A New Standard or an Old Sin?
About the Guest
Authors Michael and Hayley DiMarco, founders of Hungry Planet, a think tank designed to feed truth to the post-modern generation, talk with Dennis Rainey about the sexual culture we live in and the devaluing of virginity in our modern society.
Michael and Hayley DiMarcoHayley and Michael DiMarco form Hungry Planet books. Since their first book hit the shelves in Fall 2003, Hungry Planet has published more than three dozen titles and, as of 2011, sold over 1,000,000 books. Their newest title, Die Young: Burying Your Self in Christ, is a challenge to readers to die to self and live for Christ, in ways that are completely countercultural. On their own, Hayley and Michael are award-winning, bestselling authors. Hayley is the author of more than thirty...more
Michael and Hayley DiMarco talk about the sexual culture we live in and the devaluing of virginity in our modern society.
A New Standard or an Old Sin?
Bob: For years, teenagers, who have a boyfriend or a girlfriend, have been asking the question: “So how far can I go? What does the Bible say about how far I can go?” Hayley DiMarco says that's really the wrong question. What they need to be asking is, “What is a virgin?”
Hayley: I don't like to draw lines. A lot of kids just want to know: "Draw the line for me. Just tell me, ‘Here it is’." The trouble with drawing a line is that they tend to fall over it very easily because they didn't decide, in their heads, "This is how far I'm going to go," or, "This is what constitutes virginity."
But I think that a virgin is someone that doesn't allow her body to become sexual temptation or to become an object of lust to her boyfriend.
Bob: Alright. This is FamilyLife Today for Monday, May 19th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. We've got some things to talk about today: “What does it mean to uphold a standard of purity with our sons and our daughters?” We’ll talk about it. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Monday edition. You know, I think it was probably two or three decades ago that this movement started to encourage teenagers to sign a pledge of purity and to say, “We’re going to remain virgins until we get married.” I remember you and I talked about this, at the time. We said, “That’s good, but it may be the wrong objective”; don't you think?
Dennis: Well, we talked about it and said: “You know, the real issue is not virginity. The real issue is innocence—are we raising a generation who is innocent in what is evil?” Romans 16:19, Paul exhorts the church there to be “wise in what is good and innocent in what is evil.”
Dennis: And, in my opinion, that's the better standard for parents as they raise young men and women today because, just to set the standard around virginity—well, as you're about to hear—teenagers today are going to find a way around that issue. In the process, they're going to spoil their innocence.
And we have the author of the book, Technical Virgin, which speaks to the very issue we're talking about—Hayley DiMarco—with us on FamilyLife Today, along with her husband Michael. You guys have been with us before. Welcome back to the broadcast.
Hayley: Thanks, it's good to be here.
Michael: Yes, it's great to be back.
Dennis: Hayley, as you give leadership, along with Michael, to your organization, Hungry Planet, this really has been the message of your heart, as well, to reach the next generation of young men and women and talk to them straightforwardly about the issue of—well, technical virginity / innocence—being wise in what is good.
Dennis: Don't you resonate with what I was just saying?
Hayley: Oh, yes; definitely. That's the reason why the title is maybe scandalous to some people, but we've got to reach them where they are. Girls understand this technical virginity concept. There was recently a study done by Yale and Columbia Universities that stated that girls that sign up to these pledges you're talking about—abstinence pledges—agree to stay pure until they're married are contracting STDs at the same rate as girls that haven't signed the pledge. So, there's something wrong.
I agree with True Love Waits and all those pledges—I think they're fantastic—but we're missing—somewhere along the line, whoever is communicating it to the girls is missing the mark of what, as you say, innocence really is.
Bob: And you're talking about Christian girls because there aren't a whole lot of pagan girls signing True Love Waits cards.
Hayley: No, and that even care if they're technically a virgin. It really is a Christian concept because girls know—they understand that virginity is important to God. They want it to be important to them as well, but the world is telling them that everything except that intercourse is really no problem.
Dennis: Okay; so what is technical virginity? How does this generation of young women view that issue?
