One of my favorite activities remains giving a chastity talk to teenagers.
For roughly the last six years, on occasion, I have the privilege to bring the Good News about sexuality to teenagers.
But I have no illusions. I know the task of bringing light and clarity to the youth remains a daunting task, especially in this culture.
MTV, Cosmo Magazine, and the porn-saturated culture bombard our youth day after day with filth. My 60-minute presentation serves barely as a blip on the radar compared to the messages they receive.
Given such little time to try to make a memorable impression, I feel I have little time to waste.
Yet, in years past, I think I did let much of that time slip by, not using it to the best of my abilities. That is why I had to rework my chastity talk. I think doing so has paid off, and I am touching more teenagers.
THE OLD MESSAGE
Some kids need to be scared straight, and that’s great.
For some teens, learning the truth of the physical dangers to having premarital sex is all they need to continue on the straight and narrow path. But that message is not going to impact everyone the same way.
One in six people aged 14 to 49 carries genital herpes, the most common STD. About 1 in 15 sexually-active teens has chlamydia. If left untreated, the disease could cause infertility. About 3.7 million people have contracted Trichomoniasis. If left untreated, it can cause irritation and a greater risk of contracting HIV.
Upon hearing this, many teens do not blink an eye at these facts. They’re teens. They think they know it all. They’re invincible.
Besides, I am supposed to say what I usually say. After all, this talk is usually given at a Catholic school or to a youth group at a Catholic Church. They expect me to scare them about having sex.
I was taught a demonstration to show the kids of the dangers of the promiscuous lifestyle.
You get five volunteers, or so, and give them each a see-through plastic cup, filled with water. One of your volunteers sits out and watches awhile. The other four munch on Oreos or Cheetos or whatever snacks you brought for them to enjoy. Their snacking simulates a party.
Then once the kids have been eating awhile, you wait till they all have food in their mouths and you tell them to freeze. No more chewing.
You ask them to spit out the contents of their mouth into the cups of water they are holding. Yes, this is supposed to be gross.
You then simulate the first two people having sex together at this party to demonstrate how sexual activity involves the sharing of bodily fluids. You pour one cup into another and back into the first. You do this mixing awhile. Then you take cup two and do it with cup three. Then again with cup four.
By the end, the fourth person could receive bodily fluid from the first person or everyone in between. Thus, the more sexual partners a person has, the more likely they are to contract a sexually transmitted disease.
Then at the end you contrast those dirty cups to the water cup that remains untainted, held by your first volunteer. You ask everyone the rhetorical question, “Which one would you rather be?”
This is a very memorable demonstration, for obvious reasons.
But I have scratched it from my talk altogether.
In fact, the entire portion of my talk about STDs I used to emphasize, but not anymore.
It has its necessary place within the talk, but it is not central.
WHY TAKE IT OUT?
I read an article from someone who has sat through a chastity presentation containing a “dirty glass of water” demonstration like the one described above.
This young woman got from the talk was that anyone who was sexually active is just a “dirty glass of water.”
Such talk can make the youth feel filthy, worth little, and so forth.
Obviously, that is not the intention of the speaker by any stretch. But it still is a valid criticism.
And granted, at least in my experience, any chastity speaker who does the chips demonstration does add a caveat at the end of their presentation. They let it be known that for anyone who may have had sex in the past, they are not there to judge, nor to say all is lost.
The speaker always invites such teens to find forgiveness and solace in Christ Jesus. Availing one’s self to the Sacraments, especially to Confession, can work wonders.
Perhaps the young woman above was told as much but tuned out before that was conveyed to her.
Nonetheless, I have found a different message to the teens has left a much better impression on them. It overlaps and agrees with the author’s suggestion in the article linked to above. To learn what it is, please stay tuned for my next post!
What are your thoughts about an effective chastity talk to teenagers?
Please share your thoughts below!