Displaying items by tag: sexual integrity

Shelf-Help: Hooked

by Joe S. McIlhaney, Jr., MD and Freda McKissic Bush, MD

by Ducia Hamm LAS, Associate Director of Affiliate ServicesHooked

Who of us has not heard these comments when addressing the subject of delaying sex until marriage with teens and adults alike...“You just don’t want me to have any fun!” “Everyone is doing it!” “We love each other so what does it matter if we’re married?”

Hooked is a must read for pregnancy help ministry staff, parents, those mentoring teens or young adults – truly for anyone interested in how our bodies were created by God to biologically form lasting, meaningful connections with each other.

Packed full of eye-opening, useful information, Hooked lays out, in easy to understand language, the recent research in the field of neuroscience confirming the adage that our brains are the largest and most important sex/relationship organ humans have.

Because of new state-of-the-art technology, some startling discoveries have been made. We have known for a while the bonding effects that oxytocin has in a woman’s brain when it is released during sex but did you know that men release vasopressin which has a very similar bonding effect in a man’s brain?

Scientists are now able to measure when and how much of specific chemicals are released and the corresponding changes the human brain experiences when we engage in sexual activity.

One of the most important discoveries talked about in Hooked is crucial information needed for a culture so accepting of casual sex, “...there is evidence that when [the] sex/bonding/breaking-up cycle is repeated a few or many times – even when the bonding was short-lived – damage is done to the important, built-in ability to develop significant and meaningful connection to other human beings.” (Pg. 55)

As I read Hooked, Psalms 139:13-14 kept coming to mind – “For it was You who created my inward parts; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I will praise You because I have been remarkably and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful, and I know this very well.”

We are indeed “remarkably and wonderfully made!” It is always exciting to see science corroborate what the Bible has always said – that sex is meant to be enjoyed to the fullest within the context of marriage between one man and one woman.

**One of the authors, Freda McKissic Bush, MD is a member of the Heartbeat International Medical Advisory Council, frequent presenter at the Heartbeat Annual Conference, Medical Director for Center for Pregnancy Choices in Mississippi and CEO of the Medical Institute for Sexual Health among many other activities and accomplishments.

The Fight for This Generation

by Jeffrey Deangeneration

Every young adult is in a battle. Did you know that? If this “battle” talk sounds like a bit of a stretch to you, let me tell you about Rhys.

A few summers ago I spoke at a camp. After an evening session, one of the guy counselors—Rhys—asked if we could talk. Rhys was heading into his sophomore year at a well-known Christian college. There was a sadness in his eyes that I couldn’t fathom. He had a lot of nightmares, he said, and a lot of guilt.

During his senior year of high school, Rhys and his girlfriend, Emily, were fairly typical Christian kids. They were both active in youth group, had pledged to abstain from sex until marriage, and were known in their circles of friends as “good kids.” But on the night of their senior prom, everything went crazy.

At a post-prom party, Rhys admitted, “One thing led to another and we pretty much did it all that night. Fooling around, drinking... you name it.”

Tragically, Emily had too much to drink, went into a coma, and never came out of it. A week later, Emily died.

This is an extreme story, yes, but it happened. As I speak to high school and college-age students around the country, I hear stories you wouldn’t believe. Welcome to the world of this generation. It’s a fight—and every young adult today is engaged in it.

This fight is about a tsunami of information, communication, anything-goes ethics, and the inevitable moral experimentation that results. The world of today’s young generation moves at a pace you and I would never have dreamed of when we were teens. Almost weekly, teens write to me about addictions to types of drugs that weren’t around just five years ago. By the time they graduate from high school, most seniors tell me, they have consumed alcohol and been offered drugs. Most college students I meet say that marijuana is easily accessible, and that there is almost always someone who is willing to have sex with them. It doesn’t matter whether they attend public schools or Christian schools; students know where drugs are used, kept, and sold. Many tell me they know a friend or classmate who has abused prescription drugs, or who is addicted to porn.

Here’s a fact: Rhys and Emily could have been anyone’s teens. They are from a generation bombarded by lies, hungry for help, and desperate for truth. Every young adult won’t face exactly what Rhys and Emily faced, but war is the daily reality for all.

You may be asking, “How does this information directly affect me and my work in my pregnancy center?” My experience in ministering to this young generation has proven over and again that the struggles of most students aren’t one-dimensional. A teen dealing with the challenge of a pregnancy, or contemplating having an abortion, is often additionally struggling with a variety of issues such as a low self-worth, an eating disorder, drug usage, cutting, pornography, and, not to mention, a lack of spiritual depth and discipline.

