It’s kind of interesting, I would say this, that the first time that I shared a message similar to what I’ll be sharing tonight, I shared with the students at Restoration Academy about seven or eight years ago. And that was a real blessing, and I was thinking, also, you know I’m really, I’ve never done this. What I mean is, I’ve never spoken to a room with fathers and their daughters. I’ve spoken to a high school football team. I’ve spoken to a senior class of a prep school, boys prep school. I’ve spoken to a fraternity down at Auburn, and I speak to men all the time, but I’ve never had this opportunity, and being a father, I can truly tell you that this is truly an honor for me to have this opportunity. I’ve been asked to address the Dads, to have some words for the fathers here in the room this evening, and even though this is targeted to the fathers, I think that you will find that you young ladies will benefit from what I have to say, as well.
Several years ago, I heard Tim Keller share this, and it really impacted me. By the way, I have a 19-year-old son, I have an almost 18-year-old daughter, and a 16-year-old son. And he said something that really got my attention. He said that one of the most important responsibilities that we have as fathers is to teach our children to be wise, then when they leave our houses, that they would possess great wisdom. And most of you know that the word wisdom is used in the Bible quite a bit, particularly in the book of Proverbs. Let me just read to you a couple of verses and then I’m going to launch into what I want to share. In Proverbs 3, it says, “Wisdom is more precious than jewels and nothing you desire compares with her. Long life is in her right hand and in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace. She’s a tree of life to those who hold her and happy are all who hold her fast.”
Hopefully, when I finish this presentation this evening, you’ll see why this is true. Now before I really kind of define wisdom, I want to really lay some important groundwork with you. You may not realize this, you may not have thought about this, but every single one of us, particularly you daughters tonight, as you live your life, you’re trying to make sense out of your life. You’re trying to figure out how things work, and what we’re trying to do is figure out how life works so that we can have a full and vibrant life. But I’m sure that so many of you, and when I say this I’m thinking of you daughters, there are a number of you probably think you’ve pretty much got it figured out, and the only reason I know that is because I’ve had my children, from time to time, say to me, you know, Dad, you just don’t get it. And of course, I’m 62 years old, and I’m sitting here thinking, you know, what do I not get, that you as a 16-year-old do get? But the point I want to begin with is that to tell you Dads that your kids sometimes really do think that you’re clueless. And the point I want to begin with to you Dads is this. Our children are growing up. In fact, at this very moment, they are developing certain ideas about how life works. And this is so crucial, because our ideas about life have such an impact on what we choose, and the decisions we end up making. I mean, think about it. I’m going to throw some words out to you. Think about these words. Love, friendship, beauty, happiness, purpose, success, sex, marriage, character, education, I can throw out all kinds. Every single person in this room has some kind of idea about the issues that I just raised, and this is what’s so important to realize. Every single one of us has beliefs and ideas, but what you need to know is this, and philosophy will tell you this. Our ideas about life are either true, or our ideas about life can be false. And this is a crucial question that I want to ask to each of you fathers. What if the ideas that our children are developing about life are false? What would that mean? How is that going to impact them? What will it do to them?
Albert Einstein believed that the most brilliant person to ever live was a guy by the name of Blaise Pascal. He was a mathematician, he was a philosopher, and he was a Christian, and Pascal made a very important observation that I use when I counsel men who have problems. And this is what he said. He said the reason that people struggle so much with life is because they have false ideas about reality. They have false ideas about reality, and to you Dads, he says this is the vital role that wisdom plays. He says, the beauty of wisdom, it uproots false ideas and replaces them with truth. And a great illustration that I share often, and I share this often when a man comes to see me, and his life is really troubled, and it’s a story that Stephen Covey shares. He says, “Imagine you go to Chicago, the city of Chicago, for the first time, and you’ve never been there. And you decide that you want to, the next morning, you get there at night, the next morning, you decide, I’m gonna get up early and I’m gonna go down and get a map of the city and I’m gonna hit the road. I’m gonna see the city. And you go down, you ask for a map, and they say, we just got these in, they’re brand new, and they hand you one, not realizing that the printer had made an error. Really, it’s a map of Detroit that says ‘Chicago’ across the top. And so you go out, and you’re trying to find your way around, and you begin to realize how totally lost you are.” He says, when people are lost, generally they say, I need to try harder, I need to walk faster, but the faster they walk, the more lost they get, then they decide, I need to get a better attitude, my attitude stinks, so I’m gonna work on my attitude, but they’re still terribly lost, and Covey goes on to say, “you will always be lost, and you will stay lost, until you get the right map.”
