Tag Archives: abstinence

Can Christian Parents Still Be Parents?

 These words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. Deuteronomy 6:6-7

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Ephesians 6:1-4

These words, taken from the Old Testament and the New Testament, are only a couple of the many references in the Bible to the responsibilities of parents and children in a family. The biblical image of a family establishes a standard for families that is no more attainable than righteousness can be earned by works of the law. Nevertheless, the image of family that God sets before his people in the Bible is the standard Christian parents try to achieve. Christian parents believe that they have the obligation to teach their children what is right and what is wrong, both in word and deed. They believe that children have an obligation to love, respect and obey their parents. Christian parents work diligently to help their children mature during the many years it takes to become adults, and they look forward to the day when their children will stand on their own two feet as adults with responsibilities for their own families.

The sense of obligation to teach and protect children until they reach adulthood means that Christian parents expect to tell their children what to do and they expect their children to do what they are told until the children are adults. The culture of the USA assaults that principle in many different ways. Most recently, the right of a parent to have authority over a child’s behavior has been removed by a judicial act that makes “morning after” contraceptives available over the counter to females of any age without a prescription. The federal government has decreed that a parent not only does not need to know if a child receives such a drug; the federal government assumes that the child can understand and maturely accept the risks associated with the ingestion of the drug. In fact, the federal government believes that a child can understand and accept and self-manage sexual behavior at a level of maturity that will act on the knowledge that this medicine is not recommended for daily use.

Parents who hold the view that a child is not likely mature enough for adult responsibilities until around 18 years of age find this government policy difficult to accept. Christian parents don’t want to hold their children back from adulthood; they want their children to be reared in such a way that the children are ready for their adult responsibilities when the time comes for them to accept them. Christian parents know that rearing a child to understand the responsibilities that accompany sexual activity include teaching about the meaning of sexuality, the risks of promiscuity, the meaning of life, the sanctity of life, and especially, the sanctity of the sexual union between a man and a woman. It is hard enough to teach these things in the normal confusion of daily life. The task of teaching the Christian view of sexual morality becomes exponentially more difficult when children are immersed in media that say that a child has a right to engage in sex whenever it appeals to him or her, and that having engaged in sex, the female child who doesn’t want to get pregnant as a consequence of sex has the maturity and the right to obtain and use a “morning after” contraceptive as she wishes.

This situation is part of the ongoing conflict between the Christian worldview and the secular worldview.

The secular worldview says:

  •  Sex is natural, and because it is natural, it is good. 
  • Human beings experience sex on many levels and in many ways. Children should be taught all about sex in order not to fear it or misuse it. (One wonders how a child, or anyone, could misuse sex if anything goes, but that is a different issue.)
  • Sex is so desirable that people cannot control their need for it. Children should not be taught to control their desires, but only to handle the consequences. 
  • STD is a possible unwanted consequence of sexual activity. Children should be taught how to prevent it and how to treat it if they forget to prevent it. 
  • Pregnancy is a possible unwanted consequence of sexual activity. Children should be taught how to prevent it and how to treat it if they forget to prevent it.

The Christian worldview says:

  • Sex is God’s gift to humans. It is natural and it is good. 
  • The gift of sexuality has a purpose in God’s plan for humans. Sex is granted for both joy and procreation with the boundaries of a committed relationship between a man and a woman. 
  • Promiscuous sex is a perversion of God’s gift, whether between same or opposite sexes. 
  • The power of sexual desire is a power for good when used under discipline. It is a power for evil and destruction when not controlled. 
  • Abstinence outside marriage is the only sure way to prevent STD, prevent pregnancy, and protect the gift of sex for its fulfillment in the marriage relationship between a man and a woman. 
  • A fertilized egg, which quickly becomes an embryo, is the beginning of human life, which is so precious in God’s sight that he condemns murder. Human-ordered destruction of an embryo is the same thing as murder – the willful human assumption of power over life and death that belongs only to God. 
  • Unplanned and unwanted pregnancy does not justify murder. There are ways to deal with the pregnancy that honor God’s gift of life and God’s authority over all human life.

