Part of the information on this page is based on the books of Joe Dallas. I very much recommend buying them!
Warum in aller Welt sollte jemand heute noch enthaltsam leben?
Einem heranwachsenden Menschen kann es sehr helfen, enthaltsam zu leben, um seine sexuellen Triebe unter Kontrolle zu bekommen. Hier sind sowohl die Persönlichkeit wie die Geschlechtsidentität noch am Entwickeln und Wachsen und man tut gut daran, sie auch wachsen und reifen zu lassen. Ein Verzicht auf vorehelichen Sex bedeutet also, ein reifes und erwachsenes sexuelles Verhalten schrittweise einzuüben.
Eine sexuelle Vereinigung schafft auch eine Form menschlicher/emotionaler Bindung, ob man dies nun möchte oder nicht. Ähnliches lässt sich bereits in der Bibel finden und lässt sich im Laufe der gesamten christlichen Tradition nachvollziehen. Kommt es jedoch zu früh und zu intensiv zu solchen Bindungen, kann eine erwachsene, stabile und langfristig sowie monogam angelegte Partnerschaft damit erheblich erschwert werden. Es spricht nichts dagegen, sich Kennenzulernen und Kontakte zu knüpfen, aber alle Beteiligten sollten sich bewusst sein, dass diese Kontakte nur vorläufig sind - was sich natürlich auch im Verhalten (besonders im sexuellen Verhalten!) widerspiegeln muss. Eine freie Wahl ist bei zu frühen sexuellen Beziehungen kaum mehr möglich.
All dies bedeutet jedoch nicht, dass es hier keinen Spielraum und keine Freude geben kann. Auch voreheliche Beziehungen und Kontakte können Spaß machen, sofern man sich dieser Eckpunkte bewusst ist. Man kann durchaus auch zärtlich sein, ohne dabei gleich ins Bett gehen zu müssen. Solange man sich dabei im Hinterkopf behält, dass diese Bindungen nur vorläufig sind, kann man durchaus auch unbeschwert das leben und seine Mitmenschen genießen und an und mit ihnen wachsen.
Was ist das eigentlich, Masturbation?
Nun, bei der Masturbation erregt man sich durch direktes körperliches Reizen bzw. direkte körperliche Manipulation an den Geschlechtsorganen selbst, um damit sexuelle Lust hervorzurufen. In der Regel - wenn auch nicht zwangsweise - geht Masturbation bis zum Orgasmus. Andere Wörter für Masturbation wären etwa: Selbstbefriedigung, Ipsation oder Onanie - wobei dieser Ausdruck weniger geeignet ist
Und warum ist der Begriff "Onanie" weniger geeignet?
"Onanie" beruft sich auf die Sünde des Onan im Alten Testament (Gen. 38,8-10). Hier liegt aber keine Masturbation vor, da Onan lediglich mit der Frau seines verstorbenen Bruders keine Kinder zeugen wollte. Er vollzog den "Coitus Interruptus", das heißt er "ließ den Samen zur Erde fallen und verderben".
Warum sprechen sich manche Menschen gegen ein Verbot der Masturbation aus?
Hier werden vor allem Argumente aus dem Bereich der Medizin, der Biologie oder auch der Psychologie angebracht.
Warum sollte man als Christ denn überhaupt gegen Masturbation sein?
Masturbation geht schlichtweg am Plan Gottes für menschliche Sexualität vorbei. Sexualität braucht auch ein "Gegenüber" - also einen anderen Menschen. In der Bibel wird Sexualität nur im Kontext einer heterosexuellen, monogamen und lebenslangen Ehe zwischen Mann und Frau befürwortet. Und dies zum Besten aller Beteiligten - nicht zuletzt der daraus eventuell hervorgehenden Kinder!
Ist Masturbation dann eine schwere Sünde? Wie ist Masturbation denn dann zu beurteilen?
Es gibt Menschen, die Masturbation eher für ein Symptom halten, das auf Mangelerscheinungen in ganz anderen Beeichen verweist. Ein Kennzeichen für Masturbation mag vielleicht sein, dass wir heute denken, dass jedes Verlangen und jeder Wunsch, den wir haben, auch sofort erfüllt werden muss. Ein bloßes "Verbot" würde hier allerdings nicht unbedingt etwas bringen. Manche entwickelten auch Angstvorstellungen und verfielen so in eine Art "Zwangsonanie". Es bring hier vielleicht mehr, Gottes Plan und Sinn für menschliche Sexualität zu vermitteln sowie auf die oft dahinter stehenden Bedürfnisse einzugehen. Manche Menschen benutzen Masturbation etwa als eine Art "Schmerz- oder Betäubungsmittel" gegen Ärger, Verletzungen, Missbrauch, Langeweile usw. Sich dessen bewusst zu werden und gleichzeitig zu verstehen, dass Gott zu unserem eigenen Besten vorgesehen hat, dass Sexualität ein Gegenüber, also einen anderen Menschen braucht, ist unabdingbar.
Was muss man bei jungen Menschen besonders beachten?
Junge Menschen sind in ihrer sexuellen Entwicklung und Identitätsfindung noch nicht gefestigt. Schnell flüchtet man aus der Realität, fixiert sich auf diverse Fantasien (die man eventuell auch versucht, in die Tat umzusetzen), man bekommt zwar eine "Erleichterung", aber nicht die, die für menschliche Sexualität vorgesehen ist und entwickelt so vielleicht völlig falsche Vorstellungen und Erwartungen. Andere wiederum mögen versucht werden, lethargisch zu werden und sich einfach nur gehen zu lassen.
Manchmal - wenn auch eher selten - ist Masturbation auch ein Notsignal, das auf Überlastungen und Vernachlässigungen seelischer und emotionaler Art in Verbindung mit einer lustfeindlichen Grundeinstellung hinweist. Masturbation kann so auch zum Zwanghaften werden. Hier liegt das Problem nicht nur im Akt des Masurbierens selbst, sondern in der Einstellung der eigenen Person gegenüber (siehe auch E. Drewermann, Psychoanalyse und Moraltheologie, Bd. 2: Wege und Umwege der Liebe, Mainz 1983, S. 183).
Masturbation kann also durchaus auch ein Symptom oder Signal sein und als solches verdient es auch näherer Interpretation, besonders was die Frage der ethischen Beurteilung betrifft.
Gehen wir kurz zurück in die Geschichte:
Die Kirchenväter haben zu diesem Thema lange geschwiegen. Erst bei Thomas von Aquin lesen wir, dass Masturbation eine Sünde gegen die Natur sei.
Als das Heiratsalter im Laufe der Jahrhunderte stark anstieg, wurde das Thema Masturbation erst wirklich aktuell.
Die römische Glaubenskongregation hat sich 1975 hierzu geäußert: Beim Verbot der Masturbation wird auf die Tradition verwiesen. Ebenso wird betont, dass man bei der Masturbation die Geschlechtskraft außerhalb der normalen ehelichen Beziehung frei gewollt gebrauchen würde. Die von der sittlichen Ordnung geforderte geschlechtliche Beziehung würde hier also fehlen.
[Earl Wilson, Sexual Sin' , p. 15] "To be controlled by anything other than Jesus Christ is idolatry and
therefore sinful." [ibid., p. 18]
Masturbation - ist das in Ordnung?
Folgendes sollte man dabei bedenken:
- Masturbation kann zur Sucht werden (kurzer Check: versuche doch einmal, damit aufzuhören!) - mit ständiger Reiz-Steigerung, mehr Mitteln (Pornos usw.)
- Masturbation konditioniert unsere Körper, auf Selbst-Stimulation zu reagieren, was egozentrisch und letztlich auch egoistisch ist. Dadurch wird unsere Fähigkeit, auf die andere Person einzugehen, beeinträchtigt. Masturbation konditioniert unsere Körper auch, eher auf Fantasien als auf die Realität zu reagieren: die dabei ausgeschütteten Hormone führen zu einer emotionalen Bindung mit dem auslösenden Reiz. Ergebnis: wir orientieren uns in Richtung der mit dem Reiz verbundenen Erfahrungen/Fantasien/Gedankenmuster (Beispiel: ein verheirateter Mann, der zu Bildern blonder Frauen masturbiert, wird Schwierigkeiten haben, von seiner brünetten Frau sexuell erregt zu werden und geht unter Umständen fremd).
- In Wahrheit passen Fantasie und Wirklichkeit selten zusammen. Menschen werden außerdem irgendwann ihre Fantasien für Wahrheit halten (Beispiel: ein Mann, der zu S/M-Fantasien masturbiert, wird irgendwann denken, Frauen macht es Spaß, beim Sex geschlagen zu werden. Wenn sich eine Frau weigert, seine Fantasien zu verwirklichen, wird er aggressiv und wendet vielleicht sogar Gewalt an).
- Masturbation verursacht ein sexuelles Ungleichgewicht, indem sie unsere Körper darauf trainiert, sexuelle Erleichterung öfter und extremer als normal zu suchen. Mit Auswirkungen auf das Berufs- und Privatleben.
- "Wer eine Frau nur lüstern ansieht, hat in seinem Herzen schon Ehebruch mit ihr begangen." (Matthäus 5:28). Wenn man bedenkt, dass man bei der Masturbation meist daran denkt, wie es wohl ist, mit jemanden Sex zu haben, ist es doch leicht zu verstehen, dass sie uns zur Sünde verleitet.
- "Daher soll die Sünde euren sterblichen Leib nicht mehr beherrschen, und seinen Begierden sollt ihr nicht gehorchen." (Römer 6:12-13).
- Gott kann uns am besten gebrauchen, wenn wir unsere "Gefäße" (Körper, Seele und Geist) frei von Sünde halten (siehe auch 2 Timotheus 2:20-22)
- Nützliche Bibelstellen: Galater 5:16-17, Epheser 4:22-24, Galater 6:8, 1 Korinther 6:12-13
(Quelle des Materials auf dieser Seite: u.a. Joe Dallas. Sehr zu empfehlen etwa : "The Game Plan: The Men's 30 Day Strategy for Attaining Sexual Integrity. Taschenbuch: 256 Seiten. Verlag: Nelson/Word Pub Group (30. Juni 2005). Sprache: Englisch. ISBN-10: 0849906334. ISBN-13: 978-0849906336. Go and get it now!! Siehe auch Copyright-Info)
Ich will ja mit dem Masturbieren aufhören, aber das scheint mir doch unmöglich! Wie kann ich das angehen?
Mit einer Kombination aus Gebet, Kontrolle der eigenen Gefühle, Selbstdisziplin, Strategie und einer Struktur im täglichen Leben.
Zunächst solltest du geduldig sowie realistisch sein. Die wenigsten hören mit einem Mal auf. Versuche, das Problem wie andere Sünden zu sehen - ähnlich dem Stolz oder der Faulheit etwa. Gelegentlich begehst du diese Sünden, gestehst sie hinerher ein und versuchst, es das nächste Mal besser zu machen. Hier einige praktische Tips:
- Bete um Kraft.
- Lass deinem Rechenschaftspartner, deinem Beichtvater oder deiner Gruppe von deinem Entschluss, aufzuhören, wissen und sag ihnen, sie sollen dich beim Wort nehmen.
- Finde heraus, wann du am meisten gefährdet bist, zu masturbieren (bei den meisten Männern ist das kurz vor dem Einschlafen oder nach dem Aufwachen, wenn sie eine Erektion haben). Bete zu diesen Zeiten und lese in der Bibel.
- Sei besonders wachsam bei deinen Fernseh-Gewohnheiten. Fernsehen kann dir weiterhelfen - aber auch ein Stolperstein sein. Gleiches gilt für andere Medien.
- Sei dir im klaren darüber, dass dein Körper dich "anlügen" wird und dir erzählt, du "brauchst" es. Das tust du nicht. Du hast dich nur daran gewöhnt.
- Wenn dir danach ist, denke lange und fest an die Selbstkontrolle, die du aufbauen willst und die Langzeit-Vorteile, die sie dir bietet. Einige Bibelstellen, die dir hierbei helfen: "Ich hatte einen Bund gemacht mit meinen Augen, dass ich nicht lüstern blickte auf eine Jungfrau." (Hiob 31:1). "Wer festen Herzens ist, dem bewahrst du Frieden; denn er verlässt sich auf dich." /Jesaja 26:3). "Ich ermahne euch nun, liebe Brüder, durch die Barmherzigkeit Gottes, dass ihr eure Leiber hingebt als ein Opfer, das lebendig, heilig und Gott wohlgefällig ist." (Römer 12:1). "Danach, wenn die Begierde empfangen hat, gebiert sie die Sünde; die Sünde aber, wenn sie vollendet ist, gebiert den Tod." (Jakobus 1:15). "Wisst ihr nicht, dass ich sein muss in dem, was meines Vaters ist?" Lukas 2:49).
- Lies ein gutes Buch, das dich auf andere Gedanken bringt.
- Lass deinen Körper sich selbst erleichtern - du wirst eventuell öfter "feuchte Träume" habe - und das ist tatsächlich völlig normal, natürlich und in Ordnung.
- Wenn du verheiratet bist, achte darauf, dass du regelmäßig Sex mit deiner Frau hast.
(Quelle des Materials auf dieser Seite: u.a. Joe Dallas. Sehr zu empfehlen etwa : "The Game Plan: The Men's 30 Day Strategy for Attaining Sexual Integrity. Taschenbuch: 256 Seiten. Verlag: Nelson/Word Pub Group (30. Juni 2005). Sprache: Englisch. ISBN-10: 0849906334. ISBN-13: 978-0849906336. Go and get it now!! Siehe auch Copyright-Info)
Aber ich brauche es!
The Pastoral Problem of Masturbation - by Fr. John Harvey, OSFS
Dr. Mark Laaser sagt, dass die drei Säulen der Sexsucht folgende sind: Fantasie, Pornographie und Masturbation. Fantasie wird erzeugt von einem Bedürfnis danach, tiefe Sehnsüchte zu erfüllen. Pornographie zeigt Bilder, wie das getan werden kann. Masturbation ist der physische Ausdruck der vielleicht einzigen Berührung oder Zuwendung, die der Süchtige erhält. Die drei sind in einem Zyklus angeordnet. Pornographie stimuliert Fantasie. Fantasie muss ausgedrückt werden. Masturbation erlaubt eine Erleichterung dieses Bedürfnisses. Es gibt aber ein Problem in diesem Zyklus: Während sie vielleicht das physische Bedürfnis nach Sex befriedigt, befriedigt sie nie den emotionalen oder spirituellen Hunger, der tief in der Seele ruht. Süchtige haben nie gelernt, diesen Hunger auf gesunde Art und Weise zu stillen. Stattdessen versuchen sie, dieses Bedürfnis auf die leichteste und am ehesten durchführbare Methode zu befriedigen. Sex erlaubt dem Süchtigen, zu entkommen und damit zeitlich begrenzt mit diesen Gefühlen fertig zu werden. (...) Immer mehr sexuelle Aktivität jedoch erzeugt auch immer mehr negative Gefühle. Dieser Teufelskreis macht die Sexsucht zu einem degenerierenden Prozess. Sie wird schlimmer. (Mark Laaser, The Secret Sin)
Gerade bei der Masturbation, also der Selbstbefriedigung, sehen wir am besten, wie leicht wir uns selbst betrügen - oder betrügen lassen.
Einige Beispiele für populäre Lügen:
- "Ich kann jederzeit damit aufhören und ich kann selbst bestimmen und kontrollieren, wann ich es tue!" (Tatsächlich? Na, dann versuche doch einmal, aufzuhören!)
- "Ich tue doch niemandem weh, wenn ich mit Fantasien masurbiere!" (Da war Jesus aber anderer Meinung!)
- "Es ist gut für dieGesundheit. Wer nicht masturbiert, bekommt Probleme mit der Prostata!" (Fern liegt es mir, an dieser Stelle medizinische Diskussionen zu führen. Nur ein Punkt: Dann müssten ja alle Priester und männlichen Ordensleute Prostata-Probleme haben. Warum ist das nicht so?)