And so often, when I share this with a man, he hears that and he, and it’s like a light turns on, and he says, I’ve been living this life following the wrong map. And I would say to the fathers here, our responsibility is to make sure that our daughters have the right map, because if they don’t get the map to follow from you, they’re going to get it from the culture. It’s just going to naturally come from the culture. And let just let me just say this, what causes me the greatest concern, is that we are generally not aware that what we believe is false until we get burned by the belief. And this is particularly true when it comes to our sexuality.
Now, let me just make a couple of comments about wisdom. I think this will be a real benefit to you. The basic definition of wisdom is that, wisdom is becoming competent in regard to the realities of life. In other words, it’s knowing how things really work and then knowing what to do. I love the definition given by J.I. Packer in his classic book, Knowing God. He says, “Wisdom is the ability to see, and it is the inclination to choose the best and highest goals in life, along with the surest means of attaining it.” And what’s so crucial about that definition is when he says, it’s “the ability to see”, but it’s also “the inclination to choose”. You see, we erroneously believe that wisdom is something that you have up here, and that you’re able basically to see and understand the complexities of life, but true wisdom also changes not only what you see, but what you choose. In reality, wise people live out their wisdom.
Now, I want to share with you a great little story. I found this years ago when I was doing a series on wisdom, and, in this little illustration, it gives us a real good understanding of three important words in Proverbs, the word “knowledge”, the word “understanding”, and the word “wisdom”. Listen to the story.
A little girl is watching her mother doing the ironing. The child is intrigued by the process as the iron eats up the wrinkles and creases in each garment. The phone rings. As the mother goes to answer it, she says to her little girl, don’t touch that iron, it’s hot. The child, for the first time, has knowledge. The iron is hot. As soon as her mother disappears, the little girl decides she’s going to try her own hand at ironing. Unfortunately, she touches the iron in the wrong place and is burned. She now has understanding. The iron is hot. The next day, the mother continues with ironing, and again, she’s summoned by the phone. Again, she issues a warning. Don’t touch the iron, it’s hot. Again, the temptation to do some ironing comes over the little girl. As she puts out her hand to grab the iron, and then she remembers her burned fingers, and she leaves the iron alone. The little girl now has wisdom.
The iron is hot, and what I love about this illustration, is we see how wisdom impacts life. It impacts the decisions and choices that we make. And fathers, I think we realize how important wisdom is in living this life because we know and recognize that it protects. It protects us. You see, wisdom impacts not only what we see but what we choose.
Now, the only problem with this little story is this. How does the little girl ultimately learn wisdom? She gets burned. If she listened to her mother, she wouldn’t have gotten burnt, but she got burned, and the problem is, when you get burned, it can leave scars in your life. Scars that might be with you for the rest of your life, and so, I would just tell each one of you young ladies that your father here tonight is your greatest advocate, and he loves you more than you know, and one of his great desires is that you not get burned, particularly as it relates to your sexuality, and the misuse of it. So, Dads, we must be very proactive in teaching our daughters about what it means to be wise, and the book that I’ve written that George mentioned, that each of you will get a copy of, is a tool to really help you do this. Now, I’m going to just take a few minutes and address, and do it very briefly, four important issues that your daughters really need to understand.
And the first is this. We as Dads need to help our daughters be able to identify the lies of life, and they are many. You know, I want to tell you real briefly why there’s so much sexual confusion in our land, and believe it or not, it comes from Isaiah, which was written 2700 years ago. We wonder sometimes how such an old book can have such relevance to modern life, but it’s amazing. Listen to this.
This is Isaiah 5:20. “Woe to those who call evil, good, and good, evil, who substitute darkness for light, and light for darkness, who substitute bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter.”
