What’s wrong with sex ed in America?
By now you’ve heard the news du jour that the heir to the throne of America’s biggest TV family molested his younger sisters and a family friend as a young teenager. The internet is predictably delighted, because nothing is more delicious to progressives than a stumbling, screwed-up Christian. Never mind that it happened over a decade ago and he has reportedly repented and reformed himself; because he and his family live a life of publicly-demonstrative faith, they must be stoned for their crimes.
The real victims in this whole disaster are, of course, his younger sisters and the girl who suffered his unwanted advances and touching, and his own children who are now going to grow up in a world where daddy’s dirty adolescent laundry will be forever enshrined online.
I am in no way excusing Josh Duggar for the abuse he committed against his own sisters. I know plenty of women who were once little girls who suffered molestation by family members, friends, and peers, and the healing can be the work of a lifetime. And sometimes it doesn’t come.
But I am a little confused as to why, in this sexually-permissive freewheeling society of excess we dwell in, it’s being treated as such bombshell.
If every boy I went to middle school with had his behavior from that time period made public, I can guarantee we would have a massive influx of registered sex offenders added to the roster, for one thing.
But then, I went to public school.
The Duggars, homeschooled and sheltered as they were, ought to have known better. Ought to have acted better.
But sin is the damnedest thing, isn’t it? There’s no guarantee that, no matter the efforts you make as a parent, no matter the values you strive to instill in them, your kids aren’t going to turn out to be delinquents or criminals. Or at least screw up royally at some point.
But here’s my question. Why, in a culture pushing sex sex sex at younger and younger ages, passing out condoms and dental dams in 6th grade health class and schooling kindergarteners on proper masturbation techniques, is it shocking or disappointing when a kid goes ahead and acts on the information we’re saturating their developing brains in?
But of course, Josh Duggar wouldn’t have been in any public health class. He would have been learning at his kitchen table what does and doesn’t constitute good and bad touching, what sex is and what it’s for, and how God fearfully and wonderfully designed us to give and receive love within His plan for marriage.
But perhaps that’s not exactly the message his parents were sending, either.
(It also bears mentioning, though it’s speculative at best, that to offend on younger siblings is a particularly disturbing manifestation of sexual deviance, and that it’s entirely possible that Josh was, himself, abused and/or exposed to pornography.)
I don’t pretend to know the specifics of what the Duggar family – or other fundamentalist or even more mainstream Christian denominations – are telling their kids about sex. But I’ve read enough of the popular Protestant chastity books to speculate that it goes something along the lines of “no touching till you’re married, and then all bets are off.”
And guess what? That message is still flawed. Perhaps not as obviously or as disturbingly as free condoms at the nurse’s office and a parent-funded prescription for Ortho as a “now you’re a woman” gift, but for different reasons.
When I was a searching teenager gobbling up books like “Why I Kissed Dating Goodbye” and “When God Writes Your Love Story,” I was reading a different narrative, but one which still left a lot to be desired.
In retrospect I can identify what was so lacking in those hopeful tomes of white-knuckle chastity I dog-eared, but at the time it just struck me as somewhat…lacking. To be told to find the line you should not cross and to point to it and say “there’s the boundary. Don’t touch.” and to leave it at that.
To expect kids to sign pledge cards and exchange chastity rings with the instruction that “true love waits,” and to not take them deeper into the explanation of why? That’s crazy.
And that’s what I found lacking in my middle class upbringing and sexual education. My parents did the best they could, pulling us out of health class and protecting us from the condom flinging freaks running the guidance counseling office, but 15 years ago there honestly wasn’t a whole lot of great information out there for them to counter the cultural narrative with, both mainstream and Christian.
I think that has been true for plenty of Catholic families.
Now they’re older, wiser, and in possession of countless copies of “Theology of the Body for Beginners” and “Men, Women, and the Mystery of Love,” and so my youngest brother has plenty of personalist philosophy and sexual ethics to read about, helpfully laid out in laymen’s terms, while he sits out chlamydia class in the cafeteria.
