(second of a two-part series)
FOR VALENTINE'S DAY: CONSIDER CHASTITY
In last week's column, I made a
case for women to reconsider courtship and chastity via a new book by Leon
and Amy Kass: ''Can modesty transform lust into love?'' they ask. ''Men make
advances, women should offer resistance plus the promise of yielding should
the man prove worthy....If women as a group exercise more sexual
self-restraint and eschew cohabitation, men will be compelled to court
But if chastity makes sense for
women, why not for men as well? Why assume men must be promiscuous, and that
it is up to the woman to say no?
The New Testament certainly is
clear and is not gender-based. ''It is God's will that you should be
sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should
learn to control his body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in
passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God,'' Paul writes in I
To his young disciple, Timothy,
Paul wrote, ''Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness,
faith, love and peace along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure
Joshua Harris, a young author
barely out of his teens has written a powerful and to an American male, a
disturbing book that takes those Scriptures seriously. Its title is
shocking: ''Kiss Dating Goodbye.'' Yet it has sold hundreds of thousands of
copies! An excerpt:
''We shouldn't pursue intimacy without
commitment. In God-honoring, male-female relationships, the burden of
intimacy is commitment in marriage. If we're not ready or capable of
committing ourselves to someone we aren't ready to pursue intimacy.''
Thus, if you are 18 or 20 years
old, and years away from considering a marriage partner, Harris is saying
you have no business getting romantically involved: ''What is your
motivation in relationships? Pleasing yourself or serving others?''
Of course, the culture, especially
movies and TV scream the opposite. If you are single, you have a license to
''have fun,'' and try out people emotionally and sexually, without worrying
about possible negative impact on them or on yourself. But how many jaded
Seinfield imitators are out there, in their 30s and unable to find someone
to marry? I can give a close estimate.
Since 1970, the percentage of
never-married men and women in their 30s has tripled. Are they having
wall-to-wall fun like those on ''Friends?'' No. Married people are nearly
twice as likely to say they are very happy compared with those who are
single (38% vs. 21%).
So perhaps single men need to
consider chastity. I once asked Billy Graham how he has avoided sexual
scandal that has brought down so many other evangelists. He said, ''I built
a dike around myself, to wall out temptation. I will not be in any room
alone with a woman with the door closed, except my wife. I will not travel
in a car or have dinner alone with another woman.''
Harris makes a similar comment as a
single young man: ''For me and many other people I know, it means rejecting
typical dating. I go out with groups of friends; I avoid one-on-one dating
because it encourages physical intimacy and places me in an isolated setting
with a girl. Can't I handle it? Don't I have any self-control. Yeah, maybe I
could handle it, but that's not the point.
''God says, `Flee the evil desires
of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those
who call on the Lord out of a pure heart' (II Timothy 2:22). I won't stick
around to see how much temptation I can take.''
Chastity actually gives one a
clearer way to measure the character of a potential mate. Harris suggests
four yardsticks: How does the individual relate to God? (Don't waste time
with unbelievers.) How does he or she treat others, especially those in
authority, such as one's parents? How disciplined is the person in their
personal life? Is he/she extravagant in spending on such material things as
cars or clothing, overly indulgent in food or drink, in watching hours of
Finally, what are his/her
attitudes? Is the person humble, willing to put the needs of others first?
Is he or she industrious, contented, hopeful?
But how is one to make these
judgments about character without dating? Harris says that if you are
emotionally, spiritually and financially ready for marriage, and you meet
someone who might be the one, say: ''We're growing closer in friendship and
I need to be upfront about my motives. With your parents' permission, I want
to explore the possibility of marriage. I am ready to be tested by you, your
family, and those responsible for you. My desire is to win your heart.''
Not a very romantic message for
Valentine's Day. But worth considering.
Copyright 2000 Michael J. McManus.