- "Masturbation ist doch harmlos. Es ist ja kein Sex!" (Nein? Erstens kennt unser Gehirn nicht den Unterschied zwischen tatsächlichem Sex und Masturbation mit Fantasien. Es registriert nur, dass ein bestimmter Reiz - etwa einnachkter Mann- zu einem Orgasmus führt.Fragt einen Fachmann! Zweitens kommt es nicht gerade selten vor, dass wir unseren Fantasien bei der Masturbation freien Lauf lassen. Diese extremen Fantasien führen zu intensiveren Orgasmen, die man früher oder später auch in die Realität umsetzen will. Leicht verwechselt man auch Fantasie und Realität - etwa wenn man zusätzlich Pornos sieht und als heterosexueller Mann denkt, Frauen stehen tatsächlich auf solche Praktiken.)
- "Ich habe heute nicht wirklich masturbiert, ich hatte ja keinen Orgasmus!" (So ein Unsinn! In dem Moment, in dem du "Hand an dich legst" - oder vielleicht schon in dem Moment, in dem du dich mit Gedanken stimulierst oder deinen Empfindungen einfach nur freien Lauf lässt - befriedigst du dich selbst!)
- "Ich will ja gar nicht masturbieren, ich liege nur nackt im Bett / provoziere nur eine Erektion!" (Es fängt immer mit einem "nur" oder "bloß" an. Selbst wenn man anfangs "nur" dies oder jenes tun will - tief drinnen weißman doch, dass es nicht dabei bleibt und dass man sich bewusst "mehr" aussetzt. Wer mit dem Feuer spielt, verbrennt sich schnell!)
- "Es ist doch einfach nur ein wenig Spaß!" (Da fängt es an: Menschliche Sexualität ist nicht zum Privatvergnügen eines einzelnen gedacht, sondern immer auf ein "du", also einen Menschen des anderen Geschlechts bezogen! Zwei Menschen, die in der Ehe ein Fleisch werden - und deren Liebe so stark wird, dass sie ihr neun Monate später einen Namen geben müssen...)
- "Das ist doch eine prüde Sicht von Sexualität!" (Wirklich? Aber die vielen zerbrochenen Beziehungen, die geschiedenen Ehen, die ungewollten Schwangerschaften, die enorm hohe Zahl an ansteckenden Geschlechtskrankheiten, die immer extremer werdenden Sexpraktiken, die schrittweise Legalisierung von Formen der Sexualität, die zu allen Zeiten in allen Kulturen abgelehnt wurden - all das ist in Ordnung? Na, dann sind wir aber lieber "prüde"!)
- "Ich will doch nur Spannung abbauen!" (Das Problem bei dieser Einstellung: Man baut mit Masturbation nicht Spannung ab, sondern auf!)
Ein weiteres Problem bei Masturbation: Wir lernen, immer gleich eine "Belohnung" zu bekommen. Wir haben Lust auf Sex bzw. einen Orgasmus - also holen wir uns, was wir wollen. So werden wir schnell zum willenlosen Spielball unserer Lust.
Warum sich nicht in Selbstdisziplin üben? Das ist keine "Plage", sondern eine Tugend, die uns das wertschätzen lässt, zu dem Sexualität von Gott geschaffen wurde. Denn Sex ist nicht nur einfach "gut" oder gar "geil" - er ist heilig.
A New Approach on Masturbation
So how about it?
First: Show me the man that says he has never masturbated in his whole life and I show you a liar. We as men are somehow all in the same boat, so no reason to look down on someone.
Why should there be a problem with masturbation? At least you dont do it for real!
Or do you.
1) Jesus pointed out to us that it is not just what you do outwardly that matters, but also and even more so what is in your heart. This is where it all starts. If you got it wrong in the heart, the rest will follow.
2) Sexuality was never meant only for personal pleasure. It is directed towards and other some other person. And this other person is supposed to be your spouse. Someone of the opposite sex you are married to in a lifelong covenant. The purpose of marriage is twofold: The procreation of children and the good of the spouses. Masturbation goes against both.
3) You might think if you dont fantasize, it is all okay. However, first you go against sexuality being directed to someone else and then you play with fire more than you realize. You might think you release tension like that, but what you really do is to build up tension and be even more aroused afterwards.
4) The fantasies you develop and the porn you might use will take you to a point where you want to do all of that for real including the wild stuff. And when the opportunity arises, your resistance will be almost zero.
Two things, however, need to be also dealt with.
First, masturbation is sometimes used as a sort of painkiller. You try to ease pain mostly emotional pain. Sometimes also to cope with loneliness, anger, being bored, and the like. It does not make the problem go away, but seems to take away the worst part. However, on the long run it makes it worse, because it prevents you from looking out for a real solution.
Then, masturbation is not always used for sexual pleasure. Sometimes you yearn so bad to be with someone you love that masturbation becomes the physical expression of that. It is an almost desperate try to deal with the yearning for that person you cannot have for whatever reason. You try to use that misled physical expression of your affection, which in turn makes the emotional pain even worse on the long run.
Either way masturbation will keep you in bondage for as long as you dont realize that Jesus died on the cross to break that bondage.
You are free!!!
Sexsucht ist ein relativ neuer Begriff. Es bezeichnet das Verhaltensmuster einer sexuellen Aktivität, die außer Kontrolle geraten ist. Nicht jeder Mann aber, der sexuell sündigt oder einen starken Drang zum Sex hat, ist auch sexsüchtig. Grundsätzlich kann man sagen, wenn die Häufigkeit und Intensität eines Mannes sprunghaft ansteigt und seine Finanzen sowie sein Familien- und Berufsleben beherrscht und negativ beeinflusst, sollten alle Alarmglocken klingeln. Das Verhalten wird dann lebensbeherrschend. Oft versucht ein solcher Mann, damit aufzuhören, schafft es aber nicht. Nicht selten wird auch einfach geleugnet, dass man süchtig ist oder ein Problem hat, mit dem man selbst nicht mehr fertig wird. Man ist schlichtweg zu blind, um die Realität noch wahrzunehmen. Und so lügt man sich selbst und andere, die einen lieben, in die Tasche. Die eigene Hilflosigkeit sowie das Problem an sich einzugestehen ist allerdings der erste Schritt zu einer erfolgreichen Therapie.
Vier Anzeichen einer Sucht:
2) Negative Konsequenzen
3) Verlust der Kontrolle
"Die Weigerung, anzuerkennen, dass die Dinge außer Kontrolle geraten sind nennt man Leugnen. Leugnen ist nicht dasselbe wie Lügen, denn beim Leugnen glaubt der Betroffene an seine eigene verzerrte Wahrnehmung der Realität." (Abraham Twerski). Und weiter: "Hier ist eine Faustregel: Wenn etwas ein Problem verursacht, ist es ein Problem. Wenn man so tut als wenn es nicht existiert, wird das Problem weiter fortbestehen."
Sexsucht - Check-up
Ist ein bestimmtes Verhalten bei dir außer Kontrolle geraten (sexuelle Aktivitäten, Porno, Masturbation...)?
Haben deine sexuellen Aktivitäten im letzten Jahr an Häufigkeit zugenommen?
Haben sie an Intensität zugenommen (Bsp.: die Pornos, die dich früher nich heiß gemacht haben, langweilen dich jetzt. Du brauchst mehr und härtere Sachen)?
Hast du - vergeblich - versucht, deine Aktivitäten und dein Verhalten zu stoppen?
Hat all das negative Konsequenzen für deine Finanzen gehabt? Hast du dein Geld für Prostituierte, Pornos usw. ausgegeben?
Hat es negative Konsequenzen für dein Familienleben gehabt? (Hast du etwa Zeit mit deinen sexuellen Aktivitäten verbracht, anstatt mit deiner Familie)?
Hast du damit auf persönlichem, beruflichem oder legalem Gebiet etwas riskiert (Pornos während der Arbeitszeit ansehen, illegalen Sex mit einer Prostituierten haben, eine außereheliche Affaire unterhalten usw.)?
- Hältst du gewisse sexuelle oder romantische Aktivitäten vor Menschen, die dir wichtig sind, geheim?
- Haben deine sexuellen Bedürfnisse dich schon dazu veranlasst, Sex zu haben an Orten oder in Situationen oder mit Leuten, die du normalerweise nicht wählen würdest?
- Hast du dich auch schon dabei ertappt, dass du in Zeitungen, Heftchen oder anderen Medien nach sexuell erregenden Artikeln gesucht hast?
- Findest du, dass deine romantischen oder sexuellen Fantasien deine Beziehungen beeinträchtigen oder dich davon abhalten, Problemen ins Auge zu sehen?
- Möchtest du dich oft am liebsten gleich vom Partner zurückziehen nach dem Sex? Empfindest du oft Reue, Scham oder Schuldgefühle nach einem sexuellen Kontakt?
- Schämst du dich für deinen Körper oder deine Sexualität, sodass du es vermeidest, deinen Körper zu berühren oder dich in eine sexuelle Beziehung hineinzugeben? Hast du Angst, dass du keine sexuellen Gefühle hast, dass du asexuell bist?
- Verläuft jede neue Beziehung nach dem gleichen destruktiven Muster, das dich bereits dazu veranlasst hat, die letzte Beziehung abzubrechen?
- Brauchst du immer mehr Abwechslung und Häufigkeit von sexuellen und romantischen Aktivitäten als zuvor, um den gleichen Level von Erregung und Erleichterung zu erfahren?
- Bist du bereits mit dem Gesetz in Konflikt gekommen wegen Voyeurismus, Exhibitionismus, Prostitution, Sex mit Minderjährigen, unanständigen Telefonanrufen und ähnlichem? Beeinträchtigen deine sexuellen Aktivitäten oder romantischen Beziehungen deine geistliche Entwicklung oder deine Glaubensgrundsätze?
- Bergen deine sexuellen Aktivitäten das Risiko von Krankheit, unerwünschter Schwangerschaft, Zwang oder Gewalt, oder haben sie bereits dazu geführt?
- Hat dein sexuelles oder romantisches Verhalten schon einmal dazu geführt, dass du dich verzweifelt gefühlt hast, dass du dich von Menschen entfremdet hast oder dass du Selbstmordgedanken hattest?
Ist Sexsucht nicht dasselbe wie eine sexuelle Sünde?
Nicht unbedingt. Eine sexuelle Sünde ist zwar ernst und bringt Konsequenzen mit sich, sie bedeutet aber nicht zwangsweise eine Sucht. Genausowenig wie jeder, der trinkt, auch unbedingt gleich Alkoholiker sein muss, ist jeder, der Pornographie verwendet oder Ehebruch begeht, gleich sexsüchtig. Wenn das Verhalten eskaliert, außer Kontrolle gerät und auf andere Bereiche des Lebens einen negativen Einfluss nimmt, zeichnet sich eine Sucht ab.
Wie überwindet man eine Sexsucht?
Die schlechte Nachricht: wenn man sich einmal soweit in sexuelle Abgründe begeben hat, dass man eine Sexsucht entwickelt, ist man fürs Leben abhängig. Die gute Nachricht: wie anderes Suchtverhalten auch kann man auch dieses unter Kontrolle bringen und sich davon fernhalten. Auch ein Alkoholiker wird sich immer zu Alkohol hingezogen fühlen, kann aber lernen, nicht zu trinken. Auch ein Sexsüchtiger kann sein Verlangen soweit unter Kontrolle bringen, dass er ihm nicht mehr nachgibt. Ihm muss aber klar sein, dass dies immer eine Quelle der Versuchung sein wird und er muss dementsprechende Vorkehrungen treffen.
Wie hilft man einem Sexsüchtigen?
Sexsucht ist keine Krankheit, die man heilen kann, sondern ein Zustand, mit dem man leben lernen muss. So wie auch ein Diabetiker lernen muss, mit seinem Zustand umzugehen, braucht auch der Sexsüchtige Werkzeuge und Ressourcen, die sein Verhalten unter Kontrolle halten, wenn sie regelmäßig angewendet werden. Die Tatsache, dass dies ein Zustand ist, befreit den Betroffenen aber keineswegs von seiner Verantwortung. Es war seine Entscheidung, dem sexuellen Verlangen nachzugeben, das letztendlich zur Sucht geführt hat. Er muss sich nun für die geeigneten Maßnahmen entscheiden, dies unter Kontrolle zu halten. Hierfür muss der Betroffene stabilisiert werden, er muss sein Verhalten verstehen lernen und das nötige Rüstzeug bekommen, um damit umzugehen. Der Klient wird stabiliesert, indem man zunächst den konkreten Umstand angeht, der dazu geführt hat, dass das Verhalten ans Tageslicht kam (entdecken pornographischer Literatur, Verhaftung oder was auch immer). Als nächstes werden seine nun anstehenden Optionen angesprochen und ebenso die momentan eventuell vorhandenen Gefühle wie extreme Scham, Angst, Depression, Verzweiflung usw. Der Klient wird sein Verhalten verstehen lernen, er wird lernen, wieder richtige Beziehungen zu anderen aufzubauen und Vorkehrungen zu treffen, die Ähnliches in Zukunft vermeiden sollen. Maßnahmen wie eine tägliche Struktur, Rechenschaft, regelmäßiges Bibellesen, das Einüben von praktischen Techniken, Selbsthilfegruppen, das Vermitteln psychologischer Hintergründe wird ihr emotionales und spirituelles Leben wieder stabilisiert.
Warum ist es so schwer, von Porno loszukommen?
Weil sich die Erinnerung an die gesehenen Bilder sowie die dabei ausgelöste körperliche Reaktion (bzw. die Reaktion in unserem Kopf) unauslöschlich in unser Gehirn eingebrannt hat und man sich oft noch nach Jahrzehnten an diverse Bilder erinnert. Es ist wie eine Bibliothek, in der man sich bei Bedarf bedienen kann.
Gerade in Zeiten, in denen wir ein "Schmerzmittel" brauchen, etwas, um zu vergessen, oder um Schmerz jeglicher Art, Langeweile, Ärger, Angstgefühle, Trauer, Depressionen oder was auch immer betäuben zu können, kommt die Versuchung wieder hoch, es doch mit der "bewährten alten Methode" - also Porno zu versuchen.
Dessen müssen wir uns bewusst sein und darauf achten, dass wir all diese Emotionen und die dahinterstehenden Bedürfnisse auf gesunde Art und Weise befriedigen, täglich beten sowie die Bibel lesen, regelmäßig zum Gottesdienst gehen und uns Rechenschaftspartner für all das, was in uns vorgeht und was wir tun, suchen. Ebenso ist es hilfreich, sich einen Aktionsplan für das "Worst-Case Szenario", also für den schlimmsten Fall (einen Rückfall) zurechtzulegen (Wen rufe ich an? Was tue ich dann sofort, um einen erneuten Rückfall zu verhindern?). Ebenso sollten wir unser gesamtes Leben durchforschen: Welche Freunde habe ich, welche Filme sehe ich mir im Fernsehen an, welche Homepages im Internet, welche Zeitschriften lese ich, welche Sachen oder Personen sind für mich sexuelle Versuchungen. Wenn wir das wissen, können wir auch nötige Maßnahmen treffen, um Rückfälle zu vermeiden.
Mal ganz abgesehen davon: Hast du dir jemals Gedanken darüber gemacht, welches persönliche Schicksal hinter den Lebensgeschichten der Pornostars steckt? Was sie dazu gebracht hat, das zu tun? Zumeist sind dies tragische Geschichten, die oft auch sexuellen Missbrauch (oder Missbrauch anderer Art) umfassen! Jason Evert hat einmal sinngemäß gesagt, wir müssen unsere Liebe zu diesen Pornostars vergrößern. Wir müssen uns verantwortlich für sie fühlen und sie nicht ausbeuten.
Papst Johannes Paul II. hat einmal sinngemäß gesagt, Pornographie sei nicht falsch, weil sie zuviel zeigt, sondern weil sie zuwenig zeigt. Sie reduziert Menschen auf ihre Körper und zeigt sie nicht so, wie Gott sie sieht.
Hast du dir jemals vorgestellt, wie unglaublich es wäre, wenn der erste nackte Körper des anderen Geschlechts, den du zu sehen bekommst, der deines Ehepartners wäre? Wenn deine Gedanken nicht durch unzählige Bilder nackter Körper oder Erinnerungen an vergangene Sexkontakte verschmutzt wären sondern sich ganz auf den Ehepartner konzentrieren könnten? Wollen wir das nicht zumindest unseren Kindern vermitteln?
