This was written by one of our amazing homeschool moms, Aunty Jackie. "Emotional Chastity" is something all young people should apply to their lives.
I was rereading one of the books in our library called Surrender by Carmen Marcoux. One of the characters in this piece of fiction talks about "Emotional Chastity." This term totally grabbed me. It describes the system that we use in our home. (Or try to use.)
I have kids, lots of kids. And I used to be a kid. (Shocking, I know.) I remember all the likes, the hearbreaks and the wasted time spent thinking about boys...when I was not mature emotionally for relationships like that. Nor was I of an age where I could look at marriage in the near future. So all the "liking" was set up to fail because there was no option for sucess.
Some of these kids of mine are teens. The others should get there sooner or later. Since we live "in" the world we have to look at the relationship thing. It is everywhere...tv, movies, books...and our community. After some prayer and research we deided (years ago) that dating is not for our family. Courtship is.
So, what is the difference? At its simplest: Dating is intimacy before commitment. Courtship is commitment before intimacy.
Dating is getting together because the other is cool or fun or cute. No real goal. No real purpose. Often alone. Most often artificial. Artificial? Well, you are going to do up your hair nicer than normal, put on stuff that makes you smell nicer than normal, dress nicer than normal, put on make-up (not the guys, of course). Then you get picked up and go to someplace out of the ordinary. If it is a movie, you will sit next to each other in a dark place and not communicate. If it is out to dinner, you will be talking and behaving in way to impress... "We are going to do this for now till we decide it isn't working any more. Maybe after a couple of dates we will kiss and ...well let's see where it goes."
Courting is a formal relationship where both people feel they have a calling to the vocation of marriage and they are exploring the possiblity of marriage to each other. (Assuming that both are of an age and situation to be eligible to be married.) In a courtship there are set boundaries. There is accountability. The idea being to have no regets if the courtship ends. Time spent together is in company, with family, and rarely alone. Learning about the person in their natural surroundings, learning about their family (this is important if you do decide to get married!) and talking. Courtship has a goal and a structure to finding that goal. Physical intimacy is very limited. It clouds the mind and draws the heart. And if the courtship doesn't work out, that is someone else's spouse you are kissing!
So, those kids of mine, that I mentioned, are still in high school. The age thing disqualifies them from marriage and courtship. They do have all these hormones, though, that they can't do anything about. The ups, downs, heres and theres. The "likes." I am finding that they will be drawn to others and some of that drawing will be romantically. And here is where the emotional chastity comes in.
We tell the youth of today to abstain, to save yourself for your spouse. What about saving your heart for your spouse as well? What about being romantically intimate with one person only? The one and only. True love. (sigh) Sounds like a fairytale...translation: unreal and unlikely.
---Get real, Jackie. The kids are going to "like" people. You can't stop that no matter how many rules you have.
That is true, attraction does happen. And it will continue to happen for the rest of our lives. That's right, attraction doesn't stop just because vows are taken, whether religious or marital. It is always what we do with the attraction that matters. Many people take that attraction and run with it, abandoning the vows made. Many others, note it and set it aside because it is not apropriate for their state in life. They pray about it, especially if it continues to trouble them. All people have to guard their hearts and keep them turned in the direction they should go. Love is a choice.
In so many ways, life is a marathon that requires cross training. One piece of that cross training is training and guarding the heart. Self control.
Example: Children get mad and they want to lash out...maybe hit. This is not ok! Yes, they are angry and that anger is real. It may be valid. But that doesn't mean that you strike someone. You use self control. It is learned, it is practiced, with the help of the parent who wants sucess for their child.
A youth may fall into like, this week. But that doesn't mean she needs to talk about it to everyone. It doesn't mean he needs to act on it. Infatuation is fleeting and acting on it leads to hurt, broken friendships and stuggles in the community. Drama. We know this to be true. Look around, you can see it everywhere.
- How does emotional chastity work when you have admitted that these kids are going to fall in and out of like?
To start with , it is a team effort including the youth, the parents and God. The youth feels herself being drawn to one young man. She should immediatly begin praying. Taking it to God. Praying for herself and for the young man and asking God to help her turn her heart to friendship. She does not talk to her friends, or the young man, about it. Doing that means it is going to get around. It also means there will be a reaction. Even if that reaction is pleasing for the moment, it won't last. It is not time. If she needs to talk then she can talk to her parents who are going to support her, pray for her, give her ideas and help to hold her accountable as she waits for the crush to pass. Ultimately protecting her heart and the heart of the young man. (This goes both ways, of course.) Don't worry, if it is truely meant to be, it will still be there when the time is right. Trust God to take care of it!
Begin each new friendship with an evaluation and be ready to focus on a friendship and only a friendship. This is important because a crush can sneak up on a friendship. And if fostered, the crush can damage the friendship. (Dont' wait to use sunscreen till after you get a sunburn!)
Pay attention to how you respond to your friends. Could your attentions be misconstrued or leading. Do not tug on the hearts of others. Don't flirt. Flirting is selfish and is simply about drawing attention to back to the self.
Talk with your parents! They have been there and they want the best for you! Your parents don't want to see you, or your friends, hurt and heartbroken. They want your joy and strong godly relationships. Don't discredit what they say because you think they don't know or understand. They do and they know the pain that comes from those mini-engagements and mini-divorces.
Don't talk with friends about romantic relationships. Even if you have decided to not go there, by hearing about the relationships that others have, it will create a desire in you to have what they have.
(I am not even going to go into the struggles with being physically chaste if you have a relationship, as a teen, that lasts into a couple of months, hormones being so powerful...that would be another paper.)
Maybe you think I am trying to steal your fun. I'm not. I am trying to steal your sadness, your heartbreak. I want you to be joyful and have vibrant friendships free from entanglements and hurt. So here I am sharing this with young people and parents alike. I want the fairytale for you!
Choose the best. Guard your heart and save it for your spouse. Choose to be emotionally chaste.