The heart of the matter

Published 5:00 pm Tuesday, February 9, 2021

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By Nathan Rice

Her shorts were short, and her shirt ended just below her chest, which left most of her without clothing. She crouched down near the ground moving in such as a way as to leave little to the imagination. What this 13-year-old was imitating was clear. It was also heartbreaking.

She knew what she was doing, but I don’t think she fully understood. Our culture presents a cheapened version of sex and sexuality, and it is this cheapened version that is often taught to our young people.

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They hear the devalued version in many ways. Popular music is often of a sexual nature, and the sexuality described in the songs is often perverted, selfish, or degrading to women.

Video media, such as movies and television, give an improper view of sex and sexuality in a large majority of their presentations. The picture given is mainly of a shallow, selfish nature. Love is often removed from the equation, and sex is presented as nothing more than a self-seeking desire for pleasure.

The culture of “free love” has attempted to erode the connection between intimacy and sex, but a culture cannot alter the fact that sex combines two people in a way that involves both the body and the heart. We view sexual crimes as one of the most heinous because we recognize the private and intimate nature of sex. Yet, we try to ignore that intimate nature in other circumstances.

Our government schools and most programs designed to teach children the facts of life ignore the heart altogether. They teach the physical facts, but they leave children without guidance on the heart.

Likewise, many parents and mentors are more likely to talk about the protection of the body than they are about the protection of the heart.

Allowing an improper and devalued view of sex and sexuality to permeate into the lives of our children does them a great disservice. We place our children at a disadvantage when we do not speak to them about the precious nature of sexuality and the gift of sex.

If we desire to protect our children, we must include a discussion about the heart of the matter. While we must share the physical facts, a discussion about the intimacy and special nature of sex is just as important.

In my preparation for “the talk” with Timothy, I created a list of things I wanted him to know when we finished our series of lessons. One of these points was to ensure he understood the intimate and special nature of sex, as well as the rules and guidelines for him to follow as he grows.

The discussion about the body and the heart does not have to be — and should not be — separate discussions. Since the body and the heart cannot be separate, neither should the discussion.

Statements such as, “You now know how sex combines the bodies of two people in a special way, but it also combines their hearts and spirits in a special way,” provide a transition from the physical to the emotional. It reinforces the fact that sex is more than just physical.

We owe it to our children to share the emotional facts of life as well as the physical. It’s our responsibility to ensure that they know the precious nature of sex. When we teach the facts of life, let’s make sure we don’t miss the heart of the matter.

Nathan Rice is a Hampton Roads native and can be reached at