"If we're in love, is it wrong for us to have sex?"
"Do you think it would have mattered if you had had sex with your husband before you got married? You ended up together anyway."
"How did you remain committed to chastity when it was tough?"
"What's the big deal if you and your boyfriend sleep next to each other? Who cares what anybody else thinks if you know you're not having sex?"
"What if I already lost my virginity? What do I do now?"
"Why do we have to live chastity in marriage as Catholics? Why can't we just have sex whenever we want and use condoms?"
"If someone was married, gets divorced and remarries, what's wrong with them having sex with their second spouse?"
I was prepared to hear anything, so I fielded the questions without batting an eye. (Chastity.com was a tremendous resource. Thank you, Jason Evert!) I think my answers were helpful, several students personally thanked me for coming, and I left feeling like I might have impacted some of them to consider adopting chastity. Thank You, Holy Spirit!
Janie and Walt had come along with me, and they played with study hall students in the Campus Ministry room while I gave my presentation to three different classes. As I packed them up and buckled them into their carseats, something struck me: my babies aren't always going to be babies, and they are going to have these same questions.
I already knew that, and Philip and I have talked several times about how we want to teach our children about their sexuality. Somehow, though, hearing the high school students' questions, seeing the hurt of those who had lost their virginity, and hearing the misconceptions of the Church's teaching on sexuality made the reality of my role as a parent educator more imminent.
Philip and I agree that it is our joint responsibility as parents to give our children a life-long sex education. We won't just have "the talk." We will have continuous, age-appropriate conversations about the gift of sexuality, what it is, and how we celebrate it. We want our children to learn that sex is a wonderful, beautiful thing, and that it is something they should anticipate with great joy if they are called to the vocation of marriage. I'm not so naive as to think that our kids will come to us every time they have a sex-related question or that they aren't seeking out answers elsewhere. I do hope, though, that they will look to us as a loving, credible, and supportive source of information.
A student today asked, "What are you going to do if you find out that one of your kids loses their virginity before marriage?"
Apparently I didn't have to think about it because I heard myself say, "Well, I think my husband and I would be disappointed. I think we would tell them that. But we'd quickly follow that up by saying that we love them, that we're glad they're still comfortable confiding in us, and that we want them to know that making a mistake doesn't make them a bad person or a failure. God doesn't hold grudges like we do. Fortunately, we have the gift of confession where we receive His forgiveness, and as an added bonus, we receive the graces to be built up with holy armor against whatever sins we're struggling with. Although they can't get their virginity back, it's never too late to reclaim a lifestyle of chastity and save sex for marriage."
Aside from the reminder that my role as parent sex educator is here, I realized that (1) we don't know what's in store for our children, and (2) that a lot of it is out of our hands. All we can do as parents is give them the information, pray that they will make the right choices, and love them through the consequences of those choices, both positive and negative.
When push comes to shove, if my kids make a mistake, I hope I'll love like the father in the story of the Prodigal Son. The Prodigal Son asked for his inheritance before his father was even dead and then "squandered his property in loose living." We all know what that means!
I think I tear up every time I read the story and the son figures out what he did wrong and returns to his father.
|Rembrandt's "The Prodigal Son"|
Luke 15:20 And he arose and came to his father. But while he was yet at a distance, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.So, if my babies make a mistake, even a really big one like asking us for their inheritance before we're dead and squandering it on loose living, I hope they'll know that we'll still run to them, hug them, and kiss them. They'll always be our babies, after all.
(Note: Readers, when push inevitably comes to shove, I'm counting on you to tell me to eat my words.)