It was probably about ten or eleven years ago that a kind, well-meaning older woman asked Kayla, who was about five or six years old at the time, what her favorite Christmas Carol was.
“Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” was her cute, but unfortunate reply.
By definition, a Christmas carol is a “song whose lyrics are on the theme of Christmas,” and so Dean Martin’s catchy version does not exactly qualify, but Kayla’s choice was really my own fault.
A few years prior to the Christmas Carol question, I had read a book called A Return to Modesty. It was on the sidewalk clearance table of a downtown bookstore. Intrigued, I bought it, and soon found out why it made its way to the discard pile so quickly. The author challenges feminist notions regarding the unqualified equalization of men and women, and among other intriguing topics, suggests that there is a correlation between the rise in feminist teaching and the rise in the abuse, assault and rape of women. And though her argument is quite well-documented and compelling, this is not a town that tolerates that type of conservative logic (though embracing “tolerance and diversity” is its self-deemed claim to fame), and so the book had a big red clearance sticker on it just months after its publication. They may have given it to me for free now that I think of it.
A Return to Modesty is where I first heard of the song “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” The Jewish author, Wendy Shalit, uses it to illustrate a shift in the culture of dating and the protective devices which a woman used to have at her disposal. It’s a bit of a long quote, but here’s the excerpt in which this is explained:
After reading this, I wanted to hear the song. It happened to be Christmastime, and I was shopping at our local mall which happened to have a music store – records, CD’s, and stereos – oh my! This was well before iTunes, Pandora, and Spotify. I even had to ask an employee if they had heard of the song and help me find a CD that included it. “Christmas With The Rat Pack” is the one he found, and it became a new family favorite. Kayla and I still love to listen to the Dean Martin Pandora station while baking Christmas cookies each December. And while it does include traditional Christmas carols or hymns (you know, about the God made flesh, etc), “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” was the one which stuck in my little five year old’s mind. Sigh…
Kayla’s response may have been a bit embarrassing for me at the time, but maybe it’s not all that disappointing. Maybe it’s helpful to have those lyrics in mind which reflect a time not so long ago in which there was accountability, responsibility, family unity, and an involved (even nosy) local community. Maybe it’s good and right that a father waits up for his daughter, meeting the eyes and shaking the hand of the man who brought her home. Maybe it’s good for the young man to know there is someone who is dedicated to protecting both the body and the heart of the young woman he takes out on a date. Maybe he should even have that father’s permission to do so.
You might think it’s sexist and patriarchal to send the boy to Dad rather than Mom, but just check the research on father-daughter relationships. Mom could be the most perfectly loving and supportive woman a girl (or boy) could ever hope to have in her (or his) life, but if Dad isn’t all those same things, it really doesn’t matter as much how loving and supportive Mom is.
So, the fifth thing I want Kayla to know is that, for the young men who want to spend time with her…
5. Permission should be requested.
I’m not sure why this seems like such a crazy thing to require these days, but it IS crazy I’m told. I’m not sure when we gave teens so much authority and autonomy or when we decided they have the maturity to always make wise decisions about dating. Can we not remember our own need for direction and protection? I love and trust the teens in my house very much, but the truth is they still make really foolish decisions and have extremely faulty logic. As much as they may hate it, it’s our responsibility to guide them and place protective boundaries in their lives while they are in our home and even beyond, if they will allow it.
So, I want my daughter to give the boy her dad’s number instead of hers. That’s right. It’s not a fool-proof sifting method for worthy men, of course, but it’s a good start at protecting her from unnecessary heartbreak and harm.
We made our boys do this. Want to take a girl to prom? Okay, great! First you’ll need to call her dad and ask him if you can. Want to pursue a dating relationship with a young woman? That’s fine. But, you’ll need to ask her parents’ permission.
One young husband in our church loves to tell how grateful he is that his wife’s father took such and interest in him and really ended up discipling him in Christ and modeling how to be a godly husband.
(Here’s a great article on that very topic.)
We want our boys to know they are a steward of someone else’s treasure. We want them aware that they are accountable for how they care for not only the daughter of a human father, but even more importantly, the daughter of a Heavenly Father. She will not be his for selfish and destructive purposes. She first belongs to someone else and may not ultimately belong to him as a wife. In fact it’s likely that she will be someone else’s wife someday. We hope they will be sober about that reality, and that it will encourage them to greatly value and care for the woman they are interested in spending time with.
And we want any young man interested in our precious daughter to know the same.
It’s what God requires of husbands. Would the requirements for boyfriends be any less?
(Except that I have about a million more thoughts on each of these things.)