To bookmark this page: Click Here
- by Joseph Catena - February 17, 2000
CONVENT STATION — Chastity is worth practicing. That’s the message that the “True Love Waits” program conveys to youths to empower and influence them save sex for marriage. It will also be the central message at a workshop for priests, youth ministers and anyone who works with youths scheduled to be held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 26 in Henderson Hall at the College of St. Elizabeth here. The event will be sponsored by the N.J. Coalition for Abstinence Education and Lifenet.
The chastity message is countercultural and kids love to be countercultural,” said Christine Flaherty, director of public education at Lifenet. ‘They see what happened to the ‘Free Sex’ generation — divorces, STDs (sexually transmitted diseases), teen pregnancy and abortion. They learn that actions have consequences."
The True Love Waits program, which is geared toward adolescents and youths, consists of five sessions: “Family, Marriage and Sex;” “STDs;” “Life is Precious;” “Understanding the Dangers of Pornography;” and “Making a Purity Decision and Standing Firm.”
Each session involves discussion, worksheets and videos to impart the message that true love waits for marriage.
The first session — Family, Marriage and Sex — explores attaining life goals, consequences of sex outside marriage, what God says about sex and concepts of secondary virginity and renewed purity.
“We have to make young people understand that sex is something that is special and has love evolving and revolving out of it and that it’s something to wait for, i.e. marriage,” said Marie Ryan, diocesan Respect Life consultant. “It’s a program that we may as well try to see if it works rather than just saying, ‘No, it won’t work.’ It’s a unique idea.
“The program gives up life goals and gives kids a sense of how to achieve them and focus on their self-esteem. There’s a lot to life. In all of life, there are difficulties or challenges or choices that we have to make along the way to attain the goal we have in mind. We have to say ‘No’ to some things that look good and pleasurable to us at the moment for the sake of attaining our long-term goals.”
Mrs. Ryan said that the biggest challenge of conducting any True Love Waits workshop or preaching the virtues of chastity in general is summoning up the courage to do so.
“The difficulty is overcoming the fear that we might be laughed at for wanting to get this message out,” Mrs. Ryan said. “It takes a lot to drum up the courage to speak about the message."
She added that silence isn’t a virtue when it comes to chastity and not speaking against improper sexual content.
“Are we silent when sex comes into our living rooms [on TV]?” Mrs. Ryan said. “Do we say, ‘I’m offended at what I saw!’ Do we make it known that we’ll write to the sponsors who support such shows?”
Mrs. Ryan said that if adolescents heed the chastity message, only good things can come out of it for themselves and for society.
“We would ultimately reduce the numbers of abortions across the board,” she said. “But, more so, to save the kids from getting hurt, from getting STDs and from getting involved in relationships that they’re not ready for, emotionally or psychologically.
“God made sex for goodness but he had the perfect plan and timing for it.”
Miss Flaherty echoed Mrs. Ryan’s concerns and agreed that advertisers inundate youths with sex to sell products and enhance TV ratings. She also indicated that the media are often guilty of spreading a false message to youths about “safe sex” and contraceptive usage.
“There is a myth to the safe sex message,” she said. “It is a total lie to say that you’ll be protected.”
Miss Flaherty then cited the effects of Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). She pointed out that condoms provide no protection whatsoever against HPV and that the disease causes genital warts and is transmitted by skin to skin contact. It is the cause of 93 percent percent of cervical cancer cases, she said.
“[Over time] the language has even been changed from ‘safe sex’ to ‘safer sex,’ “she said. “And let me not fail to mention that contrary to what some people may believe, condoms are not full-proof against AIDS.”
Miss Flaherty believes that many people are so consumed by sex that they don’t understand what love is.
‘The true meaning is sacrifice,” she said. “But our society preaches materialism and self-gratification.”
According to the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, there are three main factors why youths delay sexual activity: connection to theiupeitnts; parents’ disapproval of contraception and perceived adolescent sex; and taking a purity pledge to wait for marriage before engaging in intercourse. More than 90,000 adolescents were polled for the study.
“I always tell them, ‘Don’t be the one to be following others. You make the decision. You know what you’re about,’ “Miss Flaherty said.
She added that many youths embrace True Love Waits and view it as being sincere with a message that really connotes what love is all about. This is especially true, she said, among those who have lost their virginity.
“I can’t tell you how many times someone has come up to me and said, ‘I wish I had waited,’ “she said.
“Jesus will forgive any sin, but there’s nothing we can do about the regret.”
Anyone interested in attending the workshop may call a toll-free number (877) 422-6924 for information.