A couple of years ago, I found myself wandering through the streets of a small English village. I happened upon a silversmith shop and did something I’d never done before. I stood shoulder to shoulder with a Master silversmith.
This generationally owned family business not only crafted fine silver, but also maintained and repaired pieces that bore their signature emblem from previous…get this…centuries.
This Master, carefully guided a silver handle from a cream pitcher (by the way…his great-grandfather had crafted it originally) in and out of the fire. He invited me to look into the fire for the flame’s bluish hue that rendered the silver piece to be the most pliable for restoring.
The heat, metals, rods, aprons and gnarled hands all told a story about how silver was purified within the intensity of the fire and then could be molded.
All this started me thinking, what does it mean when we tell our teenagers to “keep their purity”?
The dictionary tells us simply that pure means: “unmixed without any other matter, free from what weakens or pollutes…”
It could be great if a pledge, a promise or a ring could maintain this idea of “purity”, but statistics show how ineffective these symbols are in the “heat of battle,” especially in evangelical circles where guilt and shame cripple teenagers to be even more ill-equipped and unprepared.
Fire = hormones trumping logical control of their vulnerable bodies. Guilt can become their clothing of choice that can make our teens hide from us as parents while turning from the truth of who they are.
Wait a second. This sounds very familiar…
Take the first man and woman, hanging out in the garden. Remember? God gave them great freedom, yet also God gave them boundaries—to not eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
Because God knew what their eyes would be open to. God knew that this knowledge would “weaken and pollute” them to turn away from their deepest identity…”made in the image of God.”
As I saw first hand from the Master silversmith, fire is where purification takes place. So how do we allow the fire of purification, without our children ending up with third degree sexual trauma burns? And I mean, without locking them up until they are 35 years old…
Vulnerability — yes, perhaps theirs. But first — first — I mean our vulnerability. Our vulnerability as parents.
- Can we dare to be honest that we to struggle with purity in our own journey?
- Can we seek to stay engaged with our children as they ask honest questions?
- Dare we ask risky questions about what they are thinking? Do we really want to know?
- How might we equip them with for noticing the fire?
- How girls/boys confuse them—and take their breath away?
Might the truth of who they are and what they are capable of, be a key that God has granted us to use to remind and return these teenagers to a deeper truth…?
They do bear the image of God.
Their sexual drive is a gift—not a curse.
The fire is real—it can either burn them or mold them.
The deeper truth is—that as your parent, I will not turn away—instead I will come towards you and choose to walk with you.
What if we believe that purity is more than just not doing something? What if we believe purity is a continual process of refining, transforming, becoming…