She is 16

She is 16 years old.

This is her first real relationship.  She’s dated some boys before, but this one has lasted through five months, two dances, Christmas and spring break, and it was a big deal to her. He also told her that he loved her; she has never been in love before.  All of her friends told her it was the “real and forever” kind of love. She had the classic teenage complaints about her parents.  She felt like the idea that she was in love would be silly to them.  She always felt like they never truly understood her.


This is not the first heart-to-heart we’ve had.  She has been in our living room a number of times, and she has always come to us when she needed direction. Her relationship with her parents was good and they had always encouraged her to come to us, her youth pastors, for spiritual advice. But when she sat down, I knew this one was going to be different.  She had never been this serious about a boy before.  We had met him when he’d come with her to youth group activities and over to the house when the kids hung out.  He was a nice guy but didn’t connect with her deep spiritual beliefs.  He said he was a Christian and went to church, but never really had much else to say on the subject.


As she sat there, I could tell she was nervous.  I could tell that she had something weighing heavily on her heart, but she was dancing around the subject.  In my straight-to-the-point, no-time-for-games, loving way, I asked her, “What is really going on? Why did you want to talk to us?” She was used to this type of conversation from us; the kids actually seemed to appreciate when we talked to them like adults.


“He wants me to…” She paused slightly. “Sleep with him.” Her head dropped and she stared at her feet in silence.
“Ok?” I probed, breaking the silence. “What do you think about that?”


Her head popped up, wide eyes full of surprise. She looked like no one had ever asked her that question before, like she hadn’t expected it. She began to tell us what her friends were saying, and that everyone was doing it, and that if she didn’t do it, she was worried he would dump her.  Some of her friends had lost their virginity and they kept telling her how great it was.  This went on for a few minutes.  Then I asked her the question again, “That’s what your friends think, but what do you think?”


She paused. “I know that God designed sex for marriage. I know that there is so much more connected to it than what my friends say. I know I have always wanted to save myself for marriage, but I’m so confused. He says he loves me and that the only way to show him how much I love him is to sleep with him.  But sex is such a big deal!”


She reviewed all the things that her parents had taught her and what we had said about how God designed sex for marriage and how beautiful it was in that context. She told us about the consequences of sex before marriage, STD’s and pregnancy– all the answers she thought were right.  “I am still so confused!” she said with exasperation, bursting into tears.


I leaned in toward her and asked one question — four simple words. Four simple words that would change her life for the next 8 years:

“What is God saying?”



I am 17 years old.

It’s been two months since he broke up with me. Two months since I told him that I wanted to wait till marriage to have sex. Two months since he tried to pressure me into sex. Two months since he said, “If you really love me, you will sleep with me. Waiting till marriage is so old fashioned.  Everyone is doing it. It’s what teenagers do!” Two months since I heard the voice of God so deep in my heart say, “Wait. I have so much more for you.”

These two months have not been fun for me.  “Not fun” is an understatement. He said he loved me, but I saw quickly how conditional that love was. After our huge fight, where he called me a lot of horrible names and told me I owed him, he stopped talking to me. Just like that, it was over. It’s amazing that someone can say that they love you and then when you don’t do what they want, how quickly that “love” goes away. The next day his friends began to share with me what they thought of my choice. I never knew how creative high school boys could be with words and gestures. If I hear the word “prude” one more time, I might go crazy.


My friends haven’t been much better. I really have uncovered the meaning of true friendship.  Some were there to dry my tears as I went through the break up, some just stopped talking to me after I made my choice. Some joined in with the name-calling.  I think the girls are worse than the boys. Usually, I can go into the girls locker room to escape what the guys are saying, but that doesn’t stop my old friends once I’m in there.  Most of the time, it’s said in whispers or behind my back, but it cuts deep. Those that wanted me to do it in the first place seem to be the ones that left the quickest.


My birthday is today.  My best friend is still around and is still supportive. Tonight we are going to see a movie and go out to eat with my family.  The hardest part is how lonely I feel.  Two months ago, I thought that I would be spending this day with him. Two months ago, I thought that I would be spending all my birthdays with him. After all, as my “friends” said, love is forever.


So no, these last two months have not been easy.  They have sucked, actually. But I don’t regret my choice.  I know that day, when I sat in my youth pastor’s living room, I heard God.  I heard that He has a plan for me and that I should wait.  Every day since then I keep asking Him the same question: “Did I make the right choice?” That is when His love fills me and He reminds me to wait, because He has so much more for me.