(Quelle: Jason Evert)
kathpedia.com zum Thema "Keuschheit"
Jeder Christ ist entsprechend seines jeweiligen Lebensstandes zur Keuschheit aufgerufen. Egal ob verheiratet, "Single", im Ordensstand oder als Kleriker, jeder Getaufte ist, aus Dank gegenüber Gott, dem Schöpfer und Erlöser, im Heiligen Geist zu keuschem Leben gemäß seinem Stande fähig und verpflichtet.
Keuschheit wird auch als Heilige Reinheit bezeichnet. Unter Keuschheit bezeichnet man das erlernen der freiwillige Selbstbeherrschung oder auch Enthaltsamkeit im sexuellen Bereich, welche eine Erziehung zur menschlichen Freiheit ist.
Die Sexualität des Menschen ist bereits vor dem Sündenfall vorhanden gewesen und wurde als Sehr gut! bezeichnet. (Und Gott sah alles, was er gemacht hatte, und siehe, es war sehr gut. Gen. 1,31)
Die Keuschheit ist eine Hilfe zur Heiligkeit: Keuschheit ist eine positive Bejahung eines reinen Lebens. Selig die reinen Herzens sind, sie werden Gott schauen. Heilige Reinheit, keusches Leben ist eine Gnade, die man von Gott erbitten muss. Es gibt die Gewohnheit, aktiv für Enthaltsamkeit zu beten, indem man z. B. Abends vor dem ins Bett gehen drei Ave Maria für Reinheit und Keuschheit betet.
Vom Geist der Reinheit
"Was die Keuschheit betrifft, ich meine den Geist der Keuschheit, so muss man der Welt verständlich machen, dass sie keine nebensächliche Kraft ist, am Rande, nötig nur für bestimmte Lebensstände und die also der Großteil der Menschen beiseite lassen kann. Die Herrschaft des Geistes über das Fleisch, das ist keiner Spezialität jener, die, einer größeren Liebe wegen, dem Gebrauch des Fleisches entsagt haben: Diese Meisterschaft ist unverzichtbar für die Menschenwürde. Sie gehört zu der Tugend, welche die Alten tempérance nannten, das Maßhalten. Das ist die Selbstbeherrschung. Ich wage zu sagen, dass die Keuschheit das erreicht, wonach die Modernen mit Recht sehr stark drängen: Die Verfügbarkeit, die Selbstbestimmung, die Freiheit. Lasst uns nicht fürchten, sehr hoch von dem zu sprechen, über das der Großteil der Leute ganz niedrig denkt: Es gibt keine wahre Freiheit ohne den Geist der Keuschheit. Und ich würde überdies sagen, dass die Keuschheit, besonders die eheliche Keuschheit, mit Glaube und Liebe verbunden ist. Wo immer der Geist der Keuschheit in den Gewissen schwindet, sieht man auch die Fähigkeit schwinden, das Wort Gottes in sich zu vernehmen, den Wunsch nach dem ewigen Leben, den Durst nach einem Gespräch mit Gott. Alles in allem: Der gesamte Geist der Seligpreisungen kann zusammengefasst werden in der Seligpreisung: Bienheureux ceux qui ont le coeur pur parce qu'ils verront Dieu! Selig, die ein reines Herz haben, denn sie werden Gott sehen. (...) Da kommt mir ein Satz von Manzoni in den Sinn. Das ist, denke ich, gegen Ende der Promessi sposi, bei Euch übersetzt mit les Fiancés (Die Verlobten): Les difficultés de la vie lorsqu'elles se présentent, par suite de nos fautes, ou même sans qui'il y ait de nos fautes: la confiance en Dieu les adoucit et les rend utiles pour une vie meilleure." (Die Schwierigkeiten des Lebens, wo immer sie sich zeigen, ob sie in Folge unserer Sünden oder selbst ohne unsere Sünden da sind: Das Gottvertrauen versüßt sie und macht sie nützlich für ein besseres Leben.)
[Von Paul VI., in: Jean Guitton, Dialogues avec Paul VI, Paris 1967, S. 333 f.]
Keuschheit in den Zehn Geboten
Die Tugend der Keuschheit leitet sich aus dem 6. und 9. Gebot ab.
VI. Gebot: "Du sollst nicht die Ehe brechen. (Ex 20,14; Dtn 5,18)
IX. Gebot:"[...] Du sollst nicht nach der Frau deines Nächsten verlangen." "[...] Wer eine Frau auch nur lüstern ansieht, hat in seinem Herzen schon Ehebruch mit ihr begangen." (Mt 5,27-28)
Verstöße gegen die Keuschheit
Unkeuschheit ist ungeordneter Genuß oder ungeordnetes Verlangen nach geschlechtlicher Lust, insb.:
Masturbation (als sexueller "Kurzschluss")
Unzucht ("Wilde Ehe", "Seitensprünge", usw.)
Vergewaltigung und Homosexualität
Berufen zur Keuschheit
Im Katechismus der Katholischen Kirche heißt es in Nr. 2337: Keuschheit bedeutet die geglückte Integration der Geschlechtlichkeit in die Person und folglich die innere Einheit des Menschen in seinem leiblichen und geistigen Sein. Die Geschlechtlichkeit, in der sich zeigt, dass der Mensch auch der körperlichen und biologischen Welt angehört, wird persönlich und wahrhaft menschlich, wenn sie in die Beziehung von Person zu Person, in die vollständige und zeitliche unbegrenzte wechselseitige Hingabe von Mann und Frau eingegliedert ist.
Die Tugend der Keuschheit wahrt somit zugleich die Unversehrtheit der Person und die Ganzheit der Hingabe. Vorbild für gelebte Keuschheit ist auch der Hl. Josef: Lehre uns den rechten Umgang mit Gott
Keuschheit in der Ehe
Die eheliche Keuschheit ist ein Begriff der sich in der Tradition der Kirche erst langsam durchsetzt. Sie ist nicht gleichzusetzen mit der Abstinenz und verlangt einen verantwortungsbewussten Umgang mit der Geschlechtlichkeit.
Sexualität als Sprache
Die eheliche Vereinigung von Mann und Frau ist ein besonders intensiver Ausdruck der gegenseitigen Liebe. Der Leib hat seine eigene Sprache, die nicht verfälscht werden darf. Wenn sich Mann und Frau einander sexuell hingeben, dann bedeutet dies in der Sprache des Leibes: Ich gehöre Dir an für immer und ganz; ich binde mich in Liebe und Treue an Dich!
Das aber heißt: Das Ja-Wort der Trauung ist Voraussetzung für die Aufrichtigkeit der sexuellen Hingabe. Wer das Ja-Wort nicht geben kann / will und trotzdem die sexuelle Gemeinschaft sucht, belügt sich selbst und seine(n) Partner(in), indem er/sie mit dem Leib etwas zum Ausdruck bringt, was er/sie mit dem Herzen (noch) gar nicht meint.
Keuschheit in den evangelischen Räten
In der Tradition der Kirche kann man spezielle Gelübde ablegen. Eins davon sind die evangelischen Räte, bei dem man sich zu Armut, Keuschheit in Ehelosigkeit und Gehorsam verpflichtet.
"In der Nachfolge Christi, der das Vorbild der Keuschheit ist, sind alle berufen, ihrem jeweiligen Lebensstand entsprechend ein keusches Leben zu führen: die einen in der Jungfräulichkeit oder in der gottgeweihten Ehelosigkeit, die eine hervorragende Weise ist, sich leichter mit ungeteiltem Herzen Gott hinzugeben; die anderen, die verheiratet sind, in dem sie die eheliche Keuschheit leben; und die Unverheirateten, indem sie enthaltsam leben." (aus: Kompendium des Katechismus der Katholischen Kirche)
"Die Treue kommt darin zum Ausdruck, daß das gegebene Wort stets gehalten wird. Gott ist treu. Das Sakrament der Ehe nimmt den Mann und die Frau in die Treue Christi zu seiner Kirche hinein. Durch die eheliche Keuschheit bezeugen sie vor der Welt dieses Mysterium." (aus: Katechismus der Katholischen Kirche)
"Seht, wer von lüsterner Sinnlichkeit angefault ist, kann im geistlichen Leben nicht vorwärts kommen. Unfähig zu jedem guten Werk, ist er wie ein Krüppel, der nicht vom Boden aufstehen kann. Habt ihr nicht schon einmal Kranke mit progressivem Knochenschwund gesehen, die ganz hilflos geworden sind? Manchmal bewegen sie nicht einmal mehr den Kopf. Das gleiche widerfährt im Übernatürlichen denen, die, die Demut verachtend, sich aus Feigheit der Unzucht ergeben haben. Sie sehen nichts, sie hören nichts, sie verstehen nichts. Sie sind gelähmt und wie von Sinnen. Hier muss sich jeder von uns an den Herrn und an die Mutter Gottes wenden mit der Bitte, sie mögen uns die Demut schenken und die nötige Entschlossenheit, fromm zum göttlichen Heilmittel der Beichte Zuflucht zu nehmen. Lasst nicht zu, dass sich in eurem Herzen ein Eiterherd bildet, mag er noch so klein sein. Sprecht euch aus. Fließendes Wasser ist sauber; wenn es aber steht, wird es zur abstoßenden, schlammigen Pfütze und zu einem Tummelplatz für Ungeziefer (vgl. Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer; in Freunde Gottes", S. ??).
"Im Hinblick auf die eheliche Keuschheit sage ich den Eheleuten, dass sie keine Angst haben sollen, ihrer Zuneigung auch Ausdruck zu verleihen, im Gegenteil, diese Zuneigung ist ja gerade das Fundament ihrer Familie. Was der Herr von ihnen erwartet, ist, dass sie sich gegenseitig achten, loyal im Umgang miteinander sind, feinfühlig, natürlich und rücksichtsvoll. Und ich füge hinzu, dass die eheliche Begegnung echt ist, wenn sie Zeichen wirklicher Liebe ist und daher für den Willen zum Kind offen bleibt. Die Quellen des Lebens versiegen zu lassen, ist ein Verbrechen an den Gaben, die Gott der Menschheit anvertraut hat, und ein Hinweis darauf, dass man sich vom Egoismus und nicht von der Liebe leiten läßt." (Hl. Josefmaria Escriva (s.o.), Homilie an Weihnachten 1970)
"Alles, was dazu beiträgt, die auf die Ehe eines Mannes und einer Frau gegründete Familie zu schwächen, was direkt oder indirekt die Bereitschaft der Familie zur verantwortungsbewußten Annahme eines neuen Lebens lähmt, was ihr Recht, die erste Verantwortliche für die Erziehung der Kinder zu sein, hintertreibt, stellt ein objektives Hindernis auf dem Weg des Friedens dar." (Papst Benedikt XVI. in der Botschaft zur Feier des Weltfriedenstages 2008.)
Katharina Westerhorstmann: Über die Tugend der Keuschheit. Anmerkungen zu einem brisanten Thema. In: Brixner Theologisches Forum. Beiheft 117. 2006, 58-75.
ESV Audio Widget
1 Corinthians 10:13
Alles rein kulturell bedingt?
Die Zehn Gebote und überhaupt alles, was die Bibel zum Thema monogame, heterosexuelle Ehe, Familie und Sexualität zu sagen hat (und überhaupt alles, was da drin steht), war zur damaligen Zeit sicher gut und richtig, aber auch nur deshalb, weil die Familie dem physichen Überleben der Einzelnen diente und somit ihr Schutz und der Schutz der heterosexuellen Ehe und damit der Fortpflanzung an die erste Stelle gesetzt werden musste! All die biblischen Gebote haben deshalb nur historischen Wert und sind aus heutiger Sicht längst überholt!
Hört sich ja erst einmal ganz logisch an - und wie jede Irrlehre steckt hier ein Kern Wahrheit drin. Selbstverständlich ist ein wesentlicher Aspekt der Bibelauslegung und des Verständnisses dessen, was dort aus der Sicht und mit dem Hintergrund der Schreiber geschildert wurde, die Kenntnis der damaligen Kultur und des Lebensumfeldes. Biblische Aussagen und Feststellungen des kirchlichen Lehramtes aber allein auf ökonomische, historische, kulturelle oder ganz einfach physische Aspekte begrenzen zu wollen, ist eine rein menschliche Sichtweise - keinesfalls aber die Sichtweise Gottes.
Natürlich wurde die Bibel von Menschen mit begrenztem Verständnis und mit einem bestimmten kulturellen und historischen Hintergrund geschrieben. Wer aber hier stehen bleibt, ignoriert, dass sie von Gott inspiriert wurde, dass der Heilige Geist also die Schreiber der Bibel geführt und angeleitet hat. So sind biblische Aussagen auch keineswegs nur Glaubensaaussagen, sondern haben durchaus auch einen realen Hintergrund.
Gott, der Schöpfer des Universums, der die Schreiber der Bibel durch den Heiligen Geist inspiriert hat, soll bei dem, was Er dort ins Leben gerufen hat, nicht das gewusst haben, was wir heute wissen? Nehmen wir uns da nicht ein bisschen zu wichtig? Versuchen wir da nicht, selbst Gott spielen zu wollen?
Wesentliche Aussagen zur monogamen, heterosexuellen Ehe, zu essentiellen Geboten und Verboten finden wir in allen Büchern der Bibel - verfasst über mehrere Jahrtausende in unterschiedlichsten Kulturen und historischen, kulturellen und politischen Hintergründen. Jesus selbst hat den Standard der heterosexuellen, monogamen und lebenslangen Ehe bestätigt - und Er soll keine Ahnung von dem gehabt haben, was wir heute wissen? Gott, der Israel - und uns heute - die Zehn Gebote gegeben hat, soll dies nur getan haben, um das Überleben der damaligen Familienclans zu sichern?
Natürlich gibt es Gebote, die eindeutig einem kulturellen Hintergrund zuzuordnen sind (etwas Aussagen zu langen Haaren). Gerade aber Grundaussagen zu Ehe und Familie werden immer wieder wiederholt - auch und gerade von den zölibatär lebenden Aposteln, die ja eigentlich keinen Grund mehr hatten, das physische Überleben eines Familienclans sichern zu wollen. Auch hat die Kirche in den letzten 2.010 Jahren immer an diesen Grundaussagen festgehalten.
Warum nun also diese - wenngleich wohl gut gemeinten - Zweifel und "Neuinterpretierungen"?
Nun, ich kann nicht in die Herzen von Menschen schauen. Was ich aber weiß, ist, dass Satan der Meister der Lügen ist und leider immer wieder Menschen diese gut klingenden Lügen glauben.
Jesus selbst hat uns gesagt, dass uns die Wahrheit frei machen wird. Ebenso werden wir in der Bibel aufgefordert, bis zum Schluss an dieser Wahrheit und an Gottes Geboten festzuhalten und den beschwerlichen Weg zum engen Tor zu gehen, täglich uns selbst zu verleugnen und Jesus nachzufolgen - im Gegensatz zum leichten Weg, der zu einem breiten Tor und dem Abgrund dahinter führt...
ESV Audio Widget
1 Corinthians 6:15-20
ESV Audio Widget
Article Overcoming Temptation (A Response to an Email)
I really do admire the way you laid this out. It is very well orchestrated to say what you want to say and get your ideas around certain points that you are having problems to understand. I was careful as I usually do to read the whole thing through slowly and carefully. I must admit to being in wonderment at first until you said in effect; "wait, hear me out."I applause you for that. I now understand more clearly where you are coming from and where it is you are struggling with, with my former reply.
Now, to clarify if I may: It is not sin when one has a desire for a sin. Though again I say it is wrong for us to contemplate a sin, because then, that becomes an avenue for the temptation to grow within us. It is like putting yeast within flour. The yeast will not become active if left in its container, or even outside its container away from the dough. But the yeast does become active when placed within the dough. A temptation is a design to cause us to step over the border and to transgress a wrong that our heart desires.It becomes a sin though when we act upon that temptation and commit the act which God says is sin. Jesus as we know was also tempted of the devil. A temptation is not a sin. Jesus never sinned we know.
To lust however after one once you have looked upon someone, Jesus makes it plain that it is a sin.The initial look was not a sin. We cannot help what we see walking by.However, when one transgresses from mere looking to desiring to have sex with another, then that is sin. From your description about the guy you worked with and your reaction, it would appear to me that you were indeed lusting after him, which Jesus says is a sin.