Hayley: A technical virgin would be somebody who believes that anything, short of intercourse, does not count against her virginity. She thinks if she does any kind of fooling around—oral sex is a very big issue—a very big, big, big problem—even in the Christian church. I know that word is not even popular. It's hard to say in a lot of media outlets, but it has to be said because parents don't understand that it's happening to their kids. It's happening in 8th grade. It's happening in high school, and it's happening because we're afraid to say the word. We're afraid to talk about it. So, our girls are just assuming that what the world says—"Yes, that's like a hug. It's no different. It's not intimate. No problem. Don't worry about it,"—they're buying that line.
Bob: And, in fact, in the culture today—outside the Christian culture—there is a general idea that sexual behavior is really recreation.
Hayley: Oh, yes!
Bob: You simply decide you want to—it is like you want to go play tennis—you find a partner and go play tennis. You want to have sex tonight—so, you find a partner and go have sex.
You watch Christian girls, growing up in this culture. They think, "Well, I know I shouldn't do that; but I don't want to just sit at home and do nothing."
Hayley: Exactly. Yes; everybody is talking about it. It seems like “something that I can do because, technically, I'm not sinning.”
Dennis: Even as Bob was talking about that, I was thinking, “This is a generation that views sex like entertainment—
Dennis: —“something you turn on, you experience, and you turn off with no consequences.” The reality is—as we all know, as adults—there are enormous consequences—way beyond STDs—
Hayley: Oh, right.
Dennis: —that these young girls are going to carry over into their marriage relationship.
Hayley: Yes, pediatricians are being warned—that if they have girls coming in that are showing signs of being sexually-active or being intimate with their boyfriends—that they should be sent to counseling for depression. Sexual activity—and even just—they say even relationships, when they're young girls—leads to depression.
Bob: And you do have to wonder. You look at the medication that's being prescribed for depression today—it's at all-time highs. You wonder, “Has our sexual behavior driven us to become a depressed culture?”
Hayley: Yes. You know—and it's not even the sexual behavior. I have another book—that's along the same lines as Technical Virgin—that is Sexy Girls: How Hot Is Too Hot? That talks about the epidemic of immodesty. It really starts with that—when girls have no understanding of what their bodies do to the men around them. They are just going down that slippery slope that leads them into all kinds of weird concepts of relationships and romance that are leading their tender emotional state to dangerous levels.
Bob: Hayley, when I was in high school, I started dating a girl. I remember, in an early conversation, she said something—I don't even remember the context in which this came up; but she said, "You know, I've decided that I want to wear white on my wedding day and have it mean something." I thought, "Mean what?" I mean, this was—I'm 16 years old.
Bob: I had no concept. There had never been a discussion in my home about sexual behavior other than the biology of how sex occurs; but I thought, "Mean what?" I guess I figured it out and I thought, "Oh, that's a nice standard." Again, for her, technical virginity was that “I want to get to the altar with white on”’ but in between here and there everything else seems to be fair game. Did you grow up with a concept of purity and virginity?
Hayley: No, I think I grew up with this concept that we're talking about right now; and that is, I never got taught anything about sexuality in the home. I only learned it through Sex Ed class. I went to a Catholic high school and—
Dennis: Your parents did not say a single thing to you?
Hayley: Didn't mention anything—nothing.
Dennis: Like it didn't exist?
Dennis: You know—I just have to stop you there. Parents, who are listening to our broadcast today, that is unacceptable.
Hayley: It is.
Dennis: I don't care how embarrassed, how clammy your hands get, how nervous you are—that is your assignment—one of your God-given assignments as a part of being a parent. Whether you're a single parent or a two-parent family, you have to have the talk.
Hayley: Yes, but listen to this—
Dennis: You need to make sure they get a healthy perspective of sex from you, as a parent.
Hayley: But, Dennis, the important thing is it's more than just "the talk." I think it has to start as soon as they're old enough to understand that their body is different—even that it's separate from the mom—you know, that when they're starting to pick out their own styles and their own fashions. If we don't start to talk about what little girls' bodies do—you see a lot of little girls that—well, what we call them is "prosti-tots."
They're dressing them very sexually because: “Well, they're little girls. They can wear little miniskirts and little tank tops.” That is just starting the conversation, silently—that this is okay and that you can use your sexuality to attract people.
