Wednesday, May 6

giggling like a pre-teen

I read this article this morning and parts of it just made me giggle out loud. Especially the name of the movement - The Virgin Lips Movement. I am so mature.

I would like to know your thoughts. Here are mine.

Michael and I saved kissing (on the lips) for our wedding day, but certainly not our wedding ceremony. When he told me that he'd like to wait until our wedding to kiss me, I was quite a bit concerned. Kiss you for the first time in front of 500 people? I don't think so. How is that special?

So we talked through it, and decided that our first kiss could be on our wedding day, but before the ceremony. Thankfully I have a considerate spouse who understood my reasons! Anyway, it was perfect.

For us.

I would never judge anyone for making a different choice. In our situation, Michael took the leadership, knowing what he could handle and setting the boundaries he needed to set. We were definitely on the same page when it came to saving sexual intimacy for marriage. And although I never thought that I could or would be one of those who waited for kissing, it ended up being the best decision for us.

Granted, we did have a 4 month engagement, so it's not like we accomplished anything of great proportion. However, it wasn't the easiest thing ever, either. I really like Michael. We had to rely on God's grace, and set up boundaries for ourselves in order to accomplish the goal. Emphasis on God's grace.

I definitely think that teens (and pre-teens!) are involved WAY too soon in relationships where they are tempted to share more of themselves than they are prepared to share, emotionally and physically. I would never want to be in school now with all the craziness that is going on, things I've heard about that make me blush and at the same time, break my heart for these kids.

Here is an interesting quote from Mr. Mohler's article,

"In The Purity Myth: How America's Obsession with Virginity Is Hurting Young Women, Valenti presses her case, suggesting that when young women aim for virginity and fail, they suffer a loss of self-esteem."

That idea makes me pretty mad, actually. So we shouldn't expect anything of our kids, because if they fail, they will suffer a loss of self esteem? (What would happen if we applied this logic to other areas of life - calculus? physics? anyone?) I think it's sad that we expect our teens to fail in the area of sexual purity. God is big enough, gives enough grace to help each believer overcome ANY temptation, combat ANY sin.

And if there is a failure, in ANY area, God's forgiveness is big enough, His grace is sufficient to help me get past it. He sees all sin in the same light - it is an affront to His character. So my laziness, or pride, or anger is the same thing as someone else's murder, or sexual sin. It's all the same sin to God - it is all horrible, something He cannot have in His presence, something He sent Jesus to die for and something that Jesus' blood can completely wash away.

That is amazing.

So what makes it such a huge deal when someone fails in this area? Certainly some of the consequences are pretty scary, are definitely life changing. I think we also need to check our reaction as believers. Do we respond as God does? Ready to forgive, forget, embrace? He is ready to wash this (and every) repentant sinner clean - we stand unblemished in His presence because of Jesus' blood. Do we allow others to stand forgiven? Something to think about.

So what do you think? Is the expectation of sexual purity too high of an expectation for our kids? Is the "Virgin Lips Movement" totally ridiculous? What are your thoughts, or your experiences? Wax eloquent, please. I can't wait to see what you have to say.


Shelley said...

When Eric and I were young the only thing mentioned in churches was keep yourself pure before marriage, that didn't include kissing.
We manage to do this with a 3 year courtship but we really went out on maybe three or four dates alone during that time. We worked together in youth and were hanging with other people at church.
As young parents we learned as we went along. We had not heard of the virgin lip movement till our kids were married.
We did hear of the purity ring concept and encouraged our girls to stay pure before marriage.
We also told our girls if they would not kiss a boy before they were 16 we would give them $100. Our oldest failed the goal by one or two weeks but said it was worth it.
Our youngest loved this idea and re negotiated the deal can I get this every year after 16. We lowered it to $50 every year after. So it worked for her.
I guess my point is every child is different and as parents we pray for our children and ask God to help us with our children. Our children will fail and we do too.
WE have to be like Jesus and be ready to forgive and to love and to point our children back on track. Unfortunately for many children who have failed parents, or the church at times been quick to condemn and not forgive leaving them no where else to go but to continue to fail.
Leaving everyone broken.
I love the story of the prodigal son for this reason. The father is always waiting for the son to come home ready to give the feast for his return.

Rachel said...

I used to poo-poo courtship until I heard a really good message by Paul Washer on the subject. It has changed the way that both my husband and I view "dating".

What a stupid thing for Ms. Valenti to say! Setting high standards SHOULD be encouraged and applauded. The Bible tells us to "Flee youthful lusts." It doesn't tell us to fight them, it tells us to flee from them. As a side note, I despise the phrase "poor self-esteem". I have to bite my tongue every time that I hear it, especially from a Christian. That is a rabbit trail, though and I will leave it at that.

No, I do not think that the expectation of sexual purity is too high for our kids. I think that it's great that there are teens who want to do right and are committed to keeping themselves pure. Kissing is a very intimate act and saving that first kiss for your wedding day is NOT ridiculous;).

ruth said...

I don't know if it's because you set me up, but I definitely stifled some giggles reading the "True Lips Wait" article. Unfortunately, I haven't had Virgin Lips since the sixth grade when little Tim McKenzie and I sneaked a smooch during recess. *blushes*

I certainly respect anyone who has determined to set such a standard for himself, but it's not a position I would preach. I don't think it's an impossible standard... you yourself proved that, but I certainly didn't have the desire or personal conviction to set that standard for my own relationship with John and neither did he. I don't think either of us is ashamed to admit that--though I can't pretend it wasn't a struggle to maintain the standards we DID set for our relationship. I do think it's important for one to be careful not impose upon everyone a line he has drawn for himself that may be more scrupulous than what is clearly taught in scripture as if it were gospel truth. His position may be a Very Wise opinion, and even worthy of sharing and teaching, but it is still opinion.

