(photo credit: kamyar adl, flicker,https://www.flickr.com/photos/kamshots/)
I have a zero tolerance for the mistreatment of women’s hearts or their vaginas.
I also have little interest in overprotecting my daughters, interviewing their potential courters and using shielded terminology and a shotgun to see things turn out my way. My goal is to raise humans—male and female—who understand personal responsibility, act with compassion, healthy boundaries and choose to live by the absolutes as well as the subtler dictums as laid out in the Bible. Why? Because the bible done right works. (That is for another post, however. This one is about campus rape, drinking, dating, vaginas and how to manage one’s inner person.)
So since I have sons and daughters, relationships, sex, body parts and all the rest of it does occasionally come up in the course of life. Just so you know, no one wants to talk about it, and usually my kids duck and run, whenever possible; however, I have some dialog points you might want to consider when talking to your future-adults.
1.Your job in life is to make the lives of others better. It’s not about you.
From early, early on, we teach our boys that they have no business being in a girl’s life unless they are committed to making her life a better place because they are there. Period.
Women and girls are not consumable products. Ever.
They are not inferior beings.
They don’t want to be considered weak and vulnerable.
In fact, strong women abound on this planet, but because of this tendency of pernicious and across all ranges of society–from the dregs to the upper-crust-ivy-league-educated-elite–violence towards women, we actually need some of the other fifty percent of the world’s population to help us stand up for our rights as humans.
We teach our sons that having a girlfriend as a trophy, a security blanket, a plaything or to boost their fragile egos is wrong.
So why have a girlfriend? Honestly, in my opinion, there aren’t too many good reasons to have a steady girlfriend before you’re 20. So, if a guy is truly attracted to a girl (not just physically) and wants to get to know her, he should take her out to ice-cream and get to know her. He should listen to what matters to her. He should be patient. He should always remember that she is his equal in every way. She doesn’t exist to make him feel manly. His purpose in her life is only to make it better. It’s not about him.
Same goes for the girls. They may not wrangle a boy in their drama or manipulate him or use his attention for their personal gain. Girl’s have girl-power and I teach my girls to realize that the influence they can have in a guy’s life should only be used to make his life better. Any other motive will just end in drama and heartache.
2. Sex is normal. It isn’t taboo, bad, of the devil and it certainly shouldn’t belong to Hollywood, the media or snapchat. Sex has been perverted and twisted a million different ways. But in it’s essence, sex is beautiful (even if it’s a little weird). Sex is a privilege. Sex belongs to the individual.
See girls have this orifice, this hole, if you will, called a vagina. You’ve probably heard of it. And for some reason it’s all the rage. Some guys want to have one of their own. Others want to conquer as many as they can. Others just want to see what all the fuss is about. Our vaginas are called all sorts of words; some high-profile pastors have used colloquial terms for our vaginas as a derogative way to describe effeminate men. They aren’t really helping when they do that. Why is it that the term pussy is used to describe a cowardly male? What’s up with that?
I see no need to parse words because, hey, we’re all adults here and kids, even those homeschool and Christian school kids (trust me on this), know the words, know the parts, know the drill.
So, first off, I will not over-shelter my son who is capable of an erection and fantasizing about vaginas, who also happens to have access to the internet on occasion and knows how to type words, especially phonetically spelled words, into a Google search box.
Taking into consideration that every sitcom is rife with innuendo and most of our kids don’t live under rocks, we all need to agree that they know the whatsup. So when I talk to my sons and daughters things get real. You may do it differently and have nicely illustrated books or James Dobson-approved materials. I prefer straight talk. It makes everyone a bit uncomfortable, but I don’t care.
That vagina, any vagina, does not belong to any man.
I know the bible verses about married people giving of their bodies to one another, but seriously, any man who claims ownership of his wife’s vagina needs help. I’ll repeat that: No man has ownership of a woman’s vagina. I will go so far to say that men should partner with us in the guardianship of all sexual organs. A woman’s, or a boy’s or a girl’s, body should never be considered territory to conquer. No woman should be dominated into performing any sex act – in our out of marriage – that she finds uncomfortable or demeaning. Love her right and she’ll want to have all kinds of fun making love.
Whether a woman is passed out, drunk, throwing herself at you, committed to you in marriage or some nameless for-hire-hole: it does not belong to you. The converse is also true: a guy’s penis is his property. It is his junk to learn how to control and conquer. Until he can do that, he has no business being around any vagina, real or virtual or imagined.
3. Believe it or not, this is not about sex. It’s about character.
The deal is, real damage can be done to a girl’s heart even before any action is done to her vagina.
If a girl is not educated to know the source of her value in the eyes of God as a human, wonderfully made in every physical, mental and emotional sense, our society, ruled by enemy #1, Satan himself, easily convinces her that it’s all about the ultimate part of her anatomy: her vagina. Yeah, it’s about skinny or fat, pretty or ugly, boobs and butts and all the rest, but it always comes down to that.
No girl wants to communicate affection by opening up her legs and her private self, but hey, if that’s all she’s got to offer…. Understand?
Men, Christian men, young men need to understand the incredible opportunity that they have to change the world by functioning in a paradigm that places God-given human value over their immediate desire to get off. As a Christian-school girl, I had more opportunities to say “no” to the advances of Christian guys than the non-Christians. I had parents who refused to talk straight with me and I had a lot of wrong ideas about myself. I eventually stopped dating the “nice, Christian boys” that wanted more than their fair share, however. The “worldly” guys kept things under control when they learned my dad was a pastor. They were honestly afraid of God.
