A few months ago, I wrote a post about The Shidduch Crisis. I thought Adam (who pretty much hijacked the comments) made some interesting point about moderation, and the failure of our culture to teach moderation.
That idea has been expounded in a recent post by DovBear.
There are a couple of points I’d like to make (that the comments over there have kind of already touched on).
First of all, problem with moderation, as Adam pointed out, is that educators choose absolute zero over the other extreme, and they see the other extreme as inevitable. This is the reason I blame the educators. Their insistence that the other extreme is inevitable is at the same time both erroneous and self-predictive. What are the consequences of an absolute ban? Well, you’ll just make seeking and getting that which is banned even more fun and enjoyable.
And you know what, there is one thing that can’t be denied: high-school-aged kids face a biological imperative to be (in one way or another) sexually active, that there is nothing they can do (that would be considered normal and healthy) about it. We should be channeling and teaching the proper methods of using that energy rather than denying it. Like Rav Bina told us: “Az, this what a boy has a girlfriend for two weeks and doesn’t touch her is either lying or he’s a gay.”
Second, what’s wrong with it? We’ve demonized sex. And (I think I’ve mentioned this before) that’s a very Catholic attitude. It’s decidedly un-Jewish. Nowhere in early Jewish literature is sex verboten. Not even pre-marital sex. Certainly not touching. Consider that our greatest king, King David was the product of sex outside of marriage with a woman who was thought to be a Harlot (Yehuda and Tamar), a relationship that got off the ground because of pre-marital sex (Boaz and Ruth – read Ruth 3:4 and tell me “Uncover his feet” isn’t a metaphor). Consider further that our ultimate redeemer is destined to come from this line as well. What would have happened if Boaz or Yehuda were modern day yeshiva bochurim?
But the concept of negiah and preventing sex have permeated the community. I don’t understand it. Like DovBear points out, many many many “modern orthodox” boys who had physical, sexual relationships in high school turned out just fine. Some even “flipped out.” And now if you ask them about high school, they’ll probably slink their shoulders and dip their heads and be all embarassed about it, and say who they would never let their son do that now.
I especially like this comment:
Q: Which is best: a school where the kids do it and the parents and faculty know about it, or a school where the kids do it and the parents and faculty DON’T know about it?
A: This is obvious.
As the proud parent of an MO kid (female) in a 15 month and counting relationship with an MO boy I can say that they try for SN and end up with a bit more. But not so much more that we have cause for concern or distrust. And we can talk about it with them – and so can his parents.
As to what they do when not together, speaking for myself I don’t enquire and I try not to speculate.
It might be an issur (together or alone). It is also real life and I reject utterly the fact that Judaism requires me to insist that my child doesn’t do something they are 99% likely to do anyway. They can try their best like the rest of us, and make choices like the rest of us. Leave the imposed guilt to the Catholics. Might be time for some contributors to wake up?