November 12, 2004
It was an old house…ancient even…abused and crumbling. Windows twisted out on bent hinges, leaving ample space to climb through and into the back bedroom where the black paint of recent renters covered the peeling red and green layers of past owners. Wood floors creaked, plaster walls cracked open, and loose rusty pipes rumbled below as my husband and I walked through, exploring our first home.
Thirty years later, this sorry-excuse-for-a-house has risen from the ashes, a bright little castle in the small historic area of Phoenix. It is a gem. A treasure. Restored and repaired, it will bring more money per square foot than any modern state-of-the-art darling “home for sale.”
My husband and I often sit on our front porch in the evenings and look down the street. We live in a neighborhood of resurrected Lazaruses, as my parents call them, homes that have seen the tides of time carry them through periods of respect, rejection…and respect again.
Ours is the perfect neighborhood for an antique car rally. Indeed, once a year we carry our lawn chairs down the street and sit along Central Avenue. It’s a neighborhood block party under shimmering street lamps, a friendly celebration of old cars turned new, remodeled …and recharged.
New…grown old…and restored to new again. It is a process respected for cars and homes. Surprisingly, restoration is a process that works on us as people, even as we labor to scrub and polish steel and wood.
Restoration. As we refinish and polish, we reconnect with things eternal…family, simplicity, honor, integrity. We learn that honor is not conferred from the outside by a modern designer feted as the “latest and greatest.” Honor is a glow from the inside, private and quiet and still…a light eternal, burning even when we turn our backs and seek the glitter and glamour of fashion and celebrity.
Restoration. It is a concept that works for ideas just as well as it works for houses and cars. Virginity…chastity, abstinence, purity…all old words turned new again, like a fresh coat of paint on an antique car. New words…but it’s still the same old thing. Love.
No matter how much we want to equate sex with love and confuse the issues, the clarity of truth is a pure light that never waivers. Love…imbued with patience, fueled with trust…love waits its turn. Love in its purest form is passion held in check for the benefit of the one true object of my affection. And sex can wait.
Abstinence is not just an old idea gone bad…outdated and ready for the rubbish pile. Abstinence works. It restores health. It restores hearts. It restores souls.
In the British Medical Journal an article on abstinence strips away the false glitter of the sexual revolution. The article says a reduction in the number of sexual partners is the tried and true key to halting spread of HIV. Here it is, a modern gussied-up term… partner reduction…by any other name…the new and modern is the same old same old…abstinence…the old made new again.
By any other name, abstinence is the sexual revolution of the future…abstinence until marriage…a chastity and purity as old as the hills. It is the perfection of “partner reduction;” it is the one and only…the person who cares enough to give a heart and a promise eventually perfected with the sexual passion of love committed for a lifetime.
An old sign hangs above the door in our old home restored to new. My mother bought it at a garage sale, a gilded frame around a German phrase I have since learned in English: Faithful to the End. Painted in blue, it is the promise of fidelity. Loyalty. Eternal virtues of the ultimate friendship, the best of devotion, sanctified in marriage…until death do us part.
Abstinence…abstinence until marriage…ideas being reduced to insignificance by people who think these are worn-out words as old as the hills.
Abstinence…abstinence until marriage…ideas of the future being ushered in as medically necessary to curb life-threatening diseases that promise to take control of out-of-control lives ruled by lust.
Abstinence…the tried-and-true method of reducing one’s sexual partners. Modern science gives new reasons to respect the values of old. Abstinence until marriage is the modern tool for preventing STDs and pregnancy…a new coat of paint on eternal truths that continue to glow.
Abstinence until marriage…an idea as old as the hills made new again…love resurrected, life-giving, and eternal. Faithful to the end…the eternal glow of creation…resurrected…restored…abstinence until marriage, a gift as old as the hills to be renewed forevermore.
July 23, 2004: My Friend Betty
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