Reflections of Sexual Morality ~ Part Four ~ Waiting For Marriage – Really?

I chose in my last essay, to write about the potential negative issue that come up for many, many people, who have been brought up in a religion that teaches by fire and brimstone. This does not mean that I believe for one minute that we should not be talking about relationships, virginity and purity of heart and soul (new one?) when we are; raising our kids, teaching young people and as adults having conversations.

Christians (Catholics anyway, perhaps because of church rules…) are often afraid to talk about sexual intimacy – yet it is all over the television, movies, novels, and – right in front of our faces, be it friends (or self < not me>) with revolving bedroom doors. . . . So why not talk about it? Right. That is what I am doing.

The article I read written by Catholic clergy (assuming this) for the clergy (for a fact) did bring up strong valid points. I did begin writing this the other day and found actual quotes I had included in part of what I am writing here.

What did bother me about this article was the author stated but suffice it to say that sex is a valuable thing that should not be squandered or used trivially; any more than one should use champagne for cleaning floors.” ~ and this, this is a problem with the Roman Catholic Church. You cannot refer to sex as a thing and somehow, for me at least something gets lost in translation when compared to champagne and moping floors.

Sex is not a “valuable thing“. Making love to your spouse is an aspect of marriage to be treasured. When one begins to speak in such a way, it shows honor to a committed marital relationship and then you have a positive example to compare to a more negative connotation of living in sin, multiple sexual partners, not valuing your body, your heart, mind and soul enough to wait to share with a future spouse.

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Despite my own experiences as a young woman, married and divorced, I do hold the idea of respecting my own sexuality. The fact is that this is something I really only want to share with one special person. I don’t want to be leered at, mauled on a date or expected to “put out” because someone buys me dinner. I do believe in having an emotionally and physically healthy sexual relationship with a spouse.

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~ PURITY OF HEART ~

There is really is much to be gained in waiting until marriage to express your love physically. Haven’t we all heard about bonding hormones and how they are released during physical intimacy? I’d rather know I love a man completely for who he is inside and out before I let hormones play tricks on me. I value me. I value another person also. As a mature woman, raped as a young girl, who is divorced with children what do I have to offer (no virginity)?

Through my Faith, Hope & Love with God, I have learned to love myself and have a close relationship with God. The Holy Spirit resides within, I can offer Purity of Heart & Soul, which in truth is oh so very much more valuable than what I lost one night so many years ago. Realizing this helped heal my heart and soul.

We need to be able to teach this in some way, along with the value of virginity to young people.

How are we raising our kids? Well, in honesty I do have my first grandchild on the way and my son is not married to the young lady. This is a really complicated situation that requires both privacy and care for both of them. He knows I did not raise him this way, he knows better. I have trust in God in their particular situation. I see how things played out, now as a mom it’s my job to do the best I can to emotionally support the new young family.

Raising our kids to be moral young people is what we need to be doing, or continue doing. Especially those of us who identify as Christians. Our body is the temple of God. Right?! We need to set good, strong examples for the young people and others in our lives. We need to be able to show others by example that having a sexually responsible, moral (marriage) relationship is a good experience, and that it offers an intimacy that cannot be found outside of marriage, dating through a revolving door. God values us, we need to value ourselves, help others value themselves (and I don’t mean only as a sexual being – build people up, help them have healthy & strong self esteem).

So, how about it? How involved are you really with raising morally -sexual aware kids? Ones that do value waiting until marriage? Are you the dad that bumps elbows and says “way to go bud?” The older sister who says “you need a push up bra and more makeup?”. Are we teaching our kids to both dress, look and act respectful of self and others?

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Are we allowing them to have the opinion that their bodies are not a temple of God and they can (and should) be enjoying physical relationships years before they are mentally or emotionally (and in many cases physically) mature enough to settle down and really value what sex is really supposed to be all about, as a gift from God – making love?

Warning/Perhaps skip this paragraph... Is it time to rethink what we’re doing, remember to put our kids first (parents with revolving bedroom doors, we all know them), offering birth control upon first menstruation (I have heard of this) or an adult toy for a thirteen year old (heard of this too). The rating on the video game matters (prostitutes on Grand Theft Auto), movies, music (tons of premarital sex).

Talk to your kids. Talk to the young people in your life. Teach both boys and girls how to dress modestly (it doesn’t mean without style!). Teach them to respect their own bodies and to respect others. Teach them as the church does, sexual relationships outside of marriage is walking a slippery slop, considered sinful and why is that? Because it can cause (emotional!!!) harm to another. We should be having and continuing to have these conversations with kids, and – other singles (not only Christians). Help people have healthy, loving relationships.

