Why I Say What I Say?
As an author of books, workbooks and handbooks for parents, I have been criticized for being too Catholic and conservative. Oddly, we live at a time when both - Being Catholic and Conservative - are the most contemptible for the public at large. But being odd man out can’t be the reason to change beliefs. And then along came School Criticized over Sexual Abstinence Talk: but presenter says it wasn’t religious by Jess Baenen reinforcing my worldview.
Reading the article confirmed two things: I have to stay true to the mission and vision of Fortifying Families of Faith as laid out just 5 + years ago. And it really does not pay to try and preach chastity from a utilitarian vantage point such as avoiding pregnancy and avoiding sexually transmitted diseases. Sex is way more than jus one more merely human thing we do...
Baenen's article pointed out the humanist attack against the presentation of Jason Evert, Chastity Project - a very good and successful chastity speaker by the way. The opposing parent(s) had several objections. They opposed subjecting their adolescents to “abstinence talks that have religious aspects” - even though there weren't any such aspects according to many more objective attendees. They also objected to not being informed ahead of time about the talk and its contents even though their students' science, health and biology classes are probably well laced with varying degrees of sex ed without the parents knowing about it. And then there's the discussions in the school hall ways - bet parents don't know what goes on there either! (Principal Gilbertson hinted at this when stating ‘we teach all types of health issues to our kids”.) The opposing parents want assurances that the school won’t endorse similar programs in the future. They want assurances that the public school will avoid presenting religiously biased materials because it is un-constitutional to not separate church and state. Not sure how or where one talk violates that but angry people say things for added measure; and proof of that is their next statement: "the talk does a disservice to young people." Yet, the paper printed this objection without probing fro the specific types of disservice such a talk does for the adolescents. The statement was declared without minimal back up by facts, data, points or even additional clarification or opinions. The ambiguity was printed as if his statement was sensible and therefore mattered. Another parent dismissed the principal’s assertion that Evert’s talk was non - religious saying that “they scrub this. It’s very deliberate. Its kind of disguising.” If the talk is scrubbed of all things religious, what is the problem exactly?
But that brings me back to my original point. I will continue to avoid scrubbing for the sake of making things more palatable. I also refuse to disguise or obfuscate the truth in order to secure a new speaking engagement or point of sale. But then of course, I have the luxury of being married to a man wherein our combined incomes offer us a very nice lifestyle- so that is easy for me to say. I have always believed that it is the parents’ duty to teach their children about sexuality and morality and if not them, then it’s nobody else’s duty or responsibility.
I can see why the school gets frustrated with parents doing nothing when it comes to morality - they are the ones seeing the everyday bullying, sexual misconduct, sexting, immodest speech and behavior, etc. Yet, despite billions of dollars being poured into sex education over the last 3 decades, the various social problems it was thought to correct have not been eradicated. In fact, many of them have gotten worse. While teen pregnancy rates are down (not because of virtuous choices) the transmission rates of STI’s have increased dramatically along with single motherhood. So have incidence of mental/emotional issues. And the more the schools do for our children in these personal areas, the less the parents do. How/ When did parents go from feeling it incumbent on them to feed their school children breakfast before sending them off to school to sending them off to school hungry and feeling it is incumbent on the school to provide breakfast. The same goes for sex education and moral development. This also explains why 93% of parents believe that sex education belongs in the school!
While feeling bad for Jason Evert and the Chastity Project and the Principal who has better things to fight, I have a different take on what needs to be done about adolescent sexual morality. I believe the best path forward is to fortify families by evangelizing/teaching/supporting parents who in turn get better equipped to do what they ordinarily do best: provide good example, teach, and love their children. While going directly to the children to try to make a difference is tempting, it doesn't work and for a variety of reasons. First, it undercuts parents who want to take on their rightful role. Second, how and what can the school present that will satisfy everyone? Whose moral values will be inserted into the sex ed? That impossible task alone should alert educators that this is not their fight. How can one really talk about sex without talking about the explicit and implicit understandings about sexuality? How can you talk about sex from a purely utilitarian approach when you believe that fundamental to sex is an understanding about authentic love? And Authentic Love was shown by Jesus himself - it is unconditional, free, full, faithful, fruitful and forever. And then talking about these things, makes the humanists react like they did with Jason Evert's talk. And thirdly, what difference can an outsider have on children when it is true that: "setting an example is not the main means of influencing others - it is the only MEANS." (Albert Einstein) In other words, the home life is what really matters when it comes to life and love.