So, you really have to start when they're very young—as soon as they're deciding what they want to wear. The conversation has to start with, "Well, you can't really wear that because that's too revealing." Start to just get it in their psyche about what their bodies—the impact that their bodies have on the people around them. That's what girls don't understand.
Bob: Okay, I have to stop you right here because I'm looking at the cover of Technical Virgin.
Bob: This is somewhat provocative right here; right?
Hayley: Well, one might say—that one and Sexy Girls as well.
Dennis: No, no, no, no: “one might say”—one would say. [Laughter] I mean, it's the way they dress today.
Hayley: It is the way they dress today. That's the reason all the covers that you'll see coming out of Hungry Planet are designed so that the girl—that's dressing like that—will pick it up and say, "Oh, that's a cute top."
Bob: You're being intentionally provocative with this.
Hayley: That's exactly right. I want them to read these books. There are a lot of books out there on immodesty and sexual purity—that are being bought by parents with good intentions—they bring them home / they give them to their kids. I talk to those kids—those books are under their bed. They're not being opened because they look like parental propaganda.
Our books don't look like parental propaganda. They look like something they might, you know, see at one of the stores where they shop. We want to make sure that we connect with the teenagers so they'll read it because, if they don't read it, they're not going to get the message.
Bob: So, the mom who would look at the cover of your book and go: "I'm not buying that for my daughter. I mean—this? Come on!"
Hayley: I tell you what—if your daughter dresses like that, she needs that book. If she doesn't dress like that—if she's very well-covered and very modest—then she's probably not going to need that book, but the majority of girls need this book.
Dennis: I want to go back and just affirm something you said earlier. I'm glad you clarified because a parent's responsibility is not just to have "the talk," as you said—
Hayley: Right; right.
Dennis: —it is to give them a total-life perspective of their sexuality. It's a part of how God made them male and female—to reflect His image.
Hayley: That’s right.
Dennis: And as a parent, it isn't a one-time event. It does start when they're little. I'm so glad you said what you said about little girls dressing provocatively. Barbara and I have talked about this a great deal. We're just concerned about the Christian community of so dumbing-down their standards of reflecting the dress of the culture today.
Hayley: Right; amen.
Dennis: We have no idea how we're helping our daughters—and, for that matter, our sons—to buy-into a flawed philosophy.
Dennis: Now, I want to ask you a question:
Dennis: “If your daughter came to you”—you have a young daughter. She is only—
Hayley: Eleven months.
Dennis: —11 months old. She is going to grow up someday. I doubt if she'll ask you this question, flat out, —
Dennis: —but you need to answer it, anyway: "What is a virgin, Mommy?" How would you define virginity because there are a lot of moms and—for that matter, dads—who need to give this definition to their sons and daughters today.
Well, I think there are a lot of definitions that require, again, more than one statement. I think there's the understanding of sexuality. Once you talk to them about what sexual intercourse is and what relationships—intimate relationships are—they can understand a little bit more about the physical side of it.
But I think that a virgin is someone that doesn't allow her body to become sexual temptation or to become an object of lust to her boyfriend. I don't like to draw lines in my books. The subtitle is How Far Is Too Far? A lot of kids just want to know: "Draw the line for me. Just tell me here it is." The trouble with drawing a line is that they tend to fall over it very easily because they didn't decide, in their heads: "This is how far I'm going to go," or, "This is what constitutes virginity."
Hayley: I want them to understand God's Word, when it comes to sexuality and sin. Jesus tells us that if a man even thinks about a woman lustfully, he's already committed adultery with her. Okay, so what responsibility does the girl have in that problem—in that temptation?
I think that—when you have a boyfriend and you are fooling around with him—if you're doing something that's causing him to think about sex—which, keep in mind, that boys think differently—and this is what I'd want her to know. This is, obviously, still, a very long conversation—that she has to understand that guys think differently and they're very sexual beings.
Hayley: So their minds—even if they see skin—their minds can immediately go to sex—but if you're fooling around with them, that is preparation for sexuality—which means that he, in his mind, could be, potentially, having sex. I would want her to back it up and really realize that it starts in your mind.
