Chastity: Teaching an Invaluable Lesson

Chastity education gives children the moral and practical instruction they need to resist the pressures and temptations of the world and the inclinations of our fallen nature, and helps them understand God's precious gift of human sexuality. To be effective, this kind of instruction cannot stand alone. It must be part of a lifestyle taught by people who live moral lives, and who present it as a part of an integrated program on Christian living throughout all 12 years of grade and high school. The Pontifical Council for the Family's 1995 document The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality explains, “… sexuality is not something purely biological, rather it concerns the intimate nucleus of the person.”

We do not need detailed instruction in the functioning of the reproductive system to live our lives any more than we need detailed knowledge of the gastrointestinal system in order to digest our food.

Chastity education requires the most preparation of any kind of sexuality instruction. This is because it is the most difficult to teach, it is countercultural and works against man's fallen nature and, in order to be most effective, it must be carefully tailored to the needs and personality of each child. For these reasons, the parents of each child are the most appropriate chastity educators.

Truth and Meaning provides four general guidelines for education in chastity. Parents who want to teach and form their children in chastity should carefully study the following paragraphs from this document:

(1) Each child is a unique and unrepeatable person and must receive individualized formation (65-67).

(2) The moral dimension of sexuality must always be part of the parent's explanations (68-69).

(3) Formation in chastity and timely information regarding sexuality must be provided in the broadest context of education for love (70-74).

(4) Parents should provide this information with great delicacy, but clearly and at the appropriate time (75-76).

Finally, Truth and Meaning says that the three main goals of chastity education should be:

(1) to maintain in the family a positive atmosphere of love, virtue, and respect for the gifts of God, in particular the gift of life;

(2) to help children understand the value of sexuality and chastity in stages, sustaining their growth through enlightening word, example, and prayer; and

(3) to help children understand and discover their own vocation to marriage or to consecrated virginity for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven in harmony with and respect for their attitudes and inclinations and the gifts of the Holy Spirit (22).

Source: The Facts of Life: An Authoritative Guide to Life and Family Issues, by Brian Clowes PhD (Human Life International, Front Royal, Va.). Reprinted with permission.