By Sr. M. Rosanna Emenusiobi
"Thank you, women who are mothers! You have sheltered human beings within yourselves in a unique experience of joy and travail… Thank you, women who are wives! You irrevocably join your future to that of your husbands, in a relationship of mutual giving, at the service of love and life… Thank you, women who are daughters and women who are sisters! Into the heart of the family, and then of all society, you bring the richness of your sensitivity, your intuitiveness, your generosity and fidelity… Thank you, women who work! You are present and active in every area of life-social, economic, cultural, artistic and political… Thank you, consecrated women! Following the example of the greatest of women, the Mother of Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Word, you open yourselves with obedience and fidelity to the gift of God's love… Thank you, every woman, for the simple fact of being a woman! Through the insight which is so much a part of your womanhood you enrich the world's understanding and help to make human relations more honest and authentic.”
The above quotation indicates John Paul II's admirable view of women in their various categories. This view forms my basis for calling all women to the task of challenging our teens to chaste living. In my previous article, Teenagers: People in Transition – What Parents Should Know, I explored (with the help of experts) the experiences of teenagers as they pass from adolescence to adulthood. I also x-rayed the characteristics of this age. My main goal was to let parents into the difficult task of guiding and forming these young people through those turbulent years and protecting them from the sexual “storm” that is destroying youthful innocence today on account of the sexual permissiveness. Reading through the article, one could observe and rightly so, the indispensable role of parents in the lives of these young people to sail through this hook up culture unscathed. Therefore, in the following article, I am inviting all women, particularly mothers, to form and challenge their teens to chastity or sexual self-control even as our society is dangerously sexually soaked.
1. A RECAP OF TEEN YEARS
In case, you missed out on my previous article above, I would like to do a short recap of teen years to help you understand why they need guidance, especially in living out their human sexuality in a proper manner.
In agreement with Bill Beausay, teen years are complicated years both for the teenagers themselves and their parents. But even as teenagers respond in individual ways to all the radical changes in their thinking, hormones, and physical development, there are at least four conclusions that apply universally:
Every teenager is in transition. Each is dealing with changes in his or her mental abilities, hormones, physical development, and social skills. These changes create the need for adjustments, experimenting with new ways of thinking, acting, and relating to others. Stability in the home is important to give a firm anchorage during changing times.
Almost every teenager will rebel through words, attitudes, ideas, or actions
even when there is no open rebellion, teenagers balk at authority. Like caged animals, they want freedom, but it takes time for them to mature to the place where they can handle the freedom they want.
Almost every teenager has a secret life. This is a period of intense privacy when teenagers often pull away from parents, share less than they did before, reflect on where they are, and talk less often with parents and more with peers and perhaps a trusted adult who is not part of the family.
Almost every teenager want to connect and have a good relationship with his or her parents. This can be true even when adolescents criticise and argue with their parents or are embarrassed to be seen with their parents in public. Even as they form their own identities and ways of thinking, young people want love, affirmation, and both emotional and financial support from their parents. Most hope that sooner or later they will have good relationships with their parents.
I shall now survey the current sad reality of the distortion of human sexuality. I shall present the noble virtue of chastity – that spiritual energy that respects human sexuality for what it is. How shall the young remain sinless? The response to this biblical question is what I am going to discuss with mothers (the moral guardians of any given society, including religion) in the following pages.
2. THE PRESENT-DAY DISTORTION OF HUMAN SEXUALITY
We, including the teenagers, live in a sex saturated world! “Sexuality, like everything else created, has fallen into trouble. We are more vulnerable than ever, living in a society that crowds sexual innuendoes into every available space … the whole society is reeling. We are burdened by “ruined families, staggered by millions of abortions, and terrified by a sexual epidemic”, writes a concerned journalist few years ago. The story is still the same, and even worse today. In the following pages, I x-ray the real situation in our world today – the major reasons why our teens need to be protected and given a future in which sex is respected and given its rightful domain.
2.1 “Sex”! “Sex”! “Sex”! Everywhere You Go!