Dennis: You don't know this; but FamilyLife has partnered, on occasion, with a woman in Southern California whose name is Teresa Coelho. She actually has fashion shows that she has done with a major department store line—that is nationwide—where they are actually hosting fashion shows for teenagers to show them what's modest.
Hayley: Fantastic! That's the question I get the most.
Dennis: You need to know that we stand with you in calling the next generation of young ladies and the current generation of women—
Hayley: That’s right.
Dennis: —because it's not just the teenagers.
Hayley: It's not. It really isn't.
Dennis: Church can be a distraction. It really—
Hayley: The truth is that we, as women, we really don't understand the concept of what our bodies do to the thought life of men.
Bob: When did you understand that?
Dennis: Okay, now, wait a second. To this point, your husband, Michael, has totally kept his mouth—
Hayley: It's the longest I think he's gone in—
Dennis: It really is amazing.
Bob: We are very proud of Michael.
Dennis: We've had him on FamilyLife Today before. We know he's not a man who is short of words; but, all of a sudden, he turned beet red—start shaking his head—
Hayley: Oh, honey.
Dennis: Do you have something to say here about when she finally got the point?
Michael: No, no.
Hayley: A few stories? [Laughter]
Michael: Well, number one, I think the most pivotal moment for her was when she became a—this is really her story—but she became a Christian when she was about—what?—27?
Hayley: Twenty-seven; yes.
Michael: And, I mean, she had lived in the world all that time without knowing Christ. She was so on fire for God. She found a church. She kept dressing the way she had always dressed, which was very hot / very sexy. If it wasn't for a woman in the church—that had a heart and an attitude of discipleship—to come alongside her and not slap a scarlet letter on her the first time she saw her in the hallway—but after a few times of meeting with her / taking her out to lunch / things like that—then saying, finally, "Let's talk about your clothes and what message that sends."
I think that was originally the focal point; but what I was kind of laughing at, too, is just—still in our marriage, early on in our marriage—educating her on how a guy thinks.
Michael: How—I got like, you know: "Yes, that top looks great—that looks perfect.
“What if you drop something, and you need to pick it up? Do you realize those little stolen moments that men have and what that does?"
Hayley: And it's hard. I'm a hip dresser. I like to dress really cute. I like to wear dresses over jeans. I wear tennis shoes with skirts. I mean, I'm funky; and I want to be funky. So, I'm not suggesting we put on burkas and everybody be covered up. [Laughter]
But almost every day, when I get dressed, I say: "Okay, can you see anything? Is there anything that is a danger sign?"
You know, just a little example—when your top is a little bit low—where you can't see any cleavage but, when you bend over, you can see something—I discovered something that's fantastic—toupee tape.
Bob: Oh, really?
Hayley: Yes, you just stick it on the back of your t-shirt or your tank top—stick it to yourself—then, when you bend over—nothing.
Bob: Now, you know, some people will hear that; and they'll go, "Okay, you're just psycho on this deal"; right?
Hayley: They might do that; but, Michael, you might—all of you can probably speak to what a stolen glance can do to a man.
Bob: That's the point. I don't think you're psycho. I wish more people would get psycho; you know? [Laughter]
Hayley: Right, yes. Well, you know, we have a tendency to be very self-absorbed: "Well, I want to wear this. This is cool," or I mean, you know, “…not so hot. I'm comfortable.” We spend so much time thinking about ourselves—we think, "Well, men should just be able to control themselves. That is ungodly.”
We are not called to just be self-focused, but to care more about the sin that we could be imposing upon our brothers. God’s Word says everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial.
Hayley: If what you’re doing is not benefitting others, then you might even be able to take the leap and say it’s sinful.
Bob: When that older Christian woman came up, and lovingly put her arm around you, and said—
Hayley: She was younger, by the way.
Bob: Oh, really?
Hayley: Can you believe it?
Bob: Did it make you angry?
Hayley: No. I had no idea. And that's what I think about most girls—the way they dress—they have no idea what they're doing. When she told me what my body did and how it was appropriate to dress, I said: "Really? You mean I've been going to church like this? I didn't know that. What do I do?"
