New Year's Resolutions: Another Kind of Diet
- Thursday, December 30, 2004
Is there anything we haven't eaten in the past week? Ham, tamales, potatoes, chocolate, brandy, wine ... and ...
On the way to eating, there is tasting, munching, nibbling and sipping. Whatever you call it, the food goes in ... and settles in for a long winter's nap ... right around the waist.
One week later, stuffed to the gills, we must face the truth. A diet is in order. The belt is tight, and we are too bottom-heavy to lift out of the recliner. Eating may be natural, but it certainly has its limits.
Guided by New Year's resolutions, millions of Americans begin to set boundaries on what we put in our mouth. We post calorie counts on the refrigerator door, we empty the kitchen of temptation and we carry boxed chocolates to the office.
Indulging at the banquet table comes at a cost. Anyone laboring to shed a few "holiday pounds" knows the painful and difficult process of "paying for our pleasure." Food is only one item on a long list of indulgences ... each with a cost.
For the past 30 years, we have winked at sexual indulgences, and our children are paying the price. An epidemic of sexually transmitted diseases and thousands of children raised by single moms are testimony to the need for a diet of a different kind.
Abstinence education is about more than sex. It is a diet for the soul. It is about making the connections for our children between the indulgence and the consequence. It offers children hope because it tells them they don't have to pay a price if they can learn restraint.
Abstinence education is about the dreams of our children, about the quality of their lives both now and forever. It works to give young people the imagination, confidence and tools to fulfill their dreams. Sex is a part of the dream. And so is restraint.
Debates over sex education continue to rage. Millions of dollars are being poured into campaigns to paint abstinence educators as fear-filled, shame-based fools. After all, one condom-friendly sexpert lectured her audience, sex is natural ... like eating.
This was the major point she wanted to make? A woman with over 20 years experience in teaching our children about sex?
She turned to face an abstinence teacher and lashed out in her most indignant voice. "We want our children to celebrate sex. We don't need them to be fearful and filled with shame. We want them to feel at home with their sexuality. After all, sex is perfectly natural."
She smiled ... smugly. She had trumped any challenge to acting on a sexual urge. Well ... after 30 years of reassuring our children that sex is natural, these sexperts have achieved their goal .. and more.
No fear and no shame ... this goes a long way to explain Super Bowl XXXVIII and its international show of bumping and grinding center stage ... pelvic thrusts set to music ... complete with one naked breast. Not to mention MTV. And this sexpert wants us to believe the most pressing thing to teach our children is that sex is natural?
Eating is natural. But it is only healthy when it is managed, limited, and held inside the bounds of medical realities by exercising self control. Eating is not to be feared. But it is to be restrained. If not, why bother with New Year's resolutions?
Sex, just like dining at a banquet table filled with delectable dishes, is a passion best enjoyed when boundaries are observed. Natural desires have natural consequences. This is the truth from which we build New Year's resolutions ... both for the kitchen and for the bedroom.
No fear. No shame. Teaching our children restraint is not about teaching shame. Restraint is their ultimate liberation from the very real fear of paying a consequence more severe than a few extra holiday pounds around the waist.
Our children need more than the simplistic reassurance that sex is natural. They need the perfection of nature's ultimate truth: Our greatest hopes and dreams are more often than not fulfilled with a simple resolution of self control made ... and kept.
Happy New Year.
A former elementary school teacher, Jane Jimenez (firstname.lastname@example.org) is now a freelance writer dedicated to issues of importance to women and the family. She writes a regular column titled "From the Home Front" (fromthehomefront.org). Her work has appeared in both Christian and secular publications. She also is producer for a Phoenix afternoon live talk AM radio program dealing with current issues. Jane and her husband Victor live in Phoenix and have two children.
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