Having an adult daughter is hard, especially in today's society. Having an adult daughter who has graduated high school and held on to her purity while doing so, is even harder. I'm proud of my daughter for sticking to her convictions, but there have been situations where boys she has been in relationships with entered into relationships with her with less than honorable intentions. So when I was given the option to review Sex by Design from Abby Ludvigson, I thought it would be a great opportunity to sit with Alyssa, reiterate the reasons why she should continue to hold to her chastity as long as possible and discuss ways in which to counter situations such as what she had already encountered.
About Sex By Design
There are seven sections to this study:
1) Plan Ahead: Living Pure in a Sex-saturated Culture
2) Counting the Cost: Every Decision has a price tag
3) Dating: Doing Relationships God's Way
4) Sex: God's Purpose and Plan
5) Modesty: God Cares What I Wear
6) Pornography: Its deception and Steps to Get Out or Stay Out
7) Secondary Virginity: Running Back to God
How We Used It and What We Thought
Let me start by saying that discussing sex, abstinence and topics such as pornography are not foreign to us. I have always had an open and honest relationship with my daughter and have never approached her questions regarding relationships and intimacy with embarrassment. My daughter has also observed how infidelity and pornography have negatively impacted marriages in our family. So, without hesitation, we sat side by side on the couch with my laptop and our books so that we could watch the videos together.
First, for the good points. I really liked the books that accompany this series. The parent's guide provides a great platform for discussion for what could be uncomfortable topics.
I really wanted to like these videos and hoped that Alyssa would away from them with some very helpful information in regards to navigating dating and sexual temptation. However, I will be honest; I felt that there were MANY missed opportunities and important topics that weren't covered in any real depth, if at all. For example, there was very little discussion about sexual pressure and what to do if one is in a relationship with someone who is pressuring one into a sexual relationship. These videos constantly make reference to what God wants from us (sexual purity) but there wasn't any discussion in regards to things like "if a person really loves you and respects you, they will respect your decision" or that any person who continues to pressure you into a sexual relationship once you say no, they are in the relationship for the wrong reasons. Telling a young person who is full of hormones and confusion to find answers in the Bible doesn't really tackle the fact that the relationship is severely flawed and they should move on. Of course, being able to talk with Alyssa when she's sitting right beside me, I can counter this, but I felt that there wasn't as much practical information that could and should have been provided.
I also found that some of the factual information presented was wrong. An example being Abby says in the 1970s, there were only 2 known STDs but that there are over 25 today. However, chlamydia, syphilis, herpes, and gonorrhea were all known long before the 1970s and students who have taken a health class will probably be aware of this as well. This may seem like a very insignificant point, but it makes one question the validity of other claims such as statistics about teens who regret guilty after having sex that Abby makes, especially when discussing a topic that many teenagers are going to approach with a closed mind to begin with.
Abby's suggestions for tools for purity include a purity commitment card, purity ring, writing letters to your future spouse and a half-filled picture frame. But these tools provide very little guarantees when a teenager who thinks they are "in love" and being pressured. Yes, God does indeed say we should wait till marriage, but when Christian youth with purity rings on their fingers have just as high of a teen pregnancy rate as their non-Christian counterpart, being armed with a quiverful of scripture doesn't seem to be making a difference. A real arsenal of tools are needed to counter today's sex-driven society and I just felt that this series failed to provide that information.
Abby seems like a really nice person and I give her all the credit for holding to her values and remaining abstinent until marriage. I do feel some guilt for writing such a negatively influenced review because she does seem like a genuinely nice person who wanted to provide a tool parents can use to help their children to remain pure till marriage and the concept is great. It might be that we have a pastor who is extremely open in regards to talking about sex and abstinence but still provides the tools necessary to avoid temptations and how to recognize a toxic relationship. But I just feel that abstinence is about much more than a contract of purity, it's also being aware of situations and how to recognize when someone you're dating isn't honorable. It's about having a rescue plan.
Because of these reasons, I would say this is a great series for those who have teens who are not yet dating. Because this is not a sex ed course, the material is not graphic or detailed but is more about reasons why one should abstain from sex before marriage. If one is wanting to strictly introduce their children to the reasons for abstinence, this is a great platform for that. However, for those who have children who are thinking about serious dating, I think this makes a good argument for purity but that additional discussion between the parent and child is necessary to discuss these other issues.
For more information about Sex by Design, please visit the website. You can also find more information on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Sex-by-Design-188984727830789/.