I think this is particularly revealing about the character formation of Christian guys. Grace is a wonderful gift. The fact that we can admit to wrong and be forgiven enables growth and freedom. But grace needs to be coupled with the reality of personal responsibility. There are consequences to bad choices. The Stanford swimmer needed a father who was loving enough to extend grace to his son and at the same time stand aside and allow the full measure of the consequence of his wrongdoing land squarely upon his shoulders. That the father, and then the judge, used their positions to manipulate a system to favor the perpetrator and further the misogyny prevalent in our society is unconscionable.
So the heart may not be biologically connected to her sexual anatomy, but we all know it is.
Girls are holistic. Most females don’t compartmentalize sex separately from love unless they’ve been conditioned or hurt making compartmentalizing a protective mechanism. I know I’m not an expert, but I kind of am. I am a woman, I was a teenager and before that a girl. I’ve dated, I’m married. I’ve had sex. So, I have some insight.
Boys and girls, men and women, are complex and the bible is clear in many places about how intrinsically tied sex is to one’s spirit. Nothing can break the spirit more than sexual perversion.
So when I talk to my boys about the facts of life, I begin with value. What gives us value? Why do we have any boundaries or morals at all?
We have a thing at our home that we call our “family culture”.
Others might call it values or rules, but it’s more than that. Our family culture is how we work, the principles that guide all of us. None of us is exempt from functioning under the auspices of our Santos culture. Some of the things that define our culture are mutuality, respect, openness, forgiveness, grace, honesty, more brutal honesty, more respect, love, affection, humor, dialog, boundaries, personal responsibility, and acceptance combined with a lifelong commitment to growth, learning and developing into more faithful and true disciples of Jesus as he is revealed to us in God’s word.
Objectifying women has no place in our family culture.
Disrespecting and disregarding one another’s personal feelings or experiences has no place in our family culture.
Demanding that others constantly adjust so that one person can have his or her way has no place in our family culture. So, there is a zero tolerance approach to blurring the sexual lines. Men and women are, obviously, different.
Our work as parents is to teach our girls to value themselves and our boys to value themselves, as humans created in God’s image, and to understand that we all are so broken and far from God. Our one hope, our only salvation is in Jesus: he loves us so immensely that he redeemed us.
When people understand the value they have in God’s eyes and the perfect redemption they have because of Jesus, then they can value others as humans created in God’s image. Sorry to bust the fundamental bubble here: God is not a man. And you gender-benders: God is not a woman or gender-mashup-diety. God is, according to the bible, a spirit. The I AM that always IS.
God cannot bend to our preferences. If we are going to give him a place at all, we have to ascertain who he is by what the bible reveals to us. Character comes from having a high view of God, a realistic view of ourselves, and an undaunted hope in our salvation.
God is an invisible spirit, observable through the word and creation, and so a person’s character is only visible through their actions. In regards to this Stanford rape, my son, Zach, said it well, “The alcohol just removed the barrier and that guy did what was already in him to do”.
There has to be a square one, a baseline. Ours, in the Santos family culture, is the bible.
So from that baseline, the bible, we learn that our sexual reproductive parts are made to somehow bring glory and honor to him. It can be done. Sex can be both reproductive and miraculous. It can also be safe and fun and wonderful. But never outside of it’s place. And long before sex, a guy needs to understand he never, ever can rightly claim ownership of a functioning vagina or the woman it belongs to. Therefore he cannot ever understand the depth of pain and debilitating shame that comes when a guy claims a vagina for his own like some historical European explorer shoving a flag into the soil of a far flung island and saying, “Mine.”
Cultivating a culture of character and mutuality and respect, undergirded with tough love takes a lot of intentional work. It requires that we parents not make excuses for our kids. It requires that we tackle porn on the computer, on the devices, head-on and mercilessly. It requires that we submit to the value system we are working to uphold.
This is how we approach the subject of sex. It’s working, that’s all I can say. We’re committed to introducing better humans to the world not because we’re so great, but because our God is. There is no hurt God can’t redeem, no heart he can’t heal. No mistake his salvation cannot reach. He is a marvelous spirit, the great I AM and what he has to say about our value, our sex, our relationships works.
I’ll close with some verses from Paul’s letter to the Christians who gathered in home-churches in a very, very culturally eroded city called Ephesus:
“Then we will no longer be like children, forever changing our minds about what we believe because someone has told us something different, or has cleverly lied to us and made the lie sound like the truth. Instead, we will lovingly follow the truth at all times—speaking truly, dealing truly, living truly—and so become more and more in every way like Christ who is the Head of his body, the Church. Under his direction the whole body is fitted together perfectly, and each part in its own special way helps the other parts, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.
Let me say this, then, speaking for the Lord: Live no longer as the unsaved do, for they are blinded and confused. Their closed hearts are full of darkness; they are far away from the life of God because they have shut their minds against him, and they cannot understand his ways. They don’t care anymore about right and wrong and have given themselves over to impure ways. They stop at nothing, being driven by their evil minds and reckless lusts.
But that isn’t the way Christ taught you! If you have really heard his voice and learned from him the truths concerning himself, then throw off your old evil nature—the old you that was a partner in your evil ways—rotten through and through, full of lust and shame.
Now your attitudes and thoughts must all be constantly changing for the better. Yes, you must be a new and different person, holy and good. Clothe yourself with this new nature.
(Ephesians 4:14-24, the Living Bible)