My son’s soon to be high school (in 7 years) recently was told by its board of education to pull the book, Looking for Alaska from an English class because of its racy content. Having read excerpts, I wouldn’t want my high schooler reading it. However, let us not be so blind to think that teenagers don’t know what sex is. Also, let us not be so ignorant to think that large portions of teens aren’t having sex. They are. Not the majority, but they are.
Miley Cyrus’ pole dance routine at the Teen Choice Awards Sunday has received a lot of criticism, but not from her dad. According to the Telegraph (telegraph.co.uk)
Billy Ray says he approves of her behavior. Well, of course he does. She’s been his gravy train ever since Achy Breaky Heart. He’s got to make sure it doesn’t stop. Although, it’s only two years until she’s eighteen, therefore she has to develop a fan base for when she begins posing for men’s magazines; following in the footsteps of Brittany Spears & Hillary Duff. How sad.
Billy Ray defended his daughter saying her moves were all good, clean fun. Where did he think he was; the Teen Choice Awards or Déjà vu in Downtown Nashville? Call it want you want, Miley seems to be on the path of many other teen actresses; that of selling her sexuality. Regrettably, our daughters get this message loud and clear. Ashley Tisdale did her part in proclaiming this mantra on America’s Got Talent. (8/25/09). Sexually provocative in her dress, she said, “Just have fun.” Interviews with Miley about being good and reading her Bible are forgotten as she wears less and less to appeal to the young boys who love her and the young girls who idolize her.
Preteen girls everywhere think, “I want to be like Miley, and I want to dress and act like her.” Even if they don’t think this way, a young girl’s self-esteem plummets when she realizes that she may never look like Miley who probably has more stylists than my car has spark plugs. It is particularly dangerous when a girl’s concept of beauty says that pretty girls have a certain body type and certain body features. This is a lie that we have been telling our girls ever since the first Barbie was introduced in 1959. Beauty takes many forms, and strong parents communicating this to their daughters will be well served. Hopefully, the latest cat to prowl down the aisle has not already thwarted these efforts.
While we watch these young women grow up on screen and slowly move into the “adult” realm, I hope we don’t allow our daughters to follow them. Scantily clad and having fun on stage does not translate well in the real world when girls go partying and guys get the wrong idea. Also, it distracts from what is truly lasting and beautiful about a person; things the camera does not show. Encourage your daughter to look inward and be happy with herself before she gets the wrong message from Hollywood.
I appreciate Edelstein delving into obscure titles like, “‘The Cove’: A Stirring Crusade Against A Grim Trade” but to call “Humpday” anything but repulsive is to fail. While he sees the humor of the movie, I see a theme that blatantly wrecks homes everyday; that of pornography. He can review what he wants, but I question NPR’s decision to air the story as I look to them for my artistic sustenence (I don’t have good cable). Their show on Mark Rothko is still one of my favorites, but who was at the helm on this one? I understand that art can, and sometimes should be, offensive, but for me, this went too far. Just because some stoner dudes made a movie does not mean it should be discussed, but hey, that’s just me.
I received this question via email. A mother of one teen girl and one teen boy asks, “What does the Bible teach about kissing before marriage? I have taught my children that it is wrong to kiss before marriage, mainly to keep them from going any further, but have often wondered. Can you give some feedback on that matter? I think that kissing can lead to other things, if you know what I mean. I really do think it is part of sex. Thanks for your help.”
In the last century the age that people get married has gotten older. At one time it was not uncommon for people to get married at what is now the middle of your high school career. To follow Paul’s recommendation at the first sign of sexual desire is impractical in light of this. However, when you consider that a boy’s sexual prime is at age 18, our culture puts young people in a precarious situation, sexually speaking. Helping them deal with this struggle should be at the top of every parent’s to do list.
A long time ago, my alma mater, Freed-Hardeman University, used to have a total, 100% hands-off rule. What did the students do? They made sticks with a one inch dividing marker. Courting couples held the stick. You can make all the rules you want, kids are going to find a way around them. Also, you can’t be with them 100% of the time, and as Paul points out, sexual desires are very strong. So, we must equip our children with knowledge and an internal desire to do the right thing.