Faced with the secular view of life and family, Christian parents have a serious challenge. Whining won’t help. Prayer will. A Christian who believes that God is actually sovereign over life and death and all things through the end of time must believe that God will bless his commitment to rear children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord despite all the obstacles the world throws in his path. The Christians living in the Roman Empire faced both cultural restriction and official persecution. Christ’s church survived. Through two thousand years of rejection and resistance by Satan through people motivated by Satan, the church survived. Parents who want their children to grow up in the faith must strengthen their own faith and become more deeply committed to living their faith. Words of faith must be modeled by lives of faith. That is how children will learn to accept the authority of their parents and to live their own faithful testimonies.

The science so revered by secular thinkers has uncovered a truth that might comfort Christian parents: No matter how it looks, children actually listen to their parents more intently than to any other voice in their lives. This means that Christian parents who simply do what their faith leads them to do will have the single most powerful influence in their children’s lives. No matter how daunting it looks, God’s design built into human beings poises each little baby to look for and obey his or her parents.

The free availability of “morning after” medications for girls of all ages is an atrocity. It is one more nail in the coffin of a moral culture. It is one more fiery dart launched against the legal rights of parents to rear their children in their own moral and spiritual code. (This is, by the way, a right protected by the Ninth Amendment of the US Constitution, but as some have said, we appear to be living in a post-constitutional age.) Despite the appearance that evil is winning the culture wars, Christian parents need not despair. Be strong in the faith. Be obedient to Christ. Speak your faith, teach your faith, and pray your faith. Your children, believe it or not, are watching.

What’s Wrong with Abstinence?

                The recent news that the “morning after” pills will be available to girls as young as 15 without a prescription or even parental consent was shocking to many people across the USA. This latest intrusion of the federal government into a realm of life that most parents believe is between them and their children is shocking. It happens because of two important principles the federal government believes to be true:

  1. Children cannot be expected to abstain from sex after puberty sets in, and
  2. Parents have no right to interfere with the government in the teaching of sexual morality, the human right to life, or the eternal value of the life that begins at conception.

It is tempting to try to address both of these issues that are expressed simultaneously in this announcement, but this post will focus only on issue #1. This principle is a subset of the principle that no person can rightly be expected to resist the urge for sexual expression after puberty sets in. The reduction in the age at which a person can obtain the medication that will prevent an unplanned pregnancy after sexual intercourse has taken place simply reduces the age at which the government has decreed that people cannot control themselves.

This announcement flies in the face of other announcements citizens are expected to receive submissively and obediently.

The government has huge web sites in place to tell people what to eat. The government apparently believes that people who are unable to govern their sexual urges can and will govern their physical appetites at the direction of the First Lady. She says they should eat more veggies, because she believes that if she says it, they will do it. In the case of dietary control, the First Lady clearly believes that adults and even children are capable of self-control when planning what to eat. In fact, some of her statements imply that children have better self-control about food than adults have, and that children should tell their parents what to eat.

The government has another web site that is all about exercise. The government constantly produces radio and TV ads that promote walking and biking and taking the stairs. Government agencies talk about redesigning cities so people can’t use cars in certain sections, a restriction that will require more physical activity. It is hard to tell if the government believes people can control themselves and plan their own exercise, or if the government believes that people must have it forced on them by withholding the option for transportation. It would be nicer to believe that the government is simply offering kind accommodation to a mounting demand for more walking space

The government also promotes ideas such as recycling and green energy, ideas that require people to tolerate inconvenience at greater or lesser levels in the service of a high-level objective that will supposedly save the planet. The promotion of these projects without any associated penalties suggests that the government actually believes that citizens are capable of self-control when it isn’t fun.

It is hard to imagine, therefore, why the government believes that it is impossible for humans to control their sexual urges and refrain from activity that might produce an unplanned and unwanted pregnancy.

The government does not hold US citizens in the same high regard that God has for all people. God loved the whole world so much that he gave his only Son, that whoever believed in him would have eternal life. He didn’t send his son into the world to condemn the world. Whoever didn’t believe in him was condemned already. He sent his son into the world to save the world. God loves people that much, and God thinks people are worth saving, even at the cost of the death of his own son. The government does not have that kind of love for and esteem for people.

Instead, the government tells citizens that it thinks they are all completely lacking in character, helpless, weak, and needy. The government says that citizens are so weak and so needy that the government knows citizens of all ages will be engaging in sex at all hours and will frequently be so completely hopeless and helpless that they won’t remember anything they ever were told about the right time and the wrong time for sex. They will be so confused and needy and poor that if they do fall prey to their weakness, they will need free medicine to prevent pregnancy, even if they are little girls only 14 or 15 years old. They will be so disconnected from their parents or their parents will be so dismally immature that it is completely evil to expect them to talk with their parents about what has happened or to expect their parents to do the right thing if their children do come to them. Citizens cannot manage or control their sexuality; only the government knows what to do.

