Hope. We as humans crave it. What else gets us out of bed in the morning? Yet hope is the victim of a great war, too often taken captive by lies. Evil incessantly hounds us with deception, sometimes whispered softly and other times deafeningly screeched. You’ll never win…there’s no way out…YOU. HAVE. NO. HOPE. On and on, the world repeats these messages until we give in and choose the things that poison us: mind, body, and spirit. As teenagers we are especially vulnerable to that deception.
That’s where Pure Freedom comes in.
Pure Freedom, Lifeline’s abstinence-based relationship education program, is all about bringing hope to middle school and high school students all over Northeast Missouri — hope that they don’t have to succumb to the pressures surrounding them, hope that they have a choice.
As a new Pure Freedom instructor, I have the great privilege of talking to students about healthy relationships, the human body, pregnancy, setting boundaries, STDs, and what real love looks like. Through activities, conversation, statistics and more, teens receive tons of information that will help them make healthy decisions. With just a few months of teaching under my belt now, I’ve already seen and heard enough heart-breaking things to know just how necessary this job is. I don’t know if I’ll forget the face of the seventh grade girl who asked, “So, what do you think our chances are of graduating high school with our V-Cards?” By V-Card, she means virginity.
What are our chances? As if they have no say in the matter.
The truth stung me. They’re looking for hope. These students have been taught they don’t have a choice; they are slaves to the ways of the world and there’s nothing they can do about it. They don’t know that sex is meant to be a decision, and a decision made out of love and trust and commitment. In a public school setting, I can’t just bring up the name of Jesus in class, but I can share His truth about what human relationships were designed to look like, and that every single teen I talk to has value far beyond what they’ve been told. Whether it be peer pressure, media influence, alcohol and drug abuse, coercion from a partner, or outright force, there are far too many assailants out there bombarding the self-worth of a human being. Teens are under attack constantly, in dire need of some glimmer of hope that they matter.
In response to that seventh grader’s question, Amy (Lifeline’s Abstinence Education Coordinator) and I got to be harbingers of hope. Yes, it’s possible to go through high school without having sex, and plenty of people do. We did. The excuse “everybody’s doing it” doesn’t hold up to the truth that it’s actually more popular to not have sex as a teen.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only 41.2% of high schoolers nationwide have ever had sex, and only 30.1% are currently sexually active. Even if none of that was true, it doesn’t take away from the fact that these students can make the individual decision to stand up for what they believe in, regardless of outside pressure. When we walk into those classrooms, our aim is to empower the next generation with medically-accurate information and the skills to make informed, confident decisions that will not only protect their own lives, but the lives of those around them. We don’t leave a school without emphasizing that we all have the responsibility to promote freedom for ourselves and the freedom of others.
I saw hope on the faces of those seventh graders that day. I witnessed the ignition of something new: a realization that it’s not just about making it out of high school with your “V-Card,” there truly exists a different way to live. Students can’t change where they live or who they go to school with or what has happened in the past, but they can change their present actions and future decisions. They can stand their ground.
Hope belongs to these kids. Let’s all make sure it gets to them.
By Kathryn Farmer