Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you: Do not arouse or awaken love before the proper time.
I recently had a conversation with my mom regarding all of the false ideals we often enter marriage with. Children today have it especially hard, in my opinion. Not only are they bombarded with s*x and romance in the media, but they also participate regularly in what one pastor rightly called “divorce training.” Engaging in romantic relationships as early as elementary school and losing their virginity by as young as 14 years of age, kids today hop from one relationship to another all through their most formative years, learning early on that the easiest way to fix a relationship that isn’t meeting all of their expectations is to end it.
From the time most children are in their teens, they have already formed a myriad of expectations regarding what a s*xual encounter should look and feel like. Thousands of times they’ve experienced the hormonal butterflies the popular books, movies and songs of today are designed to elicit and often (subconsciously or otherwise) set this up as the standard by which their own relationships should be measured. And when what they experience with their spouse doesn’t measure up, it’s easy to find those relationships lacking.
Personally, I have no desire to see my children walk down that path. I want my children to have no hollywood-inspired fantasies regarding love and physical intimacy. I don’t want their heads filled with angst-ridden love songs and romantic ideals. I want them to go to their marriage beds completely pure – without images in their heads of men other than their husbands or women other than their wives and unrealistic ideas of what intimacy is. I don’t want them to expect their spouse to kiss them or touch them in certain ways because they’ve seen it on the screen or read it in a book, I want them to be clumsy on their honeymoons and discover things with their spouses “thinking they were the first to know, believing they had reached heights others have never known.” (link)
This is one reason (among many!) that we censor what our children read, listen to and watch on the screen. Will we always censor what they’re exposed to? Of course not. But it is our goal to provide them with a foundation while they’re young that will eventually lead them to censor these things for themselves as they get older. We hope to teach them in a meaningful way that “the eye is the lamp of the body” and that some things just aren’t worth reading/watching, even if they’re on the top of the best seller lists and the rest of the world calls them “classic.” We hope to teach them that mental purity is just as important as physical purity. We hope to raise them to want to go to their marriage beds completely innocent, without ideals, expectations and mental images gifted to them by mainstream media (and pray God will send them wives and husbands who have been raised to feel the same!) If that means they never read Pride and Prejudice or watch Gone with the Wind, that’s perfectly fine with us.
“When I travel to find a certain new specimen for my garden, or to purchase seedlings, or obtain a cutting or start of some plant I want to try, I go to extreme lengths to give that plant all the help I can to make sure it begins its life in a healthy manner. Whatever strength it will carry with it throughout the remainder of its existence depends on the help I give it in its first year or two. What I must do mostly at first is protect and shelter it from all sorts of effects that would kill it if left to itself – snow, frost, wind, pests, various fungi, rabbits, deer, snails and so on. I am extremely protective of my young plants, and often I cover them with small shields until they are well under way. I also fertilize and prune as needed. I spare no effort during the critical first two seasons.
“You see, it’s all a matter of getting their roots deep into the good, rich soil so that the growth of stalk and trunk and stems and branches and leaves above ground is vital and healthy. Without deep roots, and if outside influences continually come to eat and destroy the first tender green spouts, a long and healthy and productive future is doomed.
“I happen to believe that the same thing is necessary in the matter of one’s children.
– The Eleventh Hour by Michael Phillips
Note: I’ve heard many parents say that there are important lessons to be found in some books/movies with questionable content (The Diary of Anne Frank, for instance) and I agree. In such cases where the good heavily outweighs the bad, pages can (and, in my opinion, should) be skipped and scenes forwarded through. Our prayer is that through careful teaching, character building and censorship when they’re young, they will do these things on their own when they’re older (I actually have a friend whose oldest daughter is a huge Hunger Games fan, yet stopped reading the books halfway through because she felt the scenes between Peeta and Katniss were too intense. That kind of self-restraint is, in my opinion, a manifestation of excellent parenting.*) While our children are young it seems best to us to simply avoid those books/movies for now and in the case of many “classic” and best-selling books and movies firmly establish the following precept:
Don’t go searching through the trash in hopes of finding a good apple.
Some books aren’t worth reading, and some books are worth waiting until maturity for. There are myriads of books that can teach and inspire our children toward greatness and don’t include glorified, glamorized violent or sexual content. And plenty of these are written by and about true life heroes, in real-life circumstances. Those are the types of books I hope my children will grow to love.
*I don’t mean by this that no child should ever read the Hunger Games, but that it’s impressive that a child who wanted to read it stopped reading it because she felt convicted about it.
The Greenhouse Effect (why we shelter our children)
On romance and love and not marrying my soul mate and an attack on poor Mr. Darcy
Entertainment: does it have a place in the Christian life
I didn’t marry my soul mate… was I supposed to?
Want to rekindle your romance? Don’t sell yourself short!
A Husband for Lara Rose (outside link)