A Q&A with Author Dannah Gresh Q: Describe how your new book will break new ground on the topic of sexuality and purity?
A: And the Bride Wore White (a book I wrote over 10 years ago) has really transformed the way young women have chosen to live their lives. Over 20,000 churches have used it as a curriculum with their youth groups or in teen Sunday school classes. For that reason, I really want my readers who trust me to know that my new book What Are You Waiting For? will be grittier in substance. But the grittiness has a purpose. This book is needed, and the language that teens use about sexuality has changed. I’m not going to shy away from topics like masturbation or words like orgasm, because I believe that teens know the words, and I think they need a biblical filter system to really sift through them, to define value to them and to figure out how their understanding of sexuality fits into their relationship with God as well as their relationship with their future spouse.
There’s one more unique difference in this book. In the last five years, science has drastically advanced our knowledge of how the body responds to sexuality. One of the biggest breakthroughs has been advanced brain scanning and chemical analysis that has provided a more complete picture of sexual brokenness. Whether you have a biblical view of sexuality or whether you have a view as an atheist, what we know now is that there is incredible brokenness in a young woman when she has a sexual partner and then breaks that relationship off.
Here’s what we know: When a young woman has sex, her brain is covered with a chemical called dopamine. Dopamine, if you will, is an addiction drug. When the body experiences any kind of pleasure, whether it’s from working out and getting a good sweat or from using cocaine, it washes the brain in dopamine. Now, it’s a value-neutral drug so the brain doesn’t determine “this was a good thing for my body” or “This was a bad thing for my body.” The activity raises the chemical level in your brain and creates a literal addiction to the source of the dopamine.
What does that do for a young woman who is in a sexual relationship with someone? She becomes addicted to that person.
So, we know a lot more about sex than we did 10 years ago when I wrote my first book, and I would like young women to be equipped with that information-- to look at everything sexual through God’s eyes and through an intelligent understanding of sexuality.
Q: What have you heard from young women that confirms their eagerness and need for the insights they will find inside What Are You Waiting For?
A: Their response to one other critical finding clearly demonstrates their hunger for this information. I’ve taken the opportunity to trace God’s word for the Hebrew word for sex through the Bible. Starting with Genesis 4: 1 where we first see it, I follow it all the way through to the book of Revelations. The word is “yada.”
In looking at this word yada, we can see what God’s heart really is on the subject of sex. We can even see it in our relationship with Jesus Christ. Every time I talk about this word, teens and college students come to me and say “that’s it.” It’s kind of this “eureka moment” in which young women realize “that’s it…that’s why it’s so sacred, that’s why I’m so sex crazed, that’s why it’s so painful when I use it casually, that’s why it’s worth the wait.” Everyone that’s ever heard me talk about yada has this moment.
This one amazing word-- I guess when you hear one word from God, it’s big and it’s powerful.
I’m excited to take it to print now after several years of teaching on it.
Q: What truth do you expect or hope will live on in readers’ hearts long after they’ve finished the book?
A: I hope that they will take away the greater significance of the word yada because it’s used in many important ways. For instance, the word is first used in Genesis 4:1-- “Adam lay with his wife Eve”-- that is “Adam yada his wife Eve and she became pregnant and gave birth to Cain.”
But then it is also used in verses like, “Be still and know (yada) that I am God.”
It’s amazing to me that the word God uses to describe the holy intimate sexual relationship between a man and a woman is the same word that God uses to describe the nakedness and the intimacy that He wants to have in a relationship with us. It’s mind blowing.
As I traced this word from Genesis into the New Testament, it is also used in terms of the sacrifice of Christ where Jesus himself said that a marriage relationship is really just a picture of a deeper love that He has for his bride, the church.
That’s where the “aha” moment lies.
There’s a G.K. Chesterton quote that I hope will be a catalyst to the “aha” moment: “Everyone who knocks on the door of a brothel is really looking for God.”
