what she could come home and confess when she’s a teenager—what she could come home during the holidays from her dorm room in college. We drill through how we’re going to respond so that it becomes second nature.
Michael: So, ultimately, where is it safer to confess? Is it safer to confess in the locker room at school or in the living room at home? How do we respond, as parents, when we hear about So-and-so’s daughter who did this or slipped up doing that? Then, is our daughter processing: “Oh, that’s how they respond to that. That’s something I can never bring up or confess”?
Bob: The last time you were on FamilyLife Today, you made a statement that I’ve repeated to lots of folks.
You said: “Many parents want to train their kids to be sin-avoiders and sin-concealers. Instead, we need to train our children to be sin-confessors and sin-repenters. We need to start by demonstrating to them what that looks like in our own lives.” I think that’s so important for parents to hear because I do think there are a lot of parents who are pressing their kids into: “Avoid sin,” and, “If you do it, you better hide it because you’re going to get into a lot of trouble.”
Dennis: Yes, they’re not going to get any grace from their mom or dad.
Bob: That’s right.
Dennis: Bob, you’ve heard me quote this passage before, here on FamilyLife Today. This is not a passage that was written by a parent to a child, but it was written by the Apostle Paul to a group of followers of Christ that he wanted to compliment. It really tips us off to what Paul was trying to do as he built into their lives.
He said, “For your obedience is known to all so that I rejoice over you.” Then he kind of gives us an idea of what his heart was—it’s a little bit like a father or a mother’s heart toward the child. He says, “But I want you to be wise as to what is good and innocent as to what is evil.” He wanted them to stay out of the traps and to keep from stepping on the mines that are going to cost them—that are going to create consequences.
Parents, I’ll just tell you—what Hayley and Michael are talking about here—we need all the help we can get as we equip our kids in this culture because it’s really not a matter of if they’re going to come home and spill the beans or maybe we’re going to find something out. It’s a matter of when. It’s a matter of how we’re going to respond and point them back to Christ because it’s God’s forgiveness that, ultimately, is going to make a difference, long-haul, in their lives.
Bob: Well, I love the verse you quoted because it reminds us that it’s not just training them to be innocent about evil. We have to train them to be wise about what is good. We have to teach them the goodness of God, and that is the foundation for all of this. That’s really where you take us in the book, True Purity, which we have in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center.
Let me encourage our listeners to get a copy. Go to FamilyLifeToday.com. In the upper left-hand corner of our website, you’ll see a button that says, “Go Deeper.” If you click on that, there’s information about Michael and Hayley DiMarco’s book, True Purity: More than Just Saying “No” to You-Know-What is the subtitle. You can order a copy when you go to FamilyLifeToday.com and click the link that says, “Go Deeper.”
Let me also mention that we have our Passport2Purity weekend getaway kit available as well. This is designed so that a mom or a dad can take a son or a daughter who is right there in the preadolescent stage of life—11/12/13 years old—take your son or daughter away for a weekend—do something special together.
On the drive there and back, listen to CDs as Dennis and Barbara Rainey talk about the issues your son or daughter are going to face during their adolescent years—issues like peer pressure, relationships with the opposite sex, dating, and the issues of human sexuality—the “birds and the bees” talk. You may think, “Well, I’ve already had that conversation with my son or daughter”; but it never hurts to reinforce something like that. Summertime’s a great time to do it, by the way.
So go to FamilyLifeToday.com. In the upper left-hand corner of the page, where it says, “Go Deeper,” click the link. Find out more about Passport2Purity and about Michael and Hayley DiMarco’s book, True Purity. You can order from us, online, if you’d like or you can order by calling 1-800-FL-TODAY; 1-800-358-6329. Again, the website is FamilyLifeToday.com.
You know, I was just thinking back to being up in Chicago a couple of weeks ago when you and I attended the Orphan Summit there and had a chance to see a lot of FamilyLife Today listeners. It’s always fun to get out and meet folks who are regular listeners to FamilyLife Today. I had a number of folks who came up to me and said: “We support you guys. We support the ministry. We pray for you.” I had some folks come up and say, “We’re Legacy Partners,”—monthly donors to FamilyLife Today.
I always appreciate the opportunity to be able to say, “Thank you,” in person because we really are grateful for those listeners who partner with us and who share in the ministry of FamilyLife Today. Your donations are what make this program possible. It keeps us on this local radio station and on our network of stations, all across the country. As we head into summer, we’ve had some friends of the ministry who have come along and said, “We’d like to make sure you guys have a little bit of a surplus stored away so that when summer hits and donations drop off, as they often do, you’ve got some reserves to draw on.”
What these guys have agreed to do is to match every donation we receive, between now and Father’s Day, on a dollar-for-dollar basis, up to a total of $410,000. We are trying to get the word out and make sure all of our listeners know about that. We’re asking you if you’d go to FamilyLifeToday.com and click on the link in the upper right-hand corner that says, “I Care,” and make a $20, or $25, or $50, or $100 donation—whatever you can do—knowing your donation is going to be matched, dollar for dollar, during the month of May and all the way up to Father’s Day. Or call 1-800-FL-TODAY to make a donation over the phone. Or you can mail a check to us. Our mailing address is P O Box 7111, Little Rock, AR. And the zip code is 72223. However you get in touch with us, thanks for whatever you’re able to do. I hope we run into you so that we can say, “Thank you,” in person.
And I hope you can join us back tomorrow when we’re going to talk about depression, bipolar disease, [and] sadness. How can you know whether the sadness you’re feeling is something more serious than just normal sadness? Dr. Charles Hodges is going to join us, and we’re going to talk about that. I hope you can tune in.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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