Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Time for a Modesty and Purity Revolution

Jennifer Hartline at Catholic Online

Once again Jennifer Hartline hits a home run at Catholic Online here

Her thesis is: "America needs to trade condoms and 'safe sex' for self-control and purity. It can be done, and the Church must lead the way."  The same goes for Canada.

My first-grader is home sick today. It's flu season, and common sense says that a kid who's coughing and sneezing shouldn't be around other kids. Most schools today are strictly enforcing “sick child” rules, and all the experts and pundits and public figures are urging people to use common sense, stay home when they're sick, wash their hands, etc., and take extra care not to spread germs to others.

We go to increasingly greater lengths to prevent spreading and catching the flu. Rightly so. Our concern for the danger of the flu lies in shocking contrast to our lackadaisical attitude about the dangers of sex, especially concerning our children. The very same experts and public figures who tell parents to keep their sick child home from school to prevent spreading the flu will turn around and tell parents they must have an honest talk with their kids about protecting themselves by having safe sex.

The phrase “safe sex” betrays the fact the there is danger waiting to be encountered. Life-altering, even deadly danger. And yet, the expert counsel is not to make the case for abstinence and actively discourage sexual activity, but to resign ourselves to the cop-out idea that the dangers can't be avoided so we'd best teach them all the tricks we know, even if those tricks are unreliable and fraught with their own inherent dangers. Hey, it's the best we can do, and beyond that, we just cross our fingers and hope for the best (the least amount of damage done).

So great is the need for common sense and maturity to interrupt this circle of asinine thinking! What kind of craziness sends young people into the minefield that is unmarried sexual activity rather than looking them in the eye and saying, “This might kill you! This could change your life forever! You need to protect yourself by saying NO.”? Condoms are lauded and hailed as “smart”, the Pill is called “freedom”, but abstinence is dismissed as a stupid idea only religious fools support. We don't bother to arm our children with respect, self-control, and the knowledge that they do not have to be slaves to their hormones; instead we bet their futures and their lives on a piece of latex.

When it comes to sex, our culture only gives empty lip service to our claim of wanting to keep kids safe. The environment is not structured for success; we set them up for failure right from the start, and we actively sabotage every safeguard that truly protects.

Just last week, Oprah Winfrey cynically challenged Bristol Palin's resolve to remain abstinent until marriage. “I'm just wondering if that is a realistic goal,” Oprah asked. Rather than applaud Bristol's mature and smart decision, Oprah was condescending and left little doubt that she doesn't think Bristol can succeed. “I was going to give you a chance to retract,” Oprah said, “but if you want to hold to that, may the powers be with you.” Whatever happened to empowering young women to make their own decisions for their futures? Whatever happened to confidence, to living your “best life”? Apparently, Oprah thinks it's just not possible for anyone to say no to sex.

That's precisely the message our culture hammers home every single day by every conceivable means. We are absolutely saturated with sex and we seem to have arrived at a place where it isn't even considered possible to say no to sex, or worthwhile to even try. Instead we focus on damage control. Why have we forgotten that the damage need not be inflicted in the first place?

Recall how last summer Brooke Shields told Health magazine that she regrets not losing her virginity sooner than age 22. Incredibly, she said that having sex would have helped her with her body image as a young adult, and she might have shed the “protective 20 pounds” she carried in college. In one fell swoop, she made virginity a shameful thing to be gotten rid of, the sooner the better, in order to have a healthy body image. I wonder how many girls read that and thought, “You mean even a gorgeous model like Brooke Shields needed sex to feel good about herself?”

I am fed up with the perverse sexualization of our young children and the apathetic mindset that our teenagers must inevitably engage in sexual activity in order to find out who they are, and other such stupid nonsense. It is high time a loud chorus of voices arises to insist that abstinence is not stupid or unrealistic, but is in fact, the only real way to protect our children from harm. The risks of unmarried, “casual” sex are numerous and great; the benefits? Gee, let me think. There are none.

The map being provided our kids to navigate them through adolescence into adulthood has been created by Planned Parenthood and others who profit from teenage sexual activity. The entities that sell “safe sex” are literally banking on the STD's
that spread and of course, the abortions young women will “need” when their “protection” fails to protect them. But don't dare suggest that we start teaching young people to keep their pants on, because that could never work!

In fact, abstinence can work and does work when not actively sabotaged. Yes, I realize that what I'm suggesting requires something much harder to give than a condom. It requires virtue. It requires adults to set the example through their own lives. It requires restructuring the environment so it supports, rather than negates, the practice of self-control, respect, decency, and delayed gratification.

I believe it could be done, if our society got serious about it and actually put our effort and our money where our mouth is. Unfortunately, speaking of money, the occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. decided last year to eliminate funding of abstinence-education and channel that money instead toward more contraception and “safe sex” education for our kids. From the top down, we're telling our kids there's no point in even trying to say no to sex.

Condoms will not keep our kids safe. Sex is not simply a physical activity, and the emotional, psychological and spiritual consequences cannot be ignored. If we are sincere about desiring to protect our kids from danger, the only logical, reasoned and responsible thing to do is to get serious about teaching abstinence.

My own experience growing up Catholic tells me that plain talk within the Church about sex and its repercussions is sorely lacking, and that cannot continue. Times may be changing and I certainly hope they are, because it's up to the Church to lead a Modesty and Purity Revolution in America and counter the destructive message of our modern culture with the real, liberating truth about the holiness of human sexuality and the beauty of God's plan. (Thank you, JPII, for the Theology of the Body!)

No, I'm not naïve, but I am determined. I have young children, and I'm on a mission. The course of the society they are inheriting must be changed, because frankly it's a death trap. Oprah may not be willing to applaud Bristol Palin's resolve, but I am. Bravo, Bristol. You can achieve your goal of abstinence until marriage. Brooke Shields may regard virginity as baggage that needs to be lost, but I do not. I'm no supermodel, but I say virginity is cool. Sex is a precious gift meant to reveal God's love, not a dangerous recreational pastime.

America needs to trade condoms and “safe sex” for self-control and purity. It can be done, and the Church must lead the way. The faithful must lead a true sexual counter-revolution; a Modesty and Purity Revolution.


Jennifer Hartline is a Catholic Army wife and stay-at-home mother of three precious kids who writes frequently on topics of Catholic faith and daily living. She is a contributing writer for Catholic Online.

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Preach it Sister.

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