CHASTITY AND ABSTINENCE: THE FOUNDATIONS OF CATHOLIC SEXUALITY EDUCATION FOR THE YOUTHS.

Date Created: 2018-06-16 10:04:58

Every moment of resistance to temptation is victory.”

                                                -Fredrick W. Faber

Introduction

The Catholic Church is the most articulate religious organisation in the world with clearly defined teachings on human affairs including sexuality. The Church approaches sexuality issues with clarity of values that are unmistakable. Human sexuality is a complex psychological and biological variable responsible for guiding the sexual maturation process of an individual. The development of adolescents like we have among the majority of the participants at this programme, involves emotional, cognitive, social and moral variables. In this paper, we shall discuss the meaning of sexuality, the characteristics of human development in terms of sexual maturation and how to guide the youths through that crucial stage of development. The  paper will  discuss Catholic position on sexuality with specific reference to the youths. What are the things that constitute sin against sexuality? How can the youths uphold chastity and overcome sexual exploitation or abuse and finally conclude.

Catholic Understanding of Sexuality

Sexuality is abroad term that refers to one’s full personhood as male or female, that is, what  a person is as a man or woman in relation to other persons in the society. This involves the psychological, cultural, physiological outlook of an individual. The personality of an individual reflects his/her attitude to sexuality and preferences. While our sexuality does not determine all of our feelings, thoughts, and actions, sexuality permeates individual feelings, thoughts and actions, in ways both overt and covert.

     It is pertinent for me to point out here that sexual intercourse is not the same as sexuality. Sexuality transcends sexual intercourse which is a biological need that is oriented not only toward pro-creation but toward pleasure. While sex is usually infused with a variety of human and religious meanings, the primary understanding is erotic in nature focusing on conjugal/genital activity. It has its own place in God’s plan for humanity, it is basically associated with self-giving in marriage and a means of communion of life between a man and woman who have received the sacrament of matrimony.

Human sexuality as a term that goes beyond sexual intercourse implies the following:

1. Our physical appearance, our size and shape, our biological features, our sexual faculties/endowments and gender male/female.

2. Our self image/self concept

3. Other people’s perceptions of us, the way they see us and size us up in relation to other people.

4. Our relationship with others, our need for bonding, intimacy and security.

5. Our values, our likes and dislikes pertaining to our sexuality and that of other people.

6. Our sexual feelings, desires and impulses.

7. Our sexual behavior- the way you choose to express your sexuality and  sexual health. 

Adolescent sexuality:

By mid adolescent stage the youngsters begin to experience sex awareness with maturing body parts. The boys will begin to have deep voice, grow beard,  have nocturnal emissions and broad muscles. The girls experience changes in their physique such  as growth of hips and breasts, hair in the armpit and pubic region. The girls may even begin to have their menstral period at this stage. The girl becomes more conscious of herself and has the tendency to look herself over frequently.

        All these changes normally go with sexual awareness and burning desire for  experimentation with sexual behaviours. Youngsters will normally experience physical intimacy and psychological vulnerability created by sexual encounters (Crokett, Raffaelli & Moilanen, 2003).The way the male and  female adolescents respond to this will depend largely on social and cultural contexts in which they live.

      According to (Schlegel, 1995) emerging sexuality is fundamental to adolescence. The idea of sexual relationship usually predominate the adolescent mind, attempt to take the first step towards the opposite sex is usually fraught with risk of rejection or public ridicule. But some boys and girls with strong characters easily cross the gender divide (Campell, 1995). Dominant popular girls who are attractive and gossips were more sexually active than their female peers (Bruyn, Cillesson, Weisfeld, 2012).

        Behavioural theories concerning sexual behavior such as: Sexual Selection Theory (Andersson, 1994) and Sexual Strategies Theory (Buss, 2003) predicted that high status individual adolescents have more mating opportunities than their peers from low income background. While this may hold true for western countries in developing or third world countries premarital and mating opportunities whether voluntary   or non consensual are more rampart among low status youngsters. That is responsible for early marriage and lack of education on the part of most of them who drop out of school after getting pregnant.  

Characteristics of adolescent sexuality

Adolescent boys and girls engage in a number of non –coital sexual behaviours such as:

 Fantasy, Masturbation, Making  out, Dating and kissing.

 The influence on adolescents include:

  1. Peer influence
  2. Friends
  3. Romantic partners
  4. Neighborhoods
  5. Social Media.

Christian Faith and  Sexuality  

      Human sexuality is a symbol of Christ and his Church Eph.5: 32, it is also an expression of personal worship of God through chastity 1 Cor.6: 13, 18  and it provides a means of training the young in self-giving through the sacrament of matrimony. From this perspective, a number of issues deserve personal consideration as they touch the Christian faith and sexuality.

