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The God Squad: Parents shouldn't deny 'old-fashioned' moral code

June 24, 2011|By Rabbi Marc Gellman

Question: Despite the conservative Catholic stance on morality and church issues we've taken all our married life, our older unmarried son and daughter have no problem with sleeping over at a lover's home, in the same bed, with the full knowledge of the person's parents.

Though my wife and I have always expressed our opposition to this practice, and don't allow it in our own home unless the two people sleep in separate rooms, we've been told we're the only parents who take this "extreme and old-fashioned" position.

We've also been told that even priests have sex (the evidence being the child sex abuse scandal in the Catholic Church). Therefore, we're perceived not as living according to a Catholic moral code, but observing our own personal moral code and using an archaic and outdated form of church morality as the basis for our personal choices.

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How do we get through to our children when even the Catholic Church itself has completely eroded away any sense of moral standards in the eyes of today's young people? — F., West Babylon, N.Y.

Answer: Parents of all faiths and no faith have many obligations to their children. They must provide them with the necessities of life: food, clothing and video games, along with a clear, morally upright code of conduct for their lives. Part of this moral education is to teach children about sexual morality. This can't be done by denying and distorting what you believe and what your faith teaches.

Premarital sex has two dimensions. The first is promiscuous sexuality, in which sex is treated as simply a morally neutral bodily function and personal urge. This is wrong because it severs the links between sex and love, sex and marriage, and sex and procreation. It's false to good sex and false to good faith.

The second dimension is committed monogamous sex between two loving but unmarried people. At least this form includes love and a form of commitment, but still falls short of Catholic teachings and short of what I view as the rational ethic of sexual morality because it breaks the connection between sex and marriage.

This view may sound old-fashioned to many, but old-fashioned is sometimes a good thing when cultural trends are morally bankrupt. I believe you have an obligation to keep telling your kids what you believe and demand respect for your morality when they're sleeping under your roof.

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