I am also of the belief that as Christians, we should never halt the pursuit of knowledge. Keeping up with what’s up for this generation only better equips us to be ever ready to meet them where they are, as they are, and offer them the hope and true remedy found only in a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Every young adult has to navigate the confusing waters of today’s culture. Additionally, the struggles this generation face share a common underpinning: Satan hates these kids. More specifically, he’s their number-one enemy! His task is, as Jesus warned in John 10:10 (NIV), “to steal, kill, and destroy”, and he wants to lure them away from the truth and lead them toward destruction.

It’s our job to grab our weapons, jump into the battlefield, and be ready to give it all we’ve got. This generation needs us. We must be willing to fight and help them win!

Don't miss Jeffrey Dean's workshop at the 2016 Heartbeat International Annual Conference, The Top 10 for This Gen.

Jeffrey Dean is an ordained pastor, evangelist, and author committed to pro-life and pro-marriage family ministry. He has partnered nationally with over 100 Pregnancy Help Organizations offering a wide range of ministry services such as consulting, fundraising, parent and counselor training, evangelism, and discipleship outreach.

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Because You’re Worth It

by Hannah Sapp, Heartbeat InternationalWorthIt

With its slogan “because you’re worth it,” L’Oréal has caught on to a crucial aspect of personhood. Self-worth that shapes how we treat ourselves and others, and a majority of the young girls and women that seek pregnancy help don’t have the understanding that they are “worth it.”

Everyone wants to know they are worth it. The issue is whether or not we are using the right basis to determine our self-worth.

  • Does worth come from looking good with the help of make-up?
  • Does it come from promiscuity and sexual attention?
  • Does it come from acceptance and fitting in with the crowd?
  • Does it come from a father who tells us who we are?

Yes, we know that our identity is found in Christ, and that He calls us adopted daughters and sons, but how can we convey that to a client with a negative pregnancy test? She is usually already disengaged, feeling the relief that, “It’s over. I’m safe this time.”

We have the opportunity to show each woman a snippet of her true value, as both an image-bearer of God and one for whom Christ died. As we labor to show each woman her value, it’s essential that we help her understand how this affects her relationships both with the opposite sex, and with everyone involved in her life.

At the 2015 Heartbeat International Annual Conference, Joneen Mackenzie, President of The Center for Relationship Education, brought a fresh perspective to sexual integrity and self-worth.

In her workshop, “Building Skills for Life and Love,” Joneen shared that caring for young people in a holistic manner includes not only focusing on sexuality, but also, teaches them how to deal with issues of the heart. She presents a view that goes beyond “mere abstinence,” and teaches concepts like life mapping and learning to live and love well—all because, “you’re worth it.”

Using hands-on examples, Joneen’s workshop teaches students to understand and find healthy ways to express their self-worth in relationships.

Helping clients learn to identify their own feelings is key to building healthy relationships, Joneen says. Most teens can identify their feelings simplistically (happy, sad, mad, glad), but few can recognize more complex feelings. Giving them a list of feelings to choose from can help them become more emotionally intelligent.

The more a client can understand her own feelings, the more empowered she is to change unhealthy relationships and address the patterns that cause them. It’s also equally important to help a client understand that feelings themselves aren’t right or wrong, but potential indicators of the deeper realities and beliefs connected to self-worth.

The process of helping a client understand her worth also includes helping her see her value through simple personality tests that point out strengths, challenges, values, needs, and motivators. One fun, engaging test is the Five Minute Personality Test, which Joneen recommends as springboard to help a client grasp that she is a uniquely designed individual who is worthy of self-respect.

Joneen’s contribution to the sexual integrity conversation is compelling and safe, as valuable tools to building a healthy life in all aspects. When a client feels loved and respected, she may return for more guidance, open up, and trust you to speak into her life.

These hands-on models help to build relationships, relationships, relationships!

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Motherhood or Marriage?

by Hannah Sapp, Heartbeat Internationalmarriagemotherhood

Motherhood and Marriage: The Disconnect

Women seem to be willing to choose to mother, but not to get married. What would cause a woman to be more comfortable being a single mother than finding the support of a husband first and then becoming a mother? How can her desire to mother overcome her desire for a stable father for her children?