(a) Accept yourself as God has created you, male or female, short or tall, dark or fair in complexion. God created each of us in his image and likeness (Gen.1: 27). 

(b) Conjugal act in itself is not evil but how you choose to express it outside of the commandments of God, sexual relationship between two adults who are married in the Catholic Church is a  noble and worthy act provided it is open to the possibility of life.

(c) Sexuality is a gift from God to be expressed in chaste love, God blessed the first couple created to be fruitful and multiply and fill the face of the earth cf. (Gen. 1: 28). Mark 10: 6-9, Similarly, in 1 Cor. 7: 1-5.

(d). God is against sexual immorality and He will punish those who are sexually immoral cf.1 Cor. 6: 9-10, Col. 3:5-8, Hebrew 13: 4 , Matthew 5: 28, 1 Thes. 4: 3-7, 1 Cor.6: 15-20,

Sins Against Human Sexuality:

1. Fornication, 2 Adultery, 3. Masturbation,  4. Homosexuality, 5. Lesbianism, 6. Fetishism, 7.  Sado-masochism,  8. Bestiality, 9. Sexual Fantasy, 10. Pornography, 11. Nudity etc.

Personal Skills  and Strategies to Achieve Healthy Sexuality:

  1. Self esteem, respect yourself and others will respect you.
  2. Self Good self Concept, have good image of yourself, do not self yourself like a cheap material.
  3. Goal Setting, have a noble  ambition of what you want to achieve in life and pursue it with singleness of purpose. A busy mind has no time for sexual fantasy and exploration.
  4. Self Assertiveness, be decisive about your activities and relationships with people of the opposite sex. Do not allow anyone to drag you into what is immoral or ungodly. Be a positive influence on others.
  5. Decision-Making, walk out on any person or situation of sexual exploitation, you owe no one apology for such decision.
  6. Communication, speak out when someone is pressurizing for pre-marital sex.
  7. Finding Help, when in difficult situation or trouble with regards to sexual harassments.
  8. Boundary Setting , in any relationship you must establish the boundary from the beginning    and defend it. Do not allow the other person to tinker with the boundary.
  9. Cultivate Values such as : decency, modesty,  honesty, contentment and  self control
  10. Delay Gratification, there is time for everything, don’t ruin your future for short term pleasure.
  11. Reasonable fear of consequences of action; Sexual transmitted diseases and pregnancy.   
  12. Religious and Moral restraints. Develop good and active conscience.   
  13. Do not accept gifts that will compromise you.
  14. Avoid occasions of sin. Do not put yourself in a difficult situation, be wise and alert.
  15. Defence mechanisms such as selective avoidance, selective exposure, sublimation, rationalization, repression, suppression, sour grape and projection etc.

Conclusion:

The Catholic understanding of sexuality is premised on the recognition that each person is created in God’s image and likeness. It also recognizes the fact that we are all call to holiness and to perfection like our heavenly father. Sexuality has created by God and intended for humanity is for the expression of dignified existence and chaste love. Chastity is a virtue which “helps us to utilize the totality of our sexuality and put it at the service of our becoming Christian.” (Genovesi, p.147). A Chaste person will put the physical and external expression of his/her sexuality under control and channel it authentic love in marriage. Abstinence involves staying away from sex and any form of physical intimacy that may lead to it. For our youths, it is important for you to know that sex is not used to establish a relationship as boys and men may want you to belief, rather sexual intimacy expresses a relationship that already exists through the sacrament of matrimony. Be proud of yourself, walk with your heads high upholding chastity, do not mortgage your future for momentary pleasure, please zip up until marriage.

God bless you!         

References 

  Campell, A. (1995). A Few Good Men: Evolutionary psychology and female adolescent aggression. Ethology and Sociology, 16, 199-123.

        Crockett, L.J., Raffaelli, M.,& Moilanen, K.L. (2003). Adolescent Sexuality: Behaviour and Meaning. In  Adams, G.R. & Berzonsky, M.D.(Eds).Blackwell Handbook of Adolescence. Mass. Blackwell Publishing Malden, pp.371-392.

    Genovesi, V. J. (1991). In pursuit of love: Catholic morality and human sexuality. Minnesotta. The Liturgical Press.

              Hanigan, J. P. (1982). What are they saying about sexual morality? New York: Paulist Press.

           Schlegel, A. (1995). A cross-cultural approach to adolescence. Ethos, 23, 15-32.

 

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