Sex? At 13?

When my mother was 13, she was still playing with dolls. By the time I was 13, I was hanging out at the mall, being offered cigarettes and beer. I also received my first opportunity to have sex.

I had known Bryan, a gangly 15-year-old in baggy shorts (who thought he was Night Rider reincarnated), for exactly two days when he called me up with a "romantic proposition." It went something like this:

"Hi, Lisa," he mumbled while smacking a mouthful of potato chips.

"My name is Leslie," I corrected.

"Oh yeah, sorry. I forgot," he floundered as he stifled a burp. "Anyway, I really like you and I was just wondering, when do you think we can have sex?"

Needless to say I wasn’t exactly swept off my feet!

The dating rules

From an early age I had been taught two Christian dating rules: abstain from sex before marriage and date only Christians.

"No" was the answer to Bryan the Insensitive Sleaze Ball, and he soon disappeared from my life. But from that time on, my teenage life was filled with opportunities to give away my virginity. As I got older, there were many times I wondered if following the two Christian dating rules was really worth it. The peer pressure was incredible.

This pressure is unique from past generations. When my parents were in high school, graduating a virgin was completely normal. By the time I got to high school, the school nurses were handing out contraceptives in the halls, and only the social misfits graduated as virgins.

In my high school years, sexual temptation wasn’t something that lurked in dark corners. Sexual temptation was constantly in your face. Almost all of my friends were sexually active and talked freely of their exploits. Some couples would go to their cars during lunch or breaks to have sex. In the halls girls would be touched and grabbed by guys in ways that would have made our mothers blush a generation ago. Yet we were expected to laugh it off, even encourage it. Any young person trying to "keep their purity" was laughed at and labeled a prude — and, worse yet, was not desired by the opposite sex.

I wish my experience was unique. Eric and I travel the country and talk with thousands of young people, and we have discovered that my high school scenario is now the rule — not the exception — for most teens today.

What makes a "real man"

Unfortunately, Leslie’s world hits awfully close to home in my own life. Bryan, the Night Rider wannabe, is a sleazed-up rendition of a 15-year-old Eric Ludy. I didn’t eat potato chips and was scared to death to ever ask a girl to have sex with me, but the baggy shorts, the burping and the insensitivity were all very much in common with the Eric of the past.

In our culture, masculinity is directly associated with the ability to sexually conquer a female. Like every other young man, I wanted to be masculine. My "problem" was my Christian faith. Excitement and pleasure was somehow tied to one of the big thou shalt not’s.

So, to be masculine, I separated my Christian faith from my life — especially my love life. But still, to my dismay, I graduated from high school a virgin. Even though my buddies never let me live it down that I was 18 and still minus my manhood, I never had the guts to have sex. I was a young Christian guy with a messed up perception of God and a perverted view of sexuality. I was in a convoluted world of tarnished promise rings, torn-up love letters and trounced hearts.

Finding true love

I knew the biology of my sexuality from health class, I knew the thou shalt not’s from church and I knew how to treat a woman from my buddies in the locker room. But I wanted something better.

And so does every other young person today. We, as a generation, are hungry for a love that lasts, a love that serves, a love that honours.

Leslie and I discovered this kind of love. Now it’s our passion to pass on to our generation the secret to finding it.

Parents are often under-appreciated and over-stressed. You want something better for your child in the area of love and romance. You want to pass on something healthier, something worth waiting for. But you might not know what that "something" is.

When I was 19, God changed my life forever. I learned about true manhood and about how to treat a lady. I learned that purity goes beyond skin deep — that God is interested in everything in my life, even my love life. I learned that God’s ways are not a bummer — they are beyond beautiful. I discovered the secret our love-hungry generation is dying to understand. I learned the art of faithfulness to my future spouse before we ever met.

Honeymoon love letters

"I have something I want to show you, Les," Eric said, his face alight with boyish excitement. It was our honeymoon — by far the most incredible two weeks of my life. After waiting for what had seemed like an eternity, I was finally Mrs. Eric Ludy!

And just when I thought I had discovered the depth of Eric’s love for me, he took it to yet another level.

"See all these letters?" he said, flipping through page after page of notebook paper. "I wrote these to you since I was 19. I’ve been saving them for our honeymoon!"

Though the letters were not addressed to me (he didn’t even know my name when he wrote them!) they were so personal, so precious, written just for me. Each one told of Eric’s unfailing love and devotion to the woman who would one day share his life with him. Eric’s faithfulness even before we met gave me a security in our new life together. He had spent years of his life learning the art of faithfulness to me. As I read that amazing stack of letters, I felt like a princess.

I always thought that following the "two Christian dating rules" was the key to preparing for a successful marriage. But true love is something far beyond just the "thou shalt nots" of the 10 Commandments. True love is much more romantic — learning to love and be faithful to each other long before we ever meet.

Before our relationship began, Eric and I individually made a decision to go against the cultural norm — even the Christian norm — by setting ourselves aside for each other — mentally, emotionally and physically.

The Author of romance

Earlier in life I had the experience of casually jumping from one heart-breaking relationship to the next. Then I had an encounter with God, the Author of romance. Though it was one of the hardest decisions I ever made, I finally gained the courage to hand Him the pen of my life, to let Him write my love story. I decided to save my heart, mind and body for my future husband alone.

I made a promise: The next time I gave myself to someone in a relationship, it would not be until I knew it was the one God had chosen for me to spend the rest of my life with.

The Author of romance was perfectly faithful. I was not disappointed in my decision to wait for His best. In fact, I don’t even want to think about how life would have turned out if I hadn’t been willing to give him my "pen"! God scripted a love story for me far more beautiful than anything I ever could have imagined, anything I ever could have hoped or dreamed. It was truly worth waiting for.

A generation in crisis

Eric: Leslie and I represent a generation in crisis — a generation in search of that "something better." A recent study indicated that the No. 1 desire of the younger generation was to be married to one person for a lifetime.

But that’s not the startling part. A follow-up question revealed the same majority did not believe that such a dream was even possible.

We represent a generation that has been offered the "thou shalt nots" of the 10 Commandments, but has never truly been introduced to the Author of romance. As a result, we often hold God at arm’s length, assured that He enjoys scripting dull and lifeless love sagas that end in stale kisses and stiff hugs. And we miss out on what love is truly all about.

A call to parents

We need parents to offer us more. We need to know that something beautiful and better exists. We need to understand that it is possible to discover romance at its best.

We need to meet the Author of romance. He can script our story in His perfect way and teach us to love like He loves. Faithfulness begins long before we ever meet our spouse. This generation is hungry for "something better." When parents pass on a vision of how romantic and fulfilling God’s version of love can be, young people whole-heartedly embrace this higher standard.

As Leslie and I travel the country, we are witnessing something amazing taking place in today’s younger generation. Christian young people all around the country are discovering a whole new approach to romance and relationships. Young people are choosing to live differently than the world around them. They are handing God the pen, allowing Him to script their love story. They are writing love letters to their future spouse, not just with ink and paper, but with their very lives.

Eric and Leslie Ludy

Eric and Leslie are pastors, speakers and the authors of twenty-one books that have been translated into over a dozen languages around the world, including their widely known classic, When God Writes Your Love Story.

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