At the 2014 Heartbeat International conference Lindy Dimeo, a center director in Virginia, presented a workshop called "Why Women Choose Babies over Marriage." Dimeo used information found in Promises I Can Keep: Why Poor Women Put Motherhood before Marriage written by Maria Kefalas and Kathryn Edin to inform the way low-income women think about the issues of motherhood and marriage. Based on a survey of women with low socioeconomic status taken in Philadelphia, Edin and Kefalas propose that poor women will usually put mothering before marriage.

While the reasons that impoverished women choose to mother and not to marry may vary in different regions of the country and world, there are shared characteristics that can be helpful to understanding the motivations and thoughts of clients who desire to mother alone.

Understanding her Point of View

Crucial for understanding this trend of motherhood disconnected from marriage is acknowledging an inherited cultural notion that marriage is unsuccessful. More and more women are choosing single parenting because they see so few strong, lasting marriages today. They see the low or non-existent success of marriage, and they are not finding partners (or even potential partners) who would make good candidates for long term relationships or fatherhood.

For some women, fatherhood is a test of trust to decide if he has the potential to be a good husband. Some think "if he is a good father, then I can marry him." Dimeo discusses her experiences with a client in this very situation who expressed that if she chose to mother, she would experience unconditional love, because a man may not always be by her side, but her child would never leave her.

Wow. Can you imagine how much pressure that child will feel, to have their own mother rely on them for unconditional love? Yet, this is a common mentality. Women who view motherhood as a source of unconditional love and purpose are also searching for the same fulfillment as women who are bouncing from relationship to relationship looking for their heroic prince to love them.

These women are looking to satisfy the God-given desire for relationship and love.

How Can You Help?

Your conversation with a client is the perfect opportunity to pour into her the truth of her identity in Christ and share that He can fulfill better than anyone that desire for unconditional love. Dimeo mentions a demonstration using a set of three cups to tell a woman of her value as given in Christ.

The first cup is Styrofoam. It is disposed after only one use. This cup represents a woman who has had a one night stand or a friend with benefits.

The second cup is an everyday mug which one might use for a time, but after repeated use, disregard for another newer mug. The mug represents serial monogamous relationships.

The third cup is a valuable china teacup–a family heirloom. This teacup is priceless. Someone would put this teacup on display for all to see and would only use it for the most special of occasions, washing it thoroughly with much care after each use. The beautiful teacup is irreplaceable.

It is difficult for women to see the benefits of marriage when there is such a disconnect between the love God intended for marriage and what is found in the greater culture. Since magazine quizzes engage teens and young women, a couple of helpful tools to get them thinking beyond present circumstances and personal gain in having a child can be utilized from the appendix of the Sexual Integrity Program:

  • What About Your Future
  • Your Choices Affect Your Child's Future
  • Marriage: The Right Choice for the Best Future

Each of the materials may act as a guide for a woman who doesn't see the fruit of marriage to understand those fruits by acknowledging facts derived from research about marital relationships and parenting. Using these tools helps to free the peer counselor from the temptation to use opinions to convince a client of the value of marriage for herself and her baby.

Lindy also mentions one final point important for every counselor to take into every conversation: Your job is not to just talk to her about sex– it is to care for her future. You have the opportunity to find out what the heart issue is that motivates her bad decision making. Usually, those bad decisions are tied to a desire for love, they are just misdirected decisions. Above expressing concern for her future, you have the ability to help care for her heart. You can point her to her identity in Christ and her value as His child: loved and adored.

Unlearning the Unthinkable

girl ashamedOur Lady’s Inn, in St. Louis, Missouri, continues to plant the seeds of sexual wholeness as a core part of the center’s ministry. 

Says Gloria Lee, Executive Director of Our Lady’s Inn, “Our nurse, Helen, does Heartbeat’s Sexual Integrity™ program with all of our women. One of them had been taught that you don’t have sex with someone unless you are going to get something in exchange, such as rent money, food, diapers, etc. This client came to the realization that what she was doing was basically prostitution in viewing sex in this way. She felt terrible about it but kept saying to herself, ‘This is what I was taught.’

The client vowed, “I am not going to use birth control because I don’t want to be tempted to just have sex for the wrong reasons,” when she returned home from the hospital following the recent birth of her baby.

Gloria asks that we pray for Our Lady’s Inn’s ministry, “That we can continue to plant seeds that will come to fruition in the lives of all the women who come to Our Lady’s Inn.”


