Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. ~ Romans 12:1-2
Our teens today are inundated with ugliness. Fashions objectify their sexuality in the crudest and most blatant terms, while the media sells them the lie that promiscuity is freedom and not the horrifying, debilitating slavery that it is. Our culture embraces and promotes New Age and occult practices that draw many into spiritual darkness and despair, while Hollywood and the popular culture portray abstinence and faithful heterosexual marriage as backward and destructive.
For Catholic parents and catechists, our work is cut out for us. Young people need to hear the Church's unique and transcendent teachings on human sexuality, and to share it with them, you've got to do some homework. The Catechism provides an outstanding overview (see: CCC 2331-2400). There are many books and websites devoted to unpacking Pope John Paul II's illuminating work on this subject, which has come to be known as the Theology of the Body (see resources below).
Getting teens to talk about sensitive issues can be challenging, but there are wonderful resources available and a strong and growing chastity/pro-life movement in the United States that includes large numbers of teens and young adults. I was honored to be among many thousands of beautiful young pro-life activists at this year's March for Life. Check out this video featuring concerned youth calling on Congress to de-fund America's largest abortion franchise. Young people should be assured that when it comes to standing up for what is right, they are not alone.
One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: "Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city" (Acts 18:9-10).
It is our responsibility to gird young people with a living faith in Jesus Christ, and with the facts about sexual and bioethical issues, so they can go fearlessly into the world and stand up for the Truth.
Here are some of the many resources available to you and your students:
- Theology of the Body: John Paul II's illuminating work on the dignity of our sexuality is unsurpassed. Resources for teaching teens are widely available. (See here.)
- From the CCC (pdf).
- Theology of the Body for Beginners, by Christopher West.
- "Theology of the Body" explained through a series of short articles.
- If You Really Loved Me: 100 Questions on Dating, Relationships and Sexual Purity, by Jason Evert.
- Real Love: Answers to Your Questions on Dating, Marriage and the Real Meaning of Sex, by Mary Beth Bonacci.
- God's Plan for You: Life, Love, Marriage, and Sex, by David Hajduk and Mary Beth Bonacci.
- Pure Love Club.