Every now and again people ask me why I pound on fundys on the internet*. "So what? blahblahblah Freedom of speech blahblahblah Who cares?"
I’m a happily married mother of two young girls (ages 3 and 5). I want to bring my children up to embrace the kind of ideas and moral virtues you espouse on your blog, but there’s a small problem. Unfortunately, in my quest to encourage their remaining chaste until marriage, let’s just say that leading by example won’t be an option. My great fear is that a ‘do-as-I-say,-not-as-I-do (or did)’ approach will ultimately be ineffectual. Should I lie to them about what went on before meeting my husband/their father, tell them the truth (with 101 disclaimers!) or simply hope that the topic doesn’t arise?! Maybe I’m making a mountain out of a molehill, but rightly or wrongly, the issue is weighing on my mind.
I wasn’t really taught about the inherent morality of abstinence at my liberal Christian school (although I am Jewish…long story!). Abstinence was simply presented as a method of birth-control alongside the pill, condoms and IUD’s. My mother told me in a matter-of-fact way, when asked, that she lost her virginity at age 16. If she regretted having had premarital relations, she certainly didn’t let me in on it. Around the time I turned 18 she started to actively encourage me to dress provocatively in order to attract the opposite sex. When this inevitably worked, as it did time and again, her only advice to me was to use protection and, above all, DO NOT GET PREGNANT. My father didn’t get involved at all in such matters. The popular culture at the time was possibly more sex-obsessed than at any other time in history and I was fully immersed in it. Madonna’s ’sex book’ was a best-seller, George Michael was telling me that ’sex is natural, sex is fun’ and I believed it all. So, in 1992, at the age of 19, I lost my virginity. I regret it now. Oh, how I regret it. But I didn’t regret it back then. At the time it felt, well, inevitable. Until I found blogs like yours and ‘Oz Conservative’, I didn’t really know of any alternative reality. Sure I knew what chastity was, but I thought it was something that only the Victorians actually practised. Maybe if the Internet had existed back then with sites like yours…
Thank you for taking the time to read my little note and thank you again for your wonderful blog.
Thank you for writing. You are not making a mountain out of a molehill. The issue you raise is important. The majority of women who are now mothers have experienced promiscuity firsthand. Do mothers have any authority, let alone the desire, to raise children differently? The answer is simple. It does not require strained logic or unprincipled exceptions. There is only one answer. I hope you will see it and never have any doubts about this issue again.
I used to know a woman who was very beautiful. In fact, she was the most beautiful woman I have ever known, perfect in every way, like a goddess. She had high cheekbones and doe-like eyes and a voice that was unusually deep for a woman but which added to her overall mystery and remarkable beauty. I knew her as a child, she was a few years older, and I have followed her life ever since. For years she had many lovers and one central boyfriend. They were perfecting their intimacy, this man and she, and both hedged about getting married. They went back and forth for years, dissecting their relationship. Finally, when she was in her mid-forties, he decided that the thing he wanted most in life was to have children. Needless to say, it was too late for her. She is still good-looking and has since found another man, incredibly wealthy and recently divorced. He asked her to quit her job and help him raise his young children. She did. He promised marriage but has since decided he’d rather not. He did, however, buy her a new car. For all those years of love, this ravishingly beautiful and self-assured woman has one thing left: a car.
This is a relatively trivial example of the harm the sexual revolution has caused. A river of tears runs through our culture. Sex is miraculous and we have made it dull and destructive, murderous even and cruel. But, I don’t have to tell you all this. You already know it. You have found happiness, but you still see the waste, the loss of something sacred.
That’s the most important thing, that you see the waste and admit your own role in it. Wrongdoing does not disqualify a person from advising against wrongdoing. It is not hypocrisy to say, “Do not do as I have done.” It is hypocrisy to see that some activity is objectively wrong and then not advise others against it. That is inconsistent. That is hypocritical.
But that’s a long way off. In the meantime, you can prepare them for a better life. You can help them know what is right when they are still little girls. For most children, life is filled with beauty and God is real. You can confirm their impressions. Through stories and fairy tales, myths and legends, the works of the imagination that all children love, you can show them there is both danger and wonder ahead. The written word is indispensable. Faith and prayer are indispensable. Sex education starts in the imagination and the soul.
As they get older, you can talk to your daughters more and more about marriage and men. This is the job of mothers, not schools. They will trust what you say. If you tell them with conviction that love is much better when one is married, they will believe you. If you tell them with conviction, not once but many times, that many men do not respect a woman after they have had sex with her, unless they are married to her, they will believe you. If you tell them marriage and motherhood will be the best experiences of their lives, they will believe you. But, you can’t say it just a couple of times. The opposite message will be conveyed elsewhere.
When they are young women, you then can tell them all the brutal facts about the sexual revolution in an impersonal way, the truths that they may not hear elsewhere, such as that most women who have had abortions regret it and live in remorse for years and that abortion is objectively murder. You can point out all the cases of disease that lead to infertility and tell them the truth about single motherhood. You can tell them how unfair it is to raise children without a father.You can tell them about the women you know who have never had children and were lonely when they were old. You can tell them that adoption is often the best way with a pregnancy before marriage. They will believe you if you say these things often enough.
Again, anyone has the authority to raise her children differently provided she has sincerely examined her own conscience. Parents not only possess the moral legitimacy to teach their children restraint, they have the absolute duty to do so. In fact, they may possess even more authority than parents in the past.
It is very unlikely if you do all this that your daughters will go wrong, but if they do, you should be prepared to detach yourself somewhat from them. That’s the hard part and that too is your duty. A mother’s disapproval is a powerful corrective.
It’s all worth it, don’t you think?