Dear Madre: "Voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce soir?"

Dear Madre,

I'm in college and living away from home in an apartment near campus with some friends. I even have a boyfriend (finally!). He's really sweet and
thoughtful and all my friends really like him too. He's even Lutheran! 

But he goes to another school a couple of hours away so we really only get
to spend time together when he comes to visit, about twice a month for a weekend. I'm really committed to remaining a virgin until I get married,
but sometimes we fall asleep cuddling on the couch, and he's slept with me in my bed a few times too. Is it wrong of us to sleep together when he
comes to visit if we're really truly just sleeping?

Lady Strawberry Jam

Dear Lady,

Congrats on the Lutheran boyfriend! However, I must remind you that any man worth his salt wouldn't put you or your reputation in such a compromising position as to
intentionally plan to spend the night in your apartment, much less your bed, when he comes to visit. Surely you have some male friends who can
let him sleep on a couch or patch of floor for a weekend! Aren't you worth the extra effort?

Well, I guess it's not technically a sin to "just sleep" with someone of the opposite sex. But that doesn't make it right or even "not wrong".
It's one thing to fall asleep cuddling during a late night movie on the living room couch when other people are home, but it's quite another to
"go to bed" in your bedroom together.

Even if you're "not doing anything", sharing a bed with a man is hardly something that could be described as chaste or decent behavior (review
the 6th commandment and explanation). It's like living with a boyfriend and playing house together, pretending like you're a married couple
and doing intimate things that, normally, only married couples do together (like sharing a bed). But you're not married. You're not even
living together. You're just doing it for the night.

And we all know what sorts of things happen in beds, under covers, in the dark, and it's not just sleeping. Even if it is "completely innocent"
now, there will come a night when one or both of you lay down with hormones percolating away and you'll "accidentally" have "unplanned sex". Or
you'll manage to hold out and "technically" remain a virgin.

What it comes down to is that 1. It's inappropriate and harms your reputation as a chaste Christian young woman who prizes her virginity and 2.
It's playing with fire and eventually, to one degree or another, you will get burnt.

It's nice to wake up in the arms of a strong man who cares for you. It feels good. That's the idea. Let that be your husband.

– M


Dear Madre…(Gay Marriage)

Dear Madre,

I got into an argument with a friend of mine at school this week. She asked me what I thought about gay marriage. I said "Well, I'm a Christian, and God says it's a sin. So I'm kind of against it, duh." She said that she was a Christian too and she thought it wasn't fair that some people can't get married just because they're gay. Then she told me she was Lutheran and asked what I was. I said, "I'm a Lutheran too…" Who's right?

Short answer: You are.

Long answer: Many Christians (correctly) identify homosexuality as a sin, but they stop there. It's no wonder that celebrities like Elton John think that Christianity breeds hatred for
gays. If someone was just pointing out your sinfulness all day long, you probably wouldn't be very fond of him either.

The Bible is clear, homosexual sex is an unspeakable sin, an abomination. And Jesus taught us that our evil desires are just as sinful as our actions. That pretty much covers the orientation
aspect too, doesn't it?

Some say that the Bible only condemns pagan, ritualistic, homosexual activity (i.e., temple prostitution, etc.), like that of Sodom and first-century Rome. While it may be well-argued that the Bible doesn't talk about homosexuality as we understand it today – as an orientation, a lifestyle – it does clearly talk about sexuality in general and the way that God has created marriage to be.

And the Bible doesn't even really talk about homosexuality or
heterosexuality per se. When it talks about sexuality, there are two states – married and celibate. Regardless of "orientation" (a rather recent concept), one is either not having sexual relations with anyone, or one is united in marriage, which consists of a husband and a wife, where sexual activity can be enjoyed to its fullest potential of being blessed
by God with children from the union.

When God determined that it was not good for man to be alone, He took part of man and made him a companion fit just for him. Woman. Neither man nor woman were created to be alone, but together in marriage, where they may carry out the Creation mandate
to "Be fruitful and multiply," through doing those things which are reserved for those who are married (see above). This is the ideal that our Father, in His infinite wisdom and love, created for us.