In Romans, yes it is true. Paul has written what appears to be in a sense as you say a spiral, a process leading into degenerate sins. Taking the whole chapter however into context, we see that especially beginning in verse 18 where this section of the chapter begins, we see that he writes that God is wrathful to people whom have turned from Him and have in turn begun to worship His creation, rather than the creator. Many would claim to be agnostic, unbelievers. But the truth is that natural man, if he abandons one truth, he will replace it with another. In this case he is exchanging the worship of God for His creation.
Paul goes through a logical progression, a lawyer type argument to prove that God has just reason to be angry with men who reject Him. They claim to say He does not exist to back their argument for His existence, but Paul shows us that God has revealed Himself through His creation etc. Verse 20.
And like you mentioned they soon begin to worship man made idols.
Now I do not believe that idol worship is necessarily the beginning of the downward spiral into sexual lusts in of itself. But, that it would be a good beginning to all sins. For once you abandon the worship of God and deny His existence, then the natural man illogically reasons that if there is no God, then there is no law, no moral laws by which he must be accountable to. So he then goes out and goes after whatever his sinful heart desires. It may be after any number of sins, of which sexual immorality is just one. Not everyone who denies God is into sexual immorality or even unlawful sex outside of marriage.
And yes, as you say, if we turn our backs on Him, He will turn away from them who continue to turn their backs on Him and He allows Satan and his followers to work on the hearts and minds of those who do not wish to follow after God. The Holy Spirit is not with them who do no follow after the ways of God to convict them of their sins. I think perhaps there is a point of no return for some where God says, okay, that's it, let them go their own ways and let them do what they want to do as you said. Their own sins will be their own punishment, for when we sin there is always a consequence to that sin. We may not always see the consequence immediately, but it is there and or coming. It is hopeful, that at one point, they will realize the error of their ways and repent, but for the most part man runs after the ways of the world and not after the ways of God.
I do not think that Paul is repeating a pattern as you say, but is continuing on as I said from those who deny god with idolatry and as I say in turn are given to go after whatever their immoral desires are. He is simply as I see it listing the many sins which man goes after and is when one turns his back on God. Because one is an idolater does not necessarily mean he will be a liar, a hater etc as listed in verse 29, but this is a list of they way many go. Not all again are sexually immoral, or boasters, haters or whatever, even if they are idolaters or have turned their backs on God. But it is true that those whom practice habitually at these sins will face God's wrath and eventually be sent to abode forever in hell.
Regardless of how you or I or any may interpret this passage of scripture, the truth still remains that any who practice these sins, will have their day of judgement. Sexual immorality is a sin as is lying, be proud, boasting etc. They are all sin. If you repent you will not be judged by Him
You may not as you say have been worshipping a man made idol, but anything at all that replaces God is an idol. If T.V. takes so much of our time that we find no time for God, then that is our idol. If it is the computer, or motor bikes, or games etc. Anything that takes so much of our time, that we have no time for God is our idol.
Your draw to be attracted to men immorally has nothing at all necessarily with idol worship, but everything to do for whatever reason with something in the past in which was used to draw you into that particular sin. It may have been the lack of your father always being there for you, or him always being so hard on you. Many men when they have a bad father become sexually broken because they seek after a male figure to replace and give them the love that their true father never gave them. I am not saying this is necessarily true of you, I do not know. For other it could be a mother who treated their sons in effeminate ways. For other it could be for very many other reasons of which you can find from reading the likes of Joe Dallas's books and others. And yet for others it may not be at all because of any insecure past, or anything psychological at all, but that they tasted or saw images of a naked man and wanted to try, or heard about it and wanted to try to see what it was like.
One does not receive the curse of a sin, it is that one gives in to the desires of a sin by whatever temptation that they give in to. God it says tempts no man. James 1:13 "Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man." (King James Version)
Your having been sexually assaulted as you say may have been the avenue by which the process towards the inclination to your attractions began. That is very common for those who have been assaulted at a young age. It could be that plus the accumulation of other things which lead you astray down the wrong path.
But whatever the reason where ever you are , be assured that change is possible. It is now time to let the past lay dormant and look not behind any longer, but to look to what God is doing in your life and begin to co-operate with Him by living the life He wants you to live. By obeying Him and His ways. By exchanging your sinful ways for His ways. But ceasing at lusting after man, and lust after Him to be like Him and not natural fallen man. If porn is one of the ways you sin, exchange that for reading scripture on the Internet or in your Bible. Turn off all possible ways in which you can be possibly motivated to sin. If you have a bottle of booze on the table and you are an alcoholic, then get rid of the bottle. If you trap is walking by an adult book store then stop walking by there. Take another route. Do you see what I am saying. Take dramatic, drastic steps to remove any possibility of any temptation coming before your eyes and your mind.What you are doing that is wrong, replace it with something that is righteous. Make no excuses for the lust of the flesh. As we are told in 1 Cor. 10:13 "There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it." (King James Version)
Temptations are not abnormal. They are normal and to be expected. They are common to man. God promises though to not allow us to be tried or tempted beyond what we are able to handle. He makes a way to escape a temptation. We do not need to fall into the preys of temptation, We more than not fall and sin, because our flesh desires the sin and we give in rather than using the resources God has given us to avoid falling. If, a river is washed out and a temporary bridge is made to by-pass the washout, then anyone who attempts to go through the washout is likely to fall in and perhaps drown. They drowned because they did not use the resource made for them to escape danger. Likewise God has offered us the resource to avoided falling and drowning in our sins. We just have to use them.
I pray that this helps to clarify things for you.
HL. KONGREGATION FÜR DIE GLAUBENSLEHRE
ERKLÄRUNG ZU EINIGEN FRAGEN DER SEXUALETHIK
29. Dezember 1975 (1)
Die menschliche Person wird nach Ansicht der heutigen Wissenschaft so tief durch die Sexualität beeinflußt, daß diese zu den Faktoren gezählt werden muß, die das Leben eines jeden Menschen maßgeblich prägen. Aus dem Geschlecht nämlich ergeben sich die besonderen Merkmale, die die menschliche Person im biologischen, psychologischen und geistigen Bereich als Mann und Frau bestimmen. Diese haben somit einen sehr großen Einfluß auf ihren Reifungsprozeß und ihre Einordnung in die Gesellschaft. Deshalb sind auch, wie für jeden leicht festzustellen ist, die Fragen, die das Geschlecht betreffen, heute ein Thema, das häufig und offen in den Büchern, Zeitschriften, Zeitungen und anderen sozialen Kommunikationsmitteln behandelt wird.
Indessen greift zunehmend ein Sittenverfall um sich, bei dem die maßlose Verherrlichung des Geschlechtlichen zu den ernstesten Anzeichen zu rechnen ist. Dieser ist mit Hilfe der sozialen Kommunikationsmittel und der Schauspiele bereits so weit fortgeschritten, daß er in den Bereich der Erziehung eingedrungen ist und die allgemeine Mentalität vergiftet hat.
Wenn unter diesen Umständen Erzieher, Pädagogen oder Moralisten dazu beitragen konnten, daß die Werte, die jedem der beiden Geschlechter eigen sind, besser verstanden und in das Leben integriert wurden, haben andere hingegen Meinungen und Verhaltensweisen vorgetragen, die zu den wahren sittlichen Forderungen des Menschen in Widerspruch stehen, und sind sogar so weit gegangen, daß sie einen freizügigen Hedonismus begünstigen.
Die Folge davon ist, daß auch unter Christen Lehren, sittliche Normen und Lebensweisen, die bisher treu beobachtet wurden, innerhalb einiger Jahre stark erschüttert worden sind. Viele fragen sich heute angesichts so vieler weitverbreiteter Meinungen, die der von der Kirche empfangenen Lehre entgegengesetzt sind, was sie noch für wahr halten müssen.
Die Kirche kann sich einer solchen geistigen Verwirrung und einem solchen Sittenverfall gegenüber nicht gleichgültig verhalten. Es handelt sich hierbei nämlich um eine für das persönliche Leben der Christen und das gesellschaftliche Leben unserer Zeit sehr bedeutsame Frage.1
Täglich müssen die Bischöfe die wachsenden Schwierigkeiten feststellen, mit denen sowohl die Gläubigen zu ringen haben, um die gesunde Sittenlehre, besonders im sexuellen Bereich, zur Kenntnis zu nehmen, wie auch die Seelsorger, um diese Lehre wirksam vorzutragen. Sie sind sich dessen bewußt, daß ihr Hirtenamt sie dazu verpflichtet, sich in diesem schwerwiegenden Punkt der Nöte der ihnen anvertrauten Gläubigen anzunehmen; auch sind über diesen Fragenkreis von einigen Oberhirten und Bischofskonferenzen schon bedeutende Dokumente veröffentlicht worden. Da aber die irrigen Meinungen und die sich daraus ergebenden falschen Verhaltensweisen sich überall noch weiter verbreiten, hat es die Kongregation für die Glaubenslehre auf Grund ihrer Aufgabe für die Gesamtkirche2 und im Auftrag des Papstes für notwendig erachtet, die vorliegende Erklärung zu veröffentlichen.
Die Menschen unserer Zeit sind immer mehr davon überzeugt, daß die Würde und die Berufung der menschlichen Person es erfordern, daß sie im Licht der Vernunft die Werte entdecken, die in ihre Natur gelegt sind, sie unablässig weiterentfalten und im Hinblick auf einen immer größeren Fortschritt in ihrem Leben verwirklichen.
Der Mensch aber kann in den Fragen der Moral bei der Beurteilung der Werte nicht einfach nach seinem persönlichen Belieben verfahren: »Im Innern seines Gewissens entdeckt der Mensch ein Gesetz, das er sich nicht selbst gibt, sondern dem er gehorchen muß... Denn der Mensch hat ein Gesetz, das von Gott seinem Herzen eingeschrieben ist, dem zu gehorchen eben seine Würde ist und gemäß dem er gerichtet werden wird«.3
Ferner hat Gott uns Christen durch seine Offenbarung seinen Heilsplan zu erkennen gegeben und uns Christus, den Erlöser und Heiland, in seiner Lehre und seinem Beispiel als die höchste und unveränderliche Lebensnorm hingestellt: »Ich bin das Licht der Welt. Wer mir nachfolgt, wird nicht in der Finsternis gehen, sondern wird das Licht des Lebens haben«.4
Es kann deshalb keine wahre Förderung der Würde des Menschen geben, wenn nicht die wesentliche Ordnung seiner Natur gewahrt wird. Gewiß haben sich in der Geschichte der Zivilization viele konkrete Umstände und Bedürfnisse des menschlichen Lebens geändert und werden sich noch weiter ändern; doch muß sich jeder Wandel in den Sitten und jede Lebensweise innerhalb der Grenzen halten, die durch die unveränderlichen Prinzipien gesetzt sind, welche in den konstitutiven Elementen und den wesentlichen Beziehungen der menschlichen Person gründen; diese Elemente und Beziehungen übersteigen die veränderlichen geschichtlichen Umstände.
Diese Grundprinzipien, die die Vernunft erkennen kann, sind enthalten im »ewigen, objektiven und universalen göttlichen Gesetz, durch das Gott nach dem Ratschluß seiner Weisheit und Liebe die ganze Welt und die Wege der Menschengemeinschaft ordnet, leitet und regiert. Gott macht den Menschen seines Gesetzes teilhaftig, so daß der Mensch unter der sanften Führung der göttlichen Vorsehung die unveränderliche Wahrheit mehr und mehr zu erkennen vermag«.5 Dieses göttliche Gesetz ist für unsere Erkenntnis zugänglich.
Zu Unrecht behaupten daher heute viele, daß man weder in der menschlichen Natur noch im geoffenbarten Gesetz eine andere absolute und unveränderliche Norm als Regel für unsere einzelnen Handlungen finden könne als jene, die im allgemeinen Gebot der Liebe und der Achtung vor der menschlichen Würde zum Ausdruck kommt. Als Beweis für diese Behauptung führen sie an, daß die sogenannten Normen des Naturgesetzes oder die Vorschriften der Heiligen Schrift nur als Ausdruck einer besonderen Kulturform in einem bestimmten geschichtlichen Augenblick angesehen werden können.
In Wirklichkeit jedoch weisen die göttliche Offenbarung und, in dem ihr eigenen Bereich, auch die philosophische Erkenntnis dadurch, daß sie echte Erfordernisse der Menschheit aufzeigen, notwendig auf die Existenz unveränderlicher Gesetze hin, die in die konstitutiven Elemente der menschlichen Natur eingeschrieben sind und die in allen vernunftbegabten Wesen als identisch erscheinen.
Ferner hat Christus seine Kirche als »die Säule und das Fundament der Wahrheit« gegründet.6 Unter dem Beistand des Heiligen Geistes bewahrt sie ununterbrochen und übermittelt sie ohne Irrtum die Wahrheiten der sittlichen Ordnung und interpretiert authentisch nicht nur das geoffenbarte positive Gesetz, sondern »auch die Prinzipien der sittlichen Ordnung, die aus dem Wesen des Menschen selbst hervorgehen«7 und die volle Entfaltung und die Heiligung des Menschen betreffen. Die Kirche aber hat im ganzen Verlauf ihrer Geschichte bestimmten Vorschriften des Naturgesetzes immer eine absolute und unveränderliche Geltung zuerkannt und in deren Übertretung einen Widerspruch zur Lehre und zum Geist des Evangeliums gesehen.
Da die Sexualethik bestimmte Grundwerte des menschlichen und christlichen Lebens betrifft, wird diese allgemeine Lehre in gleicher Weise auch auf sie angewandt. Es gibt in diesem Bereich Prinzipien und Normen, die die Kirche ohne Zögern stets als einen Bestandteil ihrer Lehre überliefert hat, wie sehr auch die Meinungen und Sitten in der Welt zu ihnen im Gegensatz gestanden haben mögen. Diese Prinzipien und Normen haben ihren Ursprung keineswegs in einer bestimmten Kulturform, sondern in der Erkenntnis des Gesetzes Gottes und der menschlichen Natur. Deshalb können sie auch nicht unter dem Vorwand einer neuen kulturellen Situation als überholt angesehen oder in Zweifel gezogen werden.
Es sind jene Prinzipien, die auch die Anregungen und Richtlinien des II. Vatikanischen Konzils für eine Bildung und Ordnung des gesellschaftlichen Lebens inspiriert haben, in welcher der gleichen Würde von Mann und Frau bei gleichzeitiger Achtung ihrer Unterschiede in gebührender Weise Rechnung getragen wird.8
Als das Konzil von der »geschlechtlichen Anlage des Menschen und seiner menschlichen Zeugungsfähigkeit« gesprochen hat, hat es betont, daß diese »in wunderbarer Weise all das überragen, was es Entsprechendes auf niedrigeren Stufen des Lebens gibt«.9 Darauf hat es in besonderer Weise die Prinzipien und Regeln dargelegt, die die menschliche Geschlechtlichkeit in der Ehe betreffen und ihre Grundlage in der Finalität ihrer spezifischen Funktion haben.
Diesbezüglich erklärt das Konzil, daß die sittliche Qualität der dem ehelichen Leben eigenen Akte, die entsprechend der wahren menschlichen Würde gestaltet sind, »nicht allein von der guten Absicht und Bewertung der Motive abhängt, sondern auch von objektiven Kriterien, die sich aus dem Wesen der menschlichen Person und ihrer Akte ergeben und die sowohl den vollen Sinn gegenseitiger Hingabe als auch den einer wirklich humanen Zeugung in wirklicher Liebe wahren«.10
Diese letzten Worte fassen kurz die Lehre des Konzils zusammen die im voraufgehenden in derselben Konstitution ausführlicher dargelegt ist11 über die Finalität des Geschlechtsaktes und über das wichtigste Kriterium für seine sittliche Bewertung: es ist die Beachtung seiner Finalität, die diesem Akt seine Ehrbarkeit gewährleistet.
