Saturday, July 20, 2013

Adolesence = Adultery/Divorce Preparation?

I wish I could look back on my teenage years and remember it as a time of sexual purity and healthy dating relationships. It could have been a lot worse, but it isn't something I am proud of either. Though I went to church, I didn't make a profession of faith in Christ until my freshman year of college.

Sadly, I still didn't get full healing sexually and kept a lot of my baggage and shame hidden. I also didn't allow myself to have mature accountability partners who mentored me and held me to a higher standard of sexual purity. I also didn't take personal responsibility for getting the help I knew I needed. I regret that deeply. Unfortunately, it took a major life tragedy in my marriage to "wake me up" and finally get freedom from my bondage.

The teenage years can be a tough time, for many reasons. Unfortunately, it has gotten worse in our culture about being a time when teenagers are living and relating in ways that increases their chances of divorce and adultery. Exposure to pornography at their finger tips on Ipods, Ipads, computers, TV and more, and at very early ages is causing all sorts of chaos and problems.

Pre-teen "sex" parties. Naked pictures of themselves to each other through text messaging, InstaGram, Facebook, etc. Mulitiple sex partners, even if "just oral sex," as some groups have indicated. Or, they resort to anal sex, and still claim it's not "sex." This primes them for marital unfaithfulness and adultery.

Also, high emotional and sexual involvement = huge heartbreak when the relationship ends. If this is repeated, then it desensitizes them for divorce or creates fear and/or skepticism toward marriage. The more it happens, the less they have to offer their future spouse. To cope, many are giving up on the institution all together and avoiding marriage. God's plan for marriage and sexual purity is the best option and safeguards us from so much damage, if we would but listen and trust Him!

A majority of parents are either extremely uncomfortable, naive, or so busy that they are not taking an active role in their child's sexual purity and boundaries. Parents have farmed out their kids to every institution they can - schools, day cares, churches, ball teams, etc. Parents, even Christian ones, are so absorbed in the culture that it's getting harder and harder to know who is Christian and who is not. I have been guilty of this, myself. Not good!

Thankfully, not all teenagers are exposing themselves to such emotional, spiritual and sexual turmoil. What a gift they can give their future spouse when they remain sexually pure and guard their heart from repeated heart break and relationship failure.

More parents, including Amy and myself, are also realizing that the problem can't be ignored any longer. We have to protect our children and "fight" against the spiritual and cultural warfare at hand. Amy and I don't do this perfectly and are "failing forward" in our attempts to prepare our boys, and girl, for an onslaught of sexual temptation. In many ways, we are struggling to know what's best and pray desperately for wisdom.

It takes work. It is uncomfortable. It is scary. It is frustrating; and sad. But, Amy and I have a choice.  Are we going to ignore the problem and "hope" our children stay pure, or are we going to take seriously the responsibility given by God and intercede on their behalf? I hope we take the high road, even if we don't get a lot of support or guidance from other Christians.

Here's what we know to do so far...
  1. PRAY desperately for our children - pray their hearts are open to God, that they love Christ with their whole heart, soul, mind, and strength, and they trust His ways are best and obey Him, even if they don't fully understand why.
  2. Put boundaries in place FOR them while they are young -they have reminded us that their friends are allowed to do all sorts of things that they aren't. We understand this but have to do what's best for our family. It causes some static, but we pray for wisdom, strength and courage to do what's right. We tell them that when they are faithful in a little, then they will be allowed to have more responsibility. It's based on their maturity and ability to handle it; it's not an automatic right or privilege. It's not the "cool" approach but so what. 
  3. Reduce shame - the last thing we want our children to feel is SHAME, at least unhealthy shame. We don't want them to equate sexuality with shame and condemnation. Yes, they will feel a bit of shame and guilt when they mess up, but with a proper perspective on Christ, they can confess, repent, be forgiven and put healthy boundaries back in place. How we handle their "mess ups" is very important. We want to respond gently, lovingly, yet firmly. It's a hard balance at times. 
  4. Communicate openly - our children need us, their parents, to communicate with them about sexuality, purity, and God's plan for their lives. If Amy and I are uncomfortable, then it will hinder our ability to prepare our children well for sexual purity and wholeness. We want to be age-appropriate in what we share and not rely on just one "talk" to be enough. It's an ongoing relationship of guidance, love, encouragement, support and discipline. If they don't get it from us, then who knows what they will hear from their friends! We want to build a foundation in them that will at least create a decision point when faced with temptation.
  5. Be involved - It's hard to influence someone when you rarely see them or spend quality, purposeful time with them. Therefore, we have to stop being so busy and distracted and take an active role in their development. It's not just about sexuality. It's about building a foundation in their hearts that helps them see themselves as loved, valued, and created by God for a purpose. We want them to have self-worth and self-respect, and treat God's temple with value. We want them to walk in Christ's freedom and joy and not believe the lies of the world. 
We can't guarantee how they will turn out, but we want to give them to God, while doing all we can to be a part of their lives. One key way we are doing this is through homeschooling. We are starting it this year and believe is the first big step in the right direction for guiding our children with purpose.
We definitely don't have this figured out but are on a mission to trust God's way are best and follow His leading. It's a process, a destination, that we want to approach head on and with full confidence that God is faithful and will enable us to fulfill His will.

Proverbs 20:7 (The Message)
"God-loyal people, living honest lives, make it much easier for their children."

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