She is 24 years old.

From the caller ID, I can tell it’s her.  I still have the silly contact picture we took of her when she graduated from high school.  The one with her tongue sticking out of her mouth, silly string on top of her grad hat and life in her eyes.  She calls me from the other side of the country.  She has graduated from college and has begun to follow her calling, her destiny.


She’s no longer the unsure teen who sat on my couch; she’s now a young woman, vibrant and in love, calling me to talk about wedding plans.  She has asked that my husband perform the ceremony.  She is giddy and talking a million miles an hour.  But I sense there is something deeper lingering, something reminiscent of all the times she came to us for direction throughout the years.


“Three months until I’m married!  I am so excited!” she squeals.  We discuss the place where the wedding is being held. She met her fiancé in college, at her church.  He shares the same values and beliefs she does.  He actually grew up in a small town only thirty minutes from us, so the wedding will be here, at our church.  She always wanted it that way.


As her excitement winds down, what she really called to talk about comes to the surface. “We are struggling,” she says, finally.


“What do you mean, ‘you’re struggling’?” I ask.


“We are so close to the wedding, but honestly it’s so hard to… you know….” her voice trails off. I’m sure her eyes have fallen to her feet and her face is flushed; some things never change. She and her fiancé are both virgins.  He had victory in his purity all through high school and college as well, though his frat brothers hadn’t made it easy.


“Ok? So tell me what’s going on.”


“Well, we both know that God wants us to be together. It’s just that knowing that, it’s so hard to wait. It’s hardest when we are alone and…he…he is just such a good kisser!”


I have to admit, I laugh at that.


“Both of you made an agreement when you started dating, one where you asked us and your current pastors to keep you accountable. Has something changed?” I ask.


“No, that’s why I am calling you. How do we do this?  How do we keep ourselves off each other?” she asks, obviously very frustrated. I stifle a laugh.


We begin to discuss the boundaries they had set for themselves; what’s okay and what’s not okay to do.  Then, I ask her some hard questions.  Where were they when they found themselves in these situations? Had they gone too far? How far is too far for them?  They hadn’t had sex, but they had gotten close and it was usually when they are alone in his or her apartment. We explore that a little further as well.


“Well, I guess we shouldn’t be alone in each others apartments anymore,” she concluded with a sigh. “It’s just so hard!”


Then I asked her that same question that I had asked eight years ago:


“What is God saying?”


Three months later, she walked down the aisle to meet her soon-to-be husband in the whitest of white wedding dress. They had won the battle! They had made it! She had been through it all. She had lost boyfriends, friends and her popularity, but she had made it and no one was going to take that away from her. God truly had so much more for her!


– Johanna Wilson, Volunteer


The Invisible Effects of Sex Before Marriage?


What are some of the effects of sex before marriage?



We know what you’re probably expecting from an article like this– Yes, sex before marriage can lead to unplanned pregnancy. Yes, it can lead to sexually transmitted infections. Yes, it can increase the risk of identity issues, depression, and broken relationships. But, there’s so much more to talk about than that, particularly some of the invisible effects of sex.

First let’s start by understanding this: we can’t stop our bodies from doing what they were created to do. What were they created to do? Bond. We were created to connect with another human being in such a way that we would become one unit, together, for life.

Why does this happen?
Because our hormones cause us to glue, so-to-speak, with our partner. No amount of consent or informed decision making can change that. There’s a bonding that occurs that supersedes a mere skin-to-skin connection. Scientifically, we know that sex engages us hormonally, neurologically, psychologically; it forms intense bonds mentally, emotionally, and physically, especially when we do it over and over again.1

How does this happen?
Quite simply, any kind of sexual activity that takes place releases chemicals in our brains. For women, it is primarily the hormone oxytocin, and for men it is vasopressin. Oxytocin allows a woman to bond to the most significant people in her life. It eases stress, creating feelings of calm and closeness, which leads to increased trust. It also causes her to want to nurture and protect the one she’s bonded to. Vasopressin is very similar to oxytocin, except that it is primarily released in the brain of men. This hormone causes a man to bond to a woman during intimate contact. Some call it the “commitment hormone” or “monogamy molecule”. This hormone generates a desire for commitment and rouses loyalty. It inspires a protective sense over one’s mate, and can create a “jealous” tendency.2 There is a third set of hormones called endorphins released during sexual activities, and they affect both genders. Endorphins are what we call happy hormones. They are highly addictive and cause us to want to experience the rush again and again and again.
What makes things even more interesting is that these hormones are  values-neutral.3 Whether it’s a one-time encounter or a lifelong commitment, we bond the same way. It also crystallizes these emotional memories in our minds, making these encounters and experiences difficult to forget.

