by Karen Winkleman

So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. (2 Timothy 2:22 ESV)

Twenty-one years ago, we first heard “It’s a girl!”—and our lives changed forever!  After three more girls, our days became full of fairy tales, dress-up clothes, and pink décor.  Their first use of a chess set involved creating a wedding scene with the kings and queens.  Those little girls have now grown into teens and college students. Dress-up clothes have turned into prom dresses, and…well, no one is really into pink anymore.

Purity has not been a one-time conversation in our home but an overall focus on our daughters’ hearts.  Our desire for them is to see purity from an “inside-out” perspective, focused on a lifetime of keeping a heart pure before the Lord, rather than simply a pre-marital attitude.  Proverbs 4:23 guides us:  Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.

The groundwork for this began early on.  Like many moms, I’ve prayed for their future spouses and the purity of those young men, along with their salvation and spiritual growth.  We talked about modesty before the girls knew why modesty should be important.  We planted seeds in light-hearted conversations about the future…that boys interested in them would need to talk to their dad, that weddings should come before babies, etc.  Their dad has modeled well what to expect from young men, taking the girls on “dates” and talking with them about a guy’s point of view.

Biblical encouragement from Christian radio, author Josh McDowell, and ministries like our own FamilyLife have guided us over the years.  Each of my girls and I have fun memories from our weekend away working through Passport to Purity.  Most recently, our youngest got a few bonus hours when I had to retrieve my forgotten purse from our hotel.  Along the way she challenged me with more questions as we passed several XXX establishments beside the road!

These days, new conversations develop with our girls about “real-time” relationships.  In addition to physical purity, we talk about standards for emotional purity as well.  Texting, Facebook, and video chat establish a whole level of intimacy with the opposite sex before anyone realizes what has happened.  Hearts are entangled, emotions get confused, and both “sides” of the relationship experience miscommunication.  While physical boundaries have been kept, a heart boundary has been crossed.  It is difficult to go back and re-establish that boundary later.  One of my girls explained, “It’s like experiencing the pain of a break-up without having had the benefit of a real relationship in the first place.”

Outward purity is hard enough to pursue in today’s culture; inward purity for a lifetime is an even more challenging goal.  As we choose to live with an eternal perspective, we encourage our girls to walk before God, the one who is “Holy, Holy, Holy.”  We are excited to see how He will answer years of prayers.  In the meantime, we will continue to pray for their hearts…and to talk, and talk, and then talk some more.