Dasselbe Prinzip, das die Kirche aus der göttlichen Offenbarung und der eigenen authentischen Interpretation des Naturgesetzes schöpft, begründet auch ihre traditionelle Lehre, nach der der Gebrauch der Geschlechtskraft nur in der rechtsgültigen Ehe seinen wahren Sinn und seine sittliche Rechtmäßigkeit erhält.12
Die vorliegende Erklärung beabsichtigt nicht, alle Mißbräuche der Geschlechtskraft zu behandeln noch all das, was die Beobachtung der Keuschheit mit sich bringt, sondern vielmehr die Lehre der Kirche bezüglich einiger besonderer Punkte wieder in Erinnerung zu bringen, da es sehr dringend erscheint, sich den schwerwiegenden Irrtümern und den falschen Verhaltensweisen, die von vielen weit verbreitet werden, entschlossen entgegenzustellen.
Manche fordern heute das Recht zum vorehelichen Verkehr, wenigstens in den Fällen, wo eine ernste Heiratsabsicht und eine in gewisser Weise schon eheliche Zuneigung in den Herzen der beiden Partner diese Erfüllung fordern, die sie als naturgemäß erachten. Dies vor allem dann, wenn die Feier der Hochzeit durch äußere Umstände verhindert wird oder wenn diese intime Beziehung als notwendig erscheint, um die Liebe zu erhalten.
Diese Auffassung widerspricht der christlichen Lehre, nach der jeder Geschlechtsakt des Menschen nur innerhalb der Ehe erfolgen darf. Denn wie fest auch immer der Entschluß jener ist, die sich auf diese verfrühten Beziehungen einlassen, so bleibt doch die Tatsache, daß diese keineswegs die Aufrichtigkeit und die Treue der zwischenmenschlichen Beziehungen von Mann und Frau zu gewährleisten noch diese vor allem gegen Laune und Begierlichkeit zu schützen vermögen. Christus aber hat gewollt, daß diese Verbindung beständig sei, und hat sie in ihrem ursprünglichen Zustand, der auf der Verschiedenheit der Geschlechter gründet, wiederhergestellt. »Habt ihr nicht gelesen, daß der Schöpfer die Menschen am Anfang als Mann und Frau geschaffen hat und daß er gesagt hat: Darum wird der Mann Vater und Mutter verlassen und sich an seine Frau binden, und die zwei werden ein Fleisch sein. Sie sind also nicht mehr zwei, sondern eins. Was aber Gott verbunden hat, das darf der Mensch nicht trennen«.13 Der hl. Paulus ist noch deutlicher, wenn er sagt, daß, falls die Unverheirateten und Witwen nicht enthaltsam leben können, sie keine andere Wahl haben als die beständige eheliche Verbindung: »Es ist besser zu heiraten, als sich in Begierde zu verzehren«.14 Durch die Ehe nämlich wird die Liebe der Eheleute zutiefst in jene Liebe hineingenommen, mit der Christus auf unwiderrufliche Weise die Kirche liebt;15 die körperliche Vereinigung in Unzucht16 hingegen entehrt den Tempel des Heiligen Geistes, zu dem der Christ geworden ist. Die körperliche Vereinigung ist also nur dann rechtmäßig, wenn zwischen dem Mann und der Frau eine endgültige Lebensgemeinschaft geschlossen worden ist.
So hat es die Kirche immer verstanden und gelehrt,17 die übrigens auch im Denken der Menschen und in den Zeugnissen der Geschichte eine tiefe Übereinstimmung mit ihrer Lehre gefunden hat.
Die Erfahrung lehrt, daß die Liebe durch die Festigkeit der Ehe geschützt werden muß, damit die geschlechtliche Vereinigung in Wahrheit den Forderungen ihrer eigenen Finalität und der menschlichen Würde wirklich entsprechen kann. Diese Forderungen verlangen einen Ehevertrag, der durch die Gesellschaft bestätigt und garantiert wird und der einen Lebensstand begründet, der für die ausschließliche Verbindung des Mannes und der Frau wie auch für das Wohl ihrer Familie und der ganzen menschlichen Gemeinschaft von größter Bedeutung ist. Sehr häufig schließen nämlich die vorehelichen Beziehungen die Erwartung von Nachkommenschaft aus. Diese Liebe, die man für eine eheliche Liebe hält, kann sich also nicht, wie es absolut notwendig wäre, zur Vater- und Mutterliebe entfalten. Oder, wenn es doch geschehen sollte, wird es sich zum Nachteil der Kinder auswirken, die dann eines beständigen Zusammenlebens entbehren, wo sie heranwachsen sollten, um den Weg und die Mittel für ihre Eingliederung in das Gesamtgefüge der Gesellschaft finden zu können.
Das gemeinsame Einvernehmen derer, die eine Ehe eingehen wollen, muß also nach außen hin zum Ausdruck gebracht werden, und zwar in einer Weise, daß dieses auch vor der Gesellschaft Gültigkeit erhält. Was die Gläubigen betrifft, so müssen sie ihre Zustimmung zur Gründung einer ehelichen Lebensgemeinschaft entsprechend den Gesetzen der Kirche ausdrücken, jenen Konsens, der ihre Ehe zu einem Sakrament Christi macht.
Im Gegensatz zur beständigen Lehre des kirchlichen Lehramtes und des sittlichen Empfindens des christlichen Volkes haben heute einige unter Berufung auf Beobachtungen psychologischer Natur damit begonnen, die homosexuellen Beziehungen gewisser Leute mit Nachsicht zu beurteilen, ja sie sogar völlig zu entschuldigen.
Sie unterscheiden was begründetermaßen zu geschehen scheint zwischen Homosexuellen, deren Neigung sich von einer falschen Erziehung, von mangelnder sexueller Reife, von angenommener Gewohnheit, von schlechten Beispielen oder anderen ähnlichen Ursachen herleitet und eine Übergangserscheinung darstellt oder wenigstens nicht unheilbar ist, und Homosexuellen, die durch eine Art angeborenen Trieb oder durch eine pathologische Veranlagung, die als unheilbar betrachtet wird, für immer solche sind.
Was nun die Personen dieser zweiten Kategorie betrifft, kommen einige zu dem Schluß, daß ihre Neigung derart natürlich ist, daß sie für sie als Rechtfertigungsgrund für ihre homosexuellen Beziehungen in einer eheähnlichen aufrichtigen Lebens- und Liebesgemeinschaft angesehen werden muß, sofern sie sich nicht imstande fühlen, ein Leben in Einsamkeit zu ertragen.
Sicher muß man sich bei der seelsorglichen Betreuung dieser homosexuellen Menschen mit Verständnis annehmen und sie in der Hoffnung bestärken, ihre persönlichen Schwierigkeiten und ihre soziale Absonderung zu überwinden. Ihre Schuldhaftigkeit wird mit Klugheit beurteilt werden. Es kann aber keine pastorale Methode angewandt werden, die diese Personen moralisch rechtfertigen würde, weil ihre Handlungen als mit ihrer persönlichen Verfassung übereinstimmend erachtet würden. Nach der objektiven sittlichen Ordnung sind die homosexuellen Beziehungen Handlungen, die ihrer wesentlichen und unerläßlichen Regelung beraubt sind. Sie werden in der Heiligen Schrift als schwere Verirrungen verurteilt und als die traurige Folge einer Zurückweisung Gottes dargestellt.18 Dieses Urteil der Heiligen Schrift erlaubt zwar nicht den Schluß, daß alle jene, die an dieser Anomalie leiden, persönlich dafür verantwortlich sind, bezeugt aber, daß die homosexuellen Handlungen in sich nicht in Ordnung sind und keinesfalls in irgendeiner Weise gutgeheißen werden können.
Sehr oft wird heute auch die überlieferte katholische Lehre, wonach die Masturbation einen schweren Verstoß gegen die sittliche Ordnung darstellt, in Zweifel gezogen oder ausdrücklich geleugnet. Man behauptet, daß Psychologie und Soziologie den Beweis dafür erbringen, daß es sich dabei, vor allem bei den heranwachsenden Jugendlichen, um eine normale Erscheinungsform geschlechtlicher Entwicklung handelt. Eine tatsächliche und schwere Schuld würde nur insoweit vorliegen, als der Handelnde mit freiem Willen einer in sich abgekapselten Selbstbefriedigung (»Ipsation«) nachgeben würde, da in diesem Fall die Handlung von ihrem Wesen her der liebenden Vereinigung zweier Personen verschiedenen Geschlechtes entgegengesetzt wäre, die nach manchen Autoren das Hauptziel beim Gebrauch der Geschlechtskraft ist,
Diese Auffassung widerspricht der Lehre und pastoralen Praxis der katholischen Kirche. Was auch immer der Wert gewisser Argumente biologischer oder philosophischer Natur sein mag, deren sich die Theologen mitunter bedient haben, Tatsache ist, daß sowohl das kirchliche Lehramt in seiner langen und stets gleichbleibenden Überlieferung als auch das sittliche Empfinden der Gläubigen niemals gezögert haben, die Masturbation als eine zuinnerst schwer ordnungswidrige Handlung zu brandmarken.19 Der Hauptgrund für diese Beurteilung ist, daß der freigewollte Gebrauch der Geschlechtskraft, aus welchem Motiv er auch immer geschieht, außerhalb der normalen ehelichen Beziehungen seiner Zielsetzung wesentlich widerspricht; denn es fehlt ihm die von der sittlichen Ordnung geforderte geschlechtliche Beziehung, jene nämlich, die »den vollen Sinn gegenseitiger Hingabe als auch den einer wirklich humanen Zeugung in wirklicher Liebe«20 realisiert. Nur für diese reguläre geschlechtliche Beziehung ist jede freigewollte Ausübung der Geschlechtlichkeit vorbehalten. Auch wenn es nicht möglich ist, eindeutig zu belegen, daß die Heilige Schrift diese Sünde als solche ausdrücklich verwirft, hat es doch die kirchliche Überlieferung richtig verstanden, daß diese immer dann im Neuen Testament verurteilt wird, wenn von der »Unreinheit«, von der »Schamlosigkeit« und von anderen Lastern gegen die Keuschheit und Enthaltsamkeit die Rede ist.
Die soziologischen Erhebungen können die Häufigkeit dieses ordnungswidrigen Verhaltens nach den Orten, der Bevölkerung und den Umständen anzeigen. Auf diese Weise können Daten gewonnen werden, aber diese Daten stellen kein Kriterium für die Beurteilung des sittlichen Wertes der menschlichen Handlungen dar.21 Die Häufigkeit des Auftretens der betreffenden Handlungen muß sicherlich im Zusammenhang mit der dem Menschen als Folge der Erbsünde innewohnenden Schwäche gesehen werden, aber auch im Zusammenhang mit dem Verlust der Gottbezogenheit und mit der Verwilderung der Sitten, die sowohl durch eine Kommerzialisierung des Lasters, einer schrankenlosen Freizügigkeit im Schaugeschäft und auf dem Bücher- und Zeitschriftenmarkt, als auch durch den Verlust des Schamgefühls, dem eine Wächterrolle für die Keuschheit obliegt, verursacht wird.
Die moderne Psychologie bietet hinsichtlich der Masturbation eine Reihe von gültigen und nützlichen Daten zur Formulierung eines ausgewogenen Urteils über die sittliche Verantwortlichkeit und zur Orientierung einer speziellen Seelsorge. Sie kann die Augen dafür öffnen, wie die mangelnde Reife in der Adoleszens, die zuweilen auch nach dem Pubertätsalter anhalten kann, oder der Mangel an seelischem Gleichgewicht oder auch eine angenommene Gewohnheit auf das Verhalten Einfluß nehmen können, indem sie die Freiwilligkeit der Handlungen herabmindern und dadurch bewirken, daß subjektiv gesehen nicht immer eine schwere Schuld vorliegt. Im allgemeinen darf jedoch nicht von vornherein das Fehlen einer schweren Verantwortung angenommen werden. Dies hieße nämlich, die sittliche Entscheidungsfähigkeit der Menschen zu verkennen.
Um sich in der praktischen Seelsorge ein angemessenes Urteil in den einzelnen konkreten Fällen zu bilden, wird das gewohnheitsmäßige Verhalten der Menschen in seiner Gesamtheit in Betracht gezogen werden müssen; und zwar nicht allein was die Übung von Liebe und Gerechtigkeit angeht, sondern auch was die Sorge um die Beobachtung des besonderen Gebotes der Keuschheit betrifft. Man wird besonders darauf achten, ob man sich der notwendigen natürlichen und übernatürlichen Mittel bedient, die die christliche Askese auf Grund ihrer langen Erfahrung empfiehlt, um die Leidenschaften zu beherrschen und der Tugend zum Fortschritt zu verhelfen.
Die Beobachtung des Sittengesetzes im Bereich der Sexualität und die Übung der Keuschheit werden vor allem durch die lauen Christen und durch die heutige Tendenz, die Wirklichkeit der schweren Sünde möglichst einzuschränken, wenn nicht gar, zumindest in dem konkreten menschlichen Leben, vollkommen zu leugnen, nicht wenig in Frage gestellt.
Manche behaupten sogar, daß die schwere Sünde, die den Menschen von Gott trennt, nur in der unmittelbaren und formellen Ablehnung bestehen würde, wodurch sich der Mensch dem Ruf Gottes widersetzt, oder auch in einer Egozentrik, die bewußt und vollständig die Liebe zum Nächsten ausschließt. Nur dann, so sagt man, setze die »Grundentscheidung« ein, d.h. jene Entscheidung, die die menschliche Person vollkommen beansprucht und die für das Zustandekommen einer Todsünde erforderlich ist. Durch diese Entscheidung nähme der Mensch aus der Mitte seiner Persönlichkeit heraus eine Grundhaltung gegenüber Gott und den Mitmenschen ein oder bestätige sie. Andererseits würden die als peripher bezeichneten Handlungen (die, wie man behauptet, im allgemeinen keine entscheidende Wahl beinhalten) gar nicht bis zu einer Änderung der Grundentscheidung führen, umso weniger als sie häufig, wie man beobachtet, aus einer Gewohnheitshaltung hervorgehen. Sie können daher zwar die Grundentscheidung schwächen, aber nicht gänzlich ändern. Nach diesen Autoren ereignet sich deshalb eine Änderung in der Grundentscheidung gegenüber Gott im Bereich des Geschlechtlichen viel schwerer, da dort der Mensch im allgemeinen die sittliche Ordnung nicht überlegt und freiwillig überschreitet, sondern mehr unter dem Einfluß seiner Leidenschaft, aus Schwäche und mangelnder Reife oder manchmal auch aus der Einbildung heraus, gerade auf diese Weise seine Liebe zum Nächsten unter Beweis zu stellen. Dazu kommt oft noch der Druck, der vom gesellschaftlichen Milieu ausgeübt wird.
In der Tat, es ist die Grundentscheidung, die letztlich die sittliche Verfassung des Menschen bestimmt. Sie kann jedoch auch durch Einzelhandlungen grundlegend geändert werden, vor allem dann, wenn diese wie es häufig der Fall ist bereits durch voraufgehende, weniger entschiedene Handlungen vorbereitet werden. Auf jeden Fall ist es nicht wahr, daß nicht eine einzige dieser Handlungen ausreichen könnte, um eine schwere Sünde zu begehen.
Nach der Lehre der Kirche besteht die schwere Sünde als Auflehnung gegen Gott nicht nur in der formalen und direkten Ablehnung des Gebotes der Liebe. Sie besteht gleichermaßen auch in jenem Widerspruch zur echten Liebe, der in jeder freigewollten Überschreitung eines jeden sittlichen Gesetzes in einer wichtigen Sache miteingeschlossen ist.
