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Sexual Purity Starts at Seven

| November 30, 2009

By the time she is sixteen, a Christian girl has a 50/50 chance of surviving life without the experiences of sexual sin, eating disorders and depression. Parents who “did everything right” can’t understand how it happened when their daughter falls on the wrong side of the stats. What they don’t know is that they may have done everything right, but started too late. The foundation for building an emotionally healthy teen girl-who stands free from the norms of an at-risk culture-is built between the ages of 8-12.

I have to hold myself back every time a white-haired grandma leans in to her pig-tailed granddaughter and teasingly asks her, “So, do you have a boyfriend?” This, usually said with a chuckle and a batting of the eyes, is generally meant to be just silly conversation, but I know too much to consider it to be cute. It is dangerous.  Being in a dating relationship for six months or longer is a significant risk factor for early teen sexual activity. Can you see why it might not be “cute” for our 8-12 year olds to be boy crazy or to have multiple boyfriends while they are still in the fourth grade? If she develops the pattern of “needing” a guy when she is eight or nine, she’s going to be in many six-month relationships in her early teen years. That’s not wise. Let’s help her stay off the boy crazy train.

I have two sixteen-year-old girls who have not only stayed off of it, but have managed to pull a few friends off. How do you navigate through boy craziness? There are three critical things you must do to prepare your princess to be successful in her quest for purity. First, you’ll need to have the big sex talk. Don’t think for a minute that it’s too early. Experts agree that sexual value formation begins when a child is between the ages of 8-10. A healthy, age-appropriate conversation during those years is critical. Second, you need to begin to establish your family philosophy on dating and begin to explain it to your child in stages. This will begin with the first stage of teaching her to related to boys as friends, not boyfriends in fourth grade! Finally, mom, it’s time to start dreaming of her future. If you take the time now to establish a dream of purity and a white wedding dress in her heart, it will know what to aim for and will be less likely to settle for anything less.

The book of Proverbs describes a virtuous woman. It says that she does her husband good “all the days of her life.” I think that includes when she’s seven!

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  1. AMEN! I have an 11-year old who’s seeing what the “boy craze” does to her friends and their friendships. I’m thankful that she’s got a strong relationship with her daddy & doesn’t need attention from boys.

    Thank you for reminding us that we can’t wait too late to preach purity to our girls.

  2. Paige says:

    Awesome! Thanks for the encouragement. Even at church, you see so many parents accepting their kids “dating” early and think it is okay. Our girls are too precious and we don’t need to let them fall into the world’s standards.

  3. Angie says:

    Thanks for the insights! My husband and I are missionaries in Africa and have a one year old daughter. We hear comments all the time about young men wanting to marry her when she grows up. It’s not meant in a dirty way, but it does make it hard to avoid such topics of conversation. But your article reminds me that, as far as it depends upon me, we won’t be joking around like that with or about our little princess.

  4. Olivia says:

    AMEN!!! This is exactly what my parents have done for me and now at almost 15 I am so thankful for my parents doing such. For as long as I can remember my parents have had a “no dating until you are 18” rule and I love them for that. It’s removed so much of the pressure that most girls my age who are dating have. I have friendships with guys, but I don’t have to worry if they like me or wonder if they are going to ask me out because even if they do, nothing can come of it. I have no desire to flirt because what’s the point? I don’t believe in window shopping when you can’t buy anything.

    My parents were also fantastic about having the sex talk at a young age. My older brother and I have both been comfortable talking to my parents about such things. Again, I am so thankful that my parents had the courage to both talk to us about sex as well as educate us about it from Christian perspectives BEFORE the media had a chance to do so. Kids pick things up very, very quickly and if you even wait until ten, chances are that children will sort of know what sex is.

    I like how you said that your daughters have had the chance to pull others off the guy crazy train. I have one friend in particular that I had a great conversation with about dating the other week. She’s had “boyfriends” since 5th grade and has had a rough life (she has been through the foster care system and been adopted in the last 4 years or less). I explained the great benefits of being single in high school and I think she gets some of them, or at least she claims she wants to be single… for awhile… 😉

    Thanks for writing this article, I’m sure it is very helpful to many mothers.

