Friday, June 10, 2016

Going Beyond "Consent": Teaching Our Boys to Be Godly Men

I saw the "Consent: It's as Simple as Tea" video  about a year ago, and at the time, I thought it was clever and informative.  This video has resurfaced and has shown itself plentiful on my Facebook feed for several days after the verdict and sentencing in the Stanford rape case.

I re-watched this video twice, and I admit that something was really, really bothering me.  Usually, the video was posted with an encouragement to “show your teenage boy” or “this is good for teaching our sons about consent.” 

Then it dawned on me.  It’s not the video so much as the admonition that we need to use this video to teach our sons about consent.  As the mother of two teenaged boys, I find this to be misguided.  Frankly, if your teen needs to be shown this video in order to know what “consent” is, then you, as a parent, have a LOT of work to do.  Seriously.  Knowing the definition of consent is not the issue.  There are many, many thoughts and decisions and attitudes that contribute to a young man who does not know (or care about) what “consent” means. 

Many sincerely believe this video to be very helpful for young people who find themselves in sexual situations and are unsure about what to do.  If it works and prevents rape, I am thankful for this video.  However, if you are a Christian parent, like me, I think this video is woefully lacking in what we need to be teaching our sons.

Here are some of what I believe to be more important teaching points for our teenaged sons. 

1.  Teach Them How to Have Personal Relationship with Jesus Christ
First and foremost, our teens – both boys and girls – need to have a personal, real relationship with Jesus Christ.  Pray for our children, teach them God’s word, show them the Way.  Then, the Holy Spirit will be counselor and guide for our children. 

* “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”   2 Corinthians 5:17 (ESV)

* “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”  Romans 12:2 (ESV)

* “Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10 (ESV)

2.  Teach Your Teens about Sex
Talk to your children about sex BEFORE they become teenagers.  In today’s culture, you cannot be lax in this.  Talk to your children about how we were created to be sexual beings but that God has a plan for sex – a good plan.  Acknowledge sexual feelings.  Don’t shame your boys.  Sex was created by God. It is not a bad thing, but sex should happen within the confines of marriage. 

Patiently teach them what is appropriate behavior towards girls.  Help them think through their thoughts.  Guide and teach and train and discipline when needed. 

3.  Teach Your Boys How to Treat Women, Their Wives, and Everyone Else
Philippians 2:3-10 (ESV) states “ Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”

Ephesians 5:25-29 (ESV) says, “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church.”

If a young man seeks, through the power of the Holy Spirit, to live out these two passages of Scripture, he will not need to watch videos about tea to help him understand “consent.” 

4.  Teach Them to Use Their Strength for Good
When our boys are little, we say it 100 times a week – “No hitting.”  However, God made our boys physical.  Boys need to know that if they see someone hurting a girl, it is 100% ok to hit or tackle or kick.  There is a time and a place for physical violence, and no one is mad that two Swedes on bikes chased and tackled the man who was assaulting a young unconscious woman.  

On the other hand, a young man should never use his strength to hurt, scare, bully, or intimidate a girl simply because he can.   

5.  Teach Your Boys to Keep Their Hearts Pure
We cannot ignore pornography and the effects it has had and will have on the hearts and minds of our young boys as they mature into young men.   Women are degraded, and rape is glorified.  Certain music genres glorify violence against women.  Movies make violence against women seem normal and even “romantic.”  Again, keep the lines of communication open.  Talk to your boys.  Put safeguards in place – no phones in the bedroom after 10:00, for example.  Say “no” to certain movies, books, television shows, video games, and music choices. 

In my opinion, a young man who has to wonder about consent is not living a Christ-centered life – he’s living a selfish, self-centered, uncaring, entitled life.  He’s somewhere he shouldn’t be, doing something he should not be doing.  Does this happen?  Yes.  However, as a believer, we should be raising our children to be radically different from those in the world who are not sure what “consent” means.  With God’s help, we need to strive to raise children who look to the interest of others, who empty themselves, who humbly serve others instead of taking from them.  A man who is truly seeking to become more Christ-like will not see an unconscious or sleeping woman and decide to take advantage of her simply to satisfy a physical urge, and he will not force a woman to do something when she changes her mind.  A true Christ-follower does not need to watch videos about tea because, to him, women are his sisters, created by God, and are to be treasured, protected, and esteemed.

Let’s go beyond teaching our boys about "consent."  

Let's teach our boys to be Godly men.

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