Now, in a marriage, these hormones are extremely motivating and helpful. God, in His infinite wisdom, knew that some days marriage would get hard. He knew we would need some help choosing each other day after day, over and over again. He knew that some days we wouldn’t like our spouse very much. We would argue. Bills would come in. Babies would get sick. In-laws would come to town. Emergencies would happen. Stress would overshadow the relationship. So, He installed an over-ride system (hormones) that would cause us to stick together through thick and thin, in good times and bad, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health. It would cause us to feel devoted, loyal, possessive, and willing to endure trials to keep what belongs to us. What an intelligent Designer we have.

So, what happens when we have multiple sexual partners?
Scientifically, we know this: As we bond and break, bond and break, bond and break, we lose our ability to properly bond.4 When we’re ready for that new, serious relationship or marriage, something is missing that prevents us from fully bonding; we don’t feel that connected or committed. Our feelings may seem to diminish. When we see someone else a little more exciting, more appealing, more perfect for us, we’re ready to move on in a heartbeat. The condition of being “crazy in love” suddenly disappears. We may say we don’t feel all that excited anymore. We may even lose faith in falling in love again.
This is why it is important to protect our purity; spirit, soul, and body. We must understand that ability to be pure and save ourselves is not just a religious ideal. It’s not just about giving your valuable v-card to someone. That’s not the point. The point is to keep our stickiness intact so that when we find the right person, we connect with them for life.


*For more information, check out Hooked: New Science On How Casual Sex Is Affecting Our Children by McIlhaney and Bush.

1. McIlhaney, Joe S., and Freda McKissic Bush. Hooked: New Science on How Casual Sex Is Affecting Our Children. Chicago: Northfield Pub., 2008. Print. 45.

2. Ibid., 41-42
3. Ibid., 33
4. Ibid., 43

When Distraction is a Good Thing

Ok. Here’s the truth. I don’t like going to the gym. I don’t like running. I don’t like exercise. But I have a high value for staying fit.


Let me explain.

I’ve always been athletic. All through my school years I played basketball and for my high school years I played soccer as well. I lived for sports carnivals at school! I would run all day if you put a ball in my hands or at my feet. But if you asked me to run 1 mile I would hate it. Every moment was painful. My thoughts would chant ‘I. Hate. Run. Ning I. Hate. Run. Ning’ on every step. My  head would hurt and I would have a stitch in my side for the entire mile. People would try to encourage me with the promise of the ‘sweet spot’ where it feels like you can run forever.

I never got there.

But then I moved countries and haven’t been able to join a sports team. I started to get headaches and become really lethargic. I’d never had these issues before. I asked God what the matter was and He told me that my body needs exercise.

So I joined a gym. I never thought I would do that. I hate exercise, remember? But I pushed my pride away, because I value my health more than my pride and more than my feelings. I stepped onto the elliptical machine and pushed the buttons for a 10 min work out. (Woohoo! Go me!)

I still hated it.

But I felt better. I was proud of myself for following through with my goals. I knew I was making a positive change.

But I still didn’t enjoy it.

So, to motivate myself to go I would go with my roommates. They would keep me accountable, and I would keep them accountable. We would encourage one another and spur each other on.

But it was still purely discipline.

It wasn’t until I started watching TV while on the elliptical that I started to be able to run longer. I realised that I needed to be distracted from running but still exercising. That’s what basketball and soccer were to me. I would run so much in the games and training, but because I was distracted from what I hated I was able to participate wholeheartedly.

It’s kind of like our purity.

We know what we need to do. But waiting is so painful/boring/discouraging that we often forget how beneficial it is. We don’t realise that this short term ‘pain’ is actually setting us up for long term gain. It’s a discipline. It’s a practice. And there will only be a great reward when the waiting is over. Maybe you need to find something to distract you from the waiting. Maybe you need a close group of friends who can encourage you and spur you on. You may still hate the waiting. But remind yourself, “It’s good for me.” Do whatever you need to to participate fully in your waiting season. Be kind to yourself.


It’s been 2 years now and I still hate running. But channel 39 distracts me to the point where I’m running faster and further and longer than before.

– Aimee Greig (Intern)

Redemptive Love in Redding


 I was born to a single teen mom. My dad left three months into the pregnancy leaving my mom was devastated. She cried all the time and as a result, I felt abandoned by my father and a burden to my Mom. I hated my parents for sleeping together because I felt like my conception was an accident.

