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Rant: Talking about Touching

John Paul II called the years before puberty “the years of innocence.” This period should be characterized by a pervasive tranquility. God’s creation presents them with an endless array of wonder to feed their developing intellects and souls within the sanctuary of the home, a sanctuary presided over with love and authority by parents. God speaks powerfully to children. This innocence goes far beyond sexual matters. It is part of a comprehensive view of childhood as a treasure, good for its own sake, not merely as a boot camp for adulthood. Adulthood will come anyway, but even in adulthood we are called to be childlike in our love and devotion to God. How many adults can hearken back to that simplicity?

Protection of this state of innocence ought to govern parents. Parents’ desire to see their children make friends and get out of the house a little can never trump their responsibility to protect them from uncontrolled situations. A parent may wonder why the fictional children in the “Talking about Touching” program are in the situations they are in. If there is any doubt about the integrity of an uncle, why would a second grader be allowed to visit without parents? Why would a third grader spend the night at a house that had an unknown older brother around? Such considerations go beyond sexual perversions. An unreliable older brother is far more likely to endanger a child in non-sexual ways. But again, why focus this attention on sexual matters? The same protection of innocence ought to lead parents to limit the amount of television children watch, the kinds of books they read (or look at), the kinds of friends they associate with, and much else besides. The responsibility is an awesome one.

A child should have a modesty and a formality toward strangers and family alike. As a default, such a disposition will serve to minimize the incidence of all kinds of issues. For example, the 6 year old that has a dutiful sense of modesty that means changing his clothes in his room with the door shut would simply not be inclined to change clothes in another situation. This is not merely because some predator might be after him, but because if there are impure impulses in someone the child will not be a stumbling block, and further even if the situation is perfectly safe the child’s modesty should be affirmed. Similarly, a strong sense of modesty and obedience increases the possibility that a child will be empowered to say no, and to report to their parents anything that makes them uncomfortable.

"If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you.” John 15:19

It is the world that thinks innocence is a liability. Are the American bishops in the world, or have they become of the world?

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on March 16, 2006 7:04 PM.

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