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Parents Love the Chastity Girl | By Mary Beth Bonacci
When we tells teens to abstain from sex, we're leading them to what they
Parents love me.
Seriously its the most amazing thing. If you want to become
popular with parents, become known as "The Girl Who Tells Teenagers Not To
Have Sex Until Theyre Married." People will flock to you. Theyll
follow you around, invite you to their homes. Its quite flattering,
Flattering though it may be, I realize deep down that its not about me
or any of my inherent wonderfulness. Its about fear. They look around at
the world, and they see all of the pressures their kids face. Every unmarried
character on every television show has sex with every person they date. Nobody in
music videos wears any clothing to speak of. Internet porn reaches right out of
the family monitor and grabs kids by the collar, pulling them into an
unbelievably vile world of sleaze.
Whats a parent to do? Most feel like the bad guys like their job
is to scare their teenagers out of sexual activity. "I know all of those
beautiful people on TV make it look like fun, but here are all of the awful
things that could happen to you." We get to tell them about disease and teen
pregnancy and all of the horrible ways they could ruin their lives.
Not very appealing, is it?
The thing is, its not very effective, either. Teenagers dont scare
easily, as you may recall from your own youth. They know that bad things only
happen to other people. They also know that a parents job is to dig up and
share every frightening story they can possibly find, all in a somewhat fiendish
plot to exercise totalitarian control over their liveslives which they, in
their maturity, are perfectly capable of running themselves.
Its not entirely their fault. Brain research shows that teenagers
actually arent yet completely capable of assessing risk and long-term
consequences. That part of their brains is not yet fully developed, and
wont be until theyre at least twenty years old.
So whats a parent to do, aside from turning to The Girl Who Tells
Teenagers Not To Have Sex Until Theyre Married?
The thing is, I dont like being the bad guy any more than their parents
do. I dont like rejection. There is no way I would have spent the past
nineteen years being The Girl Who Tells Teenagers Not To Have Sex Until
Theyre Married if the only tool I had was scare tactics about disease and
teen pregnancy. But Ive discovered a little secret. Teens may have bad
judgment, but theyre not stupid. Theyre not getting involved in
sexual activity because theyre curious, or they cant control
themselves, or they want to rebel.
Theyre having sex because theyre looking for love.
And why not? Love is the primary human need. They crave it, especially as they
enter their teen years and begin to navigate the wider world. And that world
tells them theyll find love in sex. Thats how it worked for Ross and
Rachel, Monica and Chandler. If it worked for the cast of Friends, why
shouldnt it work for them?
But it doesnt. "Making love" doesnt make love in their
lives. It tends to make them lonely. It tends to distort their relationships. It
tends to bring less real love, not more, into their lives.
Thats where I come in.
I dont talk to them about pregnancy and disease. I talk to them about
love. I tell them what seems to be the Churchs secret that living
chastity doesnt just help us avoid pregnancy and disease it helps us
find and live real love.
And they respond. They want to hear it.
Im on a plane right now, headed to Kentucky to speak to a large group of
teens and parents. I spoke at a high school in Ohio last week, where I received a
standing ovation after spending an entire hour telling the entire student body
about chastity basically telling them not to have sex until theyre
Thats right a middle aged woman got a standing ovation from a
group of teenagers for telling them to abstain from sex..
Again, please understand this is not happening because Im so
wonderful. It happens because theyre hungry for the message, hungry for
love. Im going to spend the next few columns speaking directly to parents,
to single adults, and to anyone else who wants to learn more about why we believe
what we do about human sexuality, and how to impart that information in a
positive, beautiful way.
For this week, just remember
its not about fear. Its about love.
(This article was originally published on March 7, 2005.)
Ignatius Press books by Mary Beth Bonacci:
Beth Bonacci is internationally known for her talks and writings
about love, chastity, and sexuality. Since 1986 she has spoken to tens
of thousands of young people, including 75,000 people in 1993 at World
Youth Day in Denver, Colorado. She appears frequently on radio and television
programs, including several appearances on MTV.
Mary Beth has written two books, We're
on a Mission from God and Real
Love, and also writes a regular, syndicated column for various
publications. She has developed numerous videos, including her brand-newest
video series, also entitled Real Love. Her video Sex
and Love: What's a Teenager to Do? was awarded the 1996 Crown
Award for Best Youth Curriculum.
Mary Beth holds a bachelor's degree in Organizational Communication from
the University of San Francisco, and a master's degree in Theology of
Marriage and Family from the John Paul II Institute at Lateran University.
She was also awarded an honorary doctorate in Communications from the
Franciscan University of Steubenville, and is listed in Outstanding
Young Women of America for 1997.
Visit Mary Beth and Real Love Incorporated online here.
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