Imagine you and your realtor have found your dream home. From the exterior, it’s everything you imagined and more. However, as you open the front door, your stomach sinks. Holes in the walls, sunken floors, pet stains, falling beams, trash piled up for weeks and the smell of something rotting sends you dashing outside for fresh air. What is this foolishness?? The house looked perfect on the outside but is a hot mess on the inside.
Did you know that our bodies are like a house? We have an external and internal structure. But how many of us when meeting someone we consider physically attractive look beyond their features? Will we take time to learn if their outer structure is solid as their internal structure? Is their internal structure sound with integrity throughout? Most people would walk away from the house I described to you, given the interior problems. If caution is warranted before buying a dysfunctional property, how much greater caution should we exercise before engaging in physical relationships with a person whose internal structure (character) we have not inspected, nor meets our standards?
There is one such organization working to ensure teens build solid character foundations and to examine the qualities of others—before entering relationships.
This week, I met with staff members of Miami-based nonprofit, Abstinence Between Strong Teens International, Inc. Founded in 1992, ABSTI’s mission is “to empower young adults to think, leading them to focus on and improve the development of their emotional, mental, spiritual, financial and physical self.” Since their founding, ABSTI has empowered more than 200,000 youth and parents to have educated discussions on unintended health outcomes regarding pre-marital sex and the relation of sex to a positive self-image. Without such discussions, teens may engage in destructive behaviors, undermining the value of reserving sex for marriage. ABSTI prepares teens in God’s design for healthy relationships, marriage and sex (yes, in that order), from a character development perspective.
To assist in this effort, Darryl Auberry, Director of Project Image (an ABSTI initiative) created the “Building My House” curriculum. The curriculum’s creative images and critical-thinking scenarios reiterate the importance of building strong relationships that lead to marriage and explores why saving sex for marriage is beneficial. In the curriculum’s introduction, Auberry notes that having lived a life turned upside down by engaging in promiscuity, leading to emptiness and brokenness, propelled him to “meet a carpenter who changed his life.” Through Jesus changing Auberry’s life, he is now positively impacting the lives of others by equipping them with critical-thinking skills for good decision-making.
ABSTI Project Image Program Director Darryl Auberry, Youth Development Coordinator Barbara Boliere and CEO Michelle Shirley. (Nicole in peach blouse) Taken at the Baltimore Harbor Cheesecake Factory, May 29, 2013. We avoided the tempting and delicious-looking 1,000 calorie+ cheesecakes!
Last summer and through this January, I was privileged to work with ABSTI CEO Michelle Shirley and ABSTI Youth Development Coordinator Barbara Boliere to help promote their first annual “Restoring the Image of Purity” walkathon. We remain encouraged by the participation of young people at the walkathon. So how does this path differ to freedoms offered by the world?
Unlike Jesus who gives us true freedom, the world in many ways offers counterfeit freedoms. Those living worldly will say, “Why can’t I have more? Does God really know what’s best for me or is He just preventing me from enjoying life?” Just the opposite! In John 10:10, Jesus says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full (life more abundantly).”
God designed us as relational beings! He created sex for procreation, our pleasure and to be united in spirit with the right spouse. God’s design expands our freedom. Engaging in sexual activity outside of God’s design, enslaves us to a slippery slope of fleshly desires, giving the enemy license to corrupt other areas of our life. A false freedom found in the beautiful home wrecked on the inside has left us with buyer’s remorse and pursuers of more counterfeit love and freedom because we haven’t pursued the true Source: Jesus.
In our push for greater worldly freedoms, Satan sets the stage for his next counterfeit scheme. We’ve been lulled into supporting more “freedoms” in this do your own thing society, only to find ourselves perplexed by our children’s outcomes because we thought it old-fashioned to “train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6).
I am pleased to support the work of Abstinence Between Strong Teens International and like organizations as they equip our young people to build solid character within themselves and seek like qualities in others before engaging in relationships as they become adults.
How solid is your internal structure? Or the structure of those who you are most intimate? Is character and integrity at the foundation or is a “good carpenter” required to rebuild?