Tuesday, May 20, 2008

They Are More than Boyfriends or Girlfriends

A few days ago, Brett McKay wrote a blog post about Chastity on The Art of Manliness. This is the twelfth post in a series of posts about Benjamin Franklin's 13 Virtues. I'd like to come up along side Brett with my views as a father and share a few things I'm teaching my children now, and will continue to teach in the future.

Remember Who You're Dating
I often tell my oldest son that it is so easy for people who are dating to get caught up in a relationship and forget to respect the person they are with, and their future. They start thinking about how much they "love" them and how they want to be with them "forever". But as we all know, relationships sometimes end. So I'm going to take a little different approach to this subject and say that abstinence can be a gift if we look at it properly.

This Person is Someones Future Wife or Husband
The person you're dating may be your future wife or husband, or they may be someone else's. Either way, both parties should hold to the mindset that the other person in the relationship will be a cherished treasure to someone one day. The physical side of a relationship is "sacred", as Brett points out in his post. It's a special and private bond between two individuals that should be protected. Too often we allow our raging hormones to make decisions for us and do things in the moment. We don't think about the future consequences of those actions. We justify it because we are in "love", but what is love?

Love is that which Protects and Provides
There are many definitions of love. Some good, and some bad. But the best definition of love I've heard is "love is that which protects and provides". Those of us who are in love know that love is more than just the flutter of a heart, it is deeper, unexplainable, and yes it's a mystery. That's why love is so hard to define!

Even if you don't agree with this definition, I hope we all can agree that these two things express love. If you put a young man or woman in a position of choice, "If you loved me you would...", is that expressing love? If you have the opportunity to fulfill your desires, does that make it right? Do these things protect and provide for the person you claim to love? Is this putting them first?

My hope is that my children will see value in waiting for the person they want to spend the rest of their life with. That they wouldn't give in to their passion and share something intimate and personal with another. That they will protect the person they are with and provide them with a future that will be free of guilt or regret regarding this subject. Will they? Only time will tell. But will uncertainty keep me from encouraging them to put others before themselves, not on your life!

The Biggest Lie
One of the biggest lies we're told in these modern times is to do what feels good. But if we all entered into relationships with the viewpoint that this may be someones else's wife or husband one day, and make a commitment to treat that person the way we would want someone to treat our future spouse, can you see the power in that mindset? Can you see how this expresses love? When you truly love someone, it's not about you, it's about them. The hard part is remembering this and acting on that knowledge.

Image: artofmanliness.com

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