As soon as the men of the world perceive that you seek the devout life, they will launch forth all their raillery and slander against you; the most ill-natured will pronounce your altered ways to be hypocrisy, affection, or bigotry; they will assert that the world having slighted you, rejected by it, you turn to God; and your friends overwhelm you with a torrent of what they hold to be prudent and charitable remonstrances.
– St. Frances De Sales
St. Frances De Sales wrote this piece in part to encourage us not to give heed to what the world says. If the world champions that all young girls from a young age should be on birth control, is the world right? Or, if the world says that cohabitation is a perfectly normal way to determine the marriageability of a potential spouse, is this right? The obvious moral answers to these questions is no. However, the world would try to make you think that you’re still a good person even if you happen to believe in cohabitation or the distribution of the birth control pill to young girls.
The point I just made resounds even more when discussing the opposite sex with our children. The moment our child’s view of the opposite sex changes from “whatever” to “whoa” then you know a whole new human being has just evolved before your very eyes. Keep in mind that the secular world knows this natural phenomenon all too well, waiting to pounce on the soul of your child and transform them into a morally distorted sexual being.
When parents realize this change, I often find myself on the receiving end of their questions on how to discuss sex to their teens as taught by the Church. Before I can muster a sound response the parent, on his last ounce of despair, blurts out in a loud voice: “Oh no, he’s discovered the opposite sex!” I tell parents instead of saying “Oh no” our first response should be, “Good, let’s talk about sex.”
As parents it’s important that we become keenly aware of what our kids already know or don’t know with respect to sex. The sex talk meter tends shift toward two extremes where either nothing is discussed or everything is discussed to a fault. A good starting point is to help them reevaluate their understanding or misunderstanding of where the body comes from, why it was made, and what was the result of “the fall” of our first parents with respect to authentic human sexuality.
Establishing a Temptation Meter
“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” (Col 3:1-3)
One of the most effective methods I’ve found to help curb sexual temptation amongst teens is to establish a temptation meter. This idea came to me many years ago when teaching my sophomore class about the morality of passions in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. They way to establish a temptation meter is by simply following the outline laid out in the Catechism on the Morality of Passions . Here’s an example of what I would give to my students and then they would have to place a check mark next to each one of the following areas they fell into; it made for quite a class discussion:
- If you begin to pulsate and lose all inhibitions of normal moral behavior i.e. looking at someone inappropriately or beginning to imagine inappropriate situations with someone, then you have reached the realm of – Lust. CCC 1765
- If your appetite for natural friendship abandons ship for an inappropriate sexual appetite then you have reached the realm of – disordered arousal. CCC 1765
- If you all think about is how the young man or woman can satisfy your personal desires versus how you can charitably help the person in a loving way you have reached the realm of disordered pleasure. CCC 1765
- If your intellect and will became deliberately engaged toward a passion of selfish love, you have reached the realm of – evil. CCC 1766
- If your intellect and will do not see the dignity of the human person in someone you encounter you have reached the realm of – sadness. CCC 1770
As I stated earlier these five characteristics are adapted from the Catechism articles referenced under the Morality of Passions. I would also incorporate a picture related to the characteristic for greater effect. Once the student saw and understood how their behavior fell into one these categories, changes began to occur. They realized they did not want to become sexual zombies. Instead they began to realize their human dignity and the gift that they are to God.
Another point to reflect on is the morality of the human act which is depended upon the object, the intent, and the circumstance (CCC 1750-1754 ). One way to incorporate this great little nugget of doctrinal instruction is to ask e.g. your son the following questions:
- “What was your first thought when you saw that beautiful girl walk right in front of you?”
- “What was your intent when you saw her?”
- “What did you think about doing after you finished observing this girl?”
These questions may sound blunt but I can assure you they will get your sons attention. Keep in mind that the Catechism reminds us that the Moral Law is the work of Divine wisdom and finds its unity in Christ (CCC 1950-1954 ). What this means is that we want our children to act in moderation making reasonable use of their senses so as to not become sexual zombies but instead becomes authentic disciples in Christ. St. Thomas Aquinas provides us with a wonderful summation and antidote in dealing with sexual temptation all parents should share with their children:
“To love is to will the good of another”