Never too late for sexual purity, author says
HOUSTON (BP) -- Sexual purity isn't taught in the homes of many teens Leah Holder addresses through Going Higher Ministries, an outreach she founded to teach Bible-based sexual abstinence to singles. But the 25-year-old virgin believes it's never too late to learn.
The University of Texas law student and member of Fallbrook Church in Houston wrote the 2013 book, "No Trespassing: I'm God's Property," and speaks at churches, youth camps, schools, libraries and other venues. Holder has been disappointed to discover, she said, that many in her audiences have not witnessed good examples of sexual purity at church.
"I found that most of them came from homes where that was not even factored in, really. A lot of them had young mothers," Holder told Baptist Press regarding a youth camp group she addressed early in her ministry. "For some of them it had been like a generational thing, where some of their grandmothers had had children early, out of wedlock, and their mothers had them early out of wedlock, and [it was] kind of like a cycle in a lot of their families.
"That's when I just began to see the importance of" focusing on purity to reach current and future generations, she said. "Sadly, for those who were in church, a lot of them didn't really see people living it out in their churches. So, that was another sad component."
Sexual purity requires a daily commitment and cannot be achieved outside of a personal relationship with Jesus, Holder teaches.
"I have wrestled with sexual purity, but I find victory through Christ Jesus," Holder wrote in her book. "By His grace, I am a virgin who has not even kissed a guy."
"One thing I try to communicate to people is that even though I might be a virgin, that doesn't mean I've always been sexually pure. I haven't," Holder told BP. "There are times I had no discipline in my thoughts.... Even now that I've made it to this point, I'm 25, I don't just feel like I've graduated from sexual purity. It's a daily thing."
Holder defines sexual purity as a physical and psychological state.
"If you and I are sexually pure, that means we do not provoke or please our sexual desires outside of God's will," Holder said. "In other words, we do not read, watch, listen to, or do things that will stir up our sexual desires. Even more importantly, we don't do anything that will satisfy our sexual desires.... God's will for sex is that we enjoy it only within marriage."
Those who are no longer virgins can repent, turn to the Lord and begin living sexually pure lives, Holder said.
"One thing I really, really like to communicate every time I talk is that no matter what your background may be, even if you've been with a lot of different guys, even if you were a prostitute, you know, it's never too late to decide to live God's way, period, particularly in this area of sexual purity. I think sometimes that's a lie the enemy can use to try to get people to stay in their lives of sexual sin," she said. "No, it's not too late.
"I was at a book signing and a guy he got like four books and then he put one back down and he just got three. And he said, 'Yeah, I was going to get one for my sister, but you know it's too late for her.' And I said, 'Oh, did she pass away?' He said, 'Oh no, but she just has all these kids by these different guys.' And I said it's never too late to commit to a sexually pure life, until you die."
Both women and men especially need Christian role models encouraging sexual abstinence, Holder has found.
"I definitely think there's a need for more men to speak out, for men to stand up in that area," she said. "I would think some [men receive the message], but I do believe that that is a piece that is much needed in the church."
Holder's message and her book have been well received in Southern Baptist life. She has appeared on LifeWay Research director Ed Stetzer's blog, The Exchange. Jimmy Draper, president emeritus of LifeWay Christian Resources, has endorsed her book as both refreshing and compelling.
"Read this book to gain insight into how you can counsel others. Apply these principles that she has so clearly stated and you will find the blessings of God upon your life," Draper said. "God wants you to know joy and satisfaction, and He has given us instructions in His Word. It begins with a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, who loves you more than anyone else in this world. What He instructs you to do, He enables you to do! This book is a must read for every single person in America today!"
Holder's senior pastor, Michael Pender, endorsed the book in its foreword.
"Leah writes as clearly and concisely as she speaks, getting both into your mind and your spirit, and leaving you with an impact that will touch you to the core of your being," Pender wrote. "My prayer is that No Trespassing: I'm God's Property will encourage you to evaluate your lifestyle and help you realize who you really belong to."
Holder has spoken at many churches in Texas, and upcoming venues include Urban Camp at Sugar Creek Baptist Church in Houston, an outreach to at-risk youth; Girls' Night Out at Sagemont Church in Houston; the Equip Mega Conference at North Richland Hills Baptist Church in North Richland Hills, Texas; and a women's retreat at Mt. Pisgah "The Rock" Church in Dallas.
Diana Chandler is general assignment writer/editor for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention's news service. BP reports on missions, ministry and witness advanced through the Cooperative Program and on news related to Southern Baptists' concerns nationally and globally. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).