Right after Christmas, the store windows fill up with hearts, cupids and flowers attracting lovers to remember their one-and-only. Valentines, chocolate candy and pajama-gram commercials fill the airways and the Internet. It is a free-for-all of expectations of what a lover is to do to prove never-ending affection.
Of course, all this commercialism is a ploy to make sales and bring in revenue, but many sorrowful tears are shed because expectations don’t meet reality. Wives wait for their husbands to bring them all the wonderful things they have heard and seen. Teenagers wait for their boyfriend or girlfriend to give them something special. When it doesn’t happen, here come the tears and self-doubt.
There are other expectations that come with the gifts and flowers. “You are my valentine; give me what I want. Prove that you love me.” In my day, it was a big decision to give away your virtue – nowadays, it isn’t even a second thought. Many valentines expect to be rewarded.
As a parent, you are faced with the challenge of battling the media for the soul of your child. With the tsunami of evil in the media coming at you, what is a parent to do? It is impossible to keep your child away from all sources of media. You can turn off the media in your home and have your children go to a friend’s house and watch and learn the facts of life from their peers.
You can curtail their social life and not let them go to a friend’s house or attend public school, but this only makes them curious and feel they are being deprived and, in worst cases, make them rebel. How do I know? First-hand experience! I said it before: “I received my BS degree in parenting skills from the University of Hard Knocks and my MFA in the Fire of Experience.”
The alternative choice to keeping your child on a leash away from the media is to teach them correct principles and hope that they make right choices. If they do make the correct choice, you can celebrate with them. If they don’t, you can cry with them and help them pick up the pieces. At least you can take satisfaction in the fact that you told them so.
Of course, you never say, “I told you so.” Your children already know they made a mistake, and your reminding them of your superior knowledge is like pouring alcohol in a gaping wound. The thought of your foreknowledge just helps to lighten your burden in knowing that you held a light to guide them even if they chose to walk in the dark.
There are two principles that will help your child make the informed and good choices about their bodies and sexuality in spite of the media.
1. Teach your children that their bodies are temples or beautiful sacred places where the Lord’s Holy Spirit can come to dwell.
Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid ... What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: Therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.
—1 Corinthians 6: 15, 19-20
With a Biblical mindset, there will be a myriad of benefits and teaching moments. Make a teaching moment to walk around a sacred building, a beautiful cathedral, a national monument or a historical site.
Ask your children how they would feel if one morning you came to this beautiful place and someone had sprayed paint all over the front of it or had taken a chisel and had carved dirty signs on it?
The child should feel remorse at these thoughts and a conversation could ensue: “Did you know your body is a special place? Your spirit lives there and the spirit of the Lord can live there too, if you keep it clean. The Spirit cannot come to a dirty place. What kinds of things might make your body dirty so the Spirit would not want to be with you?”
A small child would probably say, “If I play in the mud.” You could respond, “Yes, mud makes you dirty on the outside, and you can wash that off in the bathtub, but there are things that can make you dirty on the inside.” Then there can be a conversation about things that could destroy a child’s mind and body.
If your children feel their bodies are special, they are less likely to become addicted to tobacco, alcohol or harder drugs. They will be less likely to deface their bodies with unsightly piercings and tattoos which they might regret later. They will be conscious of their thoughts and what they put into their minds. They will also be more conscious of what they eat and wear.
Teaching children that their bodies are temples is not a one-day conversation. Teaching only takes place with practice and experience. Start talking to your infant. An infant is aware of much more than they can communicate. Look for teaching moments daily. Babies and toddlers are much more easily taught than teenagers. Don’t wait until you think they will logically understand.
Logic isn’t fully developed until late teens; then it is almost too late. Pray for those teaching moments to come, and they will come naturally. The more you find examples from real life, the more readily your child will see the connections. Children must have a vigilant and wise guide to help them through this life of peril and pitfalls.
2. The next principle that your children need to understand to make good choices about their bodies is that marriage is God’s pathway to sexual fulfillment. God never intended to have single men and women running around searching for sexual partners to find fulfillment. He wanted them to be united as husband and wife, male and female.
“Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.”
God gave man and woman powerful desires and passions to be used in His way, not to be exploited by evil minds, money seekers and powermongers. God intended for His children to multiply and replenish the earth. In other words, He wanted the human family to continue. He wanted a safe and secure place to send His children to be nurtured and taught in His gospel.
He didn’t say, “Don’t have sex.” He didn’t say, “Don’t enjoy being with your partner.” No, He set up guidelines that are very strict. Don’t fornicate and don’t commit adultery. Don’t “look on a woman to lust after her.” Why would God do that? Because He knew unleashed sexual passion would destroy the family and eventually the human race.
Take a look around. The world is a mess. Children are being exploited and families are being ripped apart. Teen pregnancy and unwed mothers are everywhere. Husbands and wives have affairs with other partners and change spouses as easily as they change their shoes. Is there a consequence? You bet! The rise of sexually transmitted disease – and unstable families and societies are becoming a plague.
What is to be done? Society and the media have abandoned God’s plan. What can parents do?
Build on the principle that your body is a temple. Then teach that falling in and out of love is hormonal. True love is spelled c-o-m-m-i-t-m-e-n-t with a capital C. Commitment is the safety net that cradles the child from birth to adulthood.
If you are not willing to make an eternal commitment to your boyfriend or girlfriend, you better not have sex with them. A marriage contract between two like-minded adults will ensure that there is commitment from both parties.
When you become one flesh, you will never be the same again. If make the wrong choice, you soon find out that every broken commitment makes it easier to break another. It is a downward spiral of broken promises. It is not a healthy or happy place to be. Only God can bring you back from a place like that.
Maybe you can come back, but what have you done to your children? What have you taught them about a stable family? What have you done to God’s plan for a stable society? The little seeds you have sown in your garden of “wild oats” are not just your own. They belong to generations yet to come.
On the other hand, every commitment kept makes you stronger of character and more filled with integrity. Trust is the very foundation of your marriage. Your children come into a family where love abides, where only you can teach them correct principles of success and happiness. You can’t put a price on that. You are making sure that God still has a place for His children to come and the Holy Spirit to dwell. PD