But that hasn’t always been the case. And part of the very real success of the so-called Sexual Revolution has been the deafening silence on the side of conservative Christians, those of us who are supposed to be communicating truth, goodness, and beauty to the world.
But how, when we can’t seem to have those conversations with our own children?
How can we expect to produce integrated, chaste, loving, self-sacrificing adults capable of becoming faithful spouses when all we’re saying in reply to the culture’s sex-a-palooza message is: wait till you’re married?
And then what? All that pent up sexual energy and frustration and curiosity are unleashed on your unsuspecting and inexperienced spouse? How is that setting up marriages for success?
That’s why the Catholic teachings on sexual ethics and sexuality have always been – and will continue to be – so profoundly life-giving. Even if we’ve made a few generational missteps in getting the information out, both from the pulpit and around the kitchen table, the truth of it has always been there: sex is good, sex is holy, your body is fearfully and wonderfully made…and there is a purpose for this part of you.
Sex is not reducible to an appetite, a mere craving or desire. Sex isn’t about scratching an itch or pushing the limits (or running right up to them and stopping short) or racking up carnal experiences over the course of a lifetime.
Sex is profoundly more than all of that.
And that’s the message our kids need to hear, from early on, and then continuously, for as long as they’re in our homes and then yes, even once they leave our nests. Especially once they go out into the sexually carnivorous world of college life and beyond. And then still, once they seek out spouses and begin to assemble nests of their own.
It’s not enough to tell them, “don’t touch that, don’t think those thoughts, and don’t do that before you’re married.”
And it’s certainly not enough to sheepishly hand over your credit card with one hand over your eyes, telling them to “be safe” and to “use protection.”
Here’s what I think they need to hear from us. And I speak as a mother with only very young children so far, but as a former teenager and very lost college kid:
Sex is holy. Your body, male or female, was designed with intention. The way you feel about the opposite sex is good – it’s meant to draw you into relationship with your husband or wife one day, and to bring forth new life, new souls. You are created with the capacity to create with God, within the relationship you’ll have with your spouse one day.
There are a lot of things you’re going to hear about sex as you get older, especially once your friends start dating. And it’s okay that you’re curious, that on the one hand, you don’t want to hear about their exploits and conquests, but on the other hand maybe you feel drawn to know what they’re experiencing. There is nothing wrong with being curious about sex. It is purposefully designed to be very, very attractive and very enjoyable.
What we’re going to help you understand and integrate is that sex is designed with a specific purpose: to bond you to your spouse for life, and to bring forth new life.
If you have a sexual thought or daydream, that’s okay. It’s not dirty to think about sex, and it doesn’t make you a creep. It’s not okay, however, or healthy, to dwell on the sexual thoughts and impulses you’re going to experience. That makes the practice of chastity – of rightly ordering your desires and behavior – more difficult. When you find yourself experiencing a sexual thought or a temptation, bring it to the Lord in prayer and tell Jesus, “thank you for making me this way, thank you for the gift of my body, teach me how to love as You love.”
You don’t have to be afraid of your body, or of the gift of your sexuality. You do, however, have to learn how to use it properly, how to integrate what we are going to teach you and what you will learn over your lifetime about chastity and love, for the sake of your soul and for the good of your husband or wife.
We love you. We’re glad you’re maturing and becoming an adult, and God has a plan for your sex life that is better than anything the world can offer. You can trust us. We will always be open and honest with you.
At least, I think that’s a decent start.
My prayer is that my children and their friends and future spouses can grow up to witness to – and perhaps participate in – the destruction and conversion of our sexually perverse and dying culture.
Now that’s something worth waiting for.
Oh my goodness gracious, how I wish that’s the message I had gotten. That is a wonderful start. My parents literally never told me anything about sex. My mom and I had a short conversation about periods before mine started, but that’s it. So thank you for empowering parents to do better than that.
I remember a couple times hearing my mom say she wanted us to feel like we could come to her to talk about anything. But that was not enough (at least in our situation). I have never felt like that in any way, shape, or form. That would be a really good topic to look at in a psychological way.
