I see it every day and I’m pretty sure you do, too. The sexualization of men and women, teenagers and young boys and girls is everywhere. The billboard on the highway. The front window of a store. Magazine ads. Television commercials. Mailers in my mailbox. And, it’s all over the internet. We can’t get away from it, but how do we prepare our children to battle such a sexualized culture?
Recently, I participated in a Bible study based on the book, “The Five Conversations You Must Have with Your Son.” A few years earlier, I took part in the same study for girls. It was enlightening and empowering, yet it touched on the heavy responsibility we have as parents to form our children. That is no light cross. The Catholic church has an amazing resource in Theology of the Body (TOB). Until a few months ago, I thought it was only geared toward college-aged students and beyond. TOB just launched middle school and high school curriculums. Hallelujah! I’ve previewed the program and it is an incredible resource.
This weekend’s reading at Mass was timely (isn’t it always?):
“Avoid immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the immoral person sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been purchased at a price. Therefore glorify God in your body.” -1 Corinthians 6:18-20.
[emphasis is mine]
This verse captures all that we believe about pro-life, sexuality, the covenant of marriage and the sanctification of the body, doesn’t it? It is powerful. It is a reminder that our bodies, our LIVES, are a gift from God. How do you treat such a precious gift? Do you abuse it, flaunt it, fill it with drugs and alcohol or overexpose it?
Quite honestly, I think the degradation of soul and the absence of self-worth comes in smaller doses. I think it’s a skirt cut a little too short that gets more attention than we imagined, but we relish in the attention. I think it’s a lunch meeting with a co-worker of the opposite sex where we share a moment of intimacy that should be saved for our spouse. As the song from Christian group, Casting Crowns, says: “It’s a slow fade when you give yourself away. It’s a slow fade when black and white turn to gray.”
It is a slow fade, indeed. In difficult situations, I find myself at an impasse. Do I avoid the situation, diminish my involvement or eliminate the situation all together?
AVOID IT. A good high school friend of mine makes it a practice to never have a meeting with someone of the opposite sex unless someone else is present. He is a strong Christian, yet he never wants there to be an invitation to sin.
DIMINISH YOUR INVOLVEMENT. Too many times, we find ourselves in an unexpected situation that tests our morality. In those moments, I usually send a pleading flare up to God that goes along the lines of, “Why did you put me HERE?!” I’m always hopeful God will encourage me to zip my lips (typically the more powerful witness). There are times, though, He leads me to say something I wouldn’t normally be brave enough to utter.
ELIMINATE IT. A Dominican sister once shared with her young female students that wearing clothing with writing across certain parts of the body (backside and chest) invites males to sin. She countered their argument that it was just an “innocent” piece of clothing with, “Do you want to be the instrument that invites someone to sin?”
Being chaste in a secular world is a test of faith. I’m hoping, praying, that the lives we lead and the lessons we teach our children will allow them to see God’s greatest sacrifice and glorify His works—always.