    • Jennifer says:

      I know this article is old, but I just bought a book for my 7 year old that was written especially for little girls that illustrates the point of the article so beautifully. It’s called ‘The Princess and the Kiss’ by Jennie Bishop and the message of purity is so gently presented. Indeed, all little girls are princesses endowed by their Father with a most precious gift, one to be protected and cherished. You can find out more about the book (there is an equivalent one for young boys) at

  5. Liz says:

    My daughter is 3, and reading this just gives me chills. All the same, I’m thankful for people making me think about these things now, not when she’s 16! I hate it when people make comments like “Oh is he your little boyfriend?”, even when they are still babies just gurgling next to each other on the play gym.

  6. Lindie says:

    Wow this message is so beautiful but yet so true.
    Its only dawning on me exactly how important purity is, being 24, a virgin and still single but waiting for the right person.. I can only Thank and praise Jesus for being so patient but so loving- and that’s the reason I made a covenant with God and my family that I would stay a virgin till the day I walked down the aisle- and whoa the world can be crazy at times..

    I was dating a guy who wasn’t a Christian- and the conviction from the Holy Spirit was so bad- that relationship ended within months of it starting. But I thank the Lord its over now- and looking back the guy I was seeing he made it known how a decision like mine was so unorthodox because I was doing myself harm- but then I realised its not about me- its about God and what he says goes.. so that is why I’ve decided to wait but a decision like this only came with the strong Christian foundations and upbringing in my parents home.

    I was not allowed to have a boyfriend till I turned 21- and this came from my own father- he wanted us to put God first.. And he took us on daddy daughter dates.. And showed us and treated my sisters and I like princesses on these dates.. and honestly this has also instilled so much value into my sisters and I because as my father put it- he worked hard to win my mother over- and the guys who plan on marrying us should be just as willing to work just as hard.. Princesses never chase men.. They are occupied with their fathers kingdom- and if any suitors are interested.. They have to prove their interest..

  7. Kate says:

    Thank you! My dad’s a Christian, but not too strong, and my mom is the most feeble. As a result of this, we never really talked about sex or anything; I was just brought up believing not to have it before marriage. Then when I got to college, I was so unprepared for everything that I saw and experienced. I’d never had a boyfriend, never been kissed until I let things get carried away. No alcohol, just emotions and a charming bad boy who professed to be a Christian. Yes, I let him lead me dancing, and when he kissed me I just got so overwhelmed and curious and let it go on. Later, he invited me back to his room and then it was clear what his motives were. After that night I dedicated myself to purity. I’ve read tens of books and am interning with Generations of Virtue this summer. This is so so so important to me. I’m watching my younger sister depending on a guy to make her happy, sexting him and trusting him with all she is. And I’m watching girls, my age and younger, looking toward guys to satisfy them.

    I’ve made my own decision that my next kiss will be at the altar. And I’ve found people who are supporting me with that. I want to raise a generation that will hold purity in its heart.

  8. Cheery says:

    This section raised a red flag when I read it:

    “Finally, mom, it’s time to start dreaming of her future. If you take the time now to establish a dream of purity and a white wedding dress in her heart, it will know what to aim for and will be less likely to settle for anything less.”

    Moms – be careful about dreaming about your daughter’s future and planting ideas into her head. I know Dannah’s intention is for moms to teach their daughters to value purity as a non-negotiable, but planning out your daughter’s future has the danger of going too far. I’m not a mom, but I have seen this with my relationship with my own mother.

    1. She has been dreaming about what she wants for my life since the day I was born. Now I’m 21 and dating a wonderful, godly man who is of a different race than I am and whose family is quite different than mine. My mom says she approves of us dating, but has made no secret of the fact that she is disappointed that I couldn’t just find a nice white guy whose family is exactly like ours. She also always hoped I would live near our family after I got married, but when my boyfriend and I get married we will be living in a different area. My brother is not a Christian and my sister is disabled, therefore all my mom’s hopes and dreams for her children rest solely on me – the daughter whose life is turning out differently than she had planned for me.

