The Mean Streets of Chastity

Last week, the parents of our eighth graders, both in our day school and our PSR, had a meet- ing in preparation for their children receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation. The presenters talked about a wide array of topics from coaxing teens to go to youth group activities, to ways to pray as a family, to how to approach the Sacrament itself. It was a worthwhile night.

One of the topics the presenters brought up was speaking to your children about chastity, an awk- ward discussion if there ever was one. One of the suggestions they gave, was that you should discuss this and other difficult topics while traveling in the car. That way, both parent and child can avoid any uncomfortable eye contact and stick to the subject without too much nervous energy.

That suggestion made me laugh, not because I disagree with it, but because it reminded me of the one and only time my father spoke to my

brother and myself about sex. And yes, we had the discussion in the family car. I know the exact location (Watson Road heading west going toward MacKenzie). I must have been around fifteen and my

brother was approaching twenty. My memory of the discussion was that, out of the clear blue sky, my dad blurts out: “If either of you got a girl pregnant, I wouldn’t necessarily want you to marry her, but I would expect you to take financial responsibility for the child.” I turned to my brother with a startled look and he gazed back in utter confusion. And that was it. That was the total extent of my father’s wisdom on the topic.

Forty-plus years after this very haphazard discussion, I can’t help but think that, if you are going to have one, and only one, discussion on this is- sue, you cannot do much better than what Ed Schmittgens did. (I also will suggest to you that it was a highly effective message for the both of us.)

As I told this to a couple of others at the meeting that night, they all happily chimed in with their own traveling chastity stories. Likewise, they knew the exact avenues and roads they were on when that ultimate parent conversation ensued. I joked that this would make a great book title: The Streets of Chasity. (I made the title (ahem) sexier, for this article.)

Teenagers need guidance when it comes to their sexuality and its expression. They know all the technical terms, but do they know the myriads of heartaches and pains that often get mixed into the mess? They may know what a condom is for, but do they know that there is no protection for one’s heart, one’s soul, one’s character? Are they aware of the psychological, physiological, emotional and, dare I say it, economic benefits of a life of chastity? Do they realize that chastity means so much more than “just say no?”

God made us as sexual beings, for pleasure and joy, for togetherness and unity, for the continuance of biological life. One need not be ashamed. But we also know that this powerful force in our lives can get twisted and distorted and warped.

It can be used and abused to hurt, control and even destroy others. We have seen it in our society and, shamefully, even in our church.

And so, as uncomfortable as the discussion may be, it is a vital and important one. Be aware that there’s a lot of solid resources available to you, so that this discussion need not be as rudimentary as my father’s was.

So take a drive with your kids. Ride the mean streets of chastity. Forty years from now, they may laugh about it…and thank God for it.

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