Do you ever ask a young child if they have a boyfriend or girlfriend? This seemingly innocent question is actually not that innocent after all. As a mother of six, and grandmother of four, I take this question very seriously. Why in the world would my 3-year granddaughter need a boyfriend at her age and why would any person in their right mind want to plant that seed?
The reality is, dating relationships state that a person is not ready for marriage until at least age 18 by law. I was married at 19 and divorced by 21. Personally, I believe that most people are not ready for marriage until their mid-to-late 20s. At this point they have had a chance to finish their education, maybe buy a car or a home, and have something to offer their spouse. With this in mind, the questions begs, why date in elementary, middle, or high school?
I heard this argument when my children were younger and it made sense to me. As our children get older, they have important decisions to make. One of these decisions surrounds where to go to college. More often than not though, when a student is deciding about their future college's location, they will factor in if they have a boyfriend or girlfriend. This will likely influence their decision. Unfortunately, that relationship usually ends while in college. So, why not wait until the mid to late 20s to have boyfriend-girlfriend dating relationships?
The kind of love between a husband and wife is eros. Scripture uses this Greek word in Hebrews 13:4 and 1 Corinthians 7:5 to reinforce the purity principal of abstinence, where sex is saved for marriage, and such love is a celebration of God’s design. The Bible refers to this type of love in Ecclesiastes 9:9 while stating:
Enjoy life with your beloved wife during all the days of your fleeting life that God has given you on earth during all your fleeting days; for that is your reward in life and in your burdensome work on earth.
Clearly, this type of love is reserved for marriage and is not appropriate outside of marriage. It does not belong in places such as the workplace, the neighborhood, or at school. I believe it is also not something to toy with as a child or until a person is ready for this level of commitment.
Eros is the type of love that deals with desire or physical attraction. Passionate physical and emotional love of wanting to satisfy, to create sexual contentment, and the aesthetic enjoyment for one another other is eros love. This also includes creating sexual security for one another by striving to forsake options of sharing one’s intimate and sexual-self with outsiders.
The challenge with eros love, is that in today’s world, sex is everywhere. The sex we see on television, in movies, online, and in music or books is most often NOT the monogamous celebration of sex between husband and wife. It is sexual immorality and sinful sex, which is a concept many people struggle with. It can include pre-marital sex, masturbation, friends with benefits, hooking up, domestic violence, rape, molestation, or just about anything else related to sex that is outside of marriage. Unfortunately, it is so common in our world today, that we have been called a sexually immoral and evil generation.
So, what does a healthy sexual relationship look like?
Scripture offers advice for living a Christian life with a commitment to sexual purity with passages such as;
Genesis 1:27, 2:24
1 Corinthians 6:12-16
Marriage is between one man and one woman. It is to be honorable and undefiled. When a man and woman are fully committed to one another, especially if they marry as virgins, they can offer their bodies to one another as a gift. This form of sex is pure and is one of the greatest gifts a couple can offer each other. If this gift has been given to someone before marriage, it is no longer as special as it would have been if the consummation of marriage were between two virgins.
I remember talking with my children more than 10-years ago about sexual purity. They were in middle school. There was a conference where we spent 3-days focused on purity. There were pledge cards to sign saying they would wait to have sex until marriage. There were also purity rings reminding them that True Love Waits. After the conference, one of my son’s friends said they now look at girls as someone’s future wife and with that thought, he treated them with more respect and did not look at them as sexual objects for his pleasure. He felt a responsibility to care for them as if he were caring for his best friend’s future wife. What an awesome realization!
While the conference in and of itself was good, it was not good enough. Those 3-days of isolation and talking about purity from the perspective of the Bible were amazing; but when we left, they were re-immersed into the world where sex is mostly not Biblical. A world where it is lustful and appears filthy or dirty, often leaving people to feel guilty. This is not God’s plan for sex. The content of the conference was fantastic and is something that truly needs to start before middle school. Kids are exposed to this lifestyle at such an early age and the teachings from a conference like this should continue beyond the three days. In a perfect world, talking about the Biblical definition of sex would occur more often and at least weekly. Remember, we are immersed in sexual immorality. We must guard ourselves and focus on the true purpose of sex as explained in the scripture.
As I conclude this month's blogs on love, I thought I would offer one more tip for these discussions. I recall one of my daughters telling me I was old fashioned as we held these discussions, so having some names of other's that took this vow of virginity seriously might be helpful to you. Bigger names like Tim Tebow who is quoted in saying, ““You know, I think for me it’s to stay focused on certain things. I think when your focus is on certain things that matter — my faith, loving people, helping people, caring for people — it’s not about focusing on the things you’re not gonna do. It’s on focusing on the things you are gonna do, and for me that was the biggest thing.” Lisa Kudrow from Friends has been quoted saying, “I decided pretty early on that I should stay a virgin until I got married. My virginity was something I had decided was very precious, something that I owned, to give away. It was an honor I was bestowing on a young man, and he had to be worthy of it.” A. C. Green who played 1192 games for the Los Angeles Lakers was a virgin until age 38. Kirk Cameron is known for refusing to kiss anyone other than his wife (even as an actor). He is quoted as saying, “Sex within marriage is the only kind that’s truly fun and exciting—the kind that lasts for a lifetime. I’m glad I waited.” And Jessica Simpson who said, “It was the most amazing moment of my life” in talking about her wedding night with Nick Lachey.
Let me know your thoughts on this topic in the comments below. If you are married, I’d love to know how many years you plan to celebrate this year. For me, it was 20 years ago that I got to marry my very best friend at the Chapel of Love in Gatlinburg, Tennessee!
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