I read all the “I kissed dating goodbye” type books without my parent’s knowledge, and have now gotten into TOB as a college student. I’m happy to be a young adult who’s “saved herself” for the husband I may one day marry. But it’s not because sex is dirty or anything. I don’t really know how I’ve come to a healthy understanding of sexuality, because none of it came from my parents. I am so thankful for blogs like yours where people are brave enough to talk about this stuff.
Parents, what you say matter SO much. Talk to your kids! I can’t imagine how hard it must be, but if you don’t talk with them, they may not happen upon good information. I am so grateful that I have found good resources to learn about chastity, NFP, fertility, etc. in a healthy way – but it’s easy to see how so many kids go down the wrong path. Please, please, be brave and set your kids up for a healthy and comprehensive understanding of life and love! I really think teens are capable of understanding so much more than we give them credit for. Thanks, Jenny, for sharing this!
Mic drop. 🙂 Awesome post Jenny. Thank you! We’re all going to need these ideas and words of wisdom to spring from when the day comes that we need to enter into that conversation territory with our babes.
So are you writing a Catholic Sex Ed program for all of us to use?
I had the exact same thought as Becky! Jenny, you should write a book for parents to read with their children on this topic! Like a Theology of the Body for Kids. Because I’m sure you have the spare time to write a book, right?
I don’t think people are judging Josh Duggar unfairly or singling him out because he’s a “stumbling, screwed up Christian.” I think people are upset because he never seemed to be punished AT ALL! Repentance and the passage of time may be sufficient for God, but we live in a world of humans, and in the human world, someone who molests multiple minors goes to jail for several years. Josh Duggar would have been too young for such a harsh punishment, but he didn’t receive any punishment, and then went on to a leadership role in a morality-focused think tank…that’s not justice. I do think the whole “I kissed dating goodbye” side-hugs only till marriage messaging isn’t a healthy way to view sexuality. In general, whether it’s a 3-year-old or a 16-year-old, it always works better to give kids a sense of what they should be doing, not just what they can’t. But I think in the Duggar’s case, it wasn’t just solely negative sexual messaging that is the problem, it’s also the fact that the family teaches extreme female submission, which means women in general are subject to all men and are not allowed to say no to sex with their husbands. That type of message is common in lots of communities, such as Orthodox Judaism, and it leads to rampant sexual abuse because the powerless (children, women) feel like they have ability to say no.
I read that he was indeed “punished.” His parents sent him to counseling and a hard labor camp. He was also a young, MINOR, teenage boy. His parents seemed to have handled it in the way they saw fit to discipline their child, and did not simply shrug and say “boys will be boys,” which tells me that this behavior is not approved of within their family. They also do not teach “extreme female submission.” They teach that a woman should always try to be available to their husband, sexually, because they are the only one that can fulfill that need for the husband…but not extreme, demeaning, abusive submission.
I agree. I’m kind of shocked at how outraged people are that Jim Bob waited a year to report the incident to the authorities. Yes, I absolutely believe that if a crime like this is committed, it should be dealt with right away (if your child tells you someone touched her inappropriately… my gosh, the rage. You’d want justice served and quickly–if you could resist the urge to take it into your own hands!). However, if your minor son did something like this, would you honestly immediately drag him to the nearest police station and report him?? Or would your first reaction be to sit with him, have the most serious talk of your lives with him and find out just what the heck he was thinking/why did he do this/how did this happen/how COULD this happen?
In any case, I feel terrible for everyone involved. I have long admired the Duggars and actually learned quite a few positive things from them. Jenny, I commend you on an amazing article. I will be saving those guidelines for when it’s time to have these types of talks with my kiddos. You have no idea how desperate I am to have them take to heart what our faith actually preaches and not what the world does. God help us all.
If you actually read about Quiverfull beliefs from people who have lived it, you will see that this is not the case. There are scores of accounts of ex-Quiverfull women and they tell the same tale: women do not have consent.
Also, hard labor was “working on a construction site.” Sorry, but that’s a job many men and women do every day, and is not punishment for molesting your sisters. Beyond that, it seems to play into the whole notion of “boys just have too much sexual energy, we need to diffuse it with some hard work,” which completely misunderstands the origins and thought process behind sexual abuse. The cop he was reported to was arrested on child pornography charges. Also, the counseling was by likely by someone who was eventually removed from his position for preying on teen girls. So that tells you something. Here is a link to some of the counseling he likely received.
