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“Ask a Priest: Is Teen Chastity Worth Promoting?”
Q: On situational ethics, I have been told by Catholics that expecting chastity from teens is not realistic, and that it is reckless to not encourage them to use condoms to prevent sexually transmitted infections. I try to make the point in the kindest way possible that we are not called to conform to the standards of the culture but to Christ. Because I have failed often as a human and as a parent, I certainly have every reason to be humble and to just shut up. Should I? – M.S.
Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC
A: Short answer: no! Keep speaking up!
It’s sad that you are hearing the anti-chastity advice from Catholics. This shows how much work the Church needs to do in order to catechize the faithful.
As you say, we are not called to conform ourselves to the world. That is a dead end.
Paradoxically, those Catholics you mention are right: Chastity is beyond our capability. But with the grace of God “all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26).
Thus, to say that teenagers aren’t capable of chastity is, in effect, to hold them in low esteem. Which is a great pity, for teens like challenges. And they want to be supported in their efforts to become responsible adults.
That is why it’s vital that you not keep quiet. Indeed, you might think about speaking up more. Think about ways of promoting chastity among the teens you know.
Certainly, a lot of young women out there would appreciate hearing more pro-chastity messages. They don’t like feeling pressured into sex.
You might think of ways to promote teen chastity in your parish or diocese. Don’t feel as though you need to have been a lifelong saint in order to talk about these issues.
Lots of resources are available to give you ideas.
Helpful for your personal reading might be “Reflections on the Revolution” at First Things. It might also help your misguided Catholic friends.
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