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A Father’s Advice to a 21-year old college student

I believe it is very challenging being a Christian in college these days.  While trying to remain in the faith while at the same type finding your identity, career path, even a future spouse, I imagine it can be overwhelming.  I think this may be especially true to fend off sexual temptation.  If I could write a letter to today’s college student, it may go something like this:

“College is an awesome experience with many ups and downs.  And it during those challenging down times that we are provided with a unique opportunity to grow in the faith. Quite often we allow the busyness of taking classes and campus life to place God on the back burner.  If I could encourage you in one area, it would be to take time to have a personal time of study and devotion.  There is a super-natural power that God provides through His Holy Spirit that only comes by being in His Word — that gives strength, wisdom and discernment while you attempt to live out your Christian life and fend off worldly wisdom, attitudes and temptations.

Then, you meet that someone special and a relationship blossoms — even to the point where serious consideration is given towards a future marriage.  While basking in this joy and love, I would encourage both of you to continue to place your relationship in the Lord’s hands.  Allow Christ to be first in your lives and in your relationship.  As I view the world and lived in it for the past (almost!) fifty years (gasp!), I have seen relationships getting hammered and butchered by this world.  Our culture is largely shaped by the media — and people have bought into what transpires on the t.v./computer screen and have attempted to apply it into their own lives with disastrous results.  My encouragement to is to not let the world dictate to you what a relationship ought to be or to look like, but create a standard that is measured by what is God-pleasing and goes entirely against the pressures of the what seems right and promoted by the world.  And this is not easy.  From my perspective, one of the most difficult challenges is to fend off sexual temptation.

For two young Christian people to be together as a couple for any length of time, I can’t imagine how difficult it may be to resist sexual temptation.  In fact, it may seem impossible.  And once the dam has been broken by having sexual intercourse, it is exceptionally difficult to stop the pattern or resist the urge when intimate opportunities present themselves.  In my day, when a committed couple is either engaged or about to be engaged, it was commonly referred to as “practicing”.  The short-term pleasure is simply not worth the long-term effect that pre-marital sex can have on a relationship.  And I often wondered why that is the case.

Our God is a mysterious God.  We can know Him as our Lord and Creator, yet at the same time, have a personal relationship with him.  So much so, that he refers to us as his children and we are to call him “Abba” or “Daddy”.  He provides these mysterious connections through His Word, baptism and communion.  I have seen this power of baptism and communion take hold of people who come to the Christian faith.  They are transformed and renewed in a way they could never do themselves.  By being connected to Christ, there is joy, peace, contentment that goes beyond words.  In that line of mystery is the relationship of man and a woman.  In a marriage covenant, there is not just an agreement or a commitment to each other, which is important, but also a union where two becomes one.  A bone of my bone or a flesh of my flesh that a Bible refers to.  Sexual intercourse is that means where the physical reality is joined spiritually and two become one.  That is the original design of marriage — the blueprint put together by the Great Architect.  And when followed, it provides a sure and solid foundation from which a building can grow in true love, trust and even intimacy.  When not followed, when a couple decides to follow a different blueprint or design, then trust is replaced by fear, love replaced by guilt, and true intimacy replaced by a false one — meaning that it’s more challenging in a marriage to re-manufacture the fire that was engulfed in that pre-marriage relationship.

I’m in the process of reading a famous biography of Winston Churchill.  It’s a huge book so I’m reading sections at a time.  He grew up during the days of Victorian England during the late 19th century.  On the outside, Victorian England portrayed an image of honor, respect and celibacy.  However, I was a little bit shocked to learn that the aristocracy of England was sexually virulent that would make Lindsay Lohan seem tame in comparison.  And the mother of Winston Churchill was one of the National Enquirer stars of her day with her sexual exploits both well-known and numerous.  The point being that as our grandparents seem to reflect back on the “good ole” days — but the fact remains that the temptations of the world are nothing new.

One of the biggest ramifications of succumbing to sexual temptation is guilt. As Christians, we know what is sin.  We know the difference between right and wrong.  God provided in his creation this little thing called guilt that infects our conscious.  When left unresolved it affects our relationship with God and with others.  Furthermore, guilt can also manifest itself in marriage and can prohibits you or drive a wedge from attaining that level of intimacy and closeness that both partners long for and seek in a marriage relationship.  Why is that?  Perhaps because guilt is often associated when a wrong is done.

When applying this to succumbing to sexual temptation, I think guilt is manifested and prohibits true intimacy in a potential marriage relationship because our trust is skewered.  For a man, a conquest has been carried out due to lust.  For a woman, her body has been taken advantage of due to lust.  A man disrespects a woman and dishonors her by violating a trust — opening a gift before its ready to be presented.  A woman disrespects herself by presenting a gift before its ready to be presented.  And on that marriage day, when the gift is ready to be presented — it lacks the value.  Appreciated, yes, but not valued as the treasure it deserves.  It’s like being presented with a used car instead of a bright, shiny new one — even though you know that the person who gave you the used car could easily have afforded an expensive new one.  Then, doubt and trust lingers in the emotions of a new marriage relationship.  Again, the short-term satisfaction that sexual intimacy can bring, albeit intense, is not worth the long-term effects it can bring for a couple that is strongly considering marriage.  God’s blueprint works.  And, our God is an amazing and loving God who offers and encourages forgiveness when sin has been committed and renewal for us and for couples who desire to follow God’s blueprint for marriage.

Thank you for reading this letter.  It is a privilege to see the next generation who are excelling in life, displaying great character and continue to make good choices when there are so many opportunities these days to make bad ones.  Parents always wants the best for you — and at the same time, encourage their child’s freedom and independence to be who God designed you to be.  Parents are grateful of the opportunities and the adventures that lie ahead for you — and also grant the freedom to make mistakes.  These are the best opportunities to grow.  Parents have such a great desire to make life easy for you.  Mainly because when you ache, we ache.  When you experience pain, we experience pain.  And, that’s never a fun thing.  But I guess that to shield you from experiencing pain from either wrong decisions or decisions made by others, would probably be the biggest mistake we could make.  As the Apostle Paul put it — it is through pain and suffering that produces perseverance, character and most importantly… hope.  So, parents embrace our role to grant you freedom and independence while at the same time embracing a new role to offer counsel in order to help you avoid pitfalls of life as much as we can.

For all those college students, there are thousands upon thousands of people who are not only rooting for you, but praying for you as well.

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1 Comment

  1. encouragingservants on April 9, 2012 at 10:00 pm

    I work in a pregnancy resource center that also does free STI Testing in a large college community. I see it often – the disappointment of not living up to their own expectations, questioning God’s love for their obvious failure, and how to go on from here. Thanks for your words of encouragement.

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