Mennonite dating beliefs

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This article was originally published by The Mennonite. The Mennonite. July 1, Have a comment on this story? Write to the editors. Include your full name, city and state. Selected comments will be edited for publication in print or online. I am a year-old woman in a comfortable year marriage, and I think a lot about sex.

The reason? I have a year-old son, who is in college. My concerns have been heightened not only by conversations with my son but also by a seminar I attended last summer at Associated Mennonite Biblical SeminaryElkhart, Ind. Between the statistics offered by our speaker, Irma Fast Dueck of Canadian Mennonite UniversityWinnipeg, Manitoba, and the questions and comments of the participants, I realized that this matter of changing sexual attitudes is the elephant in the room that everyone—and no one—wants to discuss.

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I learned Mennonite dating beliefs the notion of celibacy before marriage has largely been abandoned, even by church-going young adults. More than half of couples marrying for the first time have first lived together, we were told, and nearly 75 percent of single people have been sexually active by age The speaker encouraged us to think about current brain research and hormones. Now consider that the average age for first-time marriage is 27 for men and 25 for women.

How surprising is it that young adults are not waiting until marriage to have sex? Clearly we need to foster boundary-conscious, respectful dialogue with teenagers and somethings both inside and outside our churches. If we want adult-to-adult relationships with the emerging adults of our churches and homes, we need to create safe places both to listen and to be heard.

The questions that follow are ones I have found helpful in conversations with my son and other young adults and have emerged out of my own study of current research on changing sexual attitudes and social trends. Assuming this desire for a good marriage is true for most young adults, the question becomes one of how they best realize that desire. Only 39 percent of high school girls and 32 percent of boys in this survey believed that marriage will lead to more happiness in life than remaining single or cohabiting.

Seen as an affirmation of singleness, these statistics reflect a good trend. Marriage, after all, is not a requirement for a fulfilled life. But taken with the high percentage of year-olds who said a good marriage and family life is extremely important to them, these statistics belie an underlying fatalism that is hard to ignore.

It is in this apparent gap between what young people say they want and their lack of hope in being able to have what they want that marriage advocates can stand. We need to be able to adequately articulate just why marriage is still a meaningful arrangement. We also need to be able to offer some hope that long-term marriages are still possible, in spite of that recurring statistic that says half of all marriages end in divorce. The ability to follow this version of the Golden Rule within a marriage has become more important for marital success in our day than a commitment Mennonite dating beliefs stay married no matter what.

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Our sons and daughters, many of whom now separate sexual relations from long-term commitment, seem to compartmentalize their sex drive from their longings for deep friendship and emotional intimacy. In one way, they seem to recognize their own need to mature emotionally so that they can be ready for the kind of relationship Gilbert describes. In the meantime, though, they want to enjoy their sexuality without assuming the responsibilities and expectations of marriage. Many express a desire to achieve career goals and income requirements and satisfy their wanderlust before settling down.

How have we as parents and in the church encouraged our children in this way of thinking, without considering the reality of the human sex drive? Mary Kay? A new line of jewelry? No—sex toys, complete with demonstrations on how to use them. Perhaps in our desire to provide well for our children and in our attempts to build their self-esteem by applauding their achievements, we have unwittingly sent the message that being comfortable, successful and self-satisfied are the ultimate life goals and that the struggle, pain, failure and self-denial that come with love and friendship have no value.

Building a good marriage is fraught with set-backs, failure and sacrifice, all of which are better weathered in a community of friends Mennonite dating beliefs share these struggles and find value in them. Our children have been watching us as we relate in our own marriages. They have noticed what the church says—and does not say—about sex and marriage.

Some have experienced the pain of divorce. Storytelling is a good, usually nonthreatening way to share information. I have had to learn to tread carefully and not overreact to attitudes and descriptions outside my comfort zone. I have earned the kind of trust and respect in these conversations that helps him listen to my stories—stories of my early romantic encounters and of my marriage relationship.

I have tried to be honest about my regrets and about the ways love within marriage has been both a struggle and a gift. Our dialogue has helped me find and articulate new meaning in the losses and benefits of my own marriage. Perhaps the attitudes and behaviors most disturbing to me are the ones that deny that sexual Mennonite dating beliefs can result in a pregnancy not to mention sexually transmitted diseases.

According to a National Public Radio report on April 20,over 50 percent Mennonite dating beliefs pregnancies in the United States are unplanned, and seven out of 10 of those pregnancies occur in women between the ages of 20 and In her book Between Two Worlds: The Inner Lives of Children of Divorce, Elizabeth Marquardt, a researcher and herself of divorced parents, interviewed 71 adults under 30, half of whom were from divorced families. All were college graduates.

Issues surrounding birth control, abortion, unplanned pregnancies and divorce continue to raise points of disagreement and division in the church at large. What we can agree on, though, and discuss with the young adults in our homes and churches are the ethical issues surrounding procreation. No longer is it a given that most people will become parents sometime in life.

Parents may need to come to terms with the possibility that they will never be grandparents. Young adults who express no desire to have children or who want to remain single need acceptance and understanding. People should not marry or have children just to please their parents. In an attempt to share my own understanding of love and marital commitment with my son, I described in writing how I view the marriage journey as a spiritual pilgrimage. I was a little surprised to find that he agreed with my vision of marriage despite our differing views on current sexual attitudes and practices.

This kind of love serves as a mirror in which we see ourselves as we are in relation to the other and then—to use increasingly old-fashioned terms—repent, confess and receive forgiveness so that we can become even better lovers than before. I explained that this is the kind of love the church believes comes from God and to which humans must aspire if they and this planet are to survive.

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Love is first a choice and then a daily commitment to the beautifully flawed people we live among. This commitment-driven love between sexual partners produces trust, and trust le to an intimacy that allows us to be ourselves, weaknesses and all, without fear of rejection. In this intentional, loving context, sex truly becomes lovemaking. More importantly, this covenant relationship we call marriage provides the best environment for raising not only healthy, happy children but also for creating a partnership that can grow, endure and carry lovers together into old age.

Is this the vision of marriage and family life the majority of young adults say is extremely important to them? If so, how do we in the church become marriage advocates in a way that captures the hearts and minds of our children? Peter Thiessen Gerhard Thiessen.

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John Longhurst For Anabaptist World. Paul Schrag Anabaptist World. John Seewer Associated Press.

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Ben Tapper For Anabaptist World. Tim Huber Anabaptist World. Evana Network. Anabaptist World. Log In. Subscribe Renew. This article was originally published by The Mennonite Features. The Mennonite July 1, A conversation with somethings I am a year-old woman in a comfortable year marriage, and I think a lot about sex.

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Mennonite dating beliefs

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