Premarital sex among Filipino teenagersBy Dr. Bernardo M. Villegas
OFWs working in North America or Europe are very much aware of rampant premarital sex among adolescents in their respective host countries. It is taken for granted that chastity is an old-fashioned virtue that young people can no longer practice because of the sexually permissive environment in which they live. Deep within, these OFWs—especially mothers who left their children behind—are still hoping and praying that their daughters and sons continue to value chastity and do not go the way of adolescents in many Western societies.
These concerned parents must do everything in their power to prevent the controversial RH Bill from being passed. The obsession with the promotion of artificial contraceptives among those pushing the so-called RH Bill is partly based on the assumption that we have to prevent unwanted pregnancies among adolescents who find it impossible to avoid premarital sex. This presupposition is based on the empirical observation that in many countries in the Western world, the majority of teenage girls have had sex before they get married. Those in favor of the RH Bill claim that they are just being “realists.” To them chastity is an impossible ideal. Well, I claim that they are defeatists. They are assuming that the youth in the Philippines cannot rise above their purely animal instincts. Before they even try, these lawmakers have given up on values and character education of the youth and the spiritual formation that can come from religious faith, whatever the creed.
It was very refreshing for me to read a blog of sports and media celebrity Chris Tiu. This famous basketball star wrote a commentary on an event he attended at the SMX of Mall of Asia where he joined some 8,000 people, most of them young women and men, to listen to Jason Evert, an American “Chastity” speaker. Mr. Evert was in the Philippines during the last days of February 2011 and spoke to different audiences in Metro Manila and Iloilo about the importance of fostering the virtue of chastity among the young people of the Philippines. Let us listen to what Chris Tiu said about the talk of Jason Evert.
“I never could have imagined myself attending a chastity talk although I am a believer of chastity and purity . . . Honestly, my understanding was that it was going to be a talk about love and relationships, not about chastity . . . The program started with a Holy Mass, after which I was introduced to Jason by a friend . . . Jason must have read what was going on in my mind and so he picked me as a volunteer at the beginning of his talk He wanted to start his talk with the question, ‘How far is too far in a relationship?’ And to illustrate his point he made me put on a ‘Lady Gaga’ wig and acted out as if we were on a date. And in an instant, he lifted me upon his shoulders! One hand supporting me, and the other holding the mic! Deep inside, I was thinking, Wow! This guy is strong! I stand at 5’11″ and Jason was just about 5′ 7″. He was probably 30 lbs. lighter than I. Then he lifted me towards the end of the stage and asked me if he should still go on. Of course, I said NO! And he took me down and thanked me for volunteering!
“So, what’s his point? The point is not to put our loved ones in danger. We said that asking ‘how far can I go with a girl without sinning’ can be put more positively into ‘how far can I go with a girl in protecting her innocence.’ Think of it this way. He invited us to think of our future wife who may be dating another guy right now. How far do we want that guy to go with her? It is like Stephen Covey’s ‘thinking with the end in mind,’ the end here being marriage. Then he said, ‘Girls, do not allow a guy to lift the veil of your body before he lifts the veil on your head—in marriage.’
“To illustrate his point further he cited statistics in the US which show that those who married as virgins had a divorce rate of 70 percent less than those who were not. This was taken from a 700-page book compiling the results of a research that had the largest survey respondents. What made me think deeper was his analogy of our love for our future wife with the love of Christ for the Church. He quoted St. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. I couldn’t help but think of Mel Gibson’s ‘The Passion of the Christ’ where he described how Jesus suffered for us, His Church, His Bride. He said that that’s how much we have to be willing to suffer for our future wife. And part of that sacrifice is to live a chaste life now. We need to free ourselves so that we can love!”
Chris Tiu was especially impressed with the candor with which Jason spoke about his own personal experience. The eloquent speaker from the US was addressing especially the girls in the audience. He wanted to disabuse them of the idea that by giving in to the lustful desire of a boyfriend, they would be loved more. On the contrary, that would be the best way to lose his respect. To demonstrate this point, he told the story of a lady named Cristalina: “When she allowed her boyfriend to have sex with her, he started mistreating her and calling her names. After a while, the usual excitement of being together was gone. Love had been confused with lust. Until her mom insisted and dragged her to attend a chastity talk. Finally, she decided to break off with the guy. Instead of engaging in sexual acts, what she did was she started writing love letters for her future husband whom she had not yet met. The letters indicated that ‘I did not give in to temptation tonight, because I am saving myself for you!’ After a few years, on her wedding day, she gave them all to her husband, who happened to be Jason himself! She also gave him a white candle with a fresh wick (as a symbol of preserving her body up to the time of marriage from her conversion).
I am sure there are numerous young women and men reading this article who can think as Chris Tiu does about the importance of chastity before marriage. They can distinguish between love and lust. They can have enough strength of character, reinforced by the grace from prayer and the Sacraments, so that chastity before marriage is not an impossible ideal for them. They can give the lie to the insulting presupposition of those pushing for artificial contraceptives that chastity before marriage is an impossible ideal.
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