Thursday, January 19, 2006

What ever happened to self respect?

I know that this world is full of sin and sinners, and that temptations haunt us at every turn, but we don't always do a very good job of avoiding those temptations. In fact, there are some people who willingly seek out those sinful deeds. In my opinion, the worst of those are (and sometime start with) those which hurt their own bodies, and can consequently hurt those around them.

I'm sure most people had those talks in school about sex and sexually transmitted diseases and how important it is not to smoke, drink or do drugs, but the reality is that a lot of people purposely seek out those vices without thought as to how to protect themselves.

I had long decided that I was going to save myself for whomever I married, because I believed that to give my husband my untouched body was the greatest wedding present I could possibly give him. And it was. It was also the best gift he gave me.

When I was in eighth grade, a friend of mine started dating a young man whom she said was a gang member from California. One day, she called me up asking about what our science teacher told us about using condoms. I warned her not to sleep with this guy, but she was insistent, so I told her to make sure she used a condom. Well, she did . . . a couple of times, but not every time. She got an STD.

I've always been very sensitive to cigarette smoke, to the point that if it's in the air around me, I start coughing, choking, and my eyes water and sting, and the only think I can do is get out where the air is fresher. So when some of my friends started smoking, I couldn't hang out with them anymore because the smell of the smoke on their clothes would trigger my reaction.

In high school, I wasn't popular because I didn't smoke, drink or do drugs. Only those who did were popular, and those like me who didn't were disrespected. I wasn't invited to any party that wasn't a birthday party thrown by the parents of one of my friends, but I didn't care because I didn't want to be one of those people. I cared more about myself than that.

Do I regret not experimenting with those worldly vices? No. And you know why? Because I know that God wants us to treat our bodies with respect. They aren't ours; they belong to Him. We're only "renting" them for the duration of our lives on this Earth.

In church last Sunday, our Epistle came from Corinthians 6:12-20 (from the ESV):
"All things are lawful for me," but not all things are helpful. "All things are lawful for me," but I will not be enslaved by anything. "Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food" – and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by His power.

Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, "The two will become one flesh." But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with Him.

Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

I am continually surprised at how corrupt the youth of our country have become. When I was a freshman in high school, I remember a girl on my bus talking about how she slept with a boy and knew before she did that he wouldn't call her afterwards, but she didn't care. And I know that kids younger than high school-age are sleeping around, smoking, doing drugs, drinking . . . What else are they doing, and why?

Here is my opinion, taken from my own observations: It is becoming more common for both parents to work all day long, or for children to live with only one parent because of a divorce, and that parent has to work all the time. Parents don't spend enough time with their children to know what they're doing, and they don't have the guts to take a stand against their bad behavior.

Is it because those parents were not disciplined when they were young, and therefore don't know how to discipline their own kids? I suppose that's entirely possible. Being a parent means that you have a young life to guide and shape and mold into a responsible, self-sufficient adult. But there are a lot of adults out there having kids who aren't responsible or self-sufficient, themselves! What are they doing having kids? Oh, yeah. I forgot. Promiscuity is an acceptable thing nowadays, and birth control is taken with a grain of salt, with no regard for the risk of contracting a sexually transmitted disease or getting pregnant.

You know what, though? This is totally unacceptable! Especially for Christians. We as Christians need to take a stand against this kind of behavior. We need to find a way to keep our children so busy they don't have time to get into trouble. We need to make sure they have positive role models who will steer them away from the evil vices such as sex, drugs, smoking and drinking, and will teach them to respect themselves. Of course, parents should be the ones to do this, but if they're working all the time and don't have the time to get to know their own kids (isn't that a sad situation!), they need to find someone who does and will.

There's something to be said for stay-at-home moms (and dads, as the case may be). When kids know that they have a parent who's always there for them and who isn't afraid to set boundaries to guide, mold and shape them, they're less likely to act out. The possibility drops more when those same kids are involved in after-school activities. Try martial arts, scouting, dance, sports, anything that allows them to interact with other youth their age and expend energy. The more active they are in positive environments, the better their attitudes will be and the less likely they will be to get involved with people who turn to those evil vices mentioned before.

It's just like getting a puppy who isn't totally housebroken. You have to be there to make sure you can train that puppy to do his business outside, make sure he doesn't chew up your brand new shoes or paper or trash, and you have to make sure he's fed. You wouldn't get a non-housebroken puppy and leave him alone in your house all day everyday unsupervised, would you? Well, if you don't plan to be around to take care of your children to make sure they're guided and molded in the right way, why would you assume they'll turn out just fine? Aren't you afraid they'll end up messing up their minds and bodies because you weren't there to show them how to respect themselves and others? It's the same thing.

And we wonder why our country's youth are acting so stupid and disrespectful and get into trouble all the time. Do we really have to wonder?

Now, I'm not saying I'm perfect. I'm not by a long shot. But I plan to be there for our kids when we have them. I may even decide to homeschool them if I get the courage to do so. That way I can keep a better eye on their growth and development without worrying that they're going to be doing things behind my back that I know will harm them in the long run. Kids will be kids, but a watchful parent is better than a nonobservant one.


TKls2myhrt said...

Good post and good comments. Parenting is a very long journey. The baby and toddler years seem long and strenuous, but then the battle moves out of the home and into the world. The world comes into your little household. Both parents have to be oriented toward the home from day one. Working moms or stay-at-home moms are the point as much as a total home-oriented mindset and lifestyle. I know families with two working parents (lawyers, doctors, whatever) that do a better job of parenting than families with the mom at home and dad working a fairly simple job. They accomplish this by scheduling their jobs around their kids - one always home, both always focused on the home.

The parents have to be focused on keeping a home and actively raising their own kids...and the Word of God is the best tool I know to accomplish that.

Mrs. T. Swede said...

Thanks, TK. I know I'm probably not the best one to speak about how to parent children because I don't have any yet, but I do consider myself a very observant person who wants to have children someday, but am scared to raise them in a world such as this.

My mom never worked outside the home when my sister and I were growing up. I know not every set of parents has that option, but they need to make sure they spend enough time with their kids to really know them and to be involved in their lives. That's the only way to be sure they'll turn out as fairly good people.

And, yes, they MUST raise them in the Christian faith, which is becoming increasingly more difficult to do in a world terrorized by those who hate Christians. We must be vigilant and faithful.

Anonymous said...

A great place for kids to hang out is at a local YMCA. Because they offer many programs for kids/teenagers to participate in a positive environment, and at the same time, they will establish great friendships with other kids in their classes or activities.


Mutti said...

All good points, and yet, they will still make mistakes and sin. My son recently was caught in a lie. His conscience bothered him to the point that he couldn't stop crying. He wasn't even in very much trouble. So I asked him this confirmation question: "what is the purpose of the law?" He answered "The Law shows us our sins and the wrath of God." Then I asked "What is the purpose of the Gospel?" to which he replied " The Gospel shows us our Savior and the grace of God." Then I asked him what a penitent person, troubled in his mind because of his sin should do and he replied "cling to the Gospel"...then I started crying too.

Mrs. T. Swede said...

That's a wonderful confession of faith! Isn't it great that children like yours who are brought up in the Church and taught the lessons of the Catechism know that when they confess their sins, they will be forgiven?

I know that everyone will make mistakes, and that oftentimes there isn't one correct answer or reaction to a situation. But what we must do is cling to God's Word and trust Him to guide us.

CPA said...

My wife is a stay-at-home mother to our children and as every year passes, I realize how blessed they are because of her.