Teens are bombarded from all sides when it comes to messages on sex. At church, they hear, “Wait until marriage,” while the rest of the world loudly asks, “Why wait?” Even though they know deep down what they should do, heart and hormones challenge the head. Debut author Bekah Hamrick Martin provides an honest discussion on purity, boys and relationships in a new book aimed at teen girls, The Bare Naked Truth: Dating, Waiting, and God’s Purity Plan (Zondervan/May 7, 2013/ISBN: 978-0310734024/$9.99).
Learn more about The Bare Naked Truth in the interview below, and mark your calendars to join Bekah Hamrick Martin for a live Facebook Author Chat on June 20 at 8:00 PM EDT. During the hour-long web event, Martin will be answering questions from teens and parents alike. Prizes, including copies of The Bare Naked Truth, will also be given away. For more information, watch the author’s Facebook Page (bekahhamrickmartin).
Q: Tell us about your journey and what led you to write a purity book for teens.
I wouldn’t call it so much of a “purity” book as a “waiting” or “start waiting” book. The Bare Naked Truth really started over ten years ago when every conversation I had in camp ministry eventually came back to the topic of dating or waiting. It’s an age-old dilemma, but none of the girls I worked with felt like it was being approached in a modern or relevant way.
Q: What makes The Bare Naked Truth different than other books in stores with a purity message?
The tone of the book is satirical--something that today’s teens understand. I love the fact that over 20 different authors contributed their voices and stories in order to appeal to girls of every background!
Q: Throughout your book, you share the testimonies, struggles and lessons from various people. What insights did you gain from their stories?
I learned (once again) that God is able to redeem ANYTHING. I knew this from my own past, which was difficult to write about, but the fact that so many women were bare naked honest in the book just makes it so much more real. I love seeing how God is bigger than anything Satan throws at us.
Q: What’s one thing you wish someone would’ve told you when you were a teenager?
Your past doesn’t define you. Your “purity” is not your worth. I was taken advantage of as a child in every way you can imagine. That’s why I actually shy away from the word “purity”, because I don’t like the fact that a girl who has made less-than-great decisions or been taken advantage of can be made to feel less-than. No matter what your past, you are now in Christ. And that’s all God sees when He looks at you. That’s what I wish I had felt in my heart.
Q: What are practical steps girls can apply to their everyday lives to remain pure?
Decide beforehand what your boundaries are. Don’t wait until the heat of the moment. Then, find a mentor who stands behind what you’ve decided and will help you be strong in your decisions!
Q: You offer quizzes, questions or space for reflection at the end of each chapter. In what setting do you hope readers will use this book? Individually as a devotional or in a small group to promote discussion?
I really hope girls will use these questions individually, then bring them back to a group setting. I envision girls everywhere forming book-study groups that can hang out and encourage each other in their choices. And I’m actually doing an online study via Skype that will later be available on YouTube. You can find out more information on my website at www.thebarenakedbook.com or www.bekahhamrickmartin.com.
Q: What are some ways parents can get involved without invading their daughter’s privacy or scaring her away?
It’s all about relationship. If you want respect from your daughter, she needs to see that you’re committed to the same things you’re asking of her. If you don’t want her to be involved in risky behavior, you need to find help for healing what’s causing your own risky behaviors. You can find tips for how to do that on my website as well.
Beyond that, if you’re already setting that example, start with intentionally hanging out with your daughter--no agenda. Go shopping, watch a movie; do things that build relationship. As she trusts you more and more, she will respect your opinion when an opportunity arises to share it.
Q: Who or what was influential in your decision to save yourself for marriage?
I was raised by parents who loved me and wanted the best for me. Despite that, there were points where I wanted to toss my standards out the window for some immediate gratification. Especially since I felt my innocence had already been robbed--so why not just have a little fun in a way where I could take charge?
Ultimately I really believe it was my family’s love through those rough patches that made me want to stick it out and make smart decisions for my future. I’m so glad I had that chance.
Q: How did you meet your husband?
We met at a youth event when we were 14--I have no recollection of it, but he had a crush on me! When I was 22, we reconnected when I worked at summer camp with his sisters. Pretty soon I noticed this tall Swedish-looking guy and that was all it took.
Q: Do young people today really face different challenges with dating and waiting than their parents or any other generations, or it the ages-old battle mankind has always faced?
It’s the same battle, just more intense. Parents have less time to engage their kids--and it’s not their fault; everything just moves at a faster pace. It’s also easy to turn on the TV or get advice from Seventeen... there are so many sources of information. But like I said before, I think the answer lies in good old fashioned relationship. If you have that with your kids, they’re more likely to respect your opinion and follow it. MORE likely--there are no guarantees.
Q: In a world that views woman as sexualized objects, how can we teach young girls they’re worth so much more?
Once again, I think it comes back to relationship. It’s not even really how we “teach” young girls, it’s more what they pick up from watching us and spending time with us. My daughter is going to soak up more from watching how I dress--how I interact with men--than how someone on TV does. Do I respect myself? Do I show her that?
Q: How does pop culture (music, TV, magazines, etc.) affect girls’ mindsets and self-esteem?
I think we have to constantly remind girls about what goes on behind the scenes to make women in magazines look like that. I saw a documentary on modeling once, and it was eye-opening for me. I plan to show it to my daughter when she’s ready; I want her to see that chasing after the perfect body will not fill you up inside--so many of these girls are only considered “good” for one or two photo shoots, then they’re tossed to the curb. I want every girl I talk with to “get” that they are so much more than how their bodies look, although it’s okay to take pride in and take care of that too.
Q: Can you tell us more about your ministry to teens?
I’ve ministered for the past ten years (through camping ministry, youth groups, & writing & speaking), to kids from so many different backgrounds--all the way from children of prisoners, to kids who are in church every single Sunday. When it comes down to it, these girls face the same issues. They are all seeking love, attention, and affirmation. And if I can be one voice that shares from the depth of the well Jesus is, it will be worth the vulnerability of sharing the bare naked truth from my own life. It’s my honor to know these intelligent girls, their stories, and to watch them make choices based on the bare naked facts--not scare tactics.
Learn more about Bekah Hamrick Martin and The Bare Naked Truth at www.bekahhamrickmartin.com or www.thebarenakedbook.com. Readers can also become a fan on Facebook (Bekah-Hamrick-Martin) or follow her on Twitter (@BekahHMartin).