When you think about it, that’s so true: everyone, whether they are looking at porn on the internet, or struggling with same-sex attraction, or involved in multiple sexual relationships--under it all, they are probably really looking for God.
I hope that seeing this quote in the context of understanding yada, readers will be able to see the potential that their marriage relationship has to be a picture of Christ, and that they will be motivated to protect that picture. Because if our sexuality really is a picture of Christ in the church, how motivated do you think Satan is to destroy that picture?
I want my readers to be deeply motivated to protect and experience sex as a really holy and deeply satisfying gift from God.
Praise for What Are You Waiting For?
“Dannah Gresh has hit on a simple yet undiscovered truth that puts seemingly random questions of sexuality in context. I love the way Dannah doesn’t shy away from or water down the tough issues, yet she never
compromises God’s best for you! This is a must-read for any single Christian woman.”—Dr. Juli Slattery, clinical psychologist, Focus on the Family, and author of No More Headaches
“Dannah Gresh has totally nailed it with this pertinent and hugely needed book. Written honestly and compellingly, this is a must-read for all teenage girls—wait, this is a must-read for everyone, especially teenage guys! I am so grateful for this important resource and plan to recommend it to all my young adult readers.”—Melody Carlson, author of Diary of a Teenage Girl series and the TrueColor series
“Dannah Gresh hits another home run! What Are You Waiting For?
is refreshingly real and relevant—definitely a timely message for today’s generation of young women!”—Shannon Ethridge, international speaker and best-selling author of Every Young Woman’s Battle
“This is hands-down the best book about sexual fidelity I have ever read—informative, entertaining, and very
inspiring. Dannah Gresh tackles the trickiest of topics with astonishing grace. Her explanation of the sacred power of sex is unblushing and revelatory. I know this is a book for girls, but every Christian guy should read it too. I’m already reading it for the second time.”—Nate Larkin, founder of the Samson Society and author of Samson and the Pirate Monks: Calling Men to Authentic Brotherhood
“If you are looking for the gospel truth on the very real issue of sex and sexuality that all singles face, this is the book for you. Dannah Gresh talks to singles where they really live. Not only is it refreshing, it is liberating—as truth always is. Dannah does not dance around the issues but addresses them with in-your-face clarity that is sorely needed. Sharing the spiritual implications while balancing the reality of the natural world we live in, Dannah practically addresses how singles can be victorious in the battle between the flesh and the spirit.”—Michelle McKinney Hammond, author of What Women Don’t Know and Men Don’t Tell You
“All I can say is wow!
My assistant’s teenage daughter agreed to flip through this book for me as a favor and ended up absorbed in the entire thing! As she rightly put it, What Are You Waiting For?
brings ‘amazing insight into what no one tells you about sex—and it really can strengthen the relationship you have with God and your future spouse.’ This book is a fantastic read. Dannah Gresh has such a special way of taking an important subject and making it appealing, practical, and accessible to everyone.”—Shaunti Feldhahn, best-selling author of For Women Only and For Young Women Only
“In an age where sex is perverted and belittled—when it appears to be a tool in the hands of the Enemy rather than the God who created it—Dannah has shown us God’s pure intention for sexuality. Through an in-depth study of Scripture and confirmation in life experiences, she highlights the honest-to-goodness biblical truth behind one of life’s most precious and beautiful mysteries. Women young and old will read this book and find the inspiration and tools they need to treat God’s gift of sexuality with the respect and protection it deserves.”—Julie Hiramine, founder of Generations of Virtue and author of Beautifully Made
“What Are You Waiting For?
is a well-written study of the sexual culture our teens are immersed in today and offers a culturally relevant perspective that aligns itself with the Word of God. Dannah has managed to walk the fine line of approaching this difficult subject in a way that will inspire teens to live holy lives and inspire parents to broach this delicate topic with their kids. This book is not for the faint of heart; however, neither is raising teenagers in our current society.”—Ron Luce, founder and president of Teen Mania Ministries