My third grade daughter was distraught the other evening. She has/had a crush on a boy and after school that day, fearless girl that she is, she asked him if he wanted to “go with” her. She never did find out his answer, but what made her distraught was that she later asked someone if it was ok for kids like her to “go with” a boy and she was told the answer was no because there was a “Mormon law” that said you shouldn’t date until you are sixteen. That kind of freaked her out. So that night after bedtime she tearfully came to Kristen and me to confess her perceived sin of earlier in the day. I calmed her fears the best I could and explained that basically it was really nothing and that she had not broken a Mormon law. I explained that there is nothing wrong with her having a crush on a boy and there is nothing wrong with her admitting it to him. And there is no law or rule against such crushes.
I then tried to explain the basic idea of Hedges. Hedges are the rules we build up to keep us from crossing lines we really do care about. As Mormons we believe in the law of chastity — as in, no sexual relations outside of the bonds of marriage. So for our youth we build hedges to help them avoid getting to close to the proverbial ledge. We adults have all sorts of other hedges for ourselves as well. I believe there is nothing wrong with building hedges — in fact there is a lot right with building them. But of course it is important to not confuse a hedge with the actual reason for the hedge. I have been told that blurring lines between the law and the hedges was a major problem that the ancient Jews struggled with. It seems to me that Jesus irked the religious folks of his time to no end by treating the law like the law and hedges like hedges (see his attitude about Sabbath observance for instance).
Anyway, I don’t want my baby girl to freak out over the wrong things in life. Inadvertently crossing a hedge is not worth freaking out over and is not a sin. It seems there are enough actually important things to be concerned with in life — why worry too much about the wrong things?
In the end we explained that it is true that we don’t want her to get a boyfriend for several years (like, say, nine). But there is nothing wrong with getting crushes in the meantime. And there is always something right with checking in with us when she isn’t sure. (Well done baby girl!)
Associated Song: The Smiths — William, It Was Really Nothing