Later on, my mom married another man and had two other children. My step father was abusive, and when I was four, my mom left him and began working two jobs to support her three children. Working long hours, my mom often left us with our aunt and uncle. The next two years of my life were a living nightmare. My uncle would watch porn at night and at five years old, I was exposed to pornography. Something inside me felt uncomfortable and slimed, so I asked him to turn it off. Instead of turning it off, he sat me down on his lap in front of the TV screen while he touched me. As far as I can remember this was the only time, but it was enough to damage me. I felt violated by my uncle and forgotten by mom.

Shortly after, I started masturbating. It was my drug to numb the pain. I did it everyday. I couldn’t stop. At age ten I realized what I was doing was wrong and that I needed to stop. At fifteen I turned to romance novels in place of masturbation to escape. I felt empty and lost and at sixteen started cutting myself. I never did it with the intention of committing suicide (although the thought had crossed my mind) but I did want to die so that the pain would stop. I’d fantasize about losing my virginity but never did. I’m so grateful. To this day I have something to give my future husband on our honeymoon night.

“I felt violated and forgotten. I started masturbating to numb the pain. I did it everyday. I couldn’t stop.”

Then we moved to Redding to attend Bethel Church and my life has never been the same. I found Moral Revolution, wonderful Godly women to help me, and hope. I read Moral Revolution and wanted to weep. For a long time I was told and shown that sex was nothing more than just a pleasurable thing; that guys were nothing more than abusive perverts and girls were mere objects. That children were worthless. This was my normal. But here was a book that told me sex was good and God had been the one that created it! The revelation that sex wasn’t defiling hit me like a brick.

God showed me that there were good guys in the world. I have developed amazing male friends that love me for who I am and not what I can give them. My mom had remarried when I was ten and I was finally creating a good, strong, and healthy relationship with someone I could finally call dad. Finally, I had self worth. I no longer felt like an accident, a burden, lost, or like any of the other pathetic lies the devil kept telling me. I finally forgave everyone who hurt me and became open with my addictions.

I thank God for his amazing love. For the hope He brings and the joy I now have. One day I will marry a man who’ll love me, fight for me, and protect me. He will have a heart of gold and be be a champion. I am not perfect and I still have a lot to work through. But the girl I was at thirteen is not the same girl that I am at 17.

God is so good! He’s so so good to me!

Anonymous, Redding, CA

Decisions For Tomorrow


Single. Hurting. And independent. A great combination for masturbation.

Or any sexual activity for that matter. Fortunately, my oath to singleness kept me from further sexual activity, but it’s all the same. A band aid applied to the surface of what’s truly killing us under the skin. For me, masturbation consoled the pain I shoved deeper and deeper into my soul, as the smile I wore conveyed the confidence, security, and strength I wanted. No one would ever have to know of the mess at home, the financial fears, the relational lack, the personal abuse of perfectionism. I didn’t need anyone. I took care of everyone. I was fine. I was self-sufficient, I was strong, I was being spiritual. I only needed God. Didn’t I?

Sexual activity, masturbation, and pornography function as harmful roads to intimacy, comfort and connection. Imagine coming home from a long day. You didn’t have time to eat lunch that day, and because you slept through your alarm, you hadn’t eaten breakfast either. It’s now 6:00 PM and you feel physically hollow (I feel like that after 3 hours, ha). You’re so hungry that you don’t even want to move. A decision now stands before you. Do I get up and take the time to cook myself a good meal- full of color, nutrients, and health, or do I just run to McDonalds? Most of us just grabbed fast food, but understand that we also just sacrificed quality and our future health, for a quick fix.

We offer the same sacrifice every time we choose masturbation for comfort. Sex for intimacy. Every choice carries an outcome. Like eating that junk food, we may not have preferred it, we may feel sick after eating it, we may not like the effects it’s having on our physical bodies, but at least we didn’t feel hungry anymore. In the same way, rather than sharing our pain, our hurt, or our fears with those around us, we bottle it, and “help” ourselves- robbing us of the true comfort, intimacy and connection we’re longing for.

Your decision today depicts your future tomorrow. So what will it be? Fast food or a good meal? It’s up to you.