  Remember too . . .
Purity of heart and mind belongs IN marriage

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Reflections of Sexual Morality ~ Part Three ~ Negative Consequences paid for Misplaced Value

 

The negative emotional consequences for young women who plan on saving themselves for marriage, and have that taken from them – in my case and others mentioned (or) that very beautiful gift – paraded about all but on a sign – stealing part of her own being away from her, can be devastating.

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Purity Ball ~ A formal Father Daughter dance in which the girls promise they will remain virgins until married.

I was raised to be a young lady. I wore dresses straight through most of middle school, was taught that men would open doors, pull out chairs, and drop me off by the door – especially in inclement weather. Because I was a girl. I wasn’t allowed to go to the barns or race track (dad was an owner/trainer/driver of harness horses) because young ladies did not belong there. If we went out to dinner I liked to pay the bill for daddy, if the cash register was out of sight or in the bar – dad was literally right behind me. When I was old enough for “the talk” about “men-stu-a-tion” (does anyone else remember those film strips? Aging myself I know), there was a little talk at home about this being part of the bodies process to make a girl ready to have a baby, but that was for marriage. That was for someone special. No real details from mom. At some point I learned she had her first son when she was fifteen and her wish for me to remain a virgin and pure until I met the love of my life and married. Virginity was a gift from God, God wanted me to wait until I got married and that gift was for my husband. Where I went, who I was with was mostly monitored closely.

I had no intention of having sex before I was married. I wanted to wait to share that mystery with my future husband. I was taught to dress modestly, act like a young lady and respect my body. I shared in my essay on Abortion Perspective of a Pro-Life Mom, that at the age of seventeen (just be high school graduation!) I was raped by the older cousin of my then boyfriend. I also shared that I did not share this with any adults.

My best friend and I were also in a car accident shortly after this happened, bruises that were seen were attributed to that. Because this was so close to graduation I have a photo or two that shows a black eye, it does not show the bruised inner thighs (no shorts for weeks) from my rape. I prized my virginity and – I think that was a good thing “but” after being raped . . . I was devastated. My virginity was such a large part of my identity that I was shattered and broken. I felt shattered and broken. I spiraled down – terribly. Eventually – marrying a man who would abuse me emotionally, spiritually and physically over twenty years.

Talking to one of my best friends, who incidentally is also the gal who also had a mother who told her she wished she had aborted her, also lost her virginity to rape. A co-worker who drove her home after a company party. She too said no, No, NO.

Statistics show varying numbers. Having conversations with woman and young women my sons have dated, sexual violence and rape is happening to a larger number of the population than we will ever know.

Why? Like domestic violence, we are ashamed. Somehow, we think it is our fault. We were not “good enough”.

I remember reading an article last year, when I was still on Facebook I even shared it. It was the story of a young woman who had partaken in a vow of purity with her father. Promising to remain a virgin until marriage.

Setting her up for failure? Stats on sexual abuse and rape mixed with might have set her up to crash. Be sure to use the right words and teach the correct lessons. Don‘t expect a child to take a purity vow to their father. Raise healthy kids.

She shared how this defined her. She was used as a role model. Everyone knew she was a virgin. Her wedding night, after making love with her husband for the first time, losing her virginity – included her spending the following two hours curled in a ball crying inconsolably in the bathroom – instead of snuggled closely to the love of her life. She felt shame. She felt like everyone knew she was a virgin, now she no longer was.

In her mind everyone was going to stare at her when they next saw her because she was no longer a virgin. The truth was, people would now simply look at her as a married woman. What was inside her mind was something else. She suffered terribly for two years before opening up to her husband, who then went into therapy with her.

At the end of the article we learned she was doing well, her marriage that was close to being torn apart over her secret fears and imaginary inadequacies, was closer than they imagine possible and they were enjoying a very healthy physical and emotional relationship.

I have spoken to numerous other women over the years. There have been a number who suffered date rape, molestation, by male family members (one impregnated by her father), adult family friends. I also have knowledge of someone who’s parent prostituted her for a Heroin fix.

Considering the devastation loosing ones’ virginity or having your body violated by a man is, something really has to be considered in these days when we are to have compassion, understanding and love for everyone. We don’t all stand up and wave a flag and say “help me, I was raped, I am broken inside”. Many, many do not.

