Teens encouraged to view their sexuality as a gift

| Angela Deeney for The Catholic Spirit | November 20, 2013 | 0 Comments
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Teens and parents munched on bagels around fall-festive tables at St. Peter in Forest Lake Nov. 9 while presenters prepared to share encouragement and practical counsel from their own experiences facing the challenge of chastity in today’s society.

They were gathered to participate in a program called All in God’s Plan. It’s a three-part, faith-based program for families on human sexuality. The session on Nov. 2 was Part 2: Daughters and Sons for Life. It covered dating, parenting teens, family purity and God’s plan for sexuality for 13- to 16-year-olds and their parents.

“It gives me the tools that I can use at home with my children,” said Jolynn Schumacher of St. Peter.

Kathleen Steffes, also of St. Peter, agreed, “I think we need encouragement and affirmation for what we already know is right,” she said.

The big lie

Throughout the morning, the boys and girls broke off into separate sessions to discuss the lies they face regarding their sexuality.

“The world presents to us a bunch of lies about what sexuality really is, and what it’s like to go through this time in their life,” said Andrew Stolpestad, a philosophy graduate of the University of St. Thomas.

Jen Messing, founder of the nonprofit Into the Deep, warned the girls about the distorted perception of beauty present in the media.

“Our bodies speak a language,” she told the girls, “and that’s a beautiful and good thing.”

However, our desire for love can be twisted to the point where we no longer respect our dignity and ourselves.

Kristin Schindler, who teaches natural family planning classes in St. Paul, also told the girls that in our relationships we have to choose love, which means making decisions that will lead us and others to heaven.

For the boys, the challenge is similar. Among all of the temptations, there are roads we can choose that either lead to life or death. Dr. David Dries from HealthPartners in St. Paul told the boys they can choose life by the relationships they pick with one another if they recognize that love is not about one’s own gratification, but death to self.

With the boys and girls back together, Dr. April Lind, a physician in Maple Grove, broke down the myths of “safe sex.” According to Dr. Lind, the problem of the contraceptive culture is it tries to separate sex from life.

“God gave us a beautiful gift in ourselves, that we are manifestations of his Holy Spirit,” she said, “and one of the beautiful ways we do that is through understanding the gift of our sexuality; and when we do that, we change the world.”

Gift of the Christian family

Crystal Crocker, leader of the Argument Club for Women, gave parents practical insights into how they can help their teens face sexual temptations by practicing the virtues within their family.

Crocker urged parents to never give up on their faith, and to pray, go to church and communicate with their teens, even on awkward topics.

John Crudele, founder of Partnership for Youth and author of “Making Sense of Adolescence: How to Parent from the Heart,” observed that 95 percent of teens want sex education from their parents. Furthermore, he urged parents to live their lives openly as an example to their children.

The presentation, said Schumacher, “makes me more confident in my conversations with my children.”

Other speakers at the event included Sue Lewis from Epiphany in Coon Rapids, and Father Benjamin Little, parochial vicar of St. Peter. Both also spoke about the gift of the Christian family and the goodness of God’s ways.

Living virtuously

As the program wrapped up, Stolpestad remarked how the challenge to live out chastity doesn’t stop here.

“After all these talks are said and done, they can walk away with what the true meaning of love is, and that being the total self-giving of yourself to another out of the good for that person, because that’s behind the whole gift of sexuality that God gave to us,” he said.

All in God’s Plan sessions are held at parishes throughout the Archdiocese of St Paul and Minneapolis. The next event will be held on Jan. 11 at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Hastings.

For more information about the All in God’s Plan program, contact the Office of Marriage, Family and Life at (651) 291-4488.

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