consecrate, parenting, prayer, Surviving Adultery and Divorce

Raising Boys in Purity

Being a single mom is tough. It means carrying the entire load on your own shoulders. There’s no one to help make decisions, no one to share the burdens of raising kids. It is non-stop activity, trying to juggle the schedules of multiple children and figuring out how to get everyone where they need to be.

But, the biggest challenge I face today is raising boys in purity in this impure world.

I am quickly learning that the teenage years are difficult. They are filled with challenges—and temptations. Magazines in the locker rooms. Surfing the internet. Carrying a smart phone with virtually no accountability.

And, my boys—while they would love to have someone to talk to about these temptations—are stuck with me. No man to confide in. No man to look to as an example of how to conduct himself. No man to ask questions. Only Mom.

My boys desperately want to be the men God created them to be. They are especially sensitive to the effects of pornography, and they want to avoid the mistakes that they have seen play out in our lives. My marriage ended after nearly 17 years following unrepentant adultery. Throughout the years of our marriage, there were multiple signs that pornography was a problem. However, I don’t think I ever fully comprehended the extent of the problem. I was often told that it was “just the way men are,” and my belief that we should avoid even a hint of sexual immorality (Ephesians 5:3) was naively unrealistic.

Following my divorce, I was introduced to the book Every Young Man’s Battle. I read it with plans to take my boys through it; however, I was struck with how my ideas of sexual purity had strayed from God’s plan. I began to realize just how much pornography and sexual immorality had impacted my life and my marriage. I began to understand how pornography causes women to become objects to fulfill lustful desires rather than gifts to be treasured.  I renewed my commitment to the highest levels of purity and determined to lead my children to a healthy view of sexuality.

Knowing that my boys are now teenagers—an age where sexual innuendos are common-place and I can no longer control their environments—I have come to realize that I must find ways to be intentional in teaching them to preserve their purity. It is a battle that they must learn to fight now. By giving them the proper view of sexuality from an early age and arming them with the knowledge that purity is possible through Christ, I hope that I can prepare them for a lifetime of pleasing God with purity of mind and body.

Model purity. Married or not, we as Christian parents must take purity seriously. We must set the example for our children and for the world around us. We are not to blend into our sex-saturated society; instead, our lives should stand in stark contrast.

Therefore, be imitators of God as dearly loved children….But sexual immorality and any impurity or greed should not even be heard of among you, as is proper for saints. Coarse and foolish talking or crude joking are not suitable… Ephesians 5:1, 3

As a single parent, I find myself in a situation where I have the opportunity to model purity in dating for my children. I have determined that I will approach the single life very carefully. I have chosen not to date, but rather I am seeking God’s will, asking that He not bring any man into my life except the one He plans for my future. I am very cautious never to put myself into a position that could give the appearance of impropriety. I seek to live my life in such a way that there is not even a hint of sexual immorality. I pray that my children will choose to imitate me as I seek to imitate Christ.

My children know that Christ impacts every decision I make. We carefully read reviews of movies to determine their content before we view them. We are very limited in our television viewing. We all share a computer—and even all passwords—so there are no secrets. My life is an open book for my kids. I want to live my life in such a way that I have nothing to hide.

Talk. Talking is a tough one sometimes. Sexuality is not something that my boys want to talk about—especially with their mother. Despite the discomfort, I attempt to turn conversations that direction as much as possible.

When confronted with a situation of infidelity, I attempt to broach the subject with them. I point out men who like Facebook pages of scantily clad women and tell my children that I could never consider those men as potential dates. I want them to understand that a woman worth dating will not want to date them if they are filling their mind with inappropriate images.

Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. 1 Corinthians 6:18

Recently, there was a story on the news of a man who kidnapped and murdered a young girl. My oldest was burning with righteous anger toward the murderer. As he struggled with his anger and tried to grasp how anyone could commit such a heinous crime, I pointed out the link between pornography and violence, especially against women. I told of the studies I have read that have linked pornography to changes in the brain that cause men to view women as objects rather than valued individuals. I talked about how viewing those images causes our conscience to be seared, and we lose any sense of right and wrong.

At this age, my boys may think that looking at pretty women is harmless. However, I want them to understand that the way they look at and view women today will impact their future relationships. I want them to treat all women the way they want men to treat their little sister.