In my own experience – well, it took decades for me to realize the damage that was done not only to my body -but to my heart, my soul, my spirit that night. The fallout was severe. It is for so many of us. Beware of making judgements on the behavior of young ladies, or young men (as they are raped too).

s-l1000True love waits.  I believe it does.  However, that love may or may not be a virgin.  Remember to honor and respect each other.  Value Purity of Heart.  Jesus did.

Reflections of Sexual Morality ~ Part Two ~ Talking to Eighth Graders about dating

Over the past three years I have been teaching Eighth and Ninth Grade Faith Formation, last year I took off, this year I am back at it teaching one class in each of those two grades. Great kids, great age. What I realized that I was teaching Catechism, but the kids didn’t know Jesus. They didn’t really pray outside of rote prayer, and they did not really think about having a personal relationship with God. You could say I went kind of rogue. The Catechism book I was given to work with was less than adequate. After the second session or so I all but threw it away. Why? Because I was not about to talk to kids about the bible readings in Leviticus “drunken debauchery and orgies”. Talk about keeping ones innocence… Oh dear Lord – whoever put that book together needs to have their head examined. Once again, I digress.

*Note:  This year there is a really good new book to teach from.

Regarding the first book I worked with, I did tell my director I wasn’t dealing with that book (why), and – what is the main point we are to learn this year? Apostles Creed. Fine, no worries. I have this. We worked on the Apostles Creed and it’s meaning line by line. I also bought each child a wooden rosary, because I found the scriptural reference for them. We worked on that each week, learning about the conception, birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. You could say, I made Mary’s Rosary more about her son, and God the Father than most consider. It worked, they learned.

We also talked each week about various aspects of Mass, prayers, we discussed personal prayer time with God every week – which was really encouraging. We also spoke of other matters in their every day life and how Christians live.

When formal dances came up and discussion on who their dates where, things became interesting. One girl, 13 was dating a very popular boy – age 13. They had been going steady for a full year and they were also allowed to be home alone together. No chaperones. What are their parents thinking? Oh – wait. . . We know they aren’t right? Other kids were saying “nope, no way I don’t wait a boyfriend or girlfriend” and there were a few (both classes) that felt left out because they didn’t have an actual “data” for their formal dinner dance.

I tossed out a question to them, the same I used with my own sons and their friends while they were growing up. “Do you know what the purpose of dating is?” There were more looks of wide eyed wonder than giggles, blushing or downcast glances.

Because everyone does it!

For fun!

To be Popular!!!

Nope! That’s not it. (me)

Well . . . what’s the answer then? (confused looks around the classroom).

Well, we probably shouldn’t want to do anything simply because everyone else is doing it – right? Everyone jumps off a cliff, are you going right behind them? :heads shaking, no:

And… Aren’t there a lot of fun things you can do with your friends, girls with girls, guys with guys – or a group? :heads shaking, yes:

Okay, and while I get the idea that “popular is good”, do we really need to date at this age to be “popular”, don’t you want to be liked for who you are? :thoughtful heads shaking yes”.

~ Okay, okay – but what is dating for then?

Dating or courtship is a time that you spend getting to know a man or woman to discern if they are the type of person you want to spend the rest of your life with – in marriage. When you are old enough to consider marriage, then you spend time learning about what you are looking for in a marriage partner, who you want to spend the rest of your life with. For you kids, when your older – what you should be looking for is another Catholic or Christian who will attend church with you every week. You look for a good person who will celebrate your life together with God, raise your family together – in God.

The kids were actually relieved to hear that dating was something adult. They really didn’t have to worry about a date for an eighth grade dinner dance. We talked some more and reaffirmed their need to enjoy time on their own, growing up, growing in their relationship with God and others and they could wait to worry about dating (and kissing ,because yeah that came up with giggles in the back) until they were older.

I encouraged both classes to speak to their parents about these things, almost every one of them said their parents didn’t have time or wouldn’t bother. I told them to give it a try anyway I was sure their parents would love to speak to them about life events like this.

The truth is, a lot of parents don’t talk. They are either uncomfortable, embarrassed or just too busy to consider the consequences of not spending time helping their children in developing a well rounded moral view of their mind, body and souls.

Added challenges are the loose values in society today, many of which have been loose (but unspoken of) all along. If we want to raise good kids, that means we spend an awful lot of time focused on them. Monitoring what they’re watching on TV (and TV does get worse all the time, really it does). People laugh when they hear I did not allow the oldest two to watch Rugrats before youngest was much older because I didn’t want him to pick up back habits (that Angelica was a rude one). Books, friends, video games. It takes a lot of time and effort.