Sex outside marriage is widely accepted today. Co-habitation - an unmarried male and female living together with full sexual relationships - is so widespread especially in our higher institutions and voices of critics are virtually minimal. Unquestioned acceptance of both premarital and extramarital sex (made easily available by contraceptives), appears to have become a part of our cultural values, reinforced by the media and the entertainment industry (actresses, actors, musicians, and other celebrities are having children out of wedlock and are celebrated and congratulated as normal. They are even acclaimed as role models to our youths! Visit the social media). For many sex, is no longer something that may be right or wrong: it is little more than a pleasurable way for two people to interact with each other. This notion is reinforced by video games and the social media easily targeted at teens, and most often, without parental guide. Then, abortion - a tragedy and the greatest injustice - is transformed into a kind of right that must be claimed.
As gay and lesbian liberation groups have become more visible and more active, overt homosexuality has become more accepted and even legalised in some western countries. There is relentless pressure from the West to lure African nations into accepting and legalising it. Nigerians must be grateful to our former President, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, for refusing to sign it into law. Masturbation, probably the most common sexual behaviour apart from intercourse is so prevalent that it has been promoted as a “means for achieving sexual health”, despite the fact that this practice arouses a lot of guilt and anxiety, especially among boys and young men, and despite the fact also that it could become an addiction. The widespread availability and consumption of pornographic literature and films looks at us unremorsefully. Internet pornography has made sexually explicit materials more available, often tied to adolescent boys and girls. Pornography is big business and an international problem, one in which poor women, women of colour, and children are often outrageously exploited.
2.2 Perverse Sexual Behaviour and Sex Trafficking
Then, there are more pathological forms of non-marital sexual behaviour, including the erotic exploitation of children (pedophilia), exhibitionism, rape, transvestism, bestiality (sex with animals), and voyeurism, each of which continues to attract the periodic attention of the media and mental-health professionals. What can one say about oral and anal sex, artificial genital organs (vibrators), and lately, sex dolls? All these are deplorable and unnatural ways of engaging in human sexual activities today. Regrettably, sex tourism (human trafficking in sex) is again big business internationally. Prostitution, an offshoot of sex trafficking, has been given various names, obviously, to hide its dehumanising characteristics: “sex trade”, “commercial sex work”, “Runs”, “Escorts”, “sex work”, and the like. It is disheartening that prostitution is legal in many countries, while others are under great pressure by various advocate groups to legalise it. The latest form of this horrendous practice is through the Internet. Thus, Internet sex predators and online sex traffickers prey on young and innocent minds of our adolescents. And this has given rise to cybersex (Internet sex, Compusex, Conversex, Sexting, Cyber porn, nudity, phone sex), among others. Nudity has become fashionable, fueled by beauty contest pageantries and Fashion Show industries.
2.3 Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) and Developments in Medicine
This is a form of misguided sex education. “Comprehensive sex education,” which originated in Sweden in the 1950s and quickly became the prototype for the Western world, was based on four premises: 1. Teenage sexual activity is inevitable. 2. Educators should be value-neutral regarding sex. 3. Schools should openly discuss sexual matters. 4. Sex education should teach students about contraception. It is thus another form of education in the mechanics of sex, (genitals), and birth control methods. Some sections of the Curriculum encourage children to masturbate and to have sex with whoever they want provided it is consensual and “protected”. In other words, the CSE is non-directive and value neutral: no right-no wrong issues in sexual matters. Many concerned groups from various parts of the world are fighting this monster, although some countries, like South Africa, have approved its use in their public schools.
The adolescents of today witness medical developments that have dramatically altered the context in which individuals live as sexual persons. Means of birth control have become available and abortion is often considered another means of birth control; the ability to control the process of procreation raises issues about life, sexuality and human intimacy to new levels of concern. New genetic development in reproductive technologies also affect the sexual context and raises troubling questions about the meaning of reproduction and the meaning of human sexuality. The HIV/AIDS pandemic has generated intense debate about health, disease, and their relation to sexuality. The commercialisation and exploitation of sexuality in the economic market, and the linkage of sexuality with violence and brutality in the mass media, are very apparent realities on the contemporary scene.
2.4. More Disturbing Realities
There is increased awareness of patterns of sexual abuse and violence in families. Certain attitudes distort human sexuality and generates either a fear of or a fixation with sex and the body. We live in a society where nearly every newscast and paper is filled with stories of murder, assault, racially motivated hate crimes, spousal battering, rape, and child abuse. The sexual revolution has created a pervasive climate in which sexual activity is declared to have a value independent of other human responsibilities and moral exigencies. And marriage and family are presented as a kind of oppressive patriarchal construct that impedes the personal growth of women.
to be continued