    2. My mom also planted ideas into my head all my life. She raised me to want to be a stay at home mom, not desire a career or college and to never want to move away from my parents. Now, it’s great that she taught me to long for the role of wife and mother. I’m thankful for that. But as I got older and realized I may end up marrying someone who doesn’t want to live in this area, it was really difficult for me to wrap my mind around that. I also regret not going to college or getting a full time job after high school, which would have greatly benefitted my boyfriend’s and my future plans.

    Anyway, I’m not trying to say my mom is to blame for all my troubles or anything like that. She’s a great mom and I appreciate how she has devoted her entire life to raising me and my siblings. I know Dannah was referring to teaching your daughters about sexual purity, but the way the paragraph was worded made me think of a controlling, brainwashing mom. I just want to warn all the mothers out there to not get your heart set on your fantasy of what your daughter’s life will be like, and please don’t try to make your daughters have more loyalty to you than to her future husband/family.

  9. Bethany says:

    Thank you for addressing this! I am currently pregnant with what looks like my third girl, so need all the wise advice I can get! This culture is scary to raise a girl in. Or boys in, for that matter. At this age (preschool), nothing saddens and sickens me more than the comments people (even Christians!) make about having a little boyfriend. We even had to intervene when a Christian friend tried to get her grandson and my daughter to kiss. I was furious. It is NOT cute, it is totally inappropriate. I’ve been wondering when the right age will be to have the sex talk with the girls, and even being home-schooled I know they will need it. So thank you for a little guidance on this issue!

    One thing I have to say, though, is that I’m so thankful for a husband who believes as I do. He takes the oldest on “Daddy dates” as often as he can, and will do it with all of our daughters. Little girls need a strong, gentle, and loving male figure in their lives. All their lives. The worst thing a father can do is to stop giving affection and lots of quality time together when a little girl starts to grow up. I know this from experience. It leaves a void that, coupled with no knowledge about sex or how to deal with those feelings, leads to serious trouble. A godly daddy needs to fill that role until he gives over responsibility of his daughter on her wedding day.

  10. tasha says:

    This is an awesome article. I have a 7 year old and I was just thinking the other day, I know I ahve to talk to her about sex soon and it is great to know that I was thinking in the right frame of mind. I have been foolowing Dannah and her books since before I even had a child. Thank God for her ministry!!! Keep it up.

  11. Lisa says:

    I’ve been mentoring teen girls for 15 years and raising my own daughters for 12. I’ve witness exactly what you are talking about, and so long ago, I committed to have honest, vision focused conversations with my daughters. My oldest is now 12. She think boys are cute, but isn’t caught up in the craziness of dating. She wants to wait, because we’ve trained her that way. She’s happy, emotionally healthy, and hopeful for her future. It is sooooo worth it!

  12. Johanna says:

    Wow! What a great article. Straight to the point. I grew up knowing that I could not have a boyfriend until I finished High School and that my job was to focus on my studies. Even though the world tried to contaminate me, the Lord helped to hold fast to his promise of bringing a godly man to get married. I even went to College and got a degree and now I can work from home. God has blessed my marriage and I praise God for teachers as Dannah who are not afraid to be counter-cultural or politically incorrect!

  13. Sheree says:

    I will be 16 this month my parents didn’t have the sex talk with me until about 6 or 7 grade, but I have been in privet school all my life and we go to church twice a week. We had a purity class in 7th grade. It was an eye opener. About this time was the first time I every heard anything. I think 7 might be a little to young maybe 10; it really depends on the child and how mature they are.

    I have made a commitment not to kiss until my wedding and to always have someone else in the room or the bedrooms door open so the parents can hear whats going on. This has also reasured me that there are Godly guys out there somewhere.

    Thankyou keep ou all you are doing.

  14. Kathy Bastian says:

    There are very liberal denominations that are teaching the same sex ed as they do in the public schools. They are taking their teen boys and girls to camp and telling them how to use condoms and demonstrating on a plastic form which looks like the real thing. No problem if this is what you want for your child. You need to make sure you know not only what the schools are teaching but what your church is teaching your children. This is a great article and I don’t think in the sex saturated society we live in today, seven is too early. I pray that Christian parents become more watchful and pro-active in imparting their values to their children because other people will and possibly without your knowledge.