"You are not your own; you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body."
I Cor. 6:20
Pure Hearts! Pure Lives! is a program designed to acquaint churches with curricula that teaches the biblical understanding of marriage and sexuality. It provides a format to help churches offer the opportunity to their youth to make discipleship decisions that include a commitment to sexual purity: fidelity in marriage and chastity in singleness.
Greetings in the name of our Lord!
We are grateful for your interest in pursuing a program to offer biblically-based instruction to the youth of your church on marriage and sexuality. We are all recognizing the importance of sounding a clear trumpet for our youth in an age of overwhelming sexual confusion and varying standards of behavior. That is the purpose of the Pure Hearts! Pure Lives! Program.
A pastor recently described the situation with an analogy. Building hospitals, he said, is a big community event. People turn out for the ribbon cutting and to express their pride in their community's ability to care for their sick and injured. But, he added, nobody shows up, and no ribbons are cut, when somebody builds a fence. But fences are what provide safety for those who might otherwise fall from a precipice and, in that sense, are far more important than hospitals.
We agree. We need fence-building in our denomination that prevents our children from falling and provides them with safe and secure space in which to live their lives. In the face of the overwhelming allurement of sexual sin in our society, with its false promises and its physically and spiritually harmful effects, the loving care and concern of families and churches is desperately needed.
This program is built on the premise that our youth want to live lives pleasing to God and that they want and need encouragement from Christian families and community to be faithful disciples. It also assumes the commitment of church leadership to live as examples before those they seek to disciple.
Pure Hearts! Pure Lives! can help your church encourage biblical sexuality among your youth. We hope you find this program a blessing to the lives of families in your church.
Actions of the 217th General Assembly
The General Assembly (2006) adopted an overture calling the church to a biblical standard for it's educational curriculum on sexuality. The overture requires all PC(USA) entities to:
"use the biblical and confessional teachings that sexual relationships belong only within the bond of marriage of a man and a woman as the standard for the development of any future materials or recommendations for materials in print or in its website. [The curriculum should include information on reproductive health to allow for an open discussion between teachers and youth in light of our understanding of God’s plan for sexuality.]"
A Compliance Check on Sexuality Materials, By Rev. James D. Berkley, D. Min
(Posted on the The Berkley Blog website.) Jim Berkley projects the changes we ought to see in denomination materials as a result of this GA action.
Actions of the 210th General Assembly
The General Assembly (1998) adopted an overture calling the church to encourage youth sexual purity. The GA action asks the church to:
- Affirm to the youth of our denomination the good purpose and blessing of God in the expression of sexuality within the bonds of marriage;
- commend to families and congregations of the PC(USA) the need to communicate to our children and youth a clear message of sexual purity in relation to Christian discipleship, and to encourage our children and youth to take the step of making personal commitments of sexual purity;
- instruct entities of governing bodies of the PC(USA) that plan programs for youth, write curricula for youth, or otherwise participate in denominational activities for youth to ensure that all such programs, curricula, and activities conform to the biblical and constitutional standards regarding sexual behavior;
- urge all persons in leadership relationships with youth in our churches to extend the means of God's forgiving grace to those who fall into sexual sin and lead them gently to repentance and to a recommitment to sexual purity as disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Components of Pure Hearts! Pure Lives!
Each church packet has the following components as resources to help your church provide that encouragement and support:
- A church commitment. This statement serves as an ongoing reminder for your pastors, session and youth workers of your church's commitment to provide a program of instruction, a community of support, and regular opportunities for your youth to make promises of faithfulness in this area of their lives.
- A list of instructional resources. We are in a constant search for curricula, videos, books, and other resources to assist churches in providing godly instruction in marriage and sexuality. The resources we list are designed for or are suitable for use in church programs. Resources from nearly 20 publishers and distributors are included, categorized for elementary, junior high, senior high, college, and parents.
- A list of Scriptures related to marriage and sexuality as a resource supplement to the instructional program.
- Testimonies to the importance of sexual purity.
- A promise card. The program goes beyond providing instruction, and offers youth an opportunity to make a promise of sexual purity. The program assumes a family and church community that will support and encourage youth in this decision.
- A format for implementation. For churches that do not already have a format for providing instruction in biblical marriage and sexuality, we suggest a way to offer the program that leads up to the youths' decisions, and offers regular opportunities to reaffirm those decisions. In cases where youth have fallen into sexual sin, the program encourages opportunities for repentance, restoration, and a new promise of purity. In our culture, it is important that this not be a one-shot program.
- A poster to announce the church's commitment to this program and encourage the inquiry of parents and youth.
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