The Words of the Gow Family
Decline of Good Character
Haven Bradford Gow
As an article in the January 1995 Ligourian pointed out, "It’s no secret that living together is becoming more and more common. Some studies show that more than half of all couples in the United States live together before marriage." The article observed that "sex was created and intended to celebrate specifically married love. That was God’s plan, and there’s no indication that the plan has been drastically restructured to meet the needs of the nineties."
It went on to add that "sex is the most physically and emotionally personal and total gift. As such, it should express only the most complete and personal relationship, the kind we call a covenant—sacramental marriage."
Some significant and thought-provoking studies reveal that premarital sex and affairs often destroy the moral, spiritual and psychological foundations of good, happy and enduring marriages. For example, a 1991 study by sociologists Larry Bumpass, James Sweet and Andrew Charlin found that "cohabiting unions are much less stable than (unions) that begin as marriages. In fact, 40 percent of cohabiting unions break up before marriage, and marriages that began as cohabiting unions disrupt at a 50 percent rate (higher) than those that did not."
A 1992 study by Alfred DeMaris and K.V. Rao reviewed 10 significant cohabitation studies; the DeMaris/Rao study concluded, "Those who cohabit prior to marriage have been shown to be significantly lower on measures of marital quality and to have significantly higher risk of marital dissolution at any given marital duration."
In his new work The New Absolutes (Bethany House), journalist/social critic William Watkins tells us the high level of teen sexual experimentation has culminated in "a rash of pregnancies, abortions and births. Each year more than one million teens become pregnant. Many of these babies never make it to term. One of every five abortions is performed on a woman under age 20, and one in four teenage pregnancies ends in abortion." He adds: "Of the babies who are allowed to live, more than two-thirds are born to unmarried teens, most of whom are between the ages of 15 and 19. The United States has one of the highest adolescent birthrates of any country in the world."
Is purity an impossible dream? What can adults—parents, educators, religious leaders—do to help encourage and inspire young people to be pure and virtuous?
Rev. Clyde Sanders, a Baptist clergyman/scholar in Eudora, Ark., observes: "To help young people stay pure, we must introduce them to God and the teachings of God. Faith in God gives young people a good reason to be pure and virtuous. Also, parents must work together to teach their children to be good and virtuous. And mothers and fathers, educators and religious leaders must be good role models for children."
Rev. Isaac Snyder, pastor of New Zion Baptist Church in Eudora, Ark., says: "As parents, we must encourage our children to associate with other young people with religious faith, good morals and good character. The Bible teaches that we often are known by those with whom we associate. Also, teachers and religious leaders must help parents teach young people to be pure and virtuous. When schools hand out condoms and teach young people to use them and how to have sex, they are encouraging young people to have sex before marriage."
Rev. James Toney, a Baptist clergyman/scholar in Eudora, Ark., states: "We must teach young people what God says in the Bible about sex and marriage. God created us, and He knows best what we should and should not do to remain pure. I have been a clergyman for many years, and through the years I have encountered several women who have acted and talked to me in a seductive manner; but I always have remembered that I am a man of God, and that I must remain faithful to my wife and to the teachings of God regarding sex and marriage. God says in the Bible that we must be pure before marriage and remain faithful after we become married. Without God and the Bible, we cannot teach young people to be pure and virtuous; and without God, young people cannot stay pure and husbands and wives cannot remain faithful to one another."
Aurga Harris, a Bible teacher in Eudora, and Lillian Woodruff, an official of Zion Temple Church in Eudora, tell us: "The best way to teach children about purity is through personal example. When children see Christ in us and in the kindness and love we show others, they will want to be pure like Christ, too."
Loddie Green, a public school educator and Sunday School teacher in Eudora, observes: "If I were talking to a group of high school girls, I would be honest and straightforward with them and tell them right from wrong and why it is best to save themselves for marriage. I would explain that their virginity is a sacred gift from God, and that they should not give that gift away to just anyone they find attractive and who is interested in having a relationship. They have to ask themselves whether the guys they are interested in are worthy of losing their virginity. If they are worthy, they will prove it by waiting until marriage before engaging in sex."
Walter Williams, an official of a Baptist church in Eudora, declares: "Even though many kids today have hardened their hearts and their consciences, we still have to uphold what is right and teach what the Bible says about abstaining from sex before marriage. And letting the schools pass out condoms and birth control pills only will make it easier for the kids to have sex and also will encourage other kids to start having sex."
Clearly, we need to teach young people to behave as good human beings, and not like animals, and let them know they possess the God-given ability to develop purity of heart, mind and soul. For it is because we truly love others that we must remain pure until giving of ourselves lovingly and selflessly within the sacrament of marriage. By remaining pure until marriage, we never will have to feel guilty about past indiscretions, nor will we have to feel ashamed of looking into the eyes of our husbands and wives. If we were unfaithful to our spouses before marriage, will we possess the strength and nobility of mind, spirit and character to remain faithful to them after marriage?
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