Now this is what the media has done. This is what Hollywood has done. This is what those who entertain us have done. They have taken what God has said is healthy, which is beautiful, which is good, and they make it appear to be antiquated, boring, and uninteresting, and they’ve taken that which God has said is wrong, and immoral, and unhealthy, and make it appear to be exciting, and intriguing, and stimulating. You see, Hollywood loves to highlight dysfunctional relationships, and infidelity, and sex that has no boundaries, and that this somehow makes for an exciting, magical life, and it’s amazing how many people buy into this. Let me give you a good example. In reading through the invitation to this event, I read this. “The White Rose ball calls fathers and daughters to live faithfully in their relationship with Christ by encouraging and promoting purity in heart, mind, and behavior as a response to Christ’s love for us.” Now that word “purity” is not a real popular word in our culture, and I don’t know where all of you go to high school, but I would bet in some high schools if you start talking about purity, and a purity ball, a lot of people might give you a lot of grief. They would say, that’s prudish, that’s outdated, but let me just tell you this, it just shows you their ignorance, and the false ideas that they believe. You see, most teenagers are shocked when they learn the wisdom of sexual purity.
Listen to these words from Elizabeth Elliott describing purity and think about it in the context of what we’re talking about, our sexuality. This is powerful. She says, “Purity means freedom from contamination from anything that would spoil the taste or pleasure, reduce the power, or in any way cheapen what the thing was meant to be. It means cleanness, clearness, no additives, nothing artificial, in other words, all natural in the sense in which the designer designed it to be.” Did you catch some of the phrases? Contamination. Reduces the power of. Cheapens what the thing was meant to be. It strikes me as I hear this, you know, not only do I want that for my children, I want that for myself. I want that for my marriage. In the book, I speak of other lies that our young people are believing, and it’ll help you discuss these with your daughters.
Now, a second issue, that you really do need to discuss, I think, thoroughly, and that is about the young men out there who in the future will be pursuing them. Now, I’ve got to ask a question. I’m curious. I’ve got two boys. How many of you have sons? Raise your hand. So, we’ve got, well, I’m going to say some hard things about guys, about our sons, I really am. Even though our goal is to raise our sons to honor and respect women, that’s a quest that we’re on right now, my wife and I, but Holly, my wife, suggested that I share this with you, and I thought about it, and I thought, hmm, and she encouraged me to share it, and so I’m going to do it. When you join the Navy SEALs, one of the first things they tell you is that our country, our citizens, are like sheep. It’s not to be a disparaging remark, and they’re just, we’re all like sheep. And that’s what the Bible says, we are all like sheep. And he says, and there are a bunch of wolves out there, like Isis that want to basically destroy our sheep, and then he says, we the Navy SEALs, we’re like sheepdogs. We keep the wolves away. Well, let me just tell you this. In the context of what we’re talking about tonight, all of you daughters are like beautiful sheep, and ya’ll are beautiful, and I have to tell you, you probably already know this, but, if you don’t, you’ll find out, there a lot, not all, but there are a lot of young men who are like wolves, and the good news, right now, in your life, your fathers are like sheepdogs. They’re there for you to protect you. And Dads, we need to do our jobs and we need to do them well, but girls, and I know this doesn’t sound very romantic or appealing, but, you need to be looking for a sheepdog in a man. Like I said, that may not sound too appealing, but, you need to be looking for a man who will love you, honor you, who will lay down his life for you, and the way you’ll know this, is when you find a man who puts you in the relationship that you two share, he puts that above himself and his desires, you’ll know him when you meet him.
The third thing I would say to you Dads, and I’ll be real brief on this is, you know, God says there are two reasons that you should obey Him. The first reason, out of love and respect for Him, but you know what? He also says that we should love Him out of fear. We should fear God. In fact, what does the Bible say about when it comes to wisdom and fear? The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Now, some people may not agree with what I must tell you, but I think I would say at the appropriate time, fathers, you need to share with your daughters all of the damaging consequences of premarital sex. It’s all laid out in the book and they can’t argue with you because it’s well-documented, and so, what I’m telling you fathers, I think, personally, and again, you may not agree with this, that personally, putting a healthy fear in the lives of our children is important.
Let me give you example. My two sons are absolutely terrified of pornography, because I made them afraid. They’ve read the book, and it talks about pornography, and I talked to them consistently about the unbelievable consequences, so they have a healthy fear of it. That’s something else we can do.