Anna Weygandt (Intern)

Embracing My Heart, My Feelings, My Desires


Most of my life, I have attempted to control, stifle, and sometimes completely disown my desires. Unfortunately, when dealing with sexual desire and longing for intimacy, I was unaware that they could be expressed in a healthy way. More often than not, I would try to fool myself into thinking that I didn’t really have those desires, or that they were from the devil and I should try to rebuke them. If I was attracted to a woman or noticed that she had a nice body, instead of being able to simply admit, “She is pretty and there’s something I see in her that I’m attracted to,” I would deny the feelings of attraction in the guise of “staying pure.”

I discovered that we are not powerful enough to deny the desires God has created in us from coming to fruition, and if we go too long with ignoring them, they will come out one way or another. The longer I denied my natural sexual desires, the stronger and more uncontrollable my urges got, and after labeling these desires as bad, the only way for them to surface were through perverse versions of the beautiful desires God had planted in me. Without a healthy way to express my sexuality and longing for intimacy, I turned to placating these desires with masturbation and pornography. Of course, this never came close to touching the desires God had put in me and left me feeling more wanting than before, with a huge side of guilt and shame.

“I would try to fool myself into thinking that I didn’t have those desires, or that they were from the devil and I should rebuke them. I denied my feelings in the guise of staying pure.”

It wasn’t until God dealt with my shame that I was able to fully embrace my desires. Through a series of events, I was able to lay all my shame before the Lord — all of my shortcomings, failures, disappointments, everything. After I exposed all of myself to Him, His response blew me off my feet. I felt Him looking at me with kind eyes. I was so shocked to see such genuine love, and even the sense that He missed me and had been waiting for me. There wasn’t any look of disappointment or disgust, which I had thought I would surely find. He showed me that no matter how big a hole I dug or how bad I messed things up, His love is greater and He will always be there eagerly awaiting my return.

With the shame gone, I was able to talk with God about my desires. When I saw a woman I was physically attracted to, I was able to admit it and talk to God about it. It was revolutionary for my life. Instead of hiding some of the deepest longings of my heart from God, I was able to invite Him in and He began teaching me! He showed me how He had handcrafted my heart and placed every hope and longing I’ve ever felt inside it. He told me that the pain and emptiness I had been feeling was meant to be there, because He would not let any of His children continue on in life missing the gifts He had prepared for them. He wouldn’t take away the pain because the pain was an indicator that there actually was something missing that only He could help me find.

“There wasn’t any disappointment or disgust (which I thought I would surely find). He showed me that no matter how bad I messed up, His love is greater and will always be there.”

The biggest revelation that has changed my life is realizing that I can trust God with taking care of my heart. He is completely aware of my wants and needs (because He is their author) and understands how to meet them more then I could ever hope to. Now as a single person, I still experience sexual urges and even sexual frustration from time to time, but instead of hiding from the urges, I tell God, “Thank you that the desires of my heart are alive and well. I know that you made them to be 100% met. And I’m okay with waiting and being frustrated because I know where you take me will meet those needs 10 times better than anything I can do on my own. So, Father, I completely trust you. Continue to teach me about what you have put inside of me.”

Brendon, 25, California

Freedom from Porn

Isolation Never Helped Anyone

Like a family relative you keep locked in the basement, porn was only let out when no one was home. 

Growing up poor as the chunky pastor’s daughter in a very liberal, small town set me up for failure pretty early on. I loved people, but had very low self-esteem and no Christian friends to gain strength from. Isolated and lacking vision for my life, I sought refuge from pain.

The first time I saw porn was in the third grade. I was exposed to this crippling vice, which took years to conquer, through a friend who later grew up to have a million kids, all with different baby daddies. As I grew up, different emotions and needs would trigger my need for porn: comfort, adventure, education, control, risk. Porn could supply it—or so I thought. Like a family relative you keep locked in the basement, porn was only let out when no one was home. I hid it and hid it well. It wasn’t until my twenties that God revealed His desire to bring me out of this destructive pattern, which only led to loneliness and shame.

The first step in getting help was allowing God into every area I had kept hidden. Letting God hear your pain and accepting His love is an ongoing process. You need to become transparent and intimate in a healthy way with healthy people. Bring things into the light with those who have conquered these issues as well. It takes a huge amount of risk, and you’re not going to feel like doing it, but I promise there is freedom from the isolation you’re in. Face the pain, and it will lessen in time. On the other side are genuine, transparent relationships that God has intended for you all along. Resolve in your heart that you will no longer be passive when it comes to sexual content of any kind: movies, commercials, Internet, etc. There are resources available if you look for them. No one can do this for you, but God is all for you.

— Liz 33, North Carolina