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


Same Sex Attraction


The subject of gender identification has become a hot topic over the last 20 years or so. However, same gender sexual experiences have been around almost as long as humans have. Abraham’s nephew, Lot, was confronted by a horde of men rallying outside his house asking to have sex with his male guests. Roman historians have noted that homosexuality was common in their culture. Greek men would procreate with their wives but engage in pleasurable sexual experiences with men [only if it was an older man with a younger man]. But there was one race forbidden to engage in such relationships. The God of the Jews had forbidden same sex partners. When Jesus had come and gone he left a new religion in his wake. Originally only Jews were converting to Christianity but then gentiles (non-Jews) were invited to join The Way (what the early church called their movement). Homosexuality was not an acceptable behavior for followers of The Way and as Christianity spread, so did the taboo on same sex interactions and homosexuality was driven underground. It remained unacceptable in Christian circles until only a couple of decades ago when various protestant denominations chose to not only embrace practicing homosexuals into their congregations, but also to ordain them as ministers. This created a huge response from conservative churches and much passionate feedback from people with bullhorns on street corners, and, in later days, anyone with a computer.

There are people in our world who feel confused, trapped, ignored, helpless and feared because of society’s inability to love people through their disagreements.


I have been exposed to so many points of view, and in all honesty, the ones I most often encountered were from people who would run at the sight of someone who identified themselves as gay. Bible verses would be plucked out of context and bandied about like some sort of magic eye or spiritual defence lest they, too, become infected with the ‘gay gene’. The word ‘gay’ morphed into an insult in the school yard. I have seen a number of little boy fights that started with one boy calling the other ‘gay’. Homosexuality is something that children, in my experience, do not aspire towards. But the reality is that there are little boys that identify more with feeling like a girl, and little girls that want to be boys or do ‘boy things’. We have teens in the throes of puberty all confused because they are attracted to people of the same gender. We have men and women leaving their heterosexual spouses to pursue a life with a same sex partner. There are people in our world who feel confused, trapped, ignored, helpless and feared because of society’s inability to love people through their disagreements.

During one particular season of my life I felt like God was prompting me to reassess how Christians respond to people who sin [according to the Bible, homosexuality (amongst other behaviors) is a sin]. Generally speaking, humans run away from people they don’t understand. It started with people with mental or physical disabilities. They used to be carted off and put in asylums so that people wouldn’t be put off, or scared by them. People with Down Syndrome would be labeled as the ‘village idiot’ and tolerated as some sort of public charity. Nowadays we are faced with two opposing sides of how to ‘treat’ those who identify as LGBT. Some churches encourage attendance and promote LGBT leaders. Others refuse entry to ‘such people’ and exclude them from services. Still others stay silent and plead ignorance to what is happening in their pews.

Changes need to happen. But what do we do?

How do we accept people when we don’t agree with their lifestyle choices? Isn’t there a part of all humans that doesn’t object when bad things happen to people who sin? Don’t we measure our reaction to injustice whether people ‘deserved it’ or not?

There’s not a lot in the New Testament that talks specifically to same sex relationships. I believe that Jesus is perfect theology. To break it down, that means that God is perfectly represented through the life and actions of His only begotten Son. There is no recorded interaction between Jesus and a homosexual but there is a recorded interaction between Jesus and an adulteress. There is a recorded interaction between Jesus and a prostitute. There is a recorded interaction between God and a murderer (Paul). In all of these interactions Jesus calls these people, not by their sin, but by their identity. He doesn’t release his wrath onto them – which would have been justified and acceptable – but he offers his love and forgiveness and a second chance. He encourages them to “go, and sin no more.” After an encounter with the King of Kings, each one of these people were changed forever.

All of us have sinned. But the minute I start to assess others and decide that the love I give is proportionate to the [visible] sin of the person is the minute I, myself, am sinning. I am putting myself on God’s throne and deliberately ignoring his command to love others. If Jesus is my example, I need to love people no matter if I agree with them or not. It’s my responsibility to connect with their Creator and find out the reason for their existence. I am still called to treat them as first class citizens. I am called to love them as God loves me. I am called to be friends with whoever crosses my path and to let the Holy Spirit be the one to breathe life into their spirit.

Jesus is perfect theology.

Extra notes for those concerned about children/teens:

If you suspect a child/teen is same sex attracted (SSA) then here are some things to remember:

Their behavior does not determine their identity or value.

Boys playing with dolls is not an alarming behavior – maybe they just want to be a great Dad. Girls playing with cars and trucks and playing football is not alarming behavior. Be aware of the danger of gender stereotyping and labelling.

Aside from children who have been sexually awakened early, most children are incredibly innocent in their speech and behavior and it’s most likely not indicative of their sexual orientation.

With the help of a wise, sensitive counsellor it is possible to re-route the brain’s connections that have led your child to identify with SSA.

Be incredibly vigilant in policing ‘playground talk’ ‘you’re gay!’ or ‘you’re a homo’ etc.

Have consistent and open communication with your child about all areas of their life. Even if they adamantly insist they are SSA, there is a multitude of other topics you can remain open and connected about. Isolating your child will harden their heart to ever changing.

Don’t blow it out of proportion.

— Aimee Greig (Intern)