Harvest Bible Chapel in Rolling Meadows, IL, has written Raising Purity: Helping Parents Understand the Bible's Perspective on Sex, Dating, and Relationships. This little volume has completely changed the way I think about relationships outside of marriage (okay, not completely...I was mostly with him before I read the book, but it was still a challenging and encouraging read). His proposal is nothing short of revolutionary in its scope, however modestly it was written. His basic premise is that our sexuality is connected to the image of God and therefore to be guarded against profaning. This is paradigm shifting in our sexually laissez faire culture. "Scripture expressly states that God created sex to serve as a living witness of the life-changing union that believers have with God through Christ" (16). This relationship (more than others) images the gospel most clearly. If his proposal is accurate (which I believe it is) then we who have confessed Christ as Lord must live lives of the utmost purity as witnesses to the good news of union with Christ alone as his pure and spotless bride.
He proposes (in accordance with Scripture - 1 Cor.7:9; 1 Tim.5:2) that anyone who is not a spouse should be treated as a 'neighbor' as far as intimacy is concerned. We think that we have created something of substance and security by using the term 'dating' (as a title instead of just a verb), but Hiestand justifiably exposed the illusion of security. He points out that we have simply replaced the commitment of marriage for a facade of commitment called 'dating'. However, 'dating' by its nature means that there is no real commitment, otherwise persons would marry (granted marriage in our culture has less and less abiding substance, but this is exactly his point). He saliently calls for a return to the emphasis upon marriage as the only binding relationship and therefore the only relationship where sexuality may properly be expressed at any level.
While this book has been primarily written for parents, it would be helpful for anyone. It is not written at a technical level, but is very accessible. He has lots of illustrations and also questions at the conclusion of each chapter that engage the reader with the concepts of the text. The issues involved in 'Raising Purity' are the issues of humanity. The Church must discuss sexuality from a Biblical perspective. We cannot simply skirt the issue, nor tell ourselves that we must deny our innate desires. We were created for sexual expression and enjoyment, and must find this only in the freedom of marriage which is blessed of God and truly images the relationship of God with His people.
In the coming weeks I hope to make some further comments about some of the specifics of the book. Needless to say, I was very impressed...