And this might be, the last thing might be the most important. I shared with you the name Steven Covey who was just an incredibly wise man, and he said that one of the most powerful, powerful things in a person’s life is the vision that they have for their lives. The vision that we have for our lives, the vision of what you want your life to be in the future, and I think one of the most important things that we can do for our daughters is to give them a vision of marriage, and what sex was meant to be. I’ve been speaking on this a lot, because this book’s been out ten months, and one of the things I’m finding, and I’m not saying this is true in any of your homes, but so often, in Christian homes, we teach our children what sex is. We teach them that this is how women get pregnant and have children, and we tell them that God has reserved it for marriage, and that’s all we tell them. And one of the reasons that’s all we tell them is because, let’s face it, it’s kind of uncomfortable to talk about this, but you have to do it, and that’s why I wrote chapter 7 in the book, I would just tell you, if you don’t read any anything else, read chapter 7, and it doesn’t matter how old your daughters are, chapter 7, I think, is the best part of the book, because it will help you give your children a healthy vision of their lives, and their relationships, and their sexuality.
Now, I’m almost out of time, but I ask you to think about this. Sex was God’s idea, and therefore, probably, wouldn’t you think, it would seem to reason that He knows more about it than any of us? And so, the question is, what did He have in mind when He came up this with this great idea? What did He have in mind? And I’m just gonna share with you one little part of this, because it’s so powerful, and it’s so beautiful. In the Old Testament, and it’s amazing, in the Old Testament, whenever a husband and wife have sexual relations, the Hebrew word that’s used, it’s kind of funny, is the word, “yada”. Yada, in English means, empty and boring conversation, but in Hebrew, yada is an action word, and it means this. It means to be deeply known and respected, and there’s a parallel word that’s used with it, that accompanies yada, and that’s the word “hesed”, and that means deep friendship, and loyalty, and devotion, so, what did God intend when He gave us our sexuality? He gave it, basically it’s this, it is sexual intimate love with your spouse, your very best friend, and enables you to be deeply known by them. Now, I don’t know about you, but that is absolutely beautiful, and incredibly powerful, and that’s what He had in mind, and hopefully, you can see how our culture cheapens it when they put no boundaries on it.
The last advice I’d give you fathers, and then I’m done, but I just felt compelled to do this. And it’s just to share, and I would bet all of you do it, but it’s amazing how we take things for granted, and we forget, but one of the most important things you can do is to pray for your daughter. And there’s so many things that you can pray, but particularly, this is something I share, and for a lot of men, it’s like a light bulb goes off when I share it, but, think about the Lord’s Prayer, the way Jesus ends it. “Lead us not into temptation and deliver us from evil.” Jesus is telling us we should be praying for protection. II Thessalonians 3:3 says, “God is faithful. He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.” But you have to ask Him. Pray that God would keep your daughter sexually pure, that He would put a hedge around them. Pray that He would give them wisdom. That’s what Paul prayed in Ephesians 1:17. That God would give you a spirit of wisdom. Pray that they, that your daughters might have the eyes to be able to see the lies of life, and finally, pray for their husbands. Pray that God would bless them in the future with a godly man, and pray this regularly, because we’re told we have not, because we ask not, and I find a lot of fathers don’t pray for their families. I think they have great intentions, but this is crucial.
I’ll leave you with this thought. Wisdom. Wisdom. When you read the book of Proverbs, wisdom is often personified. It says, “I, wisdom…”, and then it’ll say something. This is a great thought. What if wisdom really is a person, and it’s a person that you can know and love? You see, that’s the message of the New Testament, and, of course, that person is Jesus. He is the ultimate guide in life. He’s the wonderful counselor. He’s the light of the world, and in John 1:9, it says, “He came into the world to enlighten every man and every woman.”
And so, this is the choice that we all have to make. He invites us to know Him, and to walk through life with Him, but that’s a choice we each have to make. Either I can walk through life with Him, or I can walk through life alone. I have truly loved being with you. I can’t tell you what an honor is to speak to particularly you Dads with your daughters here in the room. What a great event this is. What a blessing it’s been for me and thank you for having me.
For more information on the book referenced in this message, please find out more about Sex at First Sight by Richard Simmons III.