Unfortunately, we no longer live in Eden. Sin has infested every nook and cranny of this world, our relationships with one another, even the way we think and feel.
Homosexuality, or maybe more aptly – struggles with homosexual
desire/temptation, is one way God's ideal has been corrupted by sin. We all have a need to love and be loved
("It is not good for man to be alone…"), and our innate sin takes that desire and
tempts us to direct it toward people and things that fall short of the way God created it to be.

But what if people can't help it? You can't exactly tell someone, "Don't be gay!" and expect it to work. Some people are
just born that way, right? Well, I don't know. Maybe. Does it really matter? We are all born idolaters, thieves, murders, coveters,
fornicators…haters and enemies of God. It's called Original Sin. Being born this way doesn't make the pursuit of my sinful desires any less sinful. What it does show, however, is just how much we need to be saved from our sins. Thanks be to God that He has also done just
that for us too! 

While this world is not the way that God created things to be, this isn't the way that He has left things either. He has sent His Son, Jesus Christ, the second Adam, who lived the perfect, sinless life that none of us ever could. He didn't
send us Jesus to show off how great He is or to demonstrate that we can live that way too if we just try hard enough and do what He did. He
send us Christ to give us His own righteousness as though we lived His perfect, sinless life. And He took upon Himself each and every one of our sins and sinful desires as though He was the one who committed them. Not only that, but Jesus,
the Son of God, suffered and died in our place too, taking the punishment from God that our sins deserve. 

In Christ, we have been set free from the bondage to our sins, and our sinful nature has died with Him through Baptism. We are free to live as the redeemed, forgiven, saved people we are in Him. God does not just turn His face from gays and condemn them to a lifetime of misery and rejection on earth and an eternity of suffering in Hell. He sent His Son to die for them, not to live
in homosexuality, but to be free of it and its temptations.

Just like He did for you and your sins too.

So yes, homosexuality and gay marriage is a sin. And when we struggle with our sins and fall flat on our face, short of this ideal, there is forgiveness for us in Christ. Jesus died for gays and lesbians too, and won forgiveness for every one their sins.

In Christ,


Dear Madre… Flirting 101

Dear Madre,

I’ve been hanging out with this guy a lot lately, and I’m really enjoying it. Thing is, I don’t know if there’s something there, or if he just views me as a kid sister. How do I know? What do I do about it? Can I even do anything about it?


Lost in Legalism

Dear Lost,

I’m glad that you’ve got yourself a new friend to hang out with. I assume he meets all of the
Good Guy criteria or you wouldn’t even bother caring if he “likes you-likes you”, or just “likes

Don’t knock kid sister status. It’s good to get to know each other without having to worry about sending or receiving “romantic” signals. But it sounds like it’s time to test the waters with a little Flirting 101. If you want see if there’s something possibly different going on, your mode of communication needs to be adjusted slightly. 

The key concept here is to be SUBTLE. A little goes a long way. Coming on too strong can ruin everything and make you lose your friendship entirely and you don’t want that.

We have a certain air of “comfortability” with our “brothers” that we wouldn’t have with our beaux (an air also sometimes known as “frumpiness” and “being one of the guys”). Kid sisters generally don’t care what they look like to their brothers, they don’t care too much about showing good manners or being particularly thoughtful.

The easiest way to not be seen as “frumpy” or “one of the guys” is to put a little effort into looking more…well, girly. Dress up a little. Put on some clean and non-ratty jeans. Wear a pretty top — not revealing, but something cute. The idea is to look nice, not like a common gardening tool. Curl your hair. Smell pretty. Maybe throw a little makeup at your face. If you need help with some of these things, ask your mom or an aunt. Splurge a little on yourself and get your hair cut in an attractive but easy-to-do style. Ask the beautician for tips on doing it different ways. If you need makeup help, check out the department store counters next time you’re at the mall. The makeup artists there will be happy to do a free lesson for you and teach you to SUBTLY (there’s that word again) enhance your features without making you look like a drag queen.

