Part of parenting kids so they know and love God involves addressing our culture’s confusing views on sexuality. ChristianParenting.org is pleased to partner with pureHOPE, a ministry with a mission to “inspire and equip believers to flourish in our sexually exploitative age and lead their families and communities to do the same.” In the coming weeks and months, we will feature content from among their many resources. But first, we introduce you to the ministry through this interview with Noel Bouché, CEO.
KM: Why “pureHOPE”? What does your name mean?
NB: Our mission at pureHOPE is to shape a world free of sexual exploitation and brokenness by providing Christian solutions in this sexualized culture. We believe according to Galatians 5:1 and Titus 2:14 that this is central to Jesus’ mission, so our team feels privileged to be called to this work. More than just His mission, though, we believe pureHOPE is about Jesus Himself. 1 John 3:3 tells us that He is our pure hope and that we purify ourselves when we hope in Him. So even though our ministry equips and educates on topics like parenting, sexual integrity, porn, sexting, human trafficking, digital technology, etc., ultimately we are about Jesus and how as His followers we can steward our maleness and femaleness to experience His freedom and cultivate His love, purity, and justice.
KM: Who is your primary audience? What resources do you offer them?
NB: Our content, resources, and events are primarily directed at parents, because not only do we as parents need more help than ever, at pureHOPE we believe parents are the key to changing culture. In texts like Genesis 18:19, Deuteronomy 6:7, and many more we see the role God has given to mothers and fathers to cultivate love, beauty, and truth in and through their children. This shapes healthy and redemptive culture by living out the gospel, which is one reason marriage and parenting come under such spiritual attack. So we offer resources at purehope.net to help parents grow in their intimacy with the Lord, in their understanding of His story of sex, in their resolve to serve Him through the vocation of parenting. Our newest resource, Quest: Parenting in a Sexualized Culture, is a four-session video teaching series for individuals and groups that helps answer questions like: “What does the Bible say about sex?”; “How do I talk to my kids about sex?”; “How can I manage my kids’ tech use?”; and “How can I teach my kids when I’m not perfect myself?”
Our secondary audience is college students, because we find that young men and women are most hungry for truth and simultaneously most vulnerable to deception in the years after they leave the home and journey through the often sexually exploitative campus landscape. Our Justice Internship is a unique experience that equips university students through spiritual formation and professional development to be advocates for God’s justice and righteousness during college and beyond. And yet, our fundamental message is for everyone, even if you’re not parenting or in college. At every age and in every life stage we need tools and strategies to help us navigate a sexualized culture and lead others in the pursuit of purity. Resources like our annual lifestyle magazine, and collaborative projects like the Hearts of Men film are ways we are inspiring hearts and minds and shaping a more free and just culture in our day.
KM: In our current American culture, how do you expect a message of sexual purity to reach and resonate with teens and young adults?
NB: First, in the same way it always has. The light of truth will always pierce the darkness, and the darkness cannot overcome it (John 1:5), even if things don’t always happen in our desired timeframe. And the light of truth isn’t alarming, it’s disarming. In our current American culture the pervasiveness of pornography and access to depraved sexual ideology and behavior is greater than ever, but the existence of these issues is not new. God has always reached His people through casting vision of our Hope in Him, through powerfully and prophetically speaking forth hard truths in tender love and loving discipline, through prayer and intercession on behalf of the wayward, through protecting and defending the vulnerable. That’s our calling as parents, leaders, and disciple-makers. Second, though, we believe the church needs a different understanding of “sexual purity” than the one that has been handed down to us. Not a “new” understanding; a “renewed” understanding. We tend to think of purity as adherence to a list of do’s and don’t’s, such as “don’t have sex”; “stay a virgin until your wedding night”; “don’t look at porn and masturbate.” Those are good guardrails, to be sure, and they conform to the classic Christian sexual ethic. The pursuit of purity, though, does not end after adolescence, nor on a wedding night. Because purity is not an accomplishment, it’s a relationship.
Jesus came to “purify a people for Himself” (Titus 2:14), and God’s will for us is “our sanctification and that we abstain from sexual immorality” (1 Thessalonians 4:3). It’s a work He starts and a work that He has “already but not yet” finished. Purity is the overflow of our hope in Jesus, and it is primarily redemptive, not regulatory. Perhaps now more than ever, we desire meaning and a narrative we can understand and feel a part of. The teen years are always confusing as the metamorphosis into adulthood occurs, but all of us are living in an extremely confusing and changing era, and we need and want to know what the story of life is and how we fit into it. That’s why we focus on God’s story of sex set forth throughout the Bible. Our male and female identities, and how we steward the thoughts, words, and deeds that can flow out of that identity, are telling a story—either a divine romance like we read about in Ephesians 5:313–2, or a tale of unfaithfulness and pain like Hosea 2:1–5 (in which case, Hosea 2:16–20 offers us a hopeful ending). I’m fond of saying that if we start with morality instead of meaning, we’ve already lost the plot. It’s time we get our story straight on “sexual purity.”
KM. What, in your opinion, is the number one challenge to convincing people that purity and wholeness—God’s desire for us all—is both valuable and attainable?
NB: In a word: deception. Our enemy is a deceiver, and even though it is guilt and shame that keep us in bondage, it’s deception that keep the guilt and shame alive. For some, it’s getting over the deception of pride, that purity is something I attain and maintain in my own strength. For others, it’s getting over the lie that living a lifestyle of purity is impossible, so why try at all. Or that we’ll never by pure. Or how about the lie that purity is for girls not boys—so if you’re a girl and you struggle something is wrong with you, if you’re a boy and you desire to be faithful you may be noble but you’re going to be miserable. We counter these and all the other lies through confession and a better narrative. Healing, forgiveness, and freedom are experienced once we break the power of the secret in our lives (James 5:16; 1 John 1:9). The deception aims at one thing: keeping God’s children locked in the darkness of fear, guilt, and shame, but breaking the secret—of our own wrongs or the wrongs that have been done to us—shines the gentle light of God’s love and acceptance on all the deepest parts of our being.
We love “testimonies” of believers who have experienced restoration of marriages or freedom from an overwhelming porn addiction or healing from sexual exploitation because we love stories of redemption, and they remind us that confessing our sins and telling our stories is how we overcome our accuser (Revelation 12:11). Jesus lives to intercede on our behalf and He is faithful to sanctify us through and through. He will purify us, and He will redeem. It is because He is the One Who fights that we can find rest even in the midst of the battle, every day.