So one of my little nieces was sent up here to Spokaneland for the summer. She has been staying out with my parents and any time I can get my hands on her, with us. Her last day with us will be Friday (she has demanded one more night at the Whitehouse for dinner and I am happy to oblige), as she flies back early Saturday morning. Her father and I are... very similar creatures (understatement of the century I know). For this reason I am a quick study on her and she is an equally quick study on me. At first she said having so much family around was a little overwhelming and now she is scarred of how lonely a three person household will feel upon her return. She has reawakened all the love and passion I have for teenagers. I have long had a deep respect and affection for those the between the ages of 13 and 18. It is such an amazing age. Never again do you love, hate, burn, or give the way that you do in this brief window of life.
As we get older we learn with each relationship and each experience to give a little less of ourselves and out trust. With age comes wisdom and caution but it comes with a rather large price tag. We tend to loose our joy and passion. I feel that so much of the teenage angst for lack of a better term, comes because we try to keep teenagers children too long. As my niece so competently said it "there is a difference between childhood and childishness". In the past a 15 year old girl would generally be married, running a household and caring for her husband and family. Our bodies and minds are made to do so. The trouble comes in trying to prolong the childhood phase with people who are no longer children. No wonder they fight so hard for we are going against the design of nature and God's timetable. We tell them to grow up, take responsibility for their actions, think for themselves and then within the same breath tell them we are responsible for them and they will do what we say when we say and how we say and are surprised when they act out with childish behavior.
When it comes to sexuality I see even more evidence that we are making a mistake in timing. Having been married at 17 clearly colors my opinion I suppose. We were married in Idaho at the Hitching Post because we could not find a pastor who would marry us (with me under 18) unless I was pregnant. They wanted me to have more experience dating and better know what I wanted in a mate. What a twisted theory. The more people you have romantic relationships with the better the chances that you will end up in trouble (or now a days... dead). Not to mention the more people you have later to compare your spouse to (and any honest married person will tell you this isn't a helpful tool most of the time). With the kind of passion and die hard stubborn loyalty that teenage relationships are famous for, I cannot help but believe that if they we nurtured and cemented instead of made fun of and or treated as forbidden they would stand a much better chance of lasting a lifetime then our modern day idea of settling down after you have done everything you can to make yourself happy for years and wondering why sacrifice and submission don't feel like a good fit.
My opinions don't make me popular with the parents of teenagers and I have been told that I would be an unwelcome volunteer with youth groups but I think that's sad. It is only in recent western history that we have become so self centered that we look at marriage as something to put off until you have had your fun and are ready to give up the good life. Ben and I grew up together. Our relationship was forged through the experiences that we went through together. The things other people would have fought about we laughed at because we were to young and inexperienced to know any "better". Who am I kidding we still do! When we talked about getting married during senior year (yes, of high school) we decided that it would work out just fine because we were physically attracted to each other (couldn't keep our hands off each other) and we both loved the Lord and wanted to serve him faithfully. That was it. That was our big list of pros. We had been dating for three weeks. We were right. We still can't keep our hands off each other and because we pray together for our marriage and we serve a God who loves marriage and desires to see it succeed, it works. It would have worked at any age. We pray and He does the rest.
I think our relationship with the Lord suffers from the same mental shift in society. The Bible tells us to come to Him with the heart of a child. When we look at a child's love as silly and childish we close our hearts to God. If you come to your marriage with the heart of a child it too will be blessed by God. Notice I didn't say with a solid career path, a five year plan or financial security. They won't get you any further with your marriage than they will with Jesus.