This also means taking the time to talk to our kids about love, sex and marriage. Of the two classes of eighth graders that I had, only one was from a broken family. What these privileged (to have long Christian marriages) are overlooking is that the peers of their children are not being brought up the same way, they are from broken homes, mom or dad may have a revolving bedroom door ( I was a rarity in not having one, single after my divorce ).

Who is stopping to talk to these kids about virginity or remaining pure for marriage, their special love? ? ?

*Note: Said dinner dance did have strict rules on heel height and modesty in dress, a rarity in public schools today.

 

Reflections of Sexual Morality ~ Part One ~ Her name was Maria

In recent days I have come across a variety of writings in regards to sexual abuse of females (abused males should be included in this). A few months back, while reading the “about today” section of the Divine Office, I read part of a very tragic story of a young girl, only eleven who was brutally murdered for “saying no”. There were other writings in this article too, combined with the other writings I have recently come across that have led me to the topic of “sexual morality”. It is an important topic that really is overlooked in so many ways now. This will be the first of … in essays. Lively conversation is appreciated, crude or rude will be deleted.

The story of the little girl (because eleven is still a little girl to me), caused me concern because she is now a saint. Saint Maria Goretti. There is much to be found of her tragic life and death on the internet. Her story was originally used to propagate saving your virginity at all cost, including your life. We know today that is a false view and we do what me must to survive. Our lives are far more important to God (and ourselves!) than our virginity.

In the research I have done over the past few days, it is clear Maria was from an extremely poor farming family. Her father died, she being the oldest girl at eleven was left home to cook, clean and care for siblings (I have read she was also babysitting for a neighbor’s infant the day she so tragically died). I don’t really want to go into all of the details that I have read, as I have suggested spending some time surfing, you will find a lot of information, much contrary.

The most consistent information I found is though she was only eleven, the church for at least a while, referred to her as a young woman. She is said to have shunned the advances of the “landlords” 20 year old son. I have also read things to indicate he had learning issues, etc. Considering a girl of eleven in those days had not yet begun her first menstrual cycle, was too young to be married and he was almost twice her age, it does seem to indicate he had issues. . .

Maria was stabbed over 14 times (number varies with article), in her throat, lungs, heart, abdomen, severely enough that her organs were protruding. The amount of conversation the child, who was found unconscious is said have held in some readings is simply unrealistic. Her surgery was performed with no anesthesia, and at one point she is said to have awoken for a short time. I would assume the loss of so much blood and pain would have her unconscious even without medication. She is said to have forgiven her murderer, after being prompted by a Priest, just before she died.

So much of her tragic life and death seems to have been embellished upon. Maria did not go to school, rarely went to mass, and had items placed in her hands as she died. She was not buried. Her remains lay within a statue that some confuse to be her actual remains, in a glass coffin under an altar. That so bothers me. I understand it to be Catholic tradition but … let the child go. I know. I am a “bad” catholic for saying this I suppose. She was but a child of such tragic circumstance.

At the time she was canonized, as I stated before, propagated saving your virginity at all cost, including your life. The church does not teach this now. My concern is knowing, so many countries hold Saints in a higher esteem than here in the United States. I know it concerns me that young girls in some far off mission are being taught improperly on how valuable their virginity, their purity is to God (and man).

The Catholic church has defined and changed the meaning of Saints from the original intention in the bible.  Saints are God’s Holy people, living humans in the bible.  Follows of Jesus, children of God. 

While we absolutely need good role models, the list of 10,000 plus saints and the background and true life stories of many give one pause.  Often while reading through the saint area of the Divine Office it is noted that not much is even known about this or that saint – or even correct spelling of their name.Focus should perhaps not be on “saints” but on our Tritarian God and all of His children.

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Note: I spent some time debating whether to write about Maria’s story. It is because of her story that I am writing this series. I also believe, in some small way this is a way to pay homage to a child who lived a tragic life, death and … after life. My heart tells me this child deserves to be buried somewhere pretty under a tree, with wild flowers growing nearby. A place she never seemed to have a chance to play, sit with a book or pray.

The remaining portion of the article that I read, which I wish I could quote but because I use the free version and unfortunately did not copy/paste the article… I will have to admit I can’t give exact quotes… The author of said article acknowledge that we may not all pay homage to plaster saints, etc., but what about the value of virginity, purity why is there none in today’s world” <<< This comment holds merit however, I do believe perhaps the lifestyle of the author and unfortunately the readers the article is intended for are living at a handicap, and perhaps not able to fully understand the experience, life and God in the world most of us live. For this reason, and knowing there are other every day folks who are missing very good points, please look for the next article in this series.