So I’ve been thinking a lot about being a parent. You know, cause I am one
Which is weird, because I don’t feel different. I still like all the same things – writing, binging on awesome TV shows (I’m serious about Castle, people), hanging out with my family, etc.
So every once in a while, I’ll be making a bottle and then I’ll stop like WHAT THE FRAK, I’M RESPONSIBLE FOR A HUMAN.
And that’s a big deal, and not only because I have to live with her through her teenage years, and not even just because God has an awesome plan for her life and I need to raise her with enough sense and passion to pursue Christ. She’s a person, and she’s going to imprint on people’s lives. I mean – I’m a writer. My schooling consists of studying characters, and I’ve come to realize parents are a HUGE factor in how a person turns out. Think about it. Mommy/Daddy issues are at the heart of some of the most interesting/awesome/awful characters of our time.
You know whose parents were totally badass and left him with a legacy that motivated him to be a courageous, awesome human being?
You know who didn’t really like his parents?
So, needless to say, I have a huge weight on my shoulders.
The point? I’ve been thinking a lot about how Ross and I are going to raise Aryn. I had a great upbringing. My Dad sharpened me like metal on stone and my mom caught me when I fell and pushed me to my feet. Both taught me to love God and love others. I have a strong foundation, and so does Ross.
But there is one thing that I’ve been pondering. I’ve been pondering it a lot, lately, because it’s been bothering me for quite some time.
As Christians, we kind of suck at teaching our kids about sex.
Yeah. I said it. On my blog. That my family reads.
…that’s how important this is. So here’s my take.
I raise a glass to all my girls out there who made it to the finish line. You made it to the wedding day. You found a Christian guy. He courted you. He asked for your hand, you said yes (AND PROBS GOT AN AWESOME FB PROFILE PIC * guilty *). You survived the wedding planning (what’s the difference between “cream” and “eggshell”? More importantly, how many times will my wonderful mother ask me my preference before she realizes I.don’t.care?). Most importantly? YOU DID NOT HAVE SEX.
You made it through the wedding. (The primping, the pictures, the smiles, the slight mental breakdown because you realize you can’t pee with five of your bridesmaids staring at you as they hold up your dress…). You cut the cake, thank the guests, dance to your song, and now… you’re married. The guests leave, you say a prayer with your family, and you head to your honeymoon.
And just like that, a magical purity fairy flies down, flips the “virgin” switch down to “sex goddess”, hands you a pair of stilettos and a pile of Cosmo magazines, and with a wave of her magical furry handcuffs – BAM, you’re totes ready to be Satine from Moulin Rouge.
And that’s a good thing, cause if she didn’t, it would be awkward.
…. Oh wait. Fairies don’t exist.
And herein lies the problem.
All my life, the Church focused on teaching us kids what we had to know. They separated the boys and the girls and taught us our life skills. The boys were taught how to lead singing and how to give communion. Girls learned a few things, but the most important thing?
We learned how to say “no”.
We learned how to not dress provocatively and to never let a boy kiss us with tongue, because that would only give him ideas. We did not only learn that sex is for marriage, but that sexuality is for marriage – and that messes with our heads.
We live in 2013, and the average age for marriage is going up. Right now, getting married at 22 (as I did), is considered “marrying young”. Most of us hit puberty at about ages 12-14. That means we’ve got almost a decade of this weird side of ourselves that the Church doesn’t seem to want to address, except when we’re all pushed together in a room after Church service and told to not let our bra straps show.
Sex is referred to as something dirty, naughty, scandalous, nasty – for almost a whole decade full of formative years. But then after a day of uncomfortable shape wear covered in miles of tulle, eyeliner running from sweat and camera flash after camera flash after camera flash – nice Christian girls are supposed to forget all that.
We get a few suggestive winks from our girlfriends and a couple of uncomfortable mottos painted on our getaway car and then we’re thrown to the lions, and that sucks. Guilt has no place on a honeymoon, but many Christian girls can’t shake the feeling that they’re doing something wrong.
Sex is for marriage, but sexuality is for adults – married or not. And we live in a polarized society where neither extreme seems like a good answer. On one hand we’ve got Cosmo magazine, which was giving me advice on “How to Keep My Man Happy” when I was just a kid, looking for something to read while I got my nails done for prom. Hollywood tells us that sex is something to do when we feel like it – no self-control needed or even suggested. This world tells women that to be sexualized is to be empowered.
:Yeah, show that man who is boss by putting on a tight leather skirt and becoming his plaything. He’ll wake up in the morning and not even remember your name and that’s EMPOWERING:
In this world, sex before marriage is the norm. Tell someone you’re waiting ‘til marriage and they’ll probably look around for cameras, because you’re obviously filming an episode of Breaking Amish or something.