We should not be so blind to tell our children to abstain, and then give them no reasons as to why. So, guidelines should be discussed with your child (start before they’re a teen), but beyond that, the reasoning and wisdom behind your guidelines will ultimately be the driving force to their decision to abstain from sex.
First, don’t shame kids into thinking their sexual DESIRES are wrong. Their bodies are reacting to a very natural part of what God has given them. How they control these desires is what should be focused on and discussed within your family. Prayer that teens will not give in to this temptation is the biggest tool they can use in their pursuit of purity as it employs God as their biggest defense.
Second, you must discuss boundaries. This is what your “no kissing” rule is doing. It is establishing a definable boundary that all teens need. The only boundary some kids use is found in their pockets. They’re not given clear information on how to abstain or its benefits, only ways to not get pregnant. Teen pregnancy is an unwanted result indeed, but there’s more at stake here as emotional problems and STDs are still possible.
Teens are not taught a lot of things today and thus have a skewed view of sex and its place in one’s life. Girls must be taught how their bodies tempt young men and that too much flaunting gives guys the wrong idea. Also, boys must realize that girls are not objects to be used. In thinking this way, boys set themselves up for a lifestyle that God did not intend; that of using women.
Teens engage in sexually provocative behavior and parents wonder why their kids become active or experiment with sex. Some teens believe they must have sex to be accepted or appear normal. Well, a 2002, study done by the Centers for Disease Control showed that 47% of female teens and 46% of male teens had sex at least once. “Everyone is doing it” is a myth.
In today’s world, many believe that if it feels good, do it. This should not be the Christian’s view. Self-restraint brings one closer to God as it develops spiritual and emotional discipline; traits admired by all whether they want to admit it or not. Teens who have the inability (or lack of desire) to think about the future consider the fun of sex but not its consequences. In order to thwart the “do what makes you happy” mentality, the spiritual component of sex must be discussed with Christian teens.
Lasciviousness, an unbridled expression of sexual urges, is condemned by scripture (Galatians 5:19). Keep in mind that it is the expression that is warned against and not the desire which we have mentioned is normal. This same passage talks about the fruit of the spirit which is what should be pursued; “. . . love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”
It is a basic Christian teaching that we should avoid fleshly desires (sex, drugs, etc) and pursue spiritual things. Galatians 5:25, Romans 8:1-14, and 1 Corinthians 5:5 are just a few examples. If kissing keeps one focused on the flesh, then don’t do it, but I also believe that kissing is an innocent tool that one can use to express a God given trait.
It is critical to point out that in 1 Corinthians 7:1, Paul was warning against fornication. So, is “no kissing” a reasonable boundary? If kissing helps the teen abstain from going further then it is useful. In her book, Strong Fathers Strong Daughters Meg Meeker discusses girls she sees who are dealing with depression. In many of these cases, this emotional state is the result of a promiscuous lifestyle, not a kissing one. Kissing, hugging, and holding hands bring a couple closer together (good if you like him) and can be an outlet for the sexual energy we have discussed. Intercourse, and “going further than kissing” involves fully giving oneself to someone. Kissing, I believe, doesn’t do this and thus doesn’t bring about the emotional and spiritual problems sex outside of marriage does.
However, a final thing to consider here is the setting in which the kissing is taking place. “Back seat and home alone” are not words you want to use along with kissing because it can very quickly become something more. So, before “no kissing” is even discussed, it must also be pointed out that being alone with someone you are attracted to can make the temptation almost unbearable.
If I’m trying to lose weight, I can’t even be in the same room with cake and ice cream. Sex is the same. Daniel 1:8 says that he (Daniel) “made up his mind that he would not defile himself with the king’s choice food or with the wine which he drank . . . .” You and your teen must discuss sex and they must decide now what their stance is on sexual expression because 9pm on Saturday night is not a good time. This will keep them out of dangerous settings and not give temptation a chance to creep in. You are right in believing that kissing is a part of sex and that it can start other things, but it can also stop there if your teen has the desire and the will to do so.