Chastity speaker Jason Evert offers tips to parents, teens

| October 26, 2011 | 0 Comments

Chastity speaker Jason Evert will present talks for both parents and teenagers in the archdiocese next month. (See box for details.) For more than a decade, Evert and his wife, Crystalina, have traveled the world speaking to youth about the benefits of living a chaste life.

The Catholic Spirit recently interviewed him by phone from Peoria, Ill., where he was scheduled to speak at several high schools and churches. Below are excerpts from the interview.

The church says Catholics are supposed to live a chaste life, but what does that mean exactly?
Chastity is a virtue that frees you to love somebody with an undivided heart. It could be equated to purity.

It’s not simply abstinence, which means no sex. I could be technically abstinent while still cheating on my girlfriend and looking at pornography and doing all kinds of other stuff, whereas chastity is a whole lifestyle — it encompasses my thoughts, my conversations, my friendships.

It’s not some blind repression of your sexual desires, that sex is bad and dirty. But, on the contrary, what it will do for a girl, for example, [is] help her to weed out the guys who don’t love her for the right reasons.

Chastity is having the strength to use God’s gift of sexuality according to his design, and what that does is it frees you from the selfish attitude of using people as objects and makes you capable of love.

What can teenagers and their parents do to help lessen the temptations teens face?
The first thing is parents need to get over their insecurities about this subject and talk to their kids about it on a regular and clear basis.

It can’t just be “the talk,” where they wait till they’re 13 and then they drop a chastity bomb on them and expect that’s going to cut it. They have to receive a continual formation in human love and sexuality. That’s the best thing the parents can do.

And, the parents need to live out the virtue in their own life. That’s a big thing.

A big thing for teens is to find good friends, a youth group, campus ministry. You become like the people you spend time with, so you have to choose your friends very wisely.

At what age should parents start talking with their kids about chastity?
One or 2 years old. Really. Not the birds  and the bees, but just the foundational principles, that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit.

You can teach little kids about privacy and modesty and the gift of purity. You can start teaching them all these things, self-control, delayed gratification, before they get to kindergarten. And then when the time comes for the sexuality aspect of it, it’ll fit into the picture much more easily instead of waiting for some big awkward talk when they hit puberty.

What are some tips you can give to parents to help them raise this difficult topic with their teens?
One of the most important things a parent can do, especially for the boys, is you’ve got to do Internet safety, you’ve got to become computer literate, check the history files, put a filter on that computer, because most boys see porn before they’re 11 years old. You used to have to pay to see porn; now you have to pay not to see it.

Use teachable moments, like if you’re watching the Super Bowl and a “wardrobe malfunction” happens or something where there’s something obviously unpure on TV. You should change the channel, but don’t act like nobody saw it. You have to be able to say, “Hey, I know everybody just saw that, and I’m going to give a little one-minute lecture about why that’s disordered.”

What are some common mistakes parents make when it comes to talking with their kids about chastity?
The most common mistake is not [talking about] it.

Probably the second most common mistake is thinking that your kids are not going to listen to you when they do.

The National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy surveyed a thousand teenagers and asked them what’s the biggest thing that shapes their sexual behavior, and the teenagers said it was their parents and what they were brought up to believe.

Parents need to understand how powerful of a role they play in shaping the character of their children.

Let’s face it, most teens wouldn’t voluntarily spend their evening listening to a talk on chastity. What will they get out of your talk?
Girls can learn: How do I know if a guy loves me and he’s not just saying it? How can I decipher a man’s intentions so I don’t end up with a boy who’s all talk, but in reality his heart doesn’t truly love me?

The boys can learn what it means to be an authentic man and what girls really long for in a guy and how a man can be enslaved by things such as pornography and lose his manhood in that. Through chastity and self-control we’re going to give them tips on how to become a man, to basically empty yourself for the good of a woman instead of emptying women for the sake of yourself.

Evert, who has theology and counseling degrees from Franciscan University of Steubenville in Steubenville, Ohio, has written more than 10 books, including  “How to Find Your Soulmate Without Losing Your Soul,” available at http://www.howtofindyoursoulmate.com. His website is http://www.chastity.com.


Jason Evert to speak in archdiocese

Evert

Evert

“Raising Chaste Teens” — For adults. How is a parent to compete with MTV, Abercrombie and Fitch, Internet porn, and all the other influences that lure teenagers away from a pure life? In this seminar, Evert offers communication techniques, resources, statistics and a wealth of information to assist parents in their task as the primary educators of their children. 7:30 p.m. to 8:45 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 8, at Transfiguration, 6133 15th St. N, Oakdale. $5 per person. Register online or call (651) 291-4489.

“Romance Without Regret” — For teens in grades nine through 12. Some people think that chastity simply means not having sex, but it’s more than that; it’s about what you can do and have right now — a chaste lifestyle that brings freedom, respect, peace and romance without regret. 4:30 p.m. to 5:45 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 9, at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, 2035 W. 15th St., Hastings. Free admission. For information, call Michelle Hess at (651) 437-4254 or email her at mhess@seasparish.org.

Sponsored by the archdiocesan Office of Marriage, Family and Life.

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