Raising the Bar: An adolescent boy's promise of abstinence

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by Adrianna Hopkins

WHAS11.com

Posted on November 1, 2009 at 10:15 PM

Updated Monday, Nov 2 at 1:37 AM

Earlier this year WHAS 11's Adrianna Hopkins introduced viewers to "Purity Balls" at Northside Christian Church in southern Indiana; a father - daughter formal dance during which adolescent girls promise to remain abstinent until marriage.

Their fathers promise to support them.  A lot of people asked, "what about the boys?"  After all, it takes two to tango.

Now, Hopkins is introducing you to a weekend retreat for adolescent boys and their fathers called, Raising the Bar, also hosted by Northside Christian Church.

With just cardboard, plastic and duct tape, 11-13 year old boys have a mission: to build a boat; or something like it.  Then they head to the water at Country Lake Retreat Center in Henryville, IN., and the race is on.

This was just one of the many activities during "Raising the Bar," a weekend father/son bonding excursion.

"There was a trust exercise where we would put two pieces of wood to string and then the dads would have to hold it up so you could walk across it.  A a little scary," said Connor Brough.

But at the heart of this fun-filled three days, there's a bigger mission; some may say, a more daunting mission.  These pre-pubescent boys are being challenged to say 'no' to sex, until marriage.

Northside Christian Church's event, Raising the Bar, is the equivalent of their "Purity Balls," where adolescent girls sign a contract making the same pledge.

The central purpose of both events is to reject what's ungodly and reinforce the concept of chastity and virtue.

12 year olds Isaiah Degrasse and Elijah Franklin, and 13 year old Connor Brough said the retreat was rewarding.

"We got to bond a lot and I learned a lot about him, and he learned a lot about me that neither of us knew about each other.  I mean, we've never really communicated like that," said Isaiah Degrasse.

In between the fun activities, there was downtime for serious conversations with David Decker, a volunteer for Northside Christian's Men's Ministry.

"God gave us gifts and talents to use to make the most of difficult situations..." he told the group.

"It wasn't "don't do this..."  Naturally we cover some of the dangers of premarital sex, or of not taking it seriously.  But fundamentally, it was beginning the conversation between the fathers and their sons," he said.

"We really just talked about purity and ways to keep the son and father communicating and everything like that," said Connor.

"Being pure... and pornography and stuff like that, to not get addicted to that," said Isaiah.  These boys said it could lead you down the wrong path - a path of sexual impurity.

"If you're thinking about that, even though you lose thought of it, you still have a little train of thought in the back of your head that stays there," said Elijah.

The topic of premarital sex and purity is one Northside Christian doesn't shy away from, for either boys or girls. The message:

"What you two do together now, is going to impact the relationship she has later.  And the same thing with the guys, whoever you marry later, you're going to carry some baggage into that relationship.  And we just want to minimize that damage," said David Decker.

But between the father/daughter dance and the father/son retreat, there's one integral part of the family unit missing; Mothers.

"Moms are involved in the purity ball; helping with check-in, serving dinner, waiting tables and being apart of it on the outside," said Decker.

But he admits mothers need more direct involvement and Northside is currently brainstorming activities; though he said it likely *won't* combine mothers and sons.

"That's something we have to address.  And if you have any suggestions please, I'm open..." he said.

Until then, he says Northside puts the pressure on fathers to be the Christ-like example for their families.  Their mission is to set the bar high for their kids, encouraging them to avoid the pitfall of living a secular life.

"If the Dad takes this seriously, he's going to be more connected to Christ and trying to model his life after him, and when that happens, by extension the son will pick up the good," he explained.

But David said they're not delusional, they know high school will be brutal for these boys.

"They told us that you should look to fathers and then look to God. 'Cause there's no other authority figure besides your dad," said Connor.

"While we don't want to say, look we know you're going to mess up, because that sets the bar too low, if it does happen, your dad knows what you're fighting, you guys are talking about it on a regular basis.  So when you do mess up, you've got a confidant you can call on to help you through that," said Decker.

And Isaiah, Elijah and Connor said they get the message and this event was a success.

"It was amazing. There was a lot of fun stuff to do."

"I've already recommended it to 3 or 4 friends."

"It was really hard to leave, because you had so many fun memories and so much to do."

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