We had that conversation. She showed me, in the Scripture, about “Don't let there be a hint of sexual morality,” and lust, and all of those different verses. I immediately got it—not that I immediately knew how much to cover up.
Hayley: I didn't. I had to retrain—it probably took me years, really, to figure it out.
I wrote a book called Dateable that really probably helped me go over the edge—where I tell girls—and this is something that parents can tell their girls—is their target market—when they walk out of the house, who they are really trying to attract is a teenage boy—
Hayley: —and a cute one, probably—not the gross ones / just the cute ones. [Laughter] And the trouble is—every guy—cute and gross, from 13 to 80—is looking at you and having fantasies, potentially, about you. Your grandfather and all his friends might be just checking out your chest—it's not just the young guy. When you start to think about all those "Ooooh" moments, it really helps you understand, "Oh, I don't want anybody thinking about that."
Dennis: And, you know, I think, “As a young lady can begin to understand these things—
Dennis: —“it can make a huge difference in her life.” She needs someone to come alongside her, like this younger woman came alongside you, when you first became a follower of Christ.
What I found in your book, Technical Virgin, was—when you came to the subject of “What is a true virgin?” I mean, I started looking at this list. We can't repeat the list here, but it's what teenage girls do with guys.
Dennis: And it's in the words and the terminology that they all use. There are two different lists here. I'll tell you what—someone has to talk straight to the next generation of young people, but do it from a biblical perspective.
Hayley: Right; yes.
Dennis: And you anchored this in the passage in 1 Thessalonians, I believe, where it says "Let there not be a hint of sexual immorality among you."
Dennis: And, again, going back to how we started today's broadcast:
“The real challenge for parents today, as we raise the next generation of young people, is giving them the right goal. I don't think virginity should be the only goal.”
Dennis: I think wearing white, as Bob talked about, should be a goal; but I think, even beyond that, it should be the goal of innocence—"Be wise in what is good and innocent in what is evil."
Bob: And for moms and dads—that means that we've got to be shrewd and wise as we help our sons and daughters navigate this issue. A part of that, Dennis, means that we don’t just step in with a message that says, “You’ve got to make sure you draw the line,” and somehow indicate that sex is a bad thing.
We really do have to start this conversation early with our sons and our daughters. That’s one of the reasons why we encourage moms and dads to get a resource like Passport2Purity® and take a son or a daughter through this material over a weekend getaway—
—where, as a parent and child, you head off for a two-day adventure. You listen to the Passport2Purity CDs as you travel, and you go through the workbooks together. You do this with a son or a daughter before puberty. You do it when they’re 11, 12 / maybe 13 years old. You open the door to an ongoing series of conversations about God’s good gift of sexuality and how you preserve that gift until marriage.
Then get hold of some of the books that Michael and Hayley DiMarco have written—books like Technical Virgin or True Purity: More than Just Saying “No” to You Know What—is the subtitle of that one. We’ve got copies of both of those books in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center. Let me just say, “These books are written in a kind of forthright / very candid way. I don’t think they’re inappropriate at all, but it’s pretty honest material.”
You can find out more when you go to FamilyLifeToday.com. Click the link in the upper left-hand corner that says, “Go Deeper.”
You can order Michael and Hayley’s books from us or order the Passport2Purity material. If you have a son or a daughter, who’s in the fifth, or the sixth, or the seventh grade, this summer would be a great time to take them on a Passport2Purity weekend. Again, go to FamilyLifeToday.com for more information about these resources. Click the link that says, “Go Deeper.” Or call 1-800-FL-TODAY; 1-800-358-6329. Ask about the books by Michael and Hayley DiMarco or about the Passport2Purity material from us, here at FamilyLife Today.
Hey, a quick word of thanks today to those of you who have gotten in touch with us over the past several weeks and made a donation to help support FamilyLife Today. We are excited about the opportunity we have this month—actually, between now and Father’s Day. We have the opportunity to take advantage of a matching gift that’s been made available.
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I hope you can join us back tomorrow as we continue to talk with Michael and Hayley DiMarco about raising sons and daughters in a hyper-sexualized culture. How do we press the idea of purity into their hearts and minds? We'll talk more about that tomorrow. Hope you can tune in for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We'll see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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