Healthy Relationships

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Most of our clients come to us to confirm that they are pregnant.  At least that is what they say they want.  But for those of us who have been involved in this ministry for any length of time, we know that pregnancy test is only a symptom of a much greater issue. 

If our clients only knew what made good relationships or what to look for in the opposite sex!

Nowadays, our clients often just settle for anyone who comes along.  Knowing that this is a growing problem in our society, and feeling that we in the pregnancy center have a great opportunity to educate clients on healthy relationships, we have revised one of the tools of The Sexual Integrity Program to help you educate. 

“Ingredients for Successful Relationships” is a three-step questionnaire that clients (male or female) fill out to examine their present relationships.  Those who are not currently in a relationship can fill out just step two of this questionnaire. 

This tool is an excellent way to begin a conversation about healthy relationships and help our clients navigate towards good ones.

Download a pdf of this valuable tool: “Ingredients for Successful Relationships”


Sexual Integrity FAQs

Q. Do I have to purchase the entire Program?

A. No, you don’t have to purchase the entire Program. We strongly recommend that you purchase The Implementation Manual (item #SIP1-0) so that you understand the “big picture” of sexual integrity and how your center can use a variety of tools to reach clients with a message of sexual wholeness. The Implementation Manual has many reproducible worksheets and relationship tests that can be offered to the client on an on-going basis.To get a preview of what all is included in the implementation manual, and learn about what other resources may suit your center’s needs, visit Heartbeat International Academy and enroll in the complimentary Sexual Integrity Program Preview.

Q. Which DVD series do you recommend we start with first?

A. Steps to Sexual Health has been very successful as the first series a client goes through. Since most clients are struggling with making better sexual choices and many clients have some form of sexual trauma in their background they relate very well to Dr. Doug Weiss. If your client has a spiritual foundation, The Blueprint for Sexual Integrity is a good first series since the client will be familiar with the Bible and Scriptures. Focus on Fertility is also a great start for clients. We have heard from centers that they like to start with this series because it is a topic (their own body) that most women, unfortunately, know little about. 

Q. Do I need to get formally trained?

A. No, you don’t. But we recommend it. Formal training can happen on-site at your center or at our annual conference. Training will help you understand the bigger picture of sexual integrity, show you how The Sexual Integrity Program works, teach you how to use all of the tools with clients, and give you a good start in implementing the program in your center. Centers have said that formal training has helped equip all of their staff and volunteers feel more confident in working with their clients. If you already have the program and have never been formally trained, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for information. 

Q. What if I have questions?

A. We have answers. Katy Flood, Heartbeat International’s Sexual Integrity Program Specialist is available to talk to when you have questions or need some guidance. With over 18 years experience in pregnancy center ministry, Katy is well equipped to help guide you through all the aspects of The Sexual Integrity Program. Katy is available by phone at 1-888-550-8577 or you can contact her This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Q. Why would I want to focus on fertility?

A. Heartbeat’s definition of fertility education is not natural family planning or helping women achieve or avoid pregnancy. Fertility education is simply teaching a woman how her own body works so that she is empowered to reverence and respect her body. When women understand this powerful gift they are:

  • more likely to choose life for their baby
  • more likely to stop premarital sexual activity
  • more likely to make wiser choices with men
  • more likely to respect their own bodies
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Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman's Soul

Book by John Eldredge and Stasi Eldredge
Review by Susan Dammann

What a wonderful book that will reaffirm the dreams, hopes, and desires every woman feels and has felt since she was a young girl!

Within a woman’s heart are the God-given desires to be swept up in a romance, to play an irreplaceable role in an important adventure, and to display beauty. In this amazing book, you will see how these innate dreams and desires are truly God-given, a reflection of God's own heart in us, who have been born into this earth in His image and likeness.

These feelings and desires tell us of the life we are meant to live! In this book, you’ll see how God comes as the Hero of your story to fulfill those desires, and to release you to be the truly feminine woman you were created to be—truly captivating!



Sexual wholeness for broken lives

by Leslie Malek, Heartbeat International Editor

Human dignity and sexual wholeness are intimately linked. Today, the dignity of women is under heavy attack worldwide, especially when it comes to children and sexuality. Unfortunately, TV, movies, and music often portray a warped view of love, romance, and sexuality that robs women of dignity.

Decades ago, Peggy Hartshorn, Heartbeat International® President with over 40 years of experience helping pregnant women choose life, recognized that our highly sexualized culture leads women into a lifestyle of life-and-death choices. That recognition drove Peggy on a search to understand the cause and find a cure.