Aside from that, while I do think someone who molested others as a minor should be granted some leeway — as in, they shouldn’t necessarily go to jail — people who are in leadership positions in an organization focused on sexual morality should be even better than the average person. That doesn’t mean they have to be perfect, but certainly a past (not disclosed to employers!) history of sexual misconduct should be automatic grounds for dismissal.
Okay … I have two things …
1. Yes Yes and Yes …. Sex is good, great and wonderful. We need to teach our own children that it is an amazing thing not a dirty thing and this amazing thing is best when you are with your spouse. I love your blog and your perspective on most things and for the most part this post.
2. But … I am a public school counselor and I am disappointed in your representation of counselors and public school. I DO NOT hand out condoms to my middle school students … I don’t even teach sex ed. (Shock … It’s something that should be taught in the home in my opinion.) When I taught at the elementary level I taught a program called Good Touch Bad Touch…. in no way shape or form did I teach correct masturbation for 5 year olds! We taught them that it wasn’t okay for someone to touch them in the privates, if something happened to tell tell tell until someone listens and that it is never their fault if a grown does something like this to them. I have a hard time when people misrepresent current public education.
I’m just speaking out of my own experience of 16 years in the public schooling system. I’m REALLY glad it’s not representative of every experience, but it is the only direct frame of reference I have to write from. That program sounds like a sorely needed and essential message, and it’s message is one we stress in our home with our kids regularly.
And thank you for being one of the good guys! (I definitely had some good teachers over the years who quietly bucked the system and taught us from their hearts instead of from the state-mandated curriculum. Mr. Williams Jr., I’m thinking of you)
Please please PLEASE for the love of God, please stop teaching the Good Touch Bad Touch book. There is ample research to explain why this is confusing to children and has lead to many many incidents of false reporting. An autistic child in my family was one such victim of this book, and the abuse perpetrated upon him and his family by CFS after he misunderstood the “information” within the book and “informed” a school counselor that 2 members of his family had touched him “somewhere his swimsuit covered as in the book”…in his case, as a competitive swimmer, he wears tight trunks that cover from the waist to the knee. Then a therapist, as a follow up to the book, convinced him that anyone touching his shoulder was molesting him – he’s frightened to let nearly anyone near him. Poor child, he and another child were removed from the home and put in foster care. The case, ongoing now for 6 months, has torn a family apart, shattered a person’s life-long career, created the need for 2 small children to attend intensive therapy, and taken a toll on a very strong marriage, in addition to many other problems such as financial ruin for the family. Again, I beg any “professional” using this book to do some research. My aunt’s school taught this book several years ago, until the counselors realized there was a sudden increase in children coming in to false report sexual misconduct after their sessions with the book, and I’m sure their school is not the only one that got smart and dumped the book.
really interesting. I’ve actually never heard of this book, but what you’re saying is really scary.
Thank you. I will definitely be referencing this in years to come
And I second the request for a Catholic Sex Ed program written by you. Please consider it?
Very interesting post! My reversion process has me overwhelmed with questions, particularly questions with regard to sexuality. I’ve come to understand many church teachings that I would have previously written off as a bigoted, given my outlook and upbringing. I’m still majorly confused about the teachings surrounding masturbation however- I think that topic is relevant to this post, I hope you agree (it’s not my intention to threadjack here!). I’m having a hard time understanding why masturbation (assuming it’s in moderation) is problematic. As a child I was always taught that it’s healthy to explore my own body. And I’m not exactly sure how to teach my girls otherwise, without making them think their body/sexuality is shameful. I’m not asking you to address this here on this thread, just putting it out there for you to unpack someday…because I know I can rely on you to tear into the hard topics on your blog! (In fact maybe you already have.)