Christus selbst hat das zweifache Gebot der Liebe als die Grundlage des sittlichen Lebens bezeichnet. Von diesem Gebot aber »hängen das ganze Gesetz und die Propheten ab«.22 Es umfaßt also alle übrigen Einzelgebote. Dem jungen Mann, der ihn fragt: »Was muß ich tun, um das ewige Leben zu erlangen?« antwortet Jesus: »Wenn du in das Leben eingehen willst, halte die Gebote: ... Du sollst nicht töten, nicht ehebrechen, nicht stehlen, kein falsches Zeugnis geben; ehre Vater und Mutter und liebe deinen Nächsten wie dich selbst«.23
Der Mensch sündigt also nicht nur dann schwer, wenn seine Handlung aus der direkten Verachtung der Liebe Gottes und des Nächsten hervorgeht, sondern auch, wenn er bewußt und frei aus irgendeinem Grund sich für etwas entscheidet, was einen schweren Verstoß gegen die sittliche Ordnung darstellt. Wie schon oben erwähnt, ist in diese Entscheidung bereits die Verachtung des göttlichen Gebotes miteingeschlossen: Der Mensch wendet sich von Gott ab und geht seiner Liebe verlustig. Nach der christlichen Überlieferung und der Lehre der Kirche wie auch nach dem Zeugnis der gesunden Vernunft beinhaltet die sittliche Ordnung der Sexualität Werte von so großer Bedeutung für das menschliche Leben, daß jede direkte Verletzung dieser Ordnung objektiv schwerwiegend ist.24
Es ist wahr, daß es bei den geschlechtlichen Verfehlungen in Anbetracht ihrer Natur und ihrer Ursachen viel leichter eine Beeinträchtigung der völlig freien Zustimmung geben kann. Dies fordert dazu auf, mit Klugheit und Umsicht bei der Beurteilung der Verantwortlichkeit der jeweiligen Personen vorzugehen. Hier gilt es vor allem, sich das Schriftwort in Erinnerung zu bringen: »Der Mensch sieht das Äußere, Gott aber schaut in das Herz«.25 Wenn diese Klugheit in der Beurteilung der subjektiven Schwere einer sündhaften Handlung empfohlen wird, heißt das jedoch keineswags, daß man der Auffassung sein dürfe, im Bereich des Geschlechtlichen könnten keine schweren Sünden begangen werden.
Die Seelsorger müssen deshalb mit Geduld und Güte vorgehen. Doch ist es ihnen nicht gestattet, die Gebote Gottes auszuhöhlen noch die Verantwortlichkeit der Menschen über die Maßen einzuschränken: »Es ist eine hervorragende Form der Liebe zu den unsterblichen Seelen, wenn man in keiner Weise Abstriche an der heilsamen Lehre Christi macht. Dies jedoch muß immer von Geduld und Liebe begleitet sein, für die der Herr selbst in seinem Umgang mit den Menschen ein Beispiel gegeben hat. Er ist gekommen, nicht um zu richten, sondern um die Welt zu retten; er war unversöhnlich mit der Sünde, aber er war barmherzig mit dem Sünder«.26
Wie bereits oben gesagt worden ist, will die vorliegende Erklärung die Aufmerksamkeit der Gläubigen in der heutigen Situation auf gewisse Irrtümer und Verhaltensweisen hinlenken, vor denen sie sich in acht nehmen müssen. Die Tugend der Keuschheit beschränkt sich aber nicht nur auf die Vermeidung der erwähnten Verfehlungen. Sie verlangt vielmehr auch, daß gewisse positive und höhere Güter, die es zu erlangen gilt, vor Augen gestellt werden. Sie ist eine Tugend, die die ganze Persönlichkeit in ihrem inneren und äußeren Verhalten prägt.
Diese Tugend soll die Menschen in den verschiedenen Lebensständen auszeichnen: die einen im Stand der Jungfräulichkeit oder in der gottgeweihten Ehelosigkeit, einer hervorragenden Weise, sich leichter mit ungeteiltem Herzen allein Gott hinzugeben;27 die anderen, in der für alle vom Sittengesetz bestimmten Weise, je nachdem ob sie verheiratet oder unverheiratet sind. Jedenfalls bleibt die Keuschheit in keinem Lebensstand auf eine rein äußere Verhaltensweise beschränkt, sondern muß das Herz des Menschen reinhalten nach dem Worte Christi: »Ihr habt gehört, daß gesagt worden ist: Du sollst nicht die Ehe brechen. Ich aber sage euch: Wer eine Frau auch nur lüstern ansieht, hat in Gedanken schon Ehebruch mit ihr begangen«.28
Die Keuschheit ist in jener Enthaltsamkeit miteinbegriffen, die der hl. Paulus zu den Gaben des Heiligen Geistes rechnet, während er die Ausschweifung als ein für den Christen besonders unwürdiges Laster verurteilt, das ihn vom Himmelreich ausschließt.29 »Es ist der Wille Gottes, daß ihr heilig lebt. Meidet also die Unzucht; jeder von euch soll mit seiner Frau in heiliger und ehrfürchtiger Weise verkehren, nicht in leidenschaftlicher Begierde wie die Heiden, die Gott nicht kennen. Keiner überschreite seine Rechte und betrüge seinen Bruder im Handel... Denn Gott hat uns nicht dazu berufen, unrein zu leben, sondern heilig zu sein. Wer das verwirft, der verwirft also nicht Menschen, sondern Gott, der euch seinen Heiligen Geist schenkt«.30 »Von Unzucht aber und Schamlosigkeit jeder Art oder von Habsucht soll bei euch, wie es sich für Heilige gehört, nicht einmal die Rede sein. Auch Sittenlosigkeit, albernes und zweideutiges Geschwätz schickt sich nicht für euch, sondern Dankbarkeit. Denn das sollt ihr wissen: kein unzüchtiger, schamloser oder habsüchtiger Mensch d.h. kein Götzendiener erhält ein Erbteil im Reiche Christi und Gottes. Niemand täusche euch mit leeren Worten; dadurch kommt der Zorn Gottes über die Ungehorsamen. Habt darum nichts mit ihnen gemein! Denn einst wart ihr Finsternis, jetzt aber seid ihr durch den Herrn Licht geworden. Lebt als Kinder des Lichtes!«.31
Der Apostel nennt zudem ganz klar das eigentlich christliche Motiv für die Übung der Keuschheit, wenn er die Sünde der Unkeuschheit verurteilt nicht nur insofern diese Handlung dem Nächsten oder der sozialen Ordnung ein Unrecht zufügt, sondern weil der Unkeusche Christus beleidigt, der ihn mit seinem Blut erlöst hat, und ferner weil er Glied des Leibes Christi und Tempel des Heiligen Geistes ist: »Wißt ihr nicht, daß eure Leiber Glieder Christi sind? Darf ich nun die Glieder Christi nehmen und zu Gliedern einer Dirne machen? Auf keinen Fall! Hütet euch vor Unzucht! Jede andere Sünde, die der Mensch tut, bleibt außerhalb des Leibes; wer aber Unzucht treibt, sündigt gegen den eigenen Leib. Oder wißt ihr nicht, daß euer Leib ein Tempel des Heiligen Geistes ist, der in euch wohnt und den ihr von Gott habt? Ihr seid nicht euer Eigentum; denn für Lösegeld seid ihr freigekauft worden. Verherrlicht Gott in eurem Leib!«.32
Je mehr die Gläubigen den Wert der Keuschheit und ihrer notwendigen Funktion in ihrem Leben als Männer und Frauen erfassen, um so mehr werden sie sich durch eine Art geistiges Gespür dessen bewußt werden, was diese Tugend fordert und empfiehlt; auch werden sie es besser verstehen, anzunehmen und fügsam gegenüber der Lehre der Kirche auszuführen, was das rechte Gewissen ihnen in den konkreten Fällen befiehlt.
Mit bewegenden Worten beschreibt der Apostel Paulus den schmerzlichen Widerstreit, den der Mensch, Sklave der Sünde, in seinem Innern erfährt: zwischen dem »Gesetz seiner Vernunft« und einem anderen »Gesetz in seinen Gliedern«, das ihn gefangen hält.33 Doch kann der Mensch durch die Gnade Jesu Christi aus diesem »Todesleib« errettet werden.34 Diese Gnade wird jenen Menschen zuteil, die durch sie gerechtfertigt wurden und die das Gesetz des Geistes und des Lebens in Christus Jesus vom Gesetz der Sünde frei gemacht hat.35 So beschwört der Apostel diese Menschen: »Daher soll die Sünde euren sterblichen Leib nicht mehr beherrschen, und seinen Begierden sollt ihr nicht gehorchen«.36
Diese Befreiung, die uns befähigt, Gott in einem neuen Leben zu dienen, beseitigt weder die Begierde, die in der Erbsünde gründet, noch den Anreiz zum Bösen von einer Welt her, die »ganz vom Bösen beherrscht wird«.37 Deshalb ermahnt der Apostel die Gläubigen, die Versuchungen in der Kraft Gottes zu überwinden38 und »den Schlichen des Teufels zu widerstehen«39 durch den Glauben, durch unaufhörliches Gebet40 und durch Strenge gegenüber sich selbst im Leben, um den Leib dem Geist dienstbar zu machen.41
Das christliche Leben, das den Spuren Christi folgt, fordert, daß ein jeder »sich selbst verleugne und täglich sein Kreuz auf sich nehme«,42 getragen von der Hoffnung, daß es vergolten wird: »Wenn wir mit Christus gestorben sind, werden wir auch mit ihm leben; wenn wir standhaft bleiben, werden wir auch mit ihm herrschen«.43
Entsprechend diesen dringenden Ermahnungen müssen die Gläubigen auch in unserer Zeit, ja heute noch mehr als früher, zu jenen Mitteln greifen, welche die Kirche schon immer empfohlen hat, um ein keusches Leben zu führen: Zucht der Sinne und des Geistes, Wachsamkeit und Klugheit, um die Gelegenheiten zur Sünde zu vermeiden, Wahrung des Schamgefühls, Maß im Genuß, gesunde Beschäftigungen, eifriges Gebet und häufiger Empfang der Sakramente der Buße und der Eucharistie. Vor allem die Jugend soll die Verehrung der unbefleckt empfangenen Gottesmutter eifrig pflegen und sich ein Beispiel nehmen am Leben der Heiligen und der anderen Gläubigen, insbesondere jener Jugendlichen, die sich durch keusche Reinheit ausgezeichnet haben. Vor allem sollen alle die Tugend der Keuschheit und ihren strahlenden Glanz hochschätzen. Sie erhöht die Würde des Menschen und macht ihn fähig zu wahrer, hochherziger, selbstloser Liebe, die den anderen achtet.
Der Auftrag der Bischöfe ist es, den Gläubigen die sittliche Lehre über die Sexualität darzulegen, wie groß auch die Schwierigkeiten sein mögen, die sich aus den heute gängigen Denk- und Lebensgewohnheiten der Erfüllung dieser Aufgabe entgegenstellen. Die überlieferte Lehre muß vertieft und so dargelegt werden, daß die Gläubigen auf Grund einer entsprechenden Gewissensbildung mit den neu entstandenen Situationen fertig zu werden verstehen. Ferner soll sie behutsam auch das mitbeachten, was an Wahrem und Nützlichem über Sinn, Bedeutung und Macht der menschlichen Sexualität gesagt werden kann. Indes müssen die Prinzipien und Normen des sittlichen Lebens, die durch diese Erklärung neu bekräftigt wurden, treu beachtet und auch dargelegt werden. Vor allem wird man die Gläubigen davon überzeugen, daß die Kirche bei der Wahrung dieser Grundsätze nicht veralteten »Tabus« nachhängt oder, wie oft behauptet wird, dem Vorurteil des Manichäismus erliegt; sie weiß vielmehr mit Sicherheit, daß diese Grundsätze der göttlichen Schöpfungsordnung und dem Geist Christi und darum auch der Würde des Menschen entsprechen.
Aufgabe der Bischöfe ist es auch, darüber zu wachen, daß an den Theologischen Fakultäten und in den Seminaren im Licht des Glaubens und unter Führung des kirchlichen Lehramtes eine gesunde Lehre vorgetragen wird. Ebenso werden sie darum bemüht sein, daß das Gewissen der Beichtväter richtig gebildet ist und die katechetische Unterweisung so erfolgt, daß die katholische Lehre treu und unverkürzt weitergegeben wird.
Den Bischöfen, Priestern und ihren Mitarbeitern kommt es zu, die Gläubigen dazu anzuhalten, wachsam zu sein gegen irrige Ansichten, die oft in Büchern, Zeitschriften oder öffentlichen Vorträgen geäußert werden.
Vor allem die Eltern und Jugenderzieher werden sich bemühen, ihre Kinder und Schüler durch eine ganzheitliche Erziehung zu einer entsprechenden seelischen, affektiven und sittlichen Reife zu führen. Sie werden sie deshalb auch auf diesem Gebiet mit Klugheit und in einer dem Alter angemessenen Art unterweisen sowie beharrlich ihren Willen zu christlicher Lebensgestaltung heranbilden, nicht nur durch Ratschläge, sondern vor allem durch das Beispiel ihres eigenen Lebens, gestützt durch die Hilfe Gottes, die er ihnen auf ihr Gebet hin gewähren wird. Auch sollen sie die Jugend vor den vielen Gefahren schützen, von denen sie noch nicht die geringste Ahnung hat.
Die Künstler, Schriftsteller und jene, die im Bereich der sozialen Kommunikation tätig sind, müssen ihren Beruf in Übereinstimmung mit ihrem christlichen Glauben ausüben und sich des großen Einflusses bewußt sein, den sie auszuüben vermögen. Sie sollen bedenken, »daß der Vorrang der objektiven sittlichen Ordnung in allem und für alle gilt«44 und daß es ihnen nicht erlaubt ist, diese aus angeblichen ästhetischen oder aus wirtschaftlichen Gründen oder um des Erfolges willen hintanzusetzen. Mag es um Werke der Kunst oder Literatur, um Schauspiele oder um die Verbreitung von Nachrichten gehen: jeder muß auf seinem Gebiet Taktgefühl, Diskretion, Augenmaß und einen Sinn für die rechte Ordnung der Werte beweisen. Statt zur wachsenden Aufweichung der Sitten beizutragen, werden sie auf diese Weise helfen, dem Verfall Einhalt zu gebieten oder sogar das sittliche Klima in der menschlichen Gesellschaft zu verbessern.
Alle gläubigen Laien werden entsprechend ihren Rechten und Pflichten im Apostolat im gleichen Sinne ihren Beitrag leisten.
Schließlich seien alle an die Worte des Zweiten Vatikanischen Konzils erinnert: »Die Heilige Synode erklärt: Die Kinder und Heranwachsenden haben ein Recht darauf, angeleitet zu werden, die sittlichen Werte mit richtigem Gewissen zu schätzen und sie in personaler Bindung zu erfassen und Gott immer vollkommener zu erkennen und zu lieben. Daher richtet sie an alle Staatenlenker und Erzieher die dringende Bitte, dafür zu sorgen, daß die Jugend niemals dieses heiligen Rechtes beraubt werde«.45
Diese Erklärung zu einigen Fragen der Sexualethik hat Papst Paul VI. in der dem unterzeichnenden Präfekten der Kongregation für die Glaubenslehre am 7. November 1975 gewährten Audienz gebilligt und bekräftigt sowie deren Veröffentlichung angeordnet.
Gegeben zu Rom, bei der Kongregation für die Glaubenslehre, am 29. Dezember 1975.
Franjo Kard. Seper
P. Jérôme Hamer, O. P.
Titularerzbischof von Lorium
1 Vgl. II. Vat. Konzil, Konst. Gaudium et Spes, Nr. 47: AAS 58 (1966), S. 1067.
2 Vgl. Apost. Konst. Regimini Ecclesiae Universae, 15. August 1967, Nr. 29: AAS 59 (1967), S. 897.
3 Gaudium et Spes, Nr. 16: AAS 58 (1966), S. 1037.
4 Joh 8, 12.
5 II. Vat. Konzil, Erklärung Dignitatis Humanae, Nr. 3: AAS 58 (1966), S. 931.
6 1 Tim 3, 15.
7 Dignitatis Humanae, Nr. 14: AAS 58 (1966), S. 940; vgl. Pius XI., Enz. Casti Connubii, 31. Dez. 1930: AAS 22 (1930), S. 579-580; Pius XII., Ansprache vom 2. Nov. 1954: AAS 46 (1954), S. 671-672; Johannes XXIII., Enz. Mater et Magistra, 15. Mai 1961: AAS 53 (1961), S. 457; Paul VI., Enz. Humanae Vitae, 25. Juli 1968, Nr. 4: AAS 60 (1968), S. 483.
8 Vgl. II. Vat. Konzil, Erkl. Gravissimum Educationis, Nr. 1, 8: AAS 58 (1966), S. 729-730; 734-736; Gaudium et Spes, Nr. 29, 60, 67: AAS 58 (1966), S. 1048-1049; 1080-1081; 1088-1089.