This view of sex is bad. This view of sexuality is bad.
But the other side, while safer, does it’s own type of damage, I think.
Now I want to be careful with this, because I am not advocating that we abandon all abstinence teachings or anything like that. I’m just saying that we can teach about sexuality without advocating for pre-marital sex.
The Church teachings (at least the ones I was privy to) talk about sex like it’s some sort of dangerous mythical thing, talked about in the far future tense because you don’t need to know about it yet. You’re kind of left feeling like Harry Potter when Dumbledore talks to him. Harry asks all these questions because THIS IS SERIOUS, SIR, and Dumbledore just smiles whimsically and talks in riddles like oh, you’ll figure it out.
No wonder Harry was pissed, cause in the end what he had to do was pretty fraking scary, and a little WARNING WOULD HAVE BEEN NICE. Just lay it out, tell me the truth. Tell me it might suck but then it’ll get better. Yes, I just equated losing your virginity with being murdered by the Dark Lord.
It’s my blog and I do what I want.
But really, it’s a problem. I actually read a purity book when I was in high school that had an “OK/NOT OK” graph, telling you what activity was allowed and what was not.
High-five in the hallway at school? Ok. (No offense, but I think if you’re high-fiving your guy friend, you’re probably not in immediate danger of losing the V card, anyway)
Full-body hug? NOT ok.
Helping him find a birthday present for his sister? Ok.
Wearing a bikini in front of him? NOT ok.
And kisses? Always under a minute, and NEVER with tongue.
I’m pretty sure my friends and I read the graph and then shut the book like, “Welp, I’m a whore.”
The book gave arbitrary rules and boundaries that are supposed to keep us safe, but they completely factored out the completely natural and healthy phenomenon of sexuality and the thought that –hey- we might have some self-control, and we might be able to handle sexuality without having sex. Trust us a bit.
That’s where most of the uptight teachings and arbitrary rules come from, I think. This idea that teenagers, even Christ-centered ones, have absolutely zero self-control, and it’s not true. I do think teenage girls are capable of giving full-body hugs to boys (even boys they are attracted to) without their clothes falling off.
I was sixteen when I first kissed a boy. It was at Amanda Cowie’s house after a Halloween party with a senior basketball player who had “Bad Idea” written all over him. But I liked him, and he kissed me. And when he started pushing my boundaries, I left. Simple as that. And I felt TERRIBLE afterward. Seriously. I went to church the next morning and listened to my Dad’s sermon with the guy’s best friend sitting in the pew across from me. On the way home from Church, I rode with my Dad. After about three minutes in the car, I couldn’t take it anymore. I confessed, then immediately contemplated jumping out of the moving vehicle. My Dad didn’t freak. He didn’t douse me with Holy Water or call me a tramp. He was quiet for a minute, and then he said, “Katie, whoever you have sexual experiences with imprint you forever. Just make sure you’re careful about whose imprint you carry.” After I got over the utter horror of hearing my Dad say “sexual”,
I got the point.
He didn’t care about how long the kiss was or what kind of kiss it was. He didn’t care what I was wearing (a Helen of Troy costume, thank you very much). He cared about my virtue. He cared about how my relationships then would affect future relationships. As much as I hated to admit it, my Dad accepted that I was a young woman, and I felt as though he trusted me enough to accept that he could acknowledge sexuality without endorsing sex. Most importantly? He didn’t shame me or make me feel like I was “damaged goods”.
Again, I’m not saying we throw purity teaching out the window. Not at all. I just see the damage that can be done after years of treating sex like a boogieman and then, in the space of twenty-four hours, telling a young bride to go face it and don’t forget to act like it’s the BEST.THING.EVER.
Boundaries are important, but we’ve linked the teaching about boundaries with the rejection of a God-given gift. Ross took a class where they broke down the meaning of Song of Solomon, and let me tell you – it’s pretty R-rated. God gave us a gift, and we’re doing our kids a disservice if we make them fear it/ignore it for years and then spring it on them like SURPRISE! HAVE FUN AND DON’T FEEL WEIRD ABOUT IT!
We just need to talk about it. And I know that’s weird. Part of me wishes I had had more conversations about sexuality growing up, and most of me is like thank GOD I didn’t cause that would’ve been so awkward.
We ignore it, the world exploits it, and it doesn’t have to be that way. We have to send out a more positive message – centered on truth and unafraid of uncomfortable conversations.
Easy for me to say, I know – my daughter is years away from that conversation. But I hope that, when it’s time, I act a little less like Dumbledore and a little more like a mom that can level with her daughter, knowing she’ll appreciate the truth.