Women must recapture the dignity of their womanhood and move beyond the popular culture of women as sexual objects. That’s what our pregnancy centers
help women do!

- Peggy Hartshorn,
Heartbeat International President

Disinformation about fertility, overpopulation, and sexuality, combined with lack of support for pregnancy and family, are prime factors in this crisis. In fact and contrary to media and “scientific” spin promoted by “overpopulation gurus,” declining birthrates and a warped view of love are now deeply embedded in cultures everywhere. This further contributes to the decline in families and devaluation of children and women.

Says Peggy, “For a culture to value women, children and families, women have to value their gift of fertility and their nurturing natures. The roles of wife and mother are intimately linked with womanhood just as the role of husband and father are intimately linked with manhood.”

Peggy is convinced that sexual wholeness is an important part of the cure in the process of reclaiming the dignity of women. The cure has a name: Heartbeat’s Sexual Integrity™ Program (SIP), a tool that affiliates can use to help the women who come into pregnancy help centers. This program helps women find new dignity in themselves by understanding God's plan for sexuality and fertility.

The Sexual Integrity Program draws inspiration from the “Theology of the Body,” Pope John Paul II's integrated vision of the human person, body, soul, and spirit. According to John Paul II, the physical human body has a specific meaning that answers fundamental questions about us and our lives.

The Sexual Integrity Program has become one of Heartbeat's most popular offerings. For details on the Sexual Integrity program, click here.

The dignity of women and Sexual Integrity

The need has never been greater for renewed efforts to restore the dignity of women. Organizations like Planned Parenthood, the most lucrative abortion provider in the United States, target students, young adults, and even children with campaigns designed to "liberate" young people sexually. Planned Parenthood even launched a Valentine's Day campaign proclaiming "National Condom Week." The campaign encourages youths to be sexually promiscuous and use "safe sex," a blatant contradiction of terms!

The HHS (U. S. Health and Human Services) mandate is another far-reaching assault on the dignity of women through the sexploitation of "healthcare." Bureaucrats have declared that pregnancy is a treatable disease that government must combat through preventive “healthcare.” Tragically, the HHS mandate actually undermines healthcare reform by inextricably linking it to the zealotry of pro-abortion bureaucrats. This mandate further institutionalizes, at the highest level of government and alongside abortion, the cultural attack on women.

Campaigns like this degrade the dignity of women and men, young and old. Instead of liberation, the people who fall into the trap of sexploitation find themselves emotionally wounded and sexually broken.  They also become highly vulnerable to contracting sexually transmitted diseases.

Heartbeat's SIP helps women learn how to respect their own body, know the ingredients for a healthy relationship, become sexually whole, and gain deeper understanding of the value of human life.

Through SIP, Heartbeat affiliated centers empower women by sharing the truth about who God created them to be. Centers also introduce women to the dignity of sexual wholeness with its freedom and peace.

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So, what is Heartbeat's Sexual Integrity Program?

Based on biblical principles found in the book of Genesis, The Sexual Integrity Program (SIP) also draws inspiration from on The Theology of the Body and Pope John Paul II's Encyclical, Humanae Vitae.

SIP, designed for use inside the pregnancy help center, teaches women how to walk in sexual wholeness in all areas of their life – physical, emotional, social, intellectual, and spiritual.

integrityFour Biblical Pillars form the foundation of the program.

  • Pillar One: A Focus on Relationships (Genesis 1:27)
  • Pillar Two: A Focus on Marriage (Genesis 2:24)
  • Pillar Three: A Focus on Fertility (Genesis 1:28)
  • Pillar Four: A Focus on Wholeness (Genesis 2:25)

Centers that offer SIP have more effective client outcomes. The ability to continue building the relationship with clients week after week by offering them a new way of living leads to a reduction in the number of return pregnancy tests visits per client.

Women who learn about sexual wholeness feel empowered. They have the new knowledge that helps them make healthier choices with their bodies, reducing sexual activity outside of marriage.

Other outcomes that centers see when the use SIP include Evangelization opportunities that increase as centers spend more time with clients sharing God’s blueprint for sexual integrity. The center’s reputation is enhanced as a provider of more complete reproductive health education. Volunteers become more knowledgeable on the major topics related to sexual activity, and, therefore, more confident in their interaction with all clients.

Learn more about what The Sexual Integrity Program can offer your center.


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