The value and security of fidelity within marriage and of restraint and limits before marriage. The commitment that go with marriage and that should go with sex. A grasp of the long-range (and widespread) consequences that can result from sexual amorality and infidelity
In the age of AIDS it is easier than it has been for many decades to agree as a society on the desirability of fidelity in marriage and the good sense of abstinence before marriage. Those who now agree practically are added to those who have always agreed philosophically.
Whether or not you agree morally with this value, you do, as a parent, have the responsibility to deal in your own way with these critical issues.
Many parents who did not practice chastity or abstinence in their own youth are nonetheless hopeful and even anxious that their children will. This is not hypocrisy and shouldn't cause guilt. Today is its own time - with its own concerns and its own reminders. And the fact that some of us have learned from our mistakes ought to be the best reason why our kids do not have to do likewise.
It is hard to argue against the mental logic and the emotional benefits of fidelity within marriage. And positive commitments toward it can start to form in very small children.
I sat in the library one day, researching some quotations for a manuscript I was working on. I was having a hard time keeping my mind on my work because I was thinking about one of my adolescent daughters and about my efforts to help her understand why chastity and sexual morality was something to be sought or valued. She was not rebelling against the notion or even disagreeing with it. But she was at the age where any restriction bothered here. She had asked, the night before, why there were so many limits on so many things.
And I had wanted to tell her that chastity, like any true value or virtue, is a positive thing that you gain, not something you give up.
I was looking through some G. K. Chesterton essays and I literally fell onto the words I was wishing for. They were in an essay called "A Piece of Chalk," in which Chesterton uses the metaphor of an artist who was sitting on an English hillside drawing on brown paper. He had all his chalk except white; he had forgotten to bring the white. Could he do without it? No, because white is not the absence of color. White spaces are not blank, they are put on by the artist and can be the most important element in his canvas. Should he return home for a piece of white chalk? Then he realized that he is sitting on chalk - England is made of chalk, he said. He broke off a piece from a white chalk rock and completed the drawing.
Virtue, in Chesterton's mind, was not a void or the absence of a wrong. It was the presence of a right. And he felt that values or virtues are the light and the key to putting beauty into the rest of life. In Chesterton's words:
The chief assertion of religious morality is that white is a color. Virtue is not absence of vices or the avoidance of moral danger, virtue is a vivid and separate thing. . . . Mercy does not mean not being cruel or sparing people revenge of punishment; it means a plain and positive thing like the sun, which one has either seen or not seen. Chastity does not mean abstention from sexual wrong, it means something flaming, like Joan of Arc.
The two most important reasons that parents should be the ones to teach children about sex and sexual morality are: (a) parents can teach in a warm and loving way that avoids the sterile, factual, academic tone that predominates in school discussions and the silly or "dirty" connotation that often accompanies peer discussions; (b) when a parent teaches a child about sex, the intimate and personal nature of the subject creates a mutual sharing of trust and forms an emotional bond between parent and child.
Review the activities and stories that go along with this months value. Make sure everyone in your family understands the value so they can see how they can apply it in their own lives and situations.
Talk about the Monthly Value every morning and remind your family to look for opportunities to use the value throughout the day. They may also observe how others don't understand the value. Get your children to share their experience with the value each day at the dinner table or before you go to bed. Be sure to share your experience each day as well. It will help your children know that you are thinking about the value too.
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