I used to communicate the Church's teaching on human sexuality to teenagers from a position of fear. I find that most adults do this when talking about sex to teens. They don't do this with any other Church teaching. They don't use scare tactics when talking about the Eucharist, or even Hell for that matter (if it is ever taught). When sexuality is involved, though, the fear comes out in full force.
The fear that I am talking about is not nervousness while dealing with a sensitive subject. My dad had that kind of fear when he told me and my older brother about the birds and the bees. He was terrified. He used the technical terms for things that were completely over my head. I would just stare at my brother's face and when his smile turned to utter disgust, I would just mimic the same expressions. "Ewww that's gross!" my brother would say. "Yeah, umm, gross!" I would quickly second. The best part? He gave us the talk by putting us in the back seat of the car as he addressed us through the rear view mirror.
Today I am giving two talks to the youth of Connecticut at their second annual "Youth Explosion" rally. I'm joined with the ever-talented Ike Ndolo Band, who I have never worked with before, but have run into in the ministry field many times.
I was asked to present to the teens in two thirty minute talks an overview of Pope John Paul II's famous Theology of the Body (TOB). Now, these talks spanned years and fill up a rather large book, and have produced book shelves full of commentaries trying to understand and apply his ideas.
...and I have two thirty-minute sessions to get it all in.
Evangelization always being my thing, I want to approach this talk from that perspective and not just give them a thorough check-list summary of TOB's main points. The catechesis needs to be there, but it needs to be framed through the lens of invitation, linked with a basic proclamation of the Gospel, and shown that this is the path to human happiness.
Love is more than just feelings, than a stirring of the senses and the thrill of physical touch. It is so much more than that, but it sure wouldn’t be the same without all that! God did not create us to be angels, but man, male and female. We have bodies, with goose-bumpy skin, responsive nerve endings, and hormone tidal waves that could overwhelm a giant.
But not Pope John Paul II, a man who never knew the marriage bed. He tells us the truth.