Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Love, Honor, and Virtue: Gaining or Regaining a Biblical Attitude Toward Sexuality (Homeschool Review Crew)

Love, Honor, and Virtue: Gaining or Regaining a Biblical Attitude Toward Sexuality is a book for boys, written by Hal and Melanie Young and published by Great Waters Press.  It is intended for tween and teen boys (ages 12 through 19), and still appropriate for young adults.  We received a print copy, but it is also available as an audiobook.  For our review purposes, a parent was asked to read it before sharing with sons. I am glad I did this because as much as I have liked some of their other books, this one just left me frustrated.

Addressing teens and sex is probably a parenting area where I could grow; I admit to having a "That's your aisle, dear husband," approach.  (And let me add that he's done a fantastic job handling things, man-to-man.) When I first received the book, I had hoped it to be more of an ice-breaker; I could read it, the boys could read it, and it would open avenues of discussion. Having read it, it's more of a "Here, read this, off you go," type of thing.  It's possible that it is because I have a different view that the Youngs on some things, but I felt like it was more "edict of how you should behave," and less "Ok, let me teach you my view so you come to agree with it, rather than just decreeing, 'Thou shalt...thou shalt not..."As I read, I felt that if I gave this to the boys, I'd be spending more time saying, "This is what they say, but this is what your father and I believe..." and sending too many mixed messages.

There are some bits of sage advice, which address things that are novel to this generation.  Sexting, for example, is an activity that seems relatively innocuous but can lead to child pornography charges and becoming labeled a sex offender. I agree that it's not a stellar way to start your adult life.  Yes, it is something that needs to be addressed, and at times, worst-case-scenario does need to be presented, so that kids realize it's a serious issue.  However, their "nothing at all, looking, reading, even thinking about sex" is a bit much. I think to say "Sure, you can think she's pretty, but don't lust after her," is a bit ridiculous. Is it probably wise to not act on it? Sure. (I'd like all of my grandchildren AFTER the weddings, please and thank you.) But the Youngs mention lust shouldn't happen, at all, even if you're talking about the person who is going to become your future spouse.  If there was no lust involved before people get married (I'm discussing sexual attraction, not sexual activity), then the only reason not to marry a relative is science and genetics. Finding another person sexually attractive IS part of discerning "Do I want to marry that person for life?" and a valid relationship trait to assess. A wedding ring isn't going to suddenly make a person sexually attractive. (In my experience, yes, the person becomes more attractive, because of the mental restrictions/stresses it removes and the relationship it affirms, but it's a wedding ring, not beer goggles.) Even as an adult who has been married for nearly 21 years, I can look at a man who is not my husband and objectively consider him handsome - perhaps its objectifying, but a handsome man is like a pretty floral arrangement or a delicious dessert.  Appearance is a qualitative trait, but good appearance doesn't necessarily equal sexually attractive. I think there's a line between "all-consuming lust that you act on when you shouldn't" and "discerning if lust is part of the bigger picture," but this book tries to lump it all together as "sinful and to be avoided." There's too much black and white, and life is shades of gray.

In my opinion, this book also approaches engagement and marriage with more of a "courtship" perspective than a "dating" perspective.  My personal thoughts are more of a middle ground. I don't think dating-for-the-sake-of-dating is wise (it begets its own problems), but a traditional "courtship" where the sole goal is marriage perhaps puts too much pressure on either person.   My personal experience is that yes, dating did lead to a few broken hearts, but I would also like to think that I grew as a person from those relationships.  I learned what I wanted from a partner, what was not negotiable, and, if I'm brutally honest with myself, things I may have said or done that were unkind as well and ways I needed to change to become a better spouse. I would teach my sons (and daughter) to balance respecting others and not having a different date every night with "You don't have to start the first date thinking "Am I going to marry this person?"  Sometimes, the person you don't expect to be "The One" is, and sometimes, the person you think will be just isn't.

I also find myself bristling at the idea of "equal" and "unequal" yoking.  I've seen several instances in my family of what many would consider "unequal," that had little effect on the marriage.  Some were inter-denominational marriages, but Neal's parents began their marriage as an interfaith couple. When they married, his mother was Jewish and his father Roman Catholic.  Talk about unequal! By the time I met Neal, not only had his mother converted and they raised their children as Catholic, but she was what one would consider the active Catholic, not my father-in-law! Both now are strong in their faith and will celebrate their Golden Anniversary this coming spring, so clearly, religion and faith is not something that precluded a strong and happy marriage.  If one partner says "I forbid you to practice your faith," then that's a red flag that this may not be a wise relationship.  But I think the Lord works in His own way, in His own time, and that shouldn't be a dealbreaker if everything else is right.  Who knows what His plans are?

Finally, there was a passage on purity, which included addressing how a boy should view a girl's clothing; a girl in short shorts or a revealing top may be wearing it because she likes it, not "for him." YES! While we do have rules about what we allow our daughter to wear, they are based on our own feeling about appropriateness and modesty.  There are some garments we all find silly; she agrees that if you need a bikini wax to wear a particular pair of shorts, they're too short! I'd like her to realize that regardless of how society may view her, she is more than boobs and a butt, and should dress so as to show how much she values herself.  (Not necessarily her sexuality, just her innate worth as a child of God.)  But then in the next paragraph, it puts it on the guy to say to a girl, "You are too attractive, we need to go elsewhere." Should she want to do what makes him comfortable? If she values him as a person, yes. But this example/phrasing still blames her: "You're tempting me."  I would tell both my sons and daughter that if you cannot control yourself around someone in private, you probably have no business being with him or her in public, either.

This is not a book that I will likely hand to my boys. Could it be used for opening a discussion? Yes, but I think I would do it with Luke (nearly 20), where I would say, "Do you agree? Disagree? Why? Why not? What do you think about this?"  Though it is suggested for this age, it is not a book I'd hand a twelve-year-old. I agree that just waiting until they're fifteen or sixteen to discuss not just the mechanics of sex and reproduction is too late -- it's our job as parents to teach our kids values from the start, but I think it's a bit heavy for a young teen. As much as I really hoped this create a bridge for sharing between my boys and me, I just don't see it as practical for our family.

The Crew has been reading two books from the Youngs: Love, Honor, and Virtue: Gaining or Regaining a Biblical Attitude Toward Sexuality and No Longer Little: Parenting Tweens with Grace and Hope.  Click the banner below to read the Crew reviews.

If you'd like to read our review of No Longer Little..., click here.  This was a book about parenting children through the tween years which I found I could better identify with.

Love, Honor, and Virtue  AND No Longer Little {Great Waters Press Reviews}

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