If the government image of human beings were realistic, the USA would not even exist. The Founders would have had no one to tell them what to do when the king overstepped his bounds. In fact, if the current government image of human beings were realistic, the king’s view of the colonists would have been completely justified. They didn’t need to take their government into their own hands. They were needy, weak, hopeless and helpless servants of the state.

Fortunately, the government image of human beings is a myth. God created human beings with immense personal power, so much power in fact, that humans often mistake themselves for God himself. Humans are capable of amazing accomplishments, most of which require formidable self-control. God has given people the power of self-control. The government may not think much of it, but God thinks very highly of it. God has very high expectations of human beings precisely because he has given them the ability to choose to do hard, even painful things.

The Bible tells us over and over about this gift. One day, Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his lifewill lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 16:24-25) Another way to say the same thing is to say, “If you want to come with me, you have to be willing to give up everything, all your cravings and urges and needs and personal comfort. If you want to follow me, it will be hard, but I’m telling you right now, it will be worth it. When you do it my way, your life will be so rich and full that when you look at what you thought you wanted, it will feel dead to you.” In other words, Jesus said that his disciples would need to exercise self-control. To “deny himself” a person must have some power to make that choice. Denying self is at least as hard as denying a sexual desire, but Jesus said that people can do it.

Paul wrote about self-control, too. He told Timothy that “God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” Paul didn’t think Timothy was too weak and helpless and needy to be a pastor. Paul knew from personal experience that it was possible to make hard choices and stand firm in those choices. That “spirit of fear” is the spirit of need or the spirit of not getting what everybody else is getting, the need to get along because so few people agree with you. Paul didn’t think Timothy needed a free “morning after” fix for all the times he could not control himself.

Paul wrote about a long list of virtues God gives to people, when he wrote, “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness, self-control.” Human history is replete with examples of people who have not exercised self-control, but that does not mean that it was not available to them.

Self-control, the human power to choose a principle or a goal and do what it takes to support it, is the basis for the practice of sexual abstinence. Government spokespersons constantly declare that it is unrealistic to expect young people to show any self-control. Yet these young people are the ones who undertake the discipline of Olympic sports, the ones who climb mountains and explore caves and start new businesses. Young people have a great deal of self-control. It fails them only when people talk them out of it.

The US government is trying to do just that in the arena of sex. The reports coming out of sex education in the schools tell any attentive reader that the government-mandated sex education promotes experimenting with sex, sexual orientation and sexual identity. Instead of celebrating the natural gift of human sexuality expressed in the disciplined relationship between a man and a woman for the good of family and society, the government promotes self-indulgence and perversion and promiscuousness. Then it promotes a “fix” to be obtained at “no cost” (only the cost of high taxation) on the “morning after.”

Contrary to the government mantra, self-control is possible. Abstinence is possible. Satan and the federal government want people to believe otherwise, but abstinence is a realistic solution to the problem of unwanted pregnancy, and what’s more, it eliminates the spread of sexually transmitted disease. Abstinence has a 100% success rate both at preventing pregnancy and at preventing disease. It is a free solution that does not require any intervention or service from the government. It is not only possible, but it is within the reach of every human being, because God created human beings with the power of self-control.

Every human being who ever accomplished anything useful is living evidence of the power and availability of self-control. Olympic gold medal champions, mountain climbers, teachers, dog-catchers and knitters all know about self-control. Abstinence from inappropriate sexual behavior is no more out of reach than those goals. The government defined by our Constitution performs valuable services to the citizens of the United States. However, that government is demonstrating a complete lack of self-control when it tries to insert itself between parents and their children by advocating sexual behavior without self-control followed up by a free government fix for the problem. God created people to be powerful and strong, upright, with personal character and integrity. He did not create them to be needy and helpless and hopeless and dependent on government for their needs.

Why not abstinence? Abstinence is God’s plan for the control of the beautiful, creative power of human sexuality. Christians must no permit secular government to interfere with their relationship with their children in teaching the power, the beauty and the blessing of human sexuality expressed under self-control.