Longtime readers will recall that she sparred often with the Catholics here over abortion, contraception, women's biology, the hook-up culture and Planned Parenthood. She provided one of the most memorable moments on the blog when she mentioned that all her friends, whom she polled, could not see any downside to the hook-up culture other than the constant sobbing.
I was pleased when "college student" (who is an agnostic) struck up an email conversation with me a while back, and we have occasionally kept in touch. Then, a few days ago, she sent me the following, reprinted with her permission:
I know you are not a Priest and have better things to do than listen to your 22-year-old pen pal confess, but I need someone to agree with me today ;)
One of the boys I told you about earlier and I starting seeing each other (#3 -- he's a good guy I swear). He was home for the weekend and I went over his house. We went out to dinner with his parents and it was late so I decided to stay over in the guest room. Boy walks into guest room, takes off his pants (non sexually), gets into bed. I tell him to get out, we are in his parents' house. He asks why. His mother comes in and I am just mortified. I tell her not to worry and that [boy's name] will sleep in his room upstairs. She shrugs nonchalantly and says to sleep where we want and no one will bother us in the basement!!
Thinking it was hilarious and ridiculous I told my friends, "[Boy]'s parents let us sleep in the same bed, can you believe that!" The unanimous answer: "So What?" "We are Adults." Apparently this is normal and a lot of parents are cool with it including my girlfriend's very Catholic parents!!
Furthermore, when I yelled at my mother for letting me go out of town to see said boyfriend and told her leniency was the result of letting my older sister get away with too much stuff, she told me to stop being so judgmental and live my own life, I love you mom, but C'MON!
So we agree, the world is indeed. GOING. TO. HELL.
As you can guess, my response was to affirm her assessment and her disgust. I also experienced an internal joy that she gets it! Even though it was never explicitly taught to her, she gets, on an instinctive level, that this permissive attitude and lack of judgment on the part of parents today just isn't right. "College student" gets a sense of her own dignity, the dignity of her boyfriend, and the (dare I say?) reverence that is due human sexuality.
In a subsequent email, she went on:
But something didn’t make sense. Parents don’t exercise the same amount of control over a 22-year-old as they do a 16-year-old. Nor should they, we as young adults are charged with making responsible choices. Yet when we are in their presence they still reserve the right to tell us what to. We are still yelled at, still disciplined, and still not allowed to swear. Yet, that on that day at my boyfriend's house, we were autonomous adults who governed ourselves. Go figure.
I suppose it is easy to think the only parents who would allow this are perhaps bringing their own boyfriends to spend the night or are liberal moral relativists. Yet every single person I talked to whose parents allowed them to cohabit was the child of married parents. One was the daughter of a Catholic family who never missed Sunday Mass and educated all of their three children in Catholic Schools. Another was the son of self-proclaimed fundamentalists who devoutly attend church every Sunday and Wednesday. Some voted for Republicans.
The question is not why are parents who have moral and sexual failings failing to uphold strong standards for their children. That is hardly a paradox and the answer is rather obvious and uninteresting.
Rather what has me perplexed is why are doting parents committed to structure and safety omitting sex from the discussion? Why are they okay telling their son, even their adult son, to make up his bed and not to smoke so long as he is in their home, but they can not tell him to at least wait to have sex until he gets back to his own apartment? Why do they bombard him with texts whenever he travels to make sure he is safe, yet say nothing when he is potentially catching a disease in their basement (and they are both doctors)? Why? Because I cannot figure it out.With those questions, "college student" has proven herself wiser than many twice her age. I've yelled out my own similar question for years now: "Where are the grown-ups?!"
And she's right to push further and ask how it is that even Christian parents can wimp out on this issue while taking a stand on things that don't necessarily affect their children's souls and eternal destinies. I believe it has to do with a confusion about God Himself, a profound lack of courage, and/or the all-pervasive desire to be "friends" with one's children above all else.
J. Peter Nixon describes the devastating effects of a generation of Christian parents who refuse to form their children morally:
Our children and grandchildren are abandoning the faith because they perceive -- rightly -- that its demands are at fundamental variance with the lives we have prepared them to lead. We have raised them to seek lives characterized by material comfort, sexual fulfillment, and freedom from any obligations that they have not personally chosen. Should it surprise us that they fail to take seriously our claims to follow one who embraced poverty, chastity, and obedience to the will of God? (From the article, "Only the Saints Can Save Us")
"College student" is obviously on to something with her observations, and she is hoping that her questions and general bewilderment will be the catalyst for a good discussion here. In her words:
I am really looking forward to what everyone says, as I could use some adult advice on the matter!Thoughts, readers?