Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained, but happy is he who keeps the law.
Proverbs 29:18 NASB
A dear friend, Pat Orton, who once worked closely with me at FamilyLife, wrote me a letter several years ago to tell me about a line her parents had drawn in the sand for her as a teenager.
Pat’s mom and dad told her that whenever she was out with a young man, the only place he was allowed to touch her was on her back, from her shoulder to her waist. Anywhere else on her body was totally off-limits. And never–never ever–was he to put his hand on her knee. It was a way for her to know–immediately–that if a boy’s hands ever strayed out of bounds, watch out! This was leading to trouble!
Funny what boundaries can do once they are clearly established. Crossing them is still quite possible, of course, but not without knowing you’re breaking trust. And for Pat and her boyfriend-turned-fiancé, this simple, clearly defined expectation remained in force throughout their four-year courtship.
Back only. Shoulder to waistline. Nothing further . . . until their wedding day. As they pulled away from the church on their way to their honeymoon, he tenderly reached over and placed his hand on her knee. “I’ve been waiting four years to do that!” he said with a grin so big it made her smile, too.
Isn’t that just delightful? What purity! What innocence! What a testimony to the joy we help our children preserve for themselves when we draw the right boundaries, enforce the right restrictions and keep an eye out for their obedience.
That’s how to start a marriage. And Mom and Dad, that’s what you’re here to help happen.