Articles from the July 1997 Unification News

Purity is Beautiful

by Haven Bradford Gow

An article in the Apr. 15 Patient Care points out: "When more than 1,500 adolescents aged 12-18 were surveyed, 32% of girls and 36% of boys agreed that movies and television suggest that it's normal for teens to have sex-a perception, they say, which encourages sexual activity.... Recent statistics indicate that 66% of girls and 67.1% of boys have had sexual intercourse by their senior year in high school."

Writing in the May 1996 issue of The Family in America, Dr. Janet Smith, professor of philosophy, University of Dallas, observed: "Our society has undergone a rapid transformation in terms of sexual behavior.... Today, one out of two marriages end in divorce. Six out of ten teenagers are sexually active. The millions of abortions over the last decade and the phenomenal spread of AIDS indicates that our society has serious problems with sexuality. In the last generation, the incidence of sexual activity outside of marriage-with all its attendant problems-has doubled and tripled, or worse."

Rev. Billy Graham, in his book The Secret of Happiness (Word Publishing), blames sex-saturated popular entertainment for contributing to the pernicious moral/sexual climate permeating society; he writes that people young and old "engage in immorality while reading unclean books and looking at unclean pictures. Our newsstands today are so indecent that a Christian cannot look upon them without blushing, and yet thousands of people are buying unclean books and the wrong types of magazines. The same is true of our movie and TV screens."

According to Dr. Donald DeMarco, a Catholic scholar-educator and author of Character in a Time of Crisis (Central Bureau, CCVA, 3835 Westminster Place, St. Louis, MO), "By forgoing sex before marriage, one is almost forced to focus on everything else one must do to learn how to live on the broader plane of existence that marriage demands. In short, if you can't have sex, maybe you can learn how to live. Sex would be a strange instinct, indeed, if its purpose was to supplant character, communication, common sense, community, and cooperation."

In their new book Catholicism and Life (C.R. Publications, 345 Prospect Street, Norwood, MA), Catholic scholars Father Edward Hayes, Msgr. Paul Hayes and James Drummey observe: "If a person is not careful how they talk, touch other people, and dance, what they listen to, watch, and how they dress, they will find their purity threatened and even destroyed by themselves or by others. If a person talks, acts or dresses in order to get himself or herself, or someone else, sexually excited, these actions are wrong and sinful. Being our brother's or sister's keeper means not saying or doing anything which would lead them into sin."

In their companion work Catholicism and Society (C.R. Publications), the scholars add: "Instead of providing their children with the latest contraceptive drugs or devices, parents should encourage chastity and self-control. The world says that the sexual appetite cannot be controlled; Christianity says that it can, and offers the shining example of millions of its adherents over the centuries as clear evidence of that fact. Young people are very idealistic today and they ought to be given some exposure to Christian ideals, instead of being dragged down to the lowest moral and social common denominator."

But why should young people practice purity today when so many of their peers and adults as well already have lost their virginity? How should we make the case for purity?

Dr. Harold O.J. Brown, professor of theology, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Deerfield, IL, observes: "I think that too much attention centers on the women and girls. Boys need to be brought up with an awareness not merely of their sexual 'potency' but of the generative potency of that sexual organ to which so much attention is given." Dr. Brown adds: "Prior to contraceptives, men and boys always knew that sexual relations could and often did lead to pregnancy. Now the 'contraceptive culture' has destroyed that link. This makes chastity seem like a sort of unnecessary self-limitation."

Richard O'Connor, executive director, Illinois Right to Life, Chicago, says that when young people engage in premature and irresponsible sexual activity, they risk pregnancy; sexually transmitted diseases; AIDS; abortion; guilt; loss of reputation, etc. By remaining pure until marriage, young people can develop friendships; plan their futures; be free from worry, guilt and disease; build good character; and wait for the best marriage partner.

Clearly, we need to behave as good human beings and not like animals, and recognize that we possess the God-given ability to develop purity of heart, mind and soul. For its is because we truly love others that we must remain pure before giving of ourselves lovingly and selflessly within the sacrament of marriage. By remaining pure until marriage, we never will have to feel ashamed of past indiscretions nor of looking into the eyes of our husbands and wives. If we were unfaithful to our spouses before marriage, will we possess the strength and nobility of mind, spirit and character to remain faithful to them after marriage?

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