Great question Chelsea, and you’re not alone in asking it. I think you’re probably right that it’s worth a post of it’s own, but while I’m at my computer and have the 3 minutes to give you the abbreviated version, basically it’s this:
The Catholic understanding of sex is that it has a dual nature of begin both procreative and unitive, meaning it’s inextricably designed to bring forth new life and to bond the spouses together. So babies + bonding. Procreation + pleasure. However you want to look at it. Since masturbation isolates the pleasurable and gratification-seekign aspect of the sexual act from any possibility of procreation, it’s off limits for the exact same reason contraception is: it makes sex primarily self-centered and solely focused on gratification. While the popular line of reasoning is “it’s better to teach kids to touch themselves to relieve sexual tension and delay sexual activity with a partner,” what it actually does is form a sexual habit which is self-focused and gratification-seeking. Rather than growing in self mastery, it teaches kids/teens/whomever that sex can – and should – be pursued as a recreational activity, that’s it’s mostly about climaxing and pleasure seeking, and that sets them up to have more trouble practicing chastity, both solo and within an eventual marriage relationship. Because even within marriage? Masturbation is still off limits. It turns the sexual appetite inward, focusing on “getting mine” where sex is supposed to be fundamentally other-centered, seeking to meet the needs and to bring pleasure to the other.
I hope that’s a good start. If you want to read the absolute master on this stuff, pick up Karol Wojtyla’s (St. John Paul II) “Love and Responsibility.” He’s the gold standard in modern Catholic sexual ethics.
Would you please, please write a book especially for younger children?;) A practical question: if you notice that your young child ages 7 & younger has started touching themselves (for lack of a better term), what do you do or say? I’ve asked my LO why she is doing it and she says it feels good. The next time, I just asked her to stop. It seems that she almost doesn’t realize she is doing it. Any ideas? Thanks.
Ha, I’m definitely thinking about it. (My poor husband is like um, could you just chill and have this baby first and we’ll see how many other things you can commit to?) But the wheels are turning.
We have the same situation but even younger, and opposite sex. We try to head it off before it escalates, and it’s usually something along these lines: “do you have to go potty? you’re touching yourself, looks like you have to go potty.” if the answer is no, then we calmly say “that part of your body is private, and we only touch there when we’re going potty.”
Obviously we’ll go deeper with the explanation as they get older, but for now they don’t need anything more detailed than that, because a child that young really doesn’t have another reason to be touching their genitals. We never freak out or tell them it’s naughty, we just try to redirect and tell them that part of them is private, God made them with private parts for a reason, and out of respect for our bodies and for other people’s bodies, we don’t touch our penises (we’re big on proper names) or anybody else’s.
Also can a real Catholic please explain to me what “fearfully” means in a Catholic/Christian context?!
He committed a crime! He didn’t have sex with his younger sisters; he assaulted them.
I don’t know what articles you’re reading on the Internet, but I’ve seen nothing that implies that anyone is delighted by this story.
To confuse what he did with sex proves that you actually need some education.
idk, that’s a pretty clinton-esque interpretation of sex if you’re implying that molestation isn’t sexual in nature. And watch the 8 minute interview from CNN last night with the editor of In Touch (who broke the story) and a child psychologist. If you don’t see delight and outright glee in the anchor interviewing them, I think we’ve got a real problem.
This is the best, Jenny. I was raised in the “just don’t do it until you’re married” era of Catholic sex-ed, and we’re doing exactly what you recommended with our boys. Talking, talking and talking about how awesome sex is with your spouse, how God gave us this great gift with our bodies, and how you wait because you want to share this awesome gift with your spouse. I know that my boys are getting the exact opposite message from society in general, and I just hope and pray that our message will supersede the other. At a minimum, we’re giving them the truth of the beauty they hold in their bodies, in the hopes that they will make the right choices along the way to marriage.
I think you are right. The liberal media LOVES to see conservatives fail. The Duggars are very vocal about being pro-life. They are not shy about it. IT makes them a target. Unfortunately there was a skeleton in the closet that is legitimately scary. His poor sisters have to live with that weird memory. Maybe he was a victim? Who knows? Maybe he is a changed person? Who knows? Do I feel bad for his children…Yes!! They are innocents in this. That is how sin works. It was all laid out for them. They chose fame and spoke honestly against evil and evil got them back. That is why we live in these times. The whole thing is a big ol shit show. Who knows where it’s all going to end.
