Monday, November 2, 2009

Catholics "Heart" Sex!

Last night, we had "Sex Night" at our parish youth group. A youth group alum who is now in college and has been dating her boyfriend for over two years came to talk to the kids about her choice for purity. Then, the youth leader gave a talk about the importance of chastity in all of our lives and how awesome our sexuality is and how God created it to be expressed within certain boundaries and that it is in those boundaries, paradoxically, that we actually find freedom and joy in the expression of our sexual selves.

Later on, we sent the guys off into another room and had each of the girls write down a question anonymously on a piece of paper. After a short prayer, we then did our best to answer their questions candidly, truthfully, and compassionately. The guys did something similar in their session. After the Q&A, we came together again, and the boys laid hands on their sisters in Christ, to pray for their purity. Afterwards, the gals did the same thing for their brothers.

It was an awesome experience. I think there are few topics so vital to the faith life of teens today as sex. It's something that we cannot afford to be taboo about in the Church. We need to talk to our kids about sex. We need to tell them how great it is, as evidenced by the giant banner we had hanging in the parish center last night declaring, "Catholics 'Heart' Sex!" We need to make it safe for teens to ask any questions at all about it--and we need to be ready and willing to answer them openly, lovingly, and honestly. If we don't, someone else will, only they might not give our kids the answers we want them to hear, the answers that speak of God's amazing, beautiful, exciting, glorious truth about human sexuality.

I know that what we had to say and share at Life Night was in one ear and out the other for some of the teens. A couple of the guys were cracking jokes and snorting with laughter about the idea of holding themselves back physically in a dating relationship. Some of the girls, I'm sure, are in sexual relationships with boys that they are not willing to let go of at this point in their lives. But, to me, that's the great thing! It's not about preaching to the choir; it's about sowing the seeds.

Last night, seeds were planted. Vulnerable sharing and bold defense of God's truth made it possible for kids who might otherwise never have heard anything other than society's lies about this vital human matter to be exposed to something better. It might seem like a joke to them right now. It may mean nothing for years. But, someday, they may look back and say, "That night was the beginning of God working in my life to lead me to purity."

When the youth left last night, laughing, joking, and dancing to 'N Sync (yeah, I don't know; we were playing "Bye Bye Bye" on the stereo system; I was actually surprised most of the kids even knew what the song was!), we handed them cards with a verse from 1 Timothy on them:

"Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity."

I truly believe that the open communication of godly adults with the youth of the Church and the brave example of those youths to their peers, under the guidance and power of the Holy Spirit, has the potential to move mountains.

Teens today are aching for the truth about their sexuality. They are looking everywhere for answers--and most of the avenues available to them are selling them lies. The Church needs to start speaking up about sex. If she doesn't, someone else is going to.


  1. What a great program to put on for the youth of your church! I think having a college student who's been faced with this speak is a great way to get the point across, as students feel like they can relate. And good for you for answering all their questions honestly! I love that you are embracing the task of "sowing the seeds."

  2. That sounds like a great program. Thank you for speaking out on this topic-you are so right. If parents don't speak up, it will only hurt their children later.

  3. Wonderful post Bethany. It sounds like the program was a tremendous success. Seeds were definitely planted and praise God for it! Keep up the good work!

  4. What a great ministry! You are absolutely right ~ if the Church doesn't speak up, someone else will... and will thus lead people down the wrong path. Bless you and Brian for having the heart to reach out to people in situtaions of sin, grief, and the like. I simply wish there had been people like you at the church in which I grew up!! You're amazingly inspirational, Bethany, and I hope you realize what a gift God has given you in your writings. God Bless you and your family.

  5. The attitudes I witnessed about sex especially in high school, between my Jewish friends and non-Jewish friends was remarkable. There was a level of comfort in my Jewish friends of talking about sex (in terms of wanting to get educated and make conscious choices, being open to discussing birth control, etc.) that I did not find in my non-Jewish friends (who became embarrassed and flustered when sex was mentioned and were uncomfortable when someone even mentioned condoms).

    I attribute this difference to being taught, from a young age (starting at 9 or so), that sex in the context of marriage was a mitzvah (good deed).

    I was saddened for my friends who were so uncomfortable about the abstract topic of sex because I feared they may not be as educated when the time came, and may not be able to take as much joy in their sexual relationship as they should.

    I'm really happy that your church at least, is beginning an open dialogue about sex with teens. I hope it opens their (especially the girls') minds and puts them on the road to being comfortable with their sexuality and, especially if they choose to start having sex at a young age, being open to having frank dialogue about it with their parents, doctors, and/or another trusted figure in their lives.

  6. Awesome! The church is way too squeamish about sex. We who are married and enjoying our sex lives with our husbands should be the ones teaching about God's wonderful gift to us. This sounds like a great program for those teens.

  7. I really liked that you hung a banner saying "Catholics 'heart' sex!" Our church does a similar type of program but they always call it sometime safe like "standards night". I like how you were straight forward with these kids about what you were talking about-- I think teenagers need to know that they can talk to adults about sex and that they don't have to be influenced by their peers. You gave me some good ideas about what I can do with the young women at my church. I'm not sure how the parents would take it though if I hung a big banner up that said "Mormons "heart" sex!" It might cause quite the scandal :)

  8. Heatherlady- Haha! With groups like Mormons and Catholics who typically have large families, I feel like advertising "We 'heart' sex!" is kind of like a, "Well, duh!" It's ironic that having large families doesn't necessarily translate to "we're having lots of great sex with our spouses." That stigma really needs to be put to rest.

  9. It never made sense to me that our faith (Catholicism) could be so tight-lipped about this subject matter...I mean, we like babies, right? We're supposed to be open to God's plan, right? Honor our spouses? Check.

    I know that I'm open about our sex life (to a decent degree) to those that inquire in the attempt to learn about our faith, teach a younger cousin or friend, etc. It never made sense to me that some wives despised the act - why? That's why marriage was created, for companionship!!

    And honestly, being able to be open about sex has encouraged my husband to take an active interest in NFP, my needs, and our relationship. Being able to stand up to teenagers and say, "Hey, I made some mistakes...but I repented. God gave me a mate, and this IS GOOD." is so necessary. These kids are just learning to equate sex to another activity, instead of the phenomenal act it is...programs like yours, Bethany, are essential!

  10. Bethany, other good resources regarding sex and purity include "The Measure of a Man" (Gene Getz), and "His Needs, Her Needs" (Willard F. Harley)... Just happened to run across your blog. Take care and have a blessed Christmas with your family.


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