I shouldn’t have been surprised, but I still was.
A few months ago, I was thumbing through the February 9, 2015 issue of Time magazine, and I happened on the essay by Susanna Schrobsdorff, titled Be Brave, Be Safe, subtitled, Advice to my teen daughter on handling the inequities of campus life. (The web article that I have linked to is the same as the print, but under a different title)
The advice is standard fare, for the most part. Ms. Schrobsdorff has a 17-year-old applying to colleges, and Mom is understandably concerned about the increasing amount of sexual assault at some of the “best universities in the country.”
As she nears her conclusion, Schrobsdorff writes, “When it comes to guys, look for kindness over cool. And trust your gut. If it feels wrong, leave. Say no. Say no. Say no.” Sounds good, I think.
“I always defend your right to wear what you want and have just-for-fun sex if you want.”
Really? Did a mother just give that advice to her teen daughter in a major newsweekly magazine? Yes she did…and how very sad. Now, Schrobsdorff goes on to say, “But as your mother, I wish you so much more. I hope you take any chance you can to know someone truly and intimately. It is the best perk of being human.” Actually, I’m not sure what that second part means, and anyway, what does a teenager hear in the overall message. I don’t know about her daughter, but I’m guessing a lot of teens would stop hearing anything else after the first bit of advice.
Now, let me say that I understand that people outside of Christ have different standards than believers. Christians get their standards from the Bible. Non-believers make their standards up from reason, or usually the shifting beliefs of culture. (Who knows what people will believe in 50 years, but I’m pretty sure it will seem awfully depraved to the average person – Christian or otherwise – today)
So we have different standards, but that said, I was personally still clinging to the idea that the average North American middle class mom was giving a nod to “religion” by wanting her daughters (and sons) to think of sex as at least, well, special. I already understand that many teens and 20-somethings don’t think of it that way anymore in our hook-up culture, but I was hoping that their parents still saw things differently. Now, I’m thinking maybe not.
But when you get right down to it, I’m really not sure it matters. Sex outside of marriage, whether just for “special” moments with a “special” person…or every Friday and Saturday with someone different, is an incredibly destructive force. Within marriage, it’s a marvelous glue holding a couple together. Outside of marriage it becomes…well, it can be a glue there too. Listen to the Apostle Paul…
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. 1 Corinthians 6:15-18 (ESV)
So I think of this 17-year-old girl, armed with her mother’s advice and going out into the sexual culture of her new university as if it were a just-for-fun day at Disney world. And according to Paul, sexual partner by sexual partner, she will be ripping her spirit to shreds, joining and “unjoining” with different young men and actually leaving a piece of her soul on every hormone filled college guy she has a just-for-fun night with.
And the saddest thing is that I hear the mom’s heart in this piece – not surprisingly, she really seems to love her daughter deeply and want to protect her.
But ironically, in one short sentence we see a well-meaning mom directing her child into a world of pain.
For Wednesday, May 13: 1 Corinthians 7