Really, much of flirting is just
paying attention to a guy and making him feel comfortable and important. Ask him questions, listen to what he says. Cheer him on at sports events, compliment him on his achievements. Touch is also a very important way to communicate in these situations. (Do NOT go pawing at him.) Again, the key here is to BE SUBTLE. A tiny “unnecessary” physical contact can
communicate volumes. Maybe lightly touch his shoulder to get his attention or make a point, or brush his arm as you laugh at a funny joke he made, or lean in to make an aside comment under your breath just to him, or “accidentally” bump his foot under the table. If he responds in kind, then you’ll know he probably feels the same way too and he’ll get the signal that you won’t shoot him down in a blaze of fire. Or if you’re not the touchy-feely type or just aren’t comfortable with letting people into your personal bubble, you can drop verbal hints such as: "That sounds like fun…I’ve always wanted to try that," or even, "You should come and visit my church sometime, my pastor is awesome and really delivers the Gospel." 😉

Guys are really shy and extremely sensitive to rejection. They’re not likely to do anything to change the relationship from sister/brother to “more than friends” unless they’re pretty sure you’re already interested in the same thing. He’s probably just as nervous about the situation as you are. Be subtle. Be gentle.

The thing is, that gentle and quiet spirit is what God has uniquely given to women (1 Peter 3). The right guy will notice gentle and quiet (i.e, SUBTLE) messages like the above and then you can SLOWLY get to know each other in a more emotionally and spiritually intimate way. It’s the beauty that you have been given through faith in Christ, the graciousness of one who lives through the grace given her that makes you truly beautiful, before God, and before men as well.

Dear Madre…

In the past week, I’ve been asked repeatedly by young ladies for "dating" advice.  This isn’t the first time I’ve been asked for my insight, but it was enough at once that I decided to go with it and start a blogcolumn.

Part of the problem that teens today have is that the advice they get about dating is either, "WHAT?  Kiss dating goodbye!  You shouldn’t even think about being in a relationship with a boy until you’re 35 and ready to get married." Or, "Bat your eyes, wear low-cut, belly-baring tops and show a lot of leg…let him know what he’s missing out on if he’s so stupid as to pass YOU up."

Nice Lutheran girls want to attract nice Lutheran guys.  This is true regardless of your family’s beliefs about dating in general.  Assuming your parents are cool with you doing a little dating at this point in your life, whether it’s a formal dance for school, group dates, or even looking toward marriage, it’s important to know how to find the right guy.  How do you know a guy is a nice guy? 

Well…first, is he Lutheran?  Not that Lutheran boys are necessarily better than non-Lutheran boys, but it’s really important that you and your boyfriend/fiance/future husband share these basic beliefs and values in common.  It makes for a pretty tough relationship when you don’t see eye-to-eye with each other on your religious beliefs.  I know a number of young women who place such a high priority in life on the faith they have been given, that a lot of times it’s hard to find a guy to meet this basic criterion who isn’t planning toward a vocation as a pastor or at least some sort of church work.  Does he go to church regularly?  Is he well-versed in his faith and able to discuss it with others without anyone receiving concussions from his giant KJV Bible?

What’s his relationship with his family like?  Does he get along reasonably well with his parents and siblings?  Does he value their opinions and try to honor his father and mother?  Does he respect your parents, whether he’s met them or not?  If he has, do your parents like him?

What are his goals in life?  Does he have any beyond beating Level 65 in the latest computer game and seeing how many letters of the alphabet he can get out in one belch?  Is he going to school?  Does he have a stable job?  Does he take pride in doing his work (whatever it is) well?

Does he treat you well?  Does he have good manners and treat you like a lady?  Does he trust you?  Is he honest with you?  Does he compliment you?  Does he treat his mother like a queen?  Is he gracious to people who serve him?  Does he build you up and make you feel good about yourself?  Does he think (and make you believe) you are most beautiful, wonderful, perfect woman in the world?

Sure, finding all that in one living, breathing, heterosexual and available young man where you live is pretty unlikely.  BUT it’s important for a girl to have ideals. 🙂  No young man will be perfect, neither are you.  But these questions are just a place to start and see if a guy is worthy to seek your romantic attention.  Listen to your parents, listen to your friends.  They know you apart from the hormones and adrenaline and lovesick puppydog eyes.  They care for you and want what’s best for you.

If you really want to see an ideal relationship, look at Christ and His Bride (Ephesians 5).  See how Jesus adores the Church and is willing to do anything for her best interests – and does?  He is the only perfect Bridegroom, and since you have been baptized into the Church, He is the perfect Bridegroom for you too, whether or not you find a nice guy to date or even marry one day.  Date, don’t date.  Marry, don’t marry.  Your Bridegroom has washed you and made you holy and perfect in God’s sight.

Email Madre