Sunday, February 24, 2008

White Knuckle Chastity...

...is no body's idea of a good time. The same way Christians may be tempted to make Lent a season of strengthening the will rather than one of rending the heart, the chastity message that is transmitted to our young people is often times as elegant as (gritting teeth) just. don't. do. it! (whew)

Inspiring? No, not really. Encouraging? Hardly.

And we wonder why abstinence-only sex education is largely a flop, particularly within the sterilized secular environment of the public school system. There's nothing terribly exciting or inspiring about the message "true love waits" when no one has the slightest notion of what true love might look like.

And the words respect, dignity, sacrifice... Antiquated notions from another time, another planet for all the impact they have falling on the deaf ears of the MTV generation. These kids don't care about the dignity of their own human person, let alone the dignity of their make out partner. What dignity do we speak of? These young people are lucky to be here, having dodged the initial bullet of chemical contraception and then having the good fortune to be the first or second successful conception during a convenient time in mom and dad's life.

The odds aren't good, and the goods aren't odd... but they may as well be, for the way children are regarded in modern society. Money-sucking, career-ending, physique-destroying little mini-me's who are shuttled off to day care around month 3 before entering into a steady rotation of soccer practices and ju-jitsu lessons that will last until their 18th year, at which point it's off you go into the real world, here's my credit card, make good choices...

A parody, and a cruel one at that, but is it so far off the mark? Expecting a young person to have even a cursory understanding of the value and the dignity of the human person necessarily requires a firsthand experience of that dignity. It's not impossible - but it is unlikely - that a child who has always experienced his or her own existence as the means to somebody else's ends will be terribly concerned with the dignity of others.

It's a mercenary world we're born into, and apart from the Gospel message that proclaims the worth of One Solitary Life, there are few examples that extol the virtue and the value of the individual. Add to this the neurotic pressure to produce, to become a valuable contributing member of society... you've got a whole lot of losers out there who are either ill-suited or unable to achieve the kind of success the world extols, and it's going to be a long, lonely life.

So in order for the message to be effective (chastity), the means of delivery must take into account the poor philosophical formation and the poverty of true, unconditional love most kids face. Telling someone they're worth it isn't terribly meaningful when they're unfamiliar with your currency of exchange.

Worth what? they wonder, eyeing your promises of "respect" and "dignity" with suspicion bred from inexperience. There's a fundamental lack that must be addressed, a knowledge that is foundational to the message we bear, and One Person alone who can do the talking. Let Him carry the message, and let your life bear witness to its truth.

2 comments:

  1. Hi. Just read your past few posts. I have given up "recreational internet" for Lent, but hey, today is a Feast Day!

    Love your posts and thoughtful responses to major issues facing people, not just singles struggling with chastity, but the idea of gender roles. And I just commented on that "roles" post of a few days ago.

    Here is a twist to the white knukle chastity thing. I don't think anyone ever told me, not in words that sunk in, anyway, how odd it would feel to have a husband and baby, and suddenly, out of the blue, be confronted with an ex.

    Happened to me the other day. He popped up on Facebook and pinged me. Wow. Stomach punch. Great guy, married with kids himself, and not at all an inappropriate email. But still. Took me back in my memories. And try as I might, and pray as I might, those memories flash into my mind now, every little while. And I wish I didn't have them. Even though he was a great guy.

    And no one told me that those ex-boyfriends, etc., will stick with you, in your head, forever.

    Because it is really true, sex binds you to a person. Even when you don't want to be bound.

    Great post.

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  2. My initial reaction to this post was that I was riding a bucking bronco: fast, hard hitting, sickeningly true.

    All of a sudden I heard this: "... you've got a whole lot of losers out there who are either ill-suited or unable to achieve the kind of success the world extols, and it's going to be a long, lonely life."...at which point I wanted to shout, 'whoooooaa Nellie (I mean Jenny)!

    But thankfully you let me off gracefully when you concluded..."There's a fundamental lack that must be addressed, a knowledge that is foundational to the message we bear, and One Person alone who can do the talking. Let Him carry the message, and let your life bear witness to its truth."

    My only caveat is to insist the 'knowledge and message of Christ', include compassion and love. Becasue what we are looking for here is a 'transforming power' which works above the waistline and below the neckline. As your neighborly franciscans would chime...'We see the Divine Seed in everyone and trust in the transforming power of of Love and Pardon.'

    Fantastic post!

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