Yes, exactly. It’s a sickening reaction from the media, but it’s a seriously sickening skeleton, too, and a serious lack of judgement on the part of the Duggars to even do the show in the first place, knowing this would all come up and shatter their family’s life a second time. Every saint has a past and ever sinner has a future, but is it prudent or loving to put your family in such vicious crosshairs? I’m more and more disturbed the more time passes. Truly a shit show.
While I agree with the majority of what you are saying, one thing really jumps out at me. Are you saying that Evangelical Christians are preparing our children in the wrong way for adulthood and sex, but Catholics have it all laid out correctly? If so, that in and of itself is extremely judgmental and wrong. There are parents of ALL faiths that don’t talk openly to their children about sex. Then there are those that do. And if Catholics are so well prepared and discussed so openly, then why has there been so much molestation within the Catholic church itself?
Yes the Liberal media LOVES to throw stones at anyone of faith at all. They love to scream that we are all hypocrites and don’t practice what we preach. If you are a Christian, you know that we all sin and fall short of the glory of the Lord. But we are also forgiven upon repentance.
I don’t think any of us has the right to judge the Dugger family or Josh. We don’t know what happened, how they dealt with it, or the outcome of it. You are right in saying that if the actions of most 14 year old boys (and girls) was now on display, there would be lots of charges filed and accusations of molestation. Even if kids are taught “correctly” they are still curious and will often experiment. Could it be that these kids were so sheltered from any outside, normal interactions with others their age, that they were curious and experimented? Does that make Josh a pervert? I don’t think so.
Gossip and finger pointing is wrong. Everyone here who is making assumptions and accusations needs to look into your own hearts. We are no better nor worse than this family. Every family has their own secrets, that if aired by the media, would cause a backlash and storm that we couldn’t begin to imagine. The best we can do for Josh and his family is to behave like the Christians we SAY we are, pray for them, and keep our mouths shut.
Thanks for letting me speak my peace.
I’m saying that nobody is doing an adequate job of it, but of course, yes, I believe that the Catholic Church has the fullness of truth in Her teachings on sexuality, though, as I said in the piece, the past 2-3 generations have been mostly an abysmal failure in communicating it to our young people. (Not going to touch the molestation piece; a Google search will reveal the statistical likeliness of molestation within any given religious faith and Catholicism is actually near the low end in terms of incidence, but of course you won’t hear the media saying that. Plus, yes, our priests should be held to a higher standard than schoolteachers, coaches, the general public, etc. And finally, if you separate out how much of the abuse was accounted for by homosexual relationships between older teens and priests…yeah. Big old red flag there, and something our seminaries are working hard to address on the front end, screening and discerning and carefully evaluating each and ever vocation coming in now, not just accepting whomever, sexual deviances and all. Obviously there’s not an iron clad guarantee that someone who struggles with homosexual tendencies will offend on a teen boy, but it goes a long way when the Church makes sure the men She considered for priesthood are sexually whole and healthy to begin with. End tangent.)
As far as judging the Duggar family…we’re all expected to make judgements every single day abut what is and isn’t prudent, and about what is an isn’t Christlike. They never, never should have done the show with this skeleton hanging out in the closest, knowing that in our digital age there’s no such thing as a family secret. Going forward as they did, knowing this would all one day come out and destroy the girl’s lives a second time…I think they were dead wrong. (And I do feel quite a bit betrayed as a long time viewer by the discrepancy between what they were presenting and what was actually going on in their home life.)
A lot of truth in here! I attended Catholic school my whole life, and I’m going to go ahead and say that even there we weren’t given all the greatness of Catholic teaching. Now I’m striving to do better for my own children, and praying for the grace to do it well enough that the truth and good message sticks!
Thank you so much for the article! I am so sad for the Duggar family. I’m praying for the victims/survivors/hopefully thrivers that they are supported though all of this revictimization from the media and for their continued healing from being hurt all those years ago. I also pray for Josh that he has truly redeemed himself.