I love your counterpoint about the statement Valenti makes concerning standards and failure. I give a hearty AMEN to that! Also, I love your point that if there is failure, we must remember that God's forgiveness and grace is sufficient. Your post reminds me personally of God's grace and protection throughout my life--particularly through my adolescence and early adulthood while I made some really foolish relationship decisions. It am so thankful for God's grace!

I'd like to add a point that while I wholeheartedly believe in teaching abstinence before marriage, I also think that in Christian circles there is sometimes danger in how it is presented. You touched on one aspect of that danger (the rejection and lack of grace shown to those who fall) I also think one pitfall is the potential to miscommunicate or even fail to communicate altogether. Some leadership is so afraid that their sons and daughters will fall that they unwittingly (and in some case, wittingly) imply that sexual intimacy as a whole is dirty(!) and wrong. Parents don't talk to their children about it, and send the wrong message. I think this can be particularly damaging to young girls, and it can cause real issues when they do enter marriage. I just think that it's something we all need to be cautious about and should possibly be more direct with our children and with the young people we minister to.

Rosemary said...

It seems to me that we hear of more unmarried young women getting pregnant and it just seems to be 'normal' and a status thing. (Remember the V.P. candidate's unwed pregnant daughter standing up in front of all the tv cameras? What message did that send?) And I am sorry to say, that even in our own families, there are more of these recently. So I looked up statistics online for the rate of teen pregnancy since and there has been a rise in the past few years. One source said, "Approximately one million teens become pregnant each year in the United States. This results in approximately 520,000 births, 405,000 abortions & 80,000 miscarriages." Comments from unwed moms say that they now finally have unconditional love (with the baby) and their peers are congratulating them.
Jenny, here on your blog, you are, as they say 'preaching to the choir'.
Getting out there and giving teens a better message than they are getting from the media and their peers is a huge mission opportunity for you, not only with your teens at your own church, but in your community! If they are looking for love and acceptance, well, you have a Source for THAT!!!
Something to think about....

TwoMuths said...

Shelley, I love the story of the prodigal son too. Such rich imagery! What love our Heavenly Father has for us!

Rachel, we want more for our boys than dating casually - agreed! :-)

Ruth - excellent points! I agree that too many Christian parents do not do the job of sharing honestly with their kids about the gift of intimacy in marriage. I PRAY we can teach our kids to honor God in this area!

Aunt Rosemary, we certainly DO know that people will always fail us, and that God is the only one who can truly love unconditionally. I pray that we can share His love with our neighbors and with our community!

Tim and Richelle said...

Let's see... where to start? I completely agree with you about setting high standards and I also heartiy believe in setting personal boundaries at a point so that if you do "fail" to keep your boundaries, you do not slip into sin. I'm not a fan of setting boundaries for other people, including my teens. I want to help guide them to establishing their own boundaries... once they are more removed from my sphere of influence, they have no reason to keep my standards. They have every reason to keep their own.

My oldest two kids are just now getting to the age where they are starting to ask questions about dating and relationships with the opposite sex... one of them is definitely beginning to find the whole idea intriguing, if not yet appealing. So, we've recently done an exercise with them where they've talked through, together - and first without mom/dad present - several questions (including: What sort of husband/wife do you want to be? What sort of husband/wife do you want God to give you? What do you think are good limits for you? -i.e. things to do with a "friend," where to go, who to go with, how to protect yourself from sin, etc.

Some of the guidelines/discussions we have given/had with them include: 1) focus on friendship, not romance so there are no regrets; 2) is it a good use of time or a waste of time and energy to have intense romantic-type relationships before you think you are ready to consider getting married; 3) an idea for a "limit" that we've been discussing - don't do anything with a person of the opposite sex that you would feel uncomfortable watching Mom or Dad do with someone who is not their spouse (We also define adultry as treating someone who is not your wife/husband like you should only treat your wife/husband). We've talked about the idea, like you mentioned, Jenny, that we may have our own ideas about standards, but in a truly caring reltionship, we will choose the tightest boundaries, not the loosest, or we may lead someone we care for into temptation.

I don't think sexual purity is too high of an expectation, but I think it is getting harder and harder for kids to keep to that standard. Thus, if a purity ring works, go for it. If courtship works, great. If Virgin Lips is a help, cool!... Use whatever tools the Lord provides because sexual purity IS worth it. I think one key is helping teens to develop their own personal standards, and as long as they does not violate clear biblical guidelines, we need to respect their choices and help them to keep to those boundaries without trying to enforce what I think I'm comfortable with for my children. I've read over that several times now... I'm not sure it will be read the way I'm intending it...

We may find what works well with one personality doesn't with another. But the goal is the same. I'm thankful our kids trust us at this point and tell us what they are finding hard... (a.l.r.e.a.d.y.!) and that's living on the backside of the desert. I'm praying much for our oldest 2 and we are trying to build accountability between them - because that theoretical day where we leave them there for school and return here is approaching much more rapidly than is comfortable.

As far as Ms. Valenti - I see something important in her words, although it is probably not how she intended them. Self-esteem should not be tied into success/failure, in any aspect of our lives. Self-esteem is something our culture preaches... but I understand the Bible to teach that we have no "lack" of self-esteem. That is why we are told to esteem others more highly than ourselves (and several other similar instructions). What if we teach our children that it is OK to lay down the "right" to think highly of ourselves, to become a servant, to embrace that value comes because God has placed a value upon us and He never changes. That frees us to experience success as evidence of God's grace in our lives without becoming arrogant, and to experience yet once again his mercy when we fail, without feeling worthless.

Well... I've rambled on a bit longer than I expected. I know you and dh work with kids this age - I'm very interested in hearing more of your ideas on this topic...