“Your daughters are beautiful. I hope you have a shotgun handy.”
At first, this conversation was funny, and I usually responded with something along the lines of, “Jesse can probably scare the boys off without needing a shotgun. Besides, have you met their mother? She’s pretty scary herself.” Or we would talk about the martial arts we want to get into as a family and teaching them to scare the boys off by themselves.
However, the more often we have this conversation, the more it grates on me.
Because our assumptions are all wrong. We are assuming that cross-gender relationships must have a sexual element to them. Secular psychology would seem to agree with that assessment. But to turn to psychology without measuring it up against the perfect example of humanity is faulty and incomplete.
“Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. (This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair.) So the sisters sent word to Jesus, ‘Lord, the one you love is sick.’ When he heard this, Jesus said,’This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.’ Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.” John 11:1-5, emphasis mine
“You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.” Romans 8:9-11, emphasis mine
We, as believers, are no longer subject to our flesh, and anyone who says otherwise is missing the point and the beauty of redemption. We do not need to be afraid of cross-gender relationships as “dangerous”, because, in Christ, they are not. We are free to love one another as he loved Mary and Martha.
It is our Western understanding of over-sexualized loved that is dangerous. And the fact that we are passing this distortion of love onto the next generation is what scares me.
A while back, at a social function, AJ was playing with a little boy around her age. When it came time for us all to leave, the two kids gave each other hugs (insert adult “awwww’s” here). Then they moved in to kiss each other (insert adult freak out). I sort of just stood back and observed the situation, unsure of exactly how to respond in the moment. I’ll admit to a little bit of an “uh oh, it’s starting already” moment in my mama heart.
It wasn’t until I was out of the situation and had time process that it occurred to me: “They are toddlers. They have no idea what a kiss means. It’s just what you do when you say goodbye to someone you love. We pass AJ around when we are leaving family & friends houses to give kisses goodbye. This is a completely natural behavior to them.”
For us to make a big deal about this behavior is to teach them that there is something unnatural about that friendship. It is to buy into the secular “wisdom” of the inability of men and women to have friendships. It is also to reinforce the sexualization of children.
So how then should we respond? To be honest, I don’t know yet. I don’t have a good answer yet for that conversation. I also don’t know exactly how to respond to the situation above, except that I will attempt to keep from freaking out and will not discourage my daughters from developing playmates across both genders.