9 Gaudium et Spes, Nr. 51: AAS 58 (1966), S. 1072.
10 Ebd., vgl. auch Nr. 49: a.a.O., S. 1069-1070.
11 Ebd., Nr. 49, 50: a.a.O., S. 1069-1072.
12 Die vorliegende Erklärung erörtert nicht weiter die sittlichen Normen des geschlechtlichen Lebens in der Ehe, da diese in den Enzykliken Casti Connubii und Humanae Vitae klar dargelegt worden sind.
13 Vgl. Mt 19, 4-6.
14 1 Kor 7, 9.
15 Vgl. Eph 5, 25-32.
16 Die geschlechtliche Vereinigung außerhalb der Ehe ist ausdrücklich verurteilt: 1 Kor 5, 1; 6, 9; 7, 2; 10, 8; Eph 5, 5; 1 Tim 1, 10; Hebr 13, 4; und mit ausdrücklicher Begründung: 1 Kor 6, 12-20.
17 Vgl. Innozenz IV., Brief Sub catholicae professione, 6. März 1254: DS 835; Pius II., verurteilte Thesen in dem Brief Cum sicut accepimus, 14. November 1459: DS 1367; Dekrete des Hl. Offiziums, 24. September 1665: DS 2045; 2 März 1679: DS 2148; Pius XI., Enz. Casti Connubii, 31. Dez. 1930: AAS 22 (1930), S. 558-559.
18 Röm 1, 24-27: »Darum lieferte Gott sie durch die Begierden ihres Herzens der Unreinheit aus, so daß sie ihren Leib durch ihr eigenes Tun entehrten: sie vertauschten die Wahrheit Gottes mit der Lüge, sie beteten das Geschöpf an und verehrten es anstelle des Schöpfers gepriesen ist er in Ewigkeit. Amen. Darum lieferte Gott sie entehrenden Leidenschaften aus: ihre Frauen vertauschten den natürlichen Verkehr mit dem widernatürlichen; ebenso gaben die Männer den natürlichen Verkehr mit der Frau auf und entbrannten in Begierde zueinander; Männer trieben mit Männern Unzucht und erhielten den gebührenden Lohn für ihre Verirrung«. Vgl. auch, was der hl. Paulus über die Knabenschänder in 1 Kor 6, 10 und 1 Tim 1, 10 sagt.
19 Vgl. Leo IX., Brief Ad splendidum nitentis, 1054; DS 687-688; Dekret des Hl. Offiziums, 2. März 1679; DS 2149; Pius XII., Ansprache vom 8. Okt. 1953: AAS 45 (1953), S. 677-678; vom 19. Mai 1956: AAS 48 (1956), S. 472-473.
20 Gaudium et Spes, Nr. 51: AAS 58 (1966), S. 1072.
21 »Wenn die soziologischen Untersuchungen für uns von Nutzen sind, um die Mentalität unserer Umgebung besser kennenzulernen, die Sorgen und Nöte jener, an die wir das Wort Gottes richten, wie auch die Widerstände, die die menschliche Vernunft unserer modernen Zeit ihm entgegenhält durch die weitverbreitete Auffassung, daß es außerhalb der Wissenschaft keine berechtigte Form des Wissens gebe, so dürften die Schlußfolgerungen solcher Untersuchungen in sich selbst kein entscheidendes Wahrheitskriterium darstellen«: Paul VI., Apost. Schreiben Quinque iam anni, 8. Dez. 1970: AAS 63 (1971), S. 102.
22 Mt 22, 40.
23 Mt 19, 16-19.
24 Vgl. oben Anmerkungen 17 und 19; Dekret des Hl. Offiziums vom 18. März 1666: DS 2060; Paul VI., Enz. Humanae Vitae, Nr. 13, 14: AAS 60 (1968), S. 489-496.
25 1 Sam 16, 7.
26 Paul VI., Enz. Humanae Vitae, Nr. 29: AAS 60 (1968), S. 501.
27 Vgl. 1 Kor 7, 7. 34; Konz. von Trient, Sess. XXIV., can. 10: DS 1810; II. Vat. Konz., Konst. Lumen Gentium, Nr. 42, 43, 44: AAS 51 (1965), S. 47-51; Bischofssynode, De sacerdotio ministeriali, 2. Teil, 4 b: AAS 63 (1971), S. 915-916.
28 Mt 5, 28.
29 Vgl. Gal 5, 19-23; 1 Kor 6, 9-11.
30 1 Thess 4, 3-8; vgl. Kol 3, 5-7; 1 Tim 1, 10.
31 Eph 5, 3-8; vgl. 4, 18-19.
32 1 Kor 6, 15. 18-20.
33 Vgl. Röm 7, 23.
34 Vgl. Röm 7, 24-25.
35 Vgl. Röm 8, 2.
36 Röm 6, 12.
37 1 Joh 5, 19.
38 Vgl. 1 Kor 10, 13.
39 Eph 6, 11.
40 Vgl. Eph 6, 16, 18.
41 Vgl. 1 Kor 9, 27.
42 Lk 9, 23.
43 2 Tim 2, 11-12.
44 II. Vat. Konzil, Dekr. Inter Mirifica, Nr. 6: AAS 56 (1964), S. 147.
45 Gravissimum Educationis, Nr. 1: AAS 58 (1966), S. 730.
NOTIFICATION ON THE BOOK JUST LOVE. A FRAMEWORK FOR CHRISTIAN SEXUAL ETHICS
CONGREGATION FOR THE DOCTRINE OF THE FAITH
NOTIFICATION ON THE BOOK JUST LOVE. A FRAMEWORK FOR CHRISTIAN SEXUAL ETHICS BY SR. MARGARET A. FARLEY, R.S.M.
Having completed an initial examination of the book Just Love. A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics (New York: Continuum, 2006) by Sr. Margaret A. Farley, R.S.M., the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith wrote to the author on March 29, 2010, through the good offices of Sr. Mary Waskowiak the then President of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas enclosing a preliminary evaluation of the book and indicating the doctrinal problems present in the text. The response of Sr. Farley, dated October 28, 2010, did not clarify these problems in a satisfactory manner. Because the matter concerned doctrinal errors present in a book whose publication has been a cause of confusion among the faithful, the Congregation decided to undertake an examination following the procedure for "Examination in cases of urgency" contained in the Congregations Regulations for Doctrinal Examinations (cf. Chap. IV, art. 23-27).
Following an evaluation by a Commission of experts (cf. art. 24), the Ordinary Session of the Congregation confirmed on June 8, 2011, that the above-mentioned book contained erroneous propositions, the dissemination of which risks grave harm to the faithful. On July 5, 2011, a letter was sent to Sr. Waskowiak containing a list of these erroneous propositions and asking her to invite Sr. Farley to correct the unacceptable theses contained in her book (cf. art. 25-26).
On October 3, 2011, Sr. Patricia McDermott, who in the meantime had succeeded Sr. Mary Waskowiak as President of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, forwarded to the Congregation in accordance with art. 27 of the above cited Regulations the response of Sr. Farley, together with her own opinion and that of Sr. Waskowiak. This response, having been examined by the Commission of experts, was submitted to the Ordinary Session for judgement on December 14, 2011. On this occasion, the Members of the Congregation, considering that Sr. Farleys response did not adequately clarify the grave problems contained in her book, decided to proceed with the publication of this Notification.
1. General problems
The author does not present a correct understanding of the role of the Churchs Magisterium as the teaching authority of the Bishops united with the Successor of Peter, which guides the Churchs ever deeper understanding of the Word of God as found in Holy Scripture and handed on faithfully in the Churchs living tradition. In addressing various moral issues, Sr. Farley either ignores the constant teaching of the Magisterium or, where it is occasionally mentioned, treats it as one opinion among others. Such an attitude is in no way justified, even within the ecumenical perspective that she wishes to promote. Sr. Farley also manifests a defective understanding of the objective nature of the natural moral law, choosing instead to argue on the basis of conclusions selected from certain philosophical currents or from her own understanding of "contemporary experience". This approach is not consistent with authentic Catholic theology.
2. Specific problems
Among the many errors and ambiguities of this book are its positions on masturbation, homosexual acts, homosexual unions, the indissolubility of marriage and the problem of divorce and remarriage.
Sr. Farley writes: "Masturbation usually does not raise any moral questions at all. It is surely the case that many women have found great good in self-pleasuring perhaps especially in the discovery of their own possibilities for pleasure something many had not experienced or even known about in their ordinary sexual relations with husbands or lovers. In this way, it could be said that masturbation actually serves relationships rather than hindering them. My final observation is, then, that the norms of justice as I have presented them would seem to apply to the choice of sexual self-pleasuring only insofar as this activity may help or harm, only insofar as it supports or limits, well-being and liberty of spirit. This remains largely an empirical question, not a moral one" (p. 236).
This statement does not conform to Catholic teaching: "Both the Magisterium of the Church, in the course of a constant tradition, and the moral sense of the faithful have been in no doubt and have firmly maintained that masturbation is an intrinsically and gravely disordered action. The deliberate use of the sexual faculty, for whatever reason, outside of marriage is essentially contrary to its purpose. For here sexual pleasure is sought outside of the sexual relationship which is demanded by the moral order and in which the total meaning of mutual self-giving and human procreation in the context of true love is achieved. To form an equitable judgment about the subjects moral responsibility and to guide pastoral action, one must take into account the affective immaturity, force of acquired habit, conditions of anxiety, or other psychological or social factors that lessen or even extenuate moral culpability".
Sr. Farley writes: "My own view is that same-sex relationships and activities can be justified according to the same sexual ethic as heterosexual relationships and activities. Therefore, same-sex oriented persons as well as their activities can and should be respected whether or not they have a choice to be otherwise" (p. 295).
This opinion is not acceptable. The Catholic Church, in fact, distinguishes between persons with homosexual tendencies and homosexual acts. Concerning persons with homosexual tendencies, the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that "they must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided". Concerning homosexual acts, however, the Catechism affirms: "Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered. They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved".
Sr. Farley writes: "Legislation for nondiscrimination against homosexuals, but also for domestic partnerships, civil unions, and gay marriage, can also be important in transforming the hatred, rejection, and stigmatization of gays and lesbians that is still being reinforced by teachings of unnatural sex, disordered desire, and dangerous love. Presently one of the most urgent issues before the U.S. public is marriage for same-sex partners that is, the granting of social recognition and legal standing to unions between lesbians and gays comparable to unions between heterosexuals" (p. 293).
This position is opposed to the teaching of the Magisterium: "The Church teaches that the respect for homosexual persons cannot lead in any way to approval of homosexual behavior or to legal recognition of homosexual unions. The common good requires that laws recognize, promote and protect marriage as the basis of the family, the primary unit of society. Legal recognition of homosexual unions or placing them on the same level as marriage would mean not only the approval of deviant behavior, with the consequence of making it a model in present-day society, but would also obscure basic values which belong to the common inheritance of humanity. The Church cannot fail to defend these values, for the good of men and women and for the good of society itself". "The principles of respect and non-discrimination cannot be invoked to support legal recognition of homosexual unions. Differentiating between persons or refusing social recognition or benefits is unacceptable only when it is contrary to justice. The denial of the social and legal status of marriage to forms of cohabitation that are not and cannot be marital is not opposed to justice; on the contrary, justice requires it".
Indissolubility of marriage
Sr. Farley writes: "My own position is that a marriage commitment is subject to release on the same ultimate grounds that any extremely serious, nearly unconditional, permanent commitment may cease to bind. This implies that there can indeed be situations in which too much has changed one or both partners have changed, the relationship has changed, the original reason for commitment seems altogether gone. The point of a permanent commitment, of course, is to bind those who make it in spite of any changes that may come. But can it always hold? Can it hold absolutely, in the face of radical and unexpected change? My answer: sometimes it cannot. Sometimes the obligation must be released, and the commitment can be justifiably changed" (pp. 304-305).
This opinion is in contradiction to Catholic teaching on the indissolubility of marriage: "By its very nature conjugal love requires the inviolable fidelity of the spouses. This is the consequence of the gift of themselves which they make to each other. Love seeks to be definitive; it cannot be an arrangement until further notice. The intimate union of marriage, as a mutual giving of two persons, and the good of the children, demand total fidelity from the spouses and require an unbreakable union between them. The deepest reason is found in the fidelity of God to his covenant, in that of Christ to his Church. Through the sacrament of Matrimony the spouses are enabled to represent this fidelity and witness to it. Through the sacrament, the indissolubility of marriage receives a new and deeper meaning. The Lord Jesus insisted on the original intention of the Creator who willed that marriage be indissoluble. He abrogates the accommodations that had slipped into the old Law. Between the baptized, a ratified and consummated marriage cannot be dissolved by any human power or for any reason other than death".
Divorce and remarriage
Sr. Farley writes: "If the marriage resulted in children, former spouses will be held together for years, perhaps a lifetime, in the ongoing project of parenting. In any case, the lives of two persons once married to one another are forever qualified by the experience of that marriage. The depth of what remains admits of degrees, but something remains. But does what remains disallow a second marriage? My own view is that it does not. Whatever ongoing obligation a residual bond entails, it need not include a prohibition of remarriage any more than the ongoing union between spouses after one of them has died prohibits a second marriage on the part of the one who still lives" (p. 310).
This view contradicts Catholic teaching that excludes the possibility of remarriage after divorce: "Today there are numerous Catholics in many countries who have recourse to civil divorce and contract new civil unions. In fidelity to the words of Jesus Christ Whoever divorces his wife and marries another, commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery (Mk 10:11-12) , the Church maintains that a new union cannot be recognized as valid, if the first marriage was. If the divorced are remarried civilly, they find themselves in a situation that objectively contravenes God's law. Consequently, they cannot receive Eucharistic communion as long as this situation persists. For the same reason, they cannot exercise certain ecclesial responsibilities. Reconciliation through the sacrament of Penance can be granted only to those who have repented for having violated the sign of the covenant and of fidelity to Christ, and who are committed to living in complete continence".
With this Notification, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith expresses profound regret that a member of an Institute of Consecrated Life, Sr. Margaret A. Farley, R.S.M., affirms positions that are in direct contradiction with Catholic teaching in the field of sexual morality. The Congregation warns the faithful that her book Just Love. A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics is not in conformity with the teaching of the Church. Consequently it cannot be used as a valid expression of Catholic teaching, either in counseling and formation, or in ecumenical and interreligious dialogue. Furthermore the Congregation wishes to encourage theologians to pursue the task of studying and teaching moral theology in full concord with the principles of Catholic doctrine.
The Sovereign Pontiff Benedict XVI, in the Audience granted to the undersigned Cardinal Prefect on March 16, 2012, approved the present Notification, adopted in the Ordinary Session of this Congregation on March 14, 2012, and ordered its publication.
Rome, from the Offices of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, March 30, 2012.
William Cardinal Levada
+ Luis F. Ladaria, S.I.
Titular Archbishop of Thibica
 Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 2352; cf; CONGREGATION FOR THE DOCTRINE OF THE FAITH, Declaration Persona humana on Certain Questions Concerning Sexual Ethics (December 29, 1975), n. 9: AAS 68 (1976), 85-87.
 Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 2358.
 Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 2357; cf. Gn 19:1-29; Rm 1:24-27; I Cor 6:10; 1 Tm 1:10; CONGREGATION FOR THE DOCTRINE OF THE FAITH, Declaration Persona humana, n. 8: AAS 68 (1976), 84-85; ID., Letter Homosexualitatis problema on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons (October 1, 1986): AAS 70 (1987), 543-554.
 CONGREGATION FOR THE DOCTRINE OF THE FAITH, Considerations regarding proposals to give legal recognition to unions between homosexual persons (June 3, 2003), n. 11: AAS 96 (2004), 48.
 Ibid., n. 8: AAS 96 (2004), 46-47.
 Catechism of the Catholic Church, nn. 1646-1647, 2382; cf. Mt 5:31-32; 19:3-9; Mk 10:9; Lk 16:18; I Cor 7:10-11; SECOND ECUMENICAL VATICAN COUNCIL, Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et spes on the Church in the Modern World, nn. 48-49; Code of Canon Law, can. 1141; JOHN PAUL II, Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris consortio on the Role of the Christian Family in the Modern World (November 22, 1981), n. 13: AAS 74 (1982), 93-96.
 Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 1650; cf. JOHN PAUL II, Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris consortio, n. 84: AAS 74 (1982), 184-186; CONGREGATION FOR THE DOCTRINE OF THE FAITH, Letter Annus Internationalis Familiae Concerning the Reception of Holy Communion by the Divorced and Remarried Members of the Faithful (September 14, 1994): AAS 86 (1994), 974-979.
EDUCATIONAL GUIDANCE IN HUMAN LOVE
SACRED CONGREGATION FOR CATHOLIC EDUCATION
EDUCATIONAL GUIDANCE IN HUMAN LOVE
Outlines for sex education
1. The harmonious development of the human person progressively reveals in each of us the image of a child of God. " True education aims at the formation of the human person with respect to his ultimate goal ".(1) Treating christian education, Vatican Council II drew attention to the necessity of offering " a positive and prudent sex education " to children and youth.(2)
The Congregation for Catholic Education, within the sphere of its competence, considers it proper to make its contribution for the application of the Conciliar Declarations, as some Episcopal Conferences have done already.
2. This document, drawn up with the help of educational experts and submitted to wide consultation, sets itself a precise objective: to examine the pedagogic aspect of sex education, indicating appropriate guidelines for the integral formation of a christian, according to the vocation of each.
Also, though it does not make explicit citations at every turn, it always presupposes the doctrinal principles and moral norms pertaining to the matter as proposed by the Magisterium.
3. The Congregation for Catholic Education is aware of the cultural and social differences existing in different countries. These guidelines, therefore, should be adapted by the respective Episcopates to the pastoral necessities of each local Church.
SIGNIFICANCE OF SEXUALITY
4. Sexuality is a fundamental component of personality, one of its modes of being, of manifestation, of communicating with others, of feeling, of expressing and of living human love. Therefore it is an integral part of the development of the personality and of its educative process: " It is, in fact, from sex that the human person receives the characteristics which, on the biological, psychological and spiritual levels, make that person a man or a woman, and thereby largely condition his or her progress towards maturity and insertion into society ".(3)
5. Sexuality characterises man and woman not only on the physical level, but also on the psychological and spiritual, making its mark on each of their expressions. Such diversity, linked to the complementarity of the two sexes, allows thorough response to the design of God according to the vocation to which each one is called.
Sexual intercourse, ordained towards procreation, is the maximum expression on the physical level of the communion of love of the married. Divorced from this context of reciprocal gift - a reality which the christian enjoys, sustained and enriched in a particular way by the grace of God it loses its significance, exposes the selfishness of the individual, and is a moral disorder.(4)
6. Sexuality, oriented, elevated and integrated by love acquires truly human quality. Prepared by biological and psychological development, it grows harmoniously and is achieved in the full sense only with the realisation of affective maturity, which manifests itself in unselfish love and in the total gift of self.
THE ACTUAL SITUATION
7. One can see - among christians, too - that there are notable differences with regard to sex education. In today's climate of moral disorientation a danger arises, whether of a harmful conformism or prejudice which falsifies the intimate nature of being human, ushered whole from the hands of the Creator.
8. In order to respond to such a situation one looks for a suitable sex education from every source. But if the conviction of its necessity is fairly widely held in theory, in practice there remain uncertainties and significant differences, either with regard to the persons and institutions who must assume the educational responsibility, or in connection with , the contents and methodologies.
9. Educators and parents are often aware of not being sufficiently prepared to impart adequate sex education. The school is not always in a position to offer that integral vision of the matter which would remain incomplete with the scientific information alone.
10. Particular difficulties are found in those countries where the urgency of the problem is not recognised, or where perhaps it is thought that it resolves itself without specific education.
11. In general, there is need to recognise that one treats of a difficult undertaking by reason of the complexity of the diverse elements (physical, psychological, pedagogic, socio-cultural, juridical, moral and religious) which come together in educational action.
12. Some catholic organisations in different parts - with the approval and encouragement of the local Episcopate - have begun to carry out a positive work of sex education; it is directed not only to help children and adolescents on the way to psychological and spiritual maturity, but also and above all to protect them from the dangers of ignorance and widespread degradation.
13. Also praiseworthy are the efforts of many who, with scientific seriousness, dedicate themselves to study the problem, moving from the human sciences and integrating the results of such research in a project which conforms with human dignity, a project by the light of the Gospel.
DECLARATIONS OF THE MAGISTERIUM
14. The Magisterium's declarations on sex education mark out a course which satisfies the just requirements of history on the one hand and fidelity to tradition on the other.(5)
Vatican Council II in the " Declaration on Christian Education " presents the perspective in which sex education must be set,(6) affirming the right of young people to receive an education adequate to their personal requirements.
The Council states: " With the help of advances in psychology and in the art and science of teaching, children and young people should be assisted in the harmonious development of their physical, moral and intellectual endowments. Surmounting hardships with a gallant and steady heart, they should be helped to acquire gradually a more mature sense of responsibility towards ennobling their own lives through constant effort, and toward pursuing authentic freedom. As they advance in years they should be given positive and prudent sex education ".(7)
15. The Pastoral Constitution " Gaudium et spes ", in speaking of the dignity of marriage and the family presents the latter as the preferential place for the education of young people in chastity.(8) But since this is an aspect of education as a whole, the co-operation of teachers with parents is needed in the accomplishment of their mission.(9) Such education, therefore, must be offered within the family to children and adolescents in a gradual manner, always considering the total formation of the person (10)
16. In the Apostolic Exhortation on the mission of the christian family in the world as it is, John Paul II reserves an important place to sex education as valuable to the person. " Education to love as self giving, says the Holy Father, also constitutes the indispensable premise for parents called to offer their children a clear and delicate sex education. Faced with a culture which largely reduces human sexuality to the level of something commonplace, since it interprets and lives it in a reductive and impoverished way by linking it solely with the body and with selfish pleasure, the educational service of parents must aim firmly at a training in the area of sex that is truly and fully personal: for sexuality is an enrichment of the whole person - body, emotions and soul - and manifests its inmost meaning in leading the person to the gift of self in love ".(11)
17. The Holy Father immediately goes on to speak of the school, which is responsible for this education in service of and in harmony with parents. " Sex education, which is a basic right and duty of parents, must also be carried out under their attentive guidance, whether at home or in educational centres chosen and controlled by them. In this regard, the Church reaffirms the law of subsidiarity, which the school is bound to observe when it cooperates in sex education, by entering into the same spirit that animates the parents ".(12)
In order for the value of sexuality to reach its full realisation, " education for chastity is absolutely essential, for it is a virtue that develops a person's authentic maturity and makes him or her capable of respecting and fostering the "nuptial meaning " of the body ".(13) It consists in self control, in the capacity of guiding the sexual instinct to the service of love and of integrating it in the development of the person. Fruit of the grace of God and of our cooperation, chastity tends to harmonise the different components of the human person, and to overcome the frailty of human nature, marked by sin, so that each person can follow the vocation to which God has called.
In the commitment to an enlightened education in chastity, "Christian parents, discerning the signs of God's call, will devote special attention and care to education in virginity or celibacy as the supreme form of that self giving that constitutes the very meaning of human sexuality " (14)
19. In the teaching of John Paul II, the positive consideration of values, which one ought to discover and appreciate, precedes the norm which one must not violate. This norm, nevertheless, interprets and formulates the values for which people must strive.
" In view of the close links between the sexual dimension of the person and his or her ethical values, education must bring the children to a knowledge of and respect for the moral norms as the necessary and highly valuable guarantee for responsible personal growth in human sexuality. For this reason the Church is firmly opposed to an often widespread form of imparting sex information dissociated from moral principles. That would merely be an introduction to the experience of pleasure and a stimulus leading to the loss of serenity - while still in the years of innocence - by opening the way to vice ".(15)
20. This document, therefore, starting from the christian vision of man and woman and appealing to the principles enunciated recently by the Magisterium, desires to present to educators some fundamental guidelines for sex education and for the conditions and mode of presenting it at the operative level.
SOME FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLES
21. Every type of education is inspired by a specific conception of man and woman. Christian education aims to promote the realisation of man and woman through the development of all their being, incarnate spirits, and of the gifts of nature and of grace by which they are enriched by God. Christian education is rooted in the faith which " throws a new light on all things and makes known the full ideal which God has set for man ".(16)
CHRISTIAN CONCEPT OF SEXUALITY
22. In the christian vision of man and woman, a particular function of the body is recognised, because it contributes to the revealing of the meaning of life and of the human vocation. Corporeality is, in fact, a specific mode of existing and operating proper to the human spirit: This significance is first of all of an anthropological nature: the body reveals man,(17) " expresses the person " (18) and is therefore the first message of God to the same man and woman, almost a species of " primordial sacrament, understood as a sign which efficaciously transmits in the visible world the invisible mystery hidden in God from all eternity " .(19)
23. There is a second significance of a theological nature: the body contributes to revealing God and his creative love, in as much as it manifests the creatureliness of man and woman, whose dependence bestows a fundamental gift, which is the gift of love. " This is the body: a witness to creation as a fundamental gift, and so a witness to love as the source from which this same giving springs ".(20)
24. The body, in as much as it is sexual, expresses the vocation of man and woman to reciprocity, which is to love and to the mutual gift of self.(21) The body, in short, calls man and woman to the constitutive vocation to fecundity as one of the fundamental meanings of their being sexual.(22)
25. The sexual distinction, which appears as a determination of human being, is diversity, but in equality of nature and dignity.(23)
The human person, through his or her intimate nature, exists in relation to others, implying a reciprocity of love. The sexes are complementary: similar and dissimilar at the same time; not identical, the same, though, in dignity of person; they are peers so that they may mutually understand each other, diverse in their reciprocal completion.
26. Man and woman constitute two modes of realising, on the part of the human creature, a determined participation in the Divine Being: they are created in the " image and likeness of God " and they fully accomplish such vocation not only as single persons, but also as couples, which are communities of love.(25) Oriented to unity and fecundity, the married man and woman participate in the creative love of God, living in communion with Him through the other.(26)
27 The presence of sin obscures original innocence, rendering less easy to man and woman the perception of these truths: their decipherment has become an ethical task, the object of a difficult engagement entrusted to man and woman: " After original sin the man and the woman will lose the grace of original innocence. The discovery of the nuptial meaning of the body will cease to be for them a simple reality of revelation and of grace. This meaning will remain as a commitment given to man by the ethos of the gift, inscribed in the depths of the human heart, as a distant echo of original innocence "(27)
Faced with this capacity of the body to be at the same time sign and instrument of ethical vocation, one can establish an analogy between the body itself and sacramental economy, which is the concrete means through which grace and salvation reach us.
28. Since men and women in their time have been inclined to reduce sexuality to genital experience alone, there have been reactions tending to devalue sex, as though by its nature men and women were defiled by it. These present guidelines intend to oppose such devaluation.
29. " It is only in the Mystery of the Word made flesh that the mystery of man truly becomes clear",(28) and human existence acquires its full meaning in the vocation to the divine life. Only by following Christ does man respond to this vocation and become so fully man, growing finally to reach the perfect man in the measure approaching the full maturity of Christ.(29)
30. In the light of the Mystery of Christ, sexuality appears to us as a vocation to realise that love which the Holy Spirit instills in the hearts of the redeemed. Jesus Christ has enriched such vocation with the Sacrament of Marriage.
31. Furthermore, Jesus has pointed out by word and example the vocation to virginity for the sake of the kingdom of heaven.(30) Virginity is a vocation to love: it renders the heart more free to love God.(31) Free of the duties of conjugal love, the virgin heart can feel, therefore, more disposed to the gratuitous love of one's brothers and sisters.
In consequence, virginity for the sake of the kingdom of heaven better expresses the gift of Christ to the Father on behalf of us and prefigures with greater precision the reality of eternal life, all substantiated in charity.(32)
Virginity, certainly is a renunciation of the form of love which typifies marriage, but committed to undertaking in greater profundity the dynamism, inherent in sexuality, of self-giving openness to others. It seeks to obtain its strengthening and transfiguring by the presence of the Spirit, who teaches us to love the Father and the brethren, after the example of the Lord Jesus.
32. In synthesis, sexuality is called to express different values to which specific moral exigencies correspond. Oriented towards interpersonal dialogue, it contributes to the integral maturation of people, opening them to the gift of self in love; furthermore, tied to the order of creation, to fecundity and to the transmission of life, it is called to be faithful to this inner purpose also. Love and fecundity are meanings and values of sexuality which include and summons each other in turn, and cannot therefore be considered as either alternatives or opposites.
33. The affective life, proper to each sex, expresses itself in a characteristic mode in the different states of life: conjugal union, consecrated celibacy chosen for the sake of the kingdom, the condition of the christian who has not yet reached marriage, or who remains celibate, or who has chosen to remain such. In all these cases the affective life must be gathered and integrated in the human person.
NATURE, PURPOSE AND MEANS OF SEX EDUCATION
34. A fundamental objective of this education is an adequate knowledge of the nature and importance of sexuality and of the harmonious and integral development of the person towards psychological maturity, with full spiritual maturity in view, to which all believers are called.(33)
To this end, the christian educator will remember the principles of faith and the different methods of educational aid, taking account of the positive evaluation which actual pedagogy makes of sexuality.
35. In the christian anthropological perspective, affective-sex education must consider the totality of the person and insist therefore on the integration of the biological, psycho-affective, social and spiritual elements. This integration has become more difficult because the believer also bears the consequences of sin from the beginning.
A true " formation ", is not limited to the informing of the intellect, but must pay particular attention to the will, to feelings and emotions. In fact, in order to move to maturation in affective-sexual life, self control is necessary, which presupposes such virtues as modesty, temperance, respect for self and for others, openness to one's neighbour.
All this is not possible if not in the power of the salvation which comes from Jesus Christ.
36. Also, if the modes are diverse which sexuality assumes in single people, education must first of all promote that mafiurity which " entails not only accepting sex as part of the totality of human values, but also seeing it as giving a possibility for " offering ", that is, a capacity for giving pure love, altruistic love. When such a capacity is sufficiently acquired, an individual becomes capable of spontaneous contacts, emotional self control and commitment of his free will ".(34)
37. Contemporary pedagogy of christian inspiration sees in the person being educated, considered in all his or her totality and complexity, the principle subject of education. He or she must be helped to develop capacities for good, above all in a trustworthy relationship. This is very easily forgotten when excessive weight is given to simple information, at the expense of other dimensions of sex education. In education, in fact, a knowledge of new notions is of utmost importance, but enlivened by the assimilation of corresponding values and by a lively grasp of understanding of the personal responsibilities associated with entry into adulthood.
38. Given the repercussions which sexuality has in the whole person, it is necessary that multiple aspects be kept in mind: conditions of health, the influence of the family and the social environment, impressions received and the reactions, of the pupil, education of the will, and the degree of development of spiritual life sustained with the help of grace.
39. All that has been stated so far serves educators in helping and guiding the formation of personality in the young. They must stimulate them to a critical reflection on received impressions, and, while they propose values, must give testimony of an authentic spiritual life, both personal and communal.
40. Having seen the close links existing between morality and sexuality, it is necessary that the knowledge of moral norms be accompained by clear motivation, so as to bring a sincere personal adherence to maturity.
41. Contemporary pedagogy has full consciousness of the fact that human life is characterised by a constant evolution and that personal formation is a permanent process. This is also according to age true for sexuality, which expresses itself with particular characteristics in the different phases of life. It evidently brings riches and notable difficulties at every stage of maturation.
42. Educators will have to bear in mind the fundamental stages of such evolution: the primitive instinct, which in the beginning is manifested in a rudimentary state, meets in its turn the ambivalence of good and evil. Then with the help of education, the feelings are stabilised and at the same time augment the sense of responsibility. Gradually selfishness is eliminated, a certain asceticism is stabilised, others are accepted and loved for themselves, the elements of sexuality are integrated: genitality, eroticism, love and charity. Also if the result is not always fully attained, they are more numerous than may be thought who come near the goal to which they aspire.
43. Christian educators are persuaded that sex education is realised in full in the context of faith. Incorporated by Baptism into the Risen Christ, the christian knows that his or her body, too, has been vivified and purified by the Spirit which Jesus communicates.(35)
Faith in the mystery of the Risen Christ, which through his Spirit actualises and prolongs in the faithful the paschal mystery, uncovers in the