What we see impacts what we think about and how we think about things. I believe one of the reasons we have become such a sex-saturated culture is that we have become numb over time to the images we see in movies, media and TV. A high school young woman that I worked with a few years ago told me that it was hard not to have sex with her boyfriend because he kept telling her "everyone was doing it" and that all the shows that she watched showed teenagers having sex. She just felt so much pressure and felt alone in her stand. We can't and shouldn't shut our students away from the world, but we must help them set standards in what they put before their eyes.

Set Appropriate Standards for Relationships

I get the question several times a year about "how far is too far" to go in a relationship. I understand it, but it is really the wrong question because it essentially asks how close we can get to the line without crossing it. Instead, we need to ask things like: How can I encourage holiness in my dating relationship or how can I protect my boyfriend's purity so that, if he is not my future husband, I would not be ashamed to meet his wife one day in the future? Song of Solomon 8:4 pleads with the daughters of Jerusalem that they not "stir up or awaken love until it pleases." That is my plea for our young women as well.

Dr. Joe McIlhaney has a chapter in Girls Uncovered that discusses the significant influence physical (holding hands, kissing, hugging) and sexual activities can have in bonding a couple emotionally. This should not be a surprise because God designed us this way! Oxytocin, a hormone that is released in a new mother when she breastfeeds to help her bond to her new baby, is also released when a girl or women "has close physical contact with a man," even hugging and holding hands. This hormone helps in bonding and can cause a young woman to trust another person. You can see, then, how a teenage girl's judgment can be clouded when it comes to upholding physical boundaries with her boyfriend. When a relationship gets physical, many girls make compromises they never thought they would make.

Living holy lives in a hook-up culture is difficult, but it's not impossible!

Help your daughters and the young women you work with see that God has a beautiful plan for sexuality and a setting for it to be expressed -- within the boundaries of marriage.

(c) Baptist Press. Used with permission.

Candi Finch serves as assistant professor of theology in women's studies at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. This column first appeared at BiblicalWoman.org, a blog of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter, Facebook and in your email.

Publication date: August 3, 2012