’Tis the season for love and forgiveness

In an attempt to reign in our spending this Christmas, my husband wants to dispense with buying and mailing traditional cards and photographs and send email greetings instead.

Q: In an attempt to reign in our spending this Christmas, my husband wants to dispense with buying and mailing traditional cards and photographs and send email greetings instead.

This seems very impersonal to me. I’m curious what you think about this growing trend?

A: Any response of mine would be merely subjective opinion, but I would like to share a story with you that might help put the issue in context.

Years ago, my great friend, Al Sanders, inadvertently misdialed the telephone while trying to make a local call. He quickly realized his mistake when an older woman answered the phone. Al apologized and prepared to hang up.

“No wait,” said the woman. “I am 80 years old, and no one ever calls me. Would you talk to me for a minute?” Al and his new friend went on to enjoy a pleasant conversation.

It’s easy to fall into what I’ve called “routine panic,” where we run faster and faster in our breathless way of life. It is easy to forget why we send holiday greetings in the first place.

What type of greeting we send isn’t nearly as important as how we view and treat the value of personal relationships. Is there someone like this older lady in your neck-of-the-woods who needs a loving call or a card or a friendly visit today? Is there a single mother near you who has struggled mightily to keep house and home together? Would an assortment of groceries and a warm note help her get through the expensive holiday season? Is there a member of your family with whom you have had severe conflict this year? Wouldn’t this be a great time to call and say, “I just wanted to tell you that I love you, and I’m sorry if I disappointed or hurt you”? After all, isn’t that what the Prince of Peace came to teach us?

And while we’re at it, have you slowed your pace enough to make Christmas meaningful in your own home? When our days are concluded, perhaps unexpectedly soon, no power on earth can reunite us for another time of fellowship or communication. Don’t let the opportunity of this season slip through your fingers here at the close of 2009.

Q: Our local school board is currently trying to decide whether or not boys and girls should be segregated for courses on sexuality and “family life.” What are your feelings with regard to coed sex-education programs?

A: I have severe reservations about highly explicit discussions occurring with both sexes present. To do so breaks down the natural barriers that help to preserve virginity and makes casual sexual experimentation much more likely to occur. It also strips kids — especially girls — of their modesty to have every detail of anatomy, physiology, intercourse and condom usage made explicit in coed situations. Those who have thereby become familiar and conversant about the most intimate subjects later find themselves watching explicit sexual scenes in movies, rock videos, and hot television programs.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to recognize the combined impact of these influences. Whereas it was a weighty decision to give up one’s virginity in decades past, it is but a small step for those whose conditioning began in the school classroom. Familiarity “breeds,” as we all know. I am also convinced that the incidence of date rape rises when the barriers that help a girl protect herself are removed.

In some cases, no doubt, school officials have pushed for mixed sex-education classes out of a sense of obligation. Somehow, they feel this is what’s expected of them — that parents and the community at large want it. Let them know if you disagree! Tell your school board members about the educational advantages of separated classes. They may see your point if you present it to them from that angle.

David Dobson is founder and Chairman Emeritus of the nonprofit organization Focus on the Family, Colorado Springs, Colo. 80995 (www.focusonthefamily.org). Questions and answers are excerpted from Complete Marriage and Family Home Reference Guide and Bringing Up Boys, both published by Tyndale House.

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