"So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them." Genesis 1:27
The first semester of school has finally worked its way into history and now begins the second half of the year. At dinner, Justin mentioned that he will begin his health class, the class consisting of the three students whose parents signed them up for the "abstinence only" section of sexual education. A lively discussion ensued about the reasons why Paul and I insist he not learn about artificial birth control, self-gratification, and same-sex marriage as part of his high school curriculum. I was feeling pretty high and mighty and righteous at the beginning of the discussion, but by the end of dinner, I found that I was the one who was apologizing to my children!
"Only the chaste man and the chaste woman are capable of true love." Pope John Paul II
I tried to explain that sexual intercourse is a beautiful thing, a blessing from God, the way He brings life into the world, as long as it is within marriage. I shared the fact that our bodies are beautiful, made in the image of God, and that sharing our bodies with our spouse is the fulfillment of marriage. The volume quickly rose as the children cried out, "Eww, that's disgusting Mom! How can you even say the word sex in front of your children!" "Well," I countered, "if it weren't for sex, you wouldn't be here!"
That was enough for youngest son who quickly covered his ears. It was more than enough for dramatic Mary, who left the table in disgust and escaped upstairs to her bedroom. It wasn't long before she was back, with her coat on and a suitcase in hand.
"I cannot stay in a house where my mother uses the word "sex" at the dinner table!!!!" And she walked out the back door. Soon middle son went outside to soothe her temper and coax her back inside.
His efforts worked, but after she came back in, she went upstairs to put away her coat and suitcase and didn't come back down. I followed her to her room and knocked on her door. She was still pretty upset with me and did not want her vulgar mother to come in. Meanwhile, Joe was busy printing something at the computer. Soon he handed me the "Parenting Guru's Guide to Raising Kids."
It had a list of basic facts about teaching children to be responsible, independent, respectful and smart. And last on the list, in large, bold letters, were the words he added himself-
"Do not ever mention the word 'sex' in front of your children!"
Funny Joe. Lesson learned. Maybe my words aren't the best way to teach them, maybe they can best learn about the sanctity of the human body, the glory of God within, through physical examples such as:
golden hair brushed gently into braids
hand squeezed during sign of peace
thumb brushing away tears that stain face
feather-soft kiss upon the forehead as sleep comes on
kneeling side by side as prayers are whispered
tender embrace of forgiveness
sideways glancing smile of pride
shoulder rubs and back scratches
husband and wife holding each other in an embrace
And I remember that it was only a few hours ago at work, that I had visited with a father and his one-year-old son who was born with a spinal disorder. Dad showed me the scar on child's back from the surgery that he had undergone after birth, told me how his child may never walk, that from the waist down he is unable to move any part of his body except his toes...
and I can run if I want to!
Then there was the young mother of five (just like me) whose baby just came home after two months in the NICU, born with a full right lung, but only half of his left lung, the baby who will require oxygen for his entire life, however short that may be, just so that he can draw in the clear, fresh air of life...
and I can freely breathe in and out without giving it a second thought!
And, too, I saw the young girl, just barely sixteen, holding a new life within her womb and I thought- "child holding child inside, take care of yourself!"
and I come home to children who wince at the very mention of sex!
I am blessed! This is the dinner lesson I want to remember-my body, all of our bodies-whether healthy and strong or weak and fragile- are so very, very beautiful! I think of the wondrous miracle that my eyes can see, my mouth can taste, my legs can move, my mind can think. This gift of body, glorious and magnificent in His image, IN HIS IMAGE, and what is He but LOVE?O Lord of Love and Beauty, You who created us to look like You, to be like You, teach us to be grateful for our bodies and to treat them with the gentle, loving care than they deserve. Amen.