This article has a compelling title—When You’re Worried Your Son Is Going to Go Too Far. I usually ignore parenting articles, but this one got me to click through.
After I read it, I realized that it that really should be titled,
When You’re Worried Your Son Is Going to Go Too Far… Assuming you operate on the presupposition that unmarried sex is always a bad sin. Also assuming you think the woman doesn’t really have a say in whether she has sex. Both of which are kind of shaky presuppositions if you really think about them but fortunately a lot of people don’t bother with that part.
(I don’t know why people don’t consult me about these things.)
You can click on the (original) title to read the whole article. I’ll just pull out parts for commentary, which I’ve italicized.
The gist is that a mom wrote in saying that they taught their son to court/date “with a purpose.” It worked so well that he’s head over heels for his girlfriend and definitely “marriage-minded.” They’re trying to avoid temptation, but this mom can see it: sex is gonna happen. She’s standing there watching this disaster about to crash down, and she’s worried.
The writer of the article first replies that sex is “not inevitable.” And I agree. DJ and I waited until marriage; so did a good number of our friends. It’s possible to do.*
Not only that, but we will encourage our own children to wait. We believe that sex is sacred, a celebration between two people who have promised themselves to each other. For DJ and me, as Christians, it’s also a picture of how Christ loves His church, and therefore to be as joyful, pure, and selfless as we can manage.
Delaying sex until a fitting time—ideally, marriage—has benefits. There’s the plain fact that sex can result in a baby, even for the most careful couple, and it’s best if you’re already established and committed before parenthood bursts upon you. “Waiting” also teaches you to set boundaries and keep to them, which involves communication, self-control, and creativity. (I’ll spare personal details for the last one there. Nobody wants to know.)
I have many friends who didn’t wait, and it didn’t necessarily blight their marriage. Still, I’m in favor of waiting till marriage and I think it’s possible to do so. Just like the writer of the article. So far, so good.
She goes on to say that this worried mom should have an adult-to-adult conversation with her son. She adds, “If young adults are determined to sin, it’s very easy for them to do that, as you know.”
That was the first jarring moment for me. Determined to sin. But this couple isn’t determined to sin. They’re in love and their biology says to go for it, there are babies to be made! We can argue all day about the sinfulness of sex between a committed but unmarried couple—especially if we want to drag in examples of sex between two people compelled to marry without love. Actually, we can’t argue all day because I won’t argue.
But I will take exception to the idea that two people in love and edging closer and closer to sleeping together are, by default, “determined to sin.”
Moving on, the writer makes several points about what the son needs to hear.
He needs to understand that his actions speak more loudly than his words when it comes to love. “If you[the son] decide to have sex before marriage, you are in effect saying to [your girlfriend], ‘I care more about myself than I do you. I care more about satisfying this physical urge than I care about you being humiliated…”
This brought me to a screeching halt. I thought we were talking about sex here, but the writer has leaped to… rape?
I don’t think she means rape. But she shows her mindset very clearly here. There’s actually nothing overtly selfish about a man satisfying his physical urge, assuming his lover is doing the same with hers. There’s also nothing humiliating about consensual sex.
Unless, of course, you assume that unmarried sex is always shameful, that the man forces his desires upon the woman, and that the woman is left impure and damaged by his actions.
You are, in essence, saying, “I do not love you,” because love puts someone else’s needs ahead of your own.’” That’s not a good message to send to someone you want to marry.
How about, “I am consumed by love for you, so much that I can’t express it in any way other than us giving ourselves to each other.” While it’s not always advisable… as a message to someone you want to marry, it’s not so bad, really.
He needs to realize that this sin undermines his role in marriage. “God made you to be the head of your home and the protector and leader of your wife and family, especially spiritually. Having sex before marriage says, ‘As your spiritual leader, I will lead you into sin because I want to sin.’
Good heavens, we’re back to forced sex again. Is it out of the realm of possibility that she isn’t being “led,” but is running for the bed at an equally swift clip?
He needs to really get that it’s his responsibility. “Son, it’s up to you.”
It’s halfway up to him. The writer consistently overlooks that there’s another person involved. Even if it is only a woman.
You have to make a commitment here… you need to set some rules for yourself to make sure you stay out of temptation. You need to make sure you handle this time in a godly and honorable way.”
Whew, finally, something to agree with. I do love a man who takes responsibility for himself. DJ knew his limits and set his own boundaries, and never tried to cross them. I never had to be the one to say “stop.” At the same time, I knew when I needed to pull back and simmer down, and I did so.
We built a very steady trust during that time, which has lasted through nearly sixteen years of marriage.
But it wasn’t because we avoided having bad sinful sex before we were married. And not even because he didn’t “lead me into sin” or “humiliate me.”
It’s because we loved each other, loved God, and kept our promise to ourselves and each other.
I’d be pretty happy for all my children if that’s how they spend their adult lives.
*Neither the mom nor the writer brought this up, but what kind of timeline is this young couple on? Are they teenagers who can’t think straight? Young adults who obviously are ready to think about marriage? DJ and I got hot and heavy only a few months before we got married. It’s way easier to wait when you have a definite “get out of jail free” point.