From the sexual side of the article, I am saving this for my kids one day. I got teary eyed because I wish these lessons were told to me. My parents never talked to me. So I struggled with what I heard in school from friends and what I heard in catholic religious ed and church. I always grew up with the thought and hope for married love. Sadly I gave in to temptation once in college and then survived a rape thereafter. I say sadly because i didnt feel good consenting to sex with a man who was not my husband and life partner because i broke my dream of married love from God with that decision and than worse yet I suffered an assault that I would never wish on anyone. I came out of my assault recommitted to waiting for my spouse and our married love. I met him and we waited until we were married. Sex in general is not easy for me mostly because of the rape and some from the guilt from having consented to sex once before. But I pray for God’s healing and grace and with my supportive husband we are healing.
The quote that touched my heart: “sex is good, sex is holy, your body is fearfully and wonderfully made…and there is a purpose for this part of you.” I’ll be reading the books you mentioned too.
I loved your outline for how to have “the talk” with your kids! The other thing that I would add, as someone who remained celibate until I was married in my late 20s, is that sex isn’t the most important thing in life. In fact, now that I am married (and enjoy intimate times with my husband, don’t get me wrong!!) I would still say that if I had to make a list of the top five things I hope my kids experience in life, having sex would not be among them. There are a LOT of things that have impacted my life more than the “simple” act of two body parts touching (again, with the caveat that experiencing the unitive power of sex within a relationship with my husband has had a huge impact — but there are a lot of factors going into that). A lot of times sex is elevated to such an important place in society that it feels like there’s this huge realm of human experience that EVERYONE ELSE is having and you are left out. But really…sex outside of marriage is not this magical transformative experience, or the key to some club of cool kids. It’s just a thing that some people do.
It’s been almost 20 years, but I distinctly remember a religious sister saying something very similar when asked by a class of high school juniors what she did/felt about being attracted to men and giving that up as part of her vocation. She said the first things she did when she felt a stirring of attraction, she would stop and thank God for how wonderfully she was made and the gift of sexuality.
I work in the public schools now and I can tell you that things are getting worse every year. Despite what some studies to the contrary seem to say, it is my understanding that our young people are very sexually active and very confused about their sexuality in general, being willing to try anything.
I thank God for the gift of St. John Paul II Theology of the Body and all the subsequent programs and books that followed by mostly competent teachers and leaders. I have worked in chastity education with teens for years, in both Catholic venues and mixed faith, as well as public school classrooms. Faith based programs of course are the only way a complete message can be delivered, but even in a public venue the concept of self-worth and the value of sex can be shared. In a sex saturated culture we cannot afford to mince words when teaching them the truth. Still I have had the heartbreak of watching many of the young people that I thought I gave a good message to completely throw it off at a drinking party, or with a new girl/boyfriend. The bottom line is that there is no substitute to parent involvement. God has gifted me with four children who have stayed the course, and I feel that a lot of this has to do with an involved but not smothering parenting style and keeping them out of the public school system for most of their formative years. And tons of prayer and good information. God bless all of you parents and guide you.
Wow. I fundamentally disagree with your assessment of the Duggar situation. It is hard for outsiders to know how VERY DIFFERENT the Quiverfull and Gottard circles are than mainstream Protestants or Catholics when it comes to the approach to sex, sex ed, or the whole person, including sin. The Duggar children likely did NOT get even minimal sexual information. Women and children (especially female children) do not have any rights. A male child has more “authority” than adult women at times. What Josh did was a crime, beyond mere adolescent experimentation. The way his parents handled it was not appropriate or even lawful. Yes, the media is gleeful when someone on the conservative side falls, but that doesn’t change the fact that what he did was not just immortal, but illegal. The evidence of his “repentance” is typical of an abuser – he says he worried about what these actions would do to harm HIS future – not mentioning his victims. Sending a child to manual labor camp is not appropriate action. He needed therapy from a licensed individual at the very least. I appreciate the way Elizabeth Esther addresses this, as a survivor of spiritual abuse herself. http://www.elizabethesther.com/journal/2015/5/27/its-not-just-about-josh-duggar-its-about-an-entire-system-of-abuse