Love. While I am a firm believer in the importance of suffering consequences for our poor choices, there are moments that call for grace, mercy, and forgiveness. As much as I long for my children to be completely pure, I am certain that the day will come when I am faced with a confession. I pray that I will be able to extend mercy, to express compassion, and to remember that I, too, fall short of God’s standards.

I think of the woman caught in adultery, shamed and humiliated before the crowd. She must have been horrified—of her own actions and of being thrust in front of a crowd with her sins out in the open. She was vulnerable and scared. Christ, in His mercy and compassion, looked deep within her soul to see what the crowd could not see. They saw her actions; Christ saw her heart.

But when they persisted in asking Him, He straightened up, and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” …when they heard it, they began to go out one by one…and He was left alone, and the woman… John 8:7, 9

I don’t want to be the judgmental parent, standing over my children with stones, punishing them for mistakes that have caused them tremendous anguish. I don’t want to respond with anger and frustration when they fall short of God’s standard. I know that I haven’t walked this journey perfectly, and I want to remember how God pursued me relentlessly, forgave me generously, and loved me unconditionally—even in my sin. I want to extend the same mercy and grace to my children that my Heavenly Father has extended to me.

Protect. I frequently check my boys’ phones to see if there’s anything suspicious. We don’t have paid television service in our home so we are limited in what we view. My computer is the only one in the household. But, I know that it’s not enough.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2

I trust my children, but if there is some type of boundary I can put in place that will help them make wise decisions, it is worth the cost, whatever it may be. We have restrictions on all of our phones that prevent certain apps from being downloaded. Only websites that are approved by me are available to be viewed. Facebook is not allowed on the phones. A browser that filters and sends accountability reports to me has been installed.

While it may seem like I am going overboard, there is no price too high. I want to set my children up for a lifetime of healthy relationships and a proper view of sexuality.

Pray, pray, pray. The longer I walk this Christian life, the less I understand prayer—and the more confidence I have that God answers the prayers of His servants.

Now this is the confidence we have before Him: Whenever we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears whatever we ask, we know that we have what we have asked Him for. 1 John 5:14-15

We know that God’s will for our children is to walk in purity. Therefore, according to this scripture, if we make it a matter of prayer, He will hear and answer.

Over the past year, I have made a conscious effort to pray intently for my children. I set timers on my phone throughout the day as a reminder to pray for my kids. I keep Stormie O’Martian’s book The Power of a Praying Parent in my car and use it as a starting point for my prayers. I have seen more changes in my children—more spiritual hunger and attention to God’s voice—than at any other time in my kids’ lives. While I may not do many things right, one thing I can do is pray that God will mold the hearts of my children.

We are just entering the teenage years in my house. I have many years and tears, many days of raging hormones still to come. My daily prayer is, “Lord, parent through me. These are your children. Supernaturally flow through me to lead these children to purity.” I don’t know what the coming years hold, but I know that my Savior is faithful to teach me as I teach my children.

 

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7 thoughts on “Raising Boys in Purity”

  1. I am greatly blessed by what you share about your experience. My husband walked out unexpectedly almost 3 years ago. My children are grown and I am retired so suddenly left to handle life alone seemed unbearable. My husband and I met in church and had a strong belief in God. But over the 21years of our marriage, I like you, saw the affects of his admitted lust problem draw him from his relation with God. He had no reason to leave other than, as he put it, “to chase women.”
    I am experiencing a much closer walk and dependency on God as time goes on. I hope that other women who are faced with similar situations find your blog early in their separation. It will be so helpful. To know that there is something wonderful ahead for you when you allow God to reign over all things concerning your life will bring renewed strength and hope and your faith will grow stronger.
    Thank you for spreading that promise to all women

    1. I am so sorry that you have experienced this pain. To hear someone say they just need “to chase women” (or as my husband said, “he’s so good at connecting with women that he needs to expand his business”) is mind-boggling! I will never comprehend it! But, I’m thankful that God has given you beauty–and thank you for your precious words of encouragement! I am blessed by you today!!

  2. Thank you for this blog. I just discovered it and have spent a good part of my day reading your posts and the feedback of your readers. Last June (2013) my husband told me that he no longer loved me and that he wanted a divorce. We had just celebrated our 17 year wedding anniversary. I was in shock. I soon discovered he was in another relationship and I even had the displeasure of seeing them kissing in her car. After I revealed to everyone his real reason for wanting a divorce he became cruel with his words to me. I begged him to reconsider, I asked him to seek counseling with me, I appealed to his “Christianity” and told him that he wasn’t acting according to God’s will but there was no convincing him of reconciliation. He filed for the divorce and this February we had our court hearing. All the while I prayed and cried out to God day and night until I was weighing almost 100 pounds. I couldn’t sleep so I was up at 3:00 in the morning crying and begging God to restore my marriage. I went from being on my knees every opportunity I had praying to God, promising Him everything under the sun, to feeling extremely tired and angry. I struggle with keeping the faith. I continue to pray but now I ask Him to allow me to accept His will for my life and to heal my heart. It’s hard to send our 11 year old son with him because I know my ex wants to include him in his newly found family. He has even told our son that her children can be the brother and sister that he has always wanted. All of these things have left me feeling disposable. I recently told an associate pastor at my church that my faith has taken a SERIOUS blow. I went from having the faith of a child who genuinely believes that with God all things are possible to knowing that that isn’t always true. Can God save a marriage if the spouse is unwilling? I used to think so. I believed that He could change the heart of stone into a God-willed heart and resurrect even dried bones (Ezequiel) now I don’t know. God CAN definitely do the impossible, even the things mentioned in the book of Ezequiel, the question is; will He do the impossible, the miracle for me?

    I am starting to reluctantly accept my situation. I try to do the same things that you have described in this blog. I pray over my boy every morning before school and every night. I ask God to direct my son’s life and that no matter how good or tempting the devil may present whatever situation, that the he may know to do and believe in what is right before God. The fact that my ex still takes our son to church (along with the other woman and her kids) is confusing to him, I tell my son that no matter how right his father may try to make it look, it’s not the behavior God expects from us. Her divorce is in the works and I don’t doubt that as soon as her divorce is final he’ll be talking about marrying her.

    I have struggled with questioning if maybe I should pray more or fast more or just hang on and persevere. It’s hard to know what to do when you pray and God is silent. Maybe He wants me to move on, maybe He’s got something better for me… I don’t know. Help me pray that my faith may increase and that I may not let this incredible hurt make me bitter and angry.

    It’s hard to let go of a dream, a marriage, a life with the person you made a covenant to love until death.

    1. It is SO hard to let go of a dream! I remember feeling as if I’d spent 17 years piecing together a jigsaw puzzle, and someone came along and knocked it off the table. As I scrambled to put the pieces back together, pieces were missing and different. I couldn’t put it all back together. But, I eventually learned that God has the complete picture, that he’s putting it all back together. And his picture is perfect! It’s not what I wanted. It’s not what I dreamed. But, it has his fingerprints all over it. And, I’m SO happy!! Sure. I miss being married. It’s tough to raise three kids alone. I get lonely and sad. But I’ve gained so much, grown so much. My faith would have never grown, I would have never known my Savior as intimately as I do without these trials and tribulations. And now, I have the added joy of sharing my life, my journey, with others, of offering hope and encouragement, of comforting others with the comfort I have received from my Father.

      There’s no doubt that there’s a tension between God’s sovereignty and man’s free will–and I won’t even pretend to have a clue about it! But, what I know is that God makes all things work for good to those who love him, that he lives you with an everlasting love, that he has plans to prosper you and not to harm you, that you are a treasure in his eyes!!

      If I could give you one piece of advice, if say surrender. Call out to God telling him that you don’t like this, but you will accept it and trust him with your heart. Tell him that you will take this pain but that it better not be in vain. Tell him that you want him to do a mighty work in you so he can do a mighty work through you.

      Surround yourself with supportive people. Forgive–I promise the forgiveness is for you and not him! Determine to walk in integrity. Decide that you will be the best you possible–knowing that one day he will look back and regret his decision. 🙂

      God has great plans for you! These trials–having your faith tested and tried–can solidify your faith in ways you never dreamed possible. The sooner you release the grip you have on him, on your circumstances, and grab onto God instead, the sooner you will experience his life-changing power!!

      Lord Jesus, I lift Sophie to you today. Her heart is broken. Her faith is weak. But, just as you told Gideon to go in the strength he has, I know you are telling Sophie the same. We know that your strength is made perfect in our weakness, that your grace is sufficient for us. I ask you to step in and pour out your grace and your power in her weakness, to demonstrate the absolute power that is at work I her. Do above and beyond all she could ever ask or imagine! In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

      1. Thank you Dena. I’m working on surrendering, loosening my grip on the dream. May God continue to use you so beautifully.

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