(somewhat a continuation of my previous post that Sex Ed Starts at Birth. They are born, so now what?)
Another headline I saw recently was, “Why Shame-Based Abstinence Education doesn’t work.” And I would have to agree. But I would have to say that shoving contraception in their face doesn’t work either. There is a third way, a way that is very well demonstrated in the movie “Frozen.”
Queen Elsa was born with this power to make things freeze. A power that “can be beautiful but dangerous.” When she was young she would make beautiful snowflakes and snowmen and have all sorts of fun with it. Then, after accidentally hurting her sister at a young age, her well-intentioned father teaches Else to “conceal, don’t feel” and to wear gloves. Well, Elsa shuts everyone else out of her life because she is afraid of her power. Eventually, she brings the whole town into a deep winter freeze. She runs up a mountain to an isolated castle of ice to unleash her power. She doesn’t think she can ever change her frozen nature until an act of true love from her sister, who sacrifices her life for her. Then she realizes it’s love that can thaw the freeze and tame her power. Not a true love’s kiss kind of love, but an act of self-sacrifice and giving.
I see Elsa’s powers as our human sexuality. Our sexual urges can be strong, like Elsa’s powers, but if we try to bottle them up, they can explode. We are made to feel, in a poor abstinence program, that our sexuality is dangerous and we should be ashamed of it and hide it. Many well-intentioned parents don’t want to talk about sex until their kids are full grown (conceal, don’t feel). You get STD’s and unwanted pregnancies from sex, so sex is bad.
Actually, our sexuality is good! It is meant to be beautiful and life-giving, but without proper context it can be very dangerous. We can definitely hurt people with this power, and so I think we are, as a country, stuck in a deep winter freeze. We are all in our isolated castles, doing what we want with our powers. We are our own king or queen. But we were not made for loneliness. Our sexuality was made to be a gift of true love. With everything from campus rape culture, child predators, pornography, cohabitation, and divorce so common and painful, it’s obvious we are lacking in authentic love.
So there is a third way, a way of Chastity, a way of love. What was able to thaw the deep freeze in the movie “Frozen”? An act of sacrifice – willing to put your own life in front of your beloved. So how do you channel such a strong emotion as our sexuality into something beautiful, creative, and authentic? Love.
The Catechism definition of Chastity is “the successful integration of sexuality within the person and thus the inner unity of man in his bodily and spiritual being.” For a long time I had a hard time understanding that verbiage, but the movie helps illustrate the point. Our sexual desires are meant to be expressed in our body in the proper context. We are made to love. So when we take our powers of sexuality and move from fear and selfishness to courage and generosity, we become wholly who we are meant to be. Our bodies are visible signs of the invisible love of God within us.
So chastity is for everyone, on every path of life, because we are all human, we have bodies, and we are all meant for love. We easily think of priests and nuns called to chastity, but married people need to be authentic in their gift of self, too. Teens should see sex as something to look forward to, and prepare themselves for accordingly. How? By taking time to discover themselves- talents, fears, hopes, desires. You can’t give yourself in a sexual act of love if you don’t even know who you are. You can use your desire to love to serve your friends and community while preparing yourselves for your vocation someday. Mission trips and service projects are great acts of self-sacrifice.
Then, in marriage, sex becomes a language of love, more powerful than words could ever say. This act of love speaks of permanence, faithfulness, totality, and openness to life. Did you know your marriage vows aren’t complete until you ratify it with your actions? It’s meant to be a beautiful reflection of the love of God in the same ways as your vows.
So hopefully the takeaway from this is: 1. Watch the movie “Frozen.” 2. Pray, research, reflect on the virtue of chastity, whether it be for your kids sake, your marriage, or your current state in life. God has something waiting for you to discover.