Blueprint Truth #2
YOU ARE DESIGNED TO BE WHOLE: PHYSICALLY AND EMOTIONALLY
Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
- Ephesians 4:15-16
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth and more, and He did so by speaking. Genesis 1:3 says, “Then God said, ‘Let there be light’ and there was light.” God, who spoke all things in to being, gave us the ability to “speak” with our bodies. In Genesis 1:28, God gave Adam and Eve dominion over creation, which gave them power or authority in governing. Power comes in many forms, and the power of body language cannot be understated. We are created to “be” a picture of truth: reflecting our Creator. Genesis 1:28a says, “And God blessed them and God said to them, ’Be fruitful and multiply.’” In other words, “be” who God made you to be, and the people around you will see the results. What we say, what we wear, how we act and how we treat people, communicates something. Are we speaking truth or lies? Do our actions communicate truth about us and our identity? Do they communicate truth about God and His identity?
Additionally, God gave us emotions to experience Him and each other in relationship. Our heart, the center of our emotions, is referenced in Scripture over 1,000 times! It is the most commonly used anthropological term. It refers to man’s center of hidden emotional, intellectual and moral activities. The heart is the central driver of man’s thoughts and behaviors, and must be pure after God. Matthew 5:8 says, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” Our heart has the capacity to love others, in fact, we are designed to love. Our end, our ultimate purpose or our telos, is to love others. I John 4:12 says, “No one has beheld God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected (brought to completion) in us.” However, all “loves” are not equal. John 13:34 says, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” This love is Agape and it is unconditional love, not a love based just on feelings and God’s love toward us is expressed in this word as well. You cannot give too much of this love away! Phileo is brotherly love and this love displays a tender affection. John 3:35 says, “The Father loves the Son, and has given all things into His hand.” This familial love is rich and appropriate for close friends and family. Then there is Eros: passionate or sensual desire or longing, romantic love. It is not in the New Testament, but is a Greek word that is useful in defining this type of love. Eros love belongs in a committed, mature male/female relationship and involves the heart, but also engages the body and its desires.
Living with sexual integrity physically means walking, talking, dressing and treating other people in such a way that our beliefs and behavior match!
Your son or daughter can learn the power of body language at this age. God created them to be whole physically, and this means everything they do with their body needs to be integrated and truthful. What they do with their body sends messages and as I mentioned already, their actions and words either tell the truth about who they are, or lies. Parenting is often an “outside in” job so helping your son or daughter speak truth with their body means practical training, like teaching them to speak nice to others, including siblings. Show them how to act gracious and kind and you will begin to see a change in their heart. Teach them how to dress modestly and appropriately for each situation. Put a suit on a man, and he feels more dignified. Put a ball gown on any girl, and somehow she feels more precious. I’m not saying men need to wear suits, although men you should know they look fabulous! The goal is to dignify our bodies by dressing appropriately for the occasion, while not drawing too much attention to our bodies. Modesty is humility, so in dress and in speech we want to say just enough to be well received. What we do and say with our body matters so train yourself and your children to speak and walk in the truth. Furthermore, it is easier to “think” the right way when we dress and act the right way. Physically living with sexual integrity also means dressing in agreement with our biological design. Guys should dress and look masculine and girls should dress and look feminine. God made us as image bearers, so we are literally pictures on display of His amazing grace!
Living with sexual integrity emotionally, means choosing healthy friendships, loving people authentically and not giving pieces of our heart away prematurely. The issue of boyfriends and girlfriends will be part of your life with your teen from now on, so let’s lay a foundation for current and future discussions.
First, is it good for 7th grade students to “go together?” Research on early dating indicates it can encourage earlier initiation of sexual activity. This is an important reason to postpone dating. Second, how mature and integrated is a person in 7th grade? Most would agree they are still growing up in all aspects of who they are as a person.
Third, if your son has a girlfriend, which of the “loves” do you think he is feeling? If the girl is a friend and they share agape and phileo feelings, they should be called friends, since that is what those loves mean. So, why not validate that they are friends, instead of a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship. Then remind them that learning what qualities they are attracted to is good to recognize for building their future spouse resume’. Just because we like someone, doesn’t mean we need to do anything about it, or make them “ours.” Since the average relationship in Jr. High lasts two weeks, it’s wise to keep the friend status, because more than likely, the special feelings will go away. If a “romance” occurs and they break up (which they will), then they lose the friendship and gain awkward feelings. Our goal for our kids is wholeness, not brokenness.
A Girl’s Response
If your daughter engages in a romance and activates eros, romantic love, her whole system is wired to send off bells and whistles and screams, “Prince in the courtyard!” Learning to live with sexual integrity means respecting the powerful design God gave us, and that design’s purpose is oneness with a future spouse. If these design features are awakened prematurely, a young girl’s body may want to draw close to a boyfriend. Her mind will want to connect with him and hear him say certain, romantic words. Her heart will also want to yield (girls naturally submit to the favored man in her life, which should be her daddy at this stage, and for many more years). Then her emotions will become vulnerable, as she plans outfits, dreams about their romance and writes dramatic stories in her head. Girls in particular are all about the story. She cannot help this complex integration…she is made this way. If the prince is older in years, this becomes even more real and more consuming. In the seventh grade, most relationships will last a short time, so is this a good thing?
A Guy’s Response
How about your son? Romance for him is a desire spurred by a visual connection. His design and the way he thinks is also integrated but different than the princess. His body will also want to draw close to the princess, but he doesn’t really think about the romance, and he doesn’t do drama, in fact he is completely unaware that he is simply the lead in “her play!” Did I mention that his body will want to draw close to her? I’m not saying guys are only interested in the physical, but tell me honestly, what 7th grade guy (for that matter, any young teen guy) is going to want all the drama and commitment in a relationship without the privilege of touching? If he says he just wants to be “close” emotionally, and he doesn’t care if they touch, great! We have another category for him, we call it friends. I discourage any young teens from having boyfriends or girlfriends because the process of going together and breaking up (which will happen) creates fracture or brokenness in their heart. It also awakens the physical bonding and each time a teen breaks up and starts a new relationship, they tend to jump physical stages and start where they left off in the prior relationship. It also begins to teach them that breaking up is normal for relationships, and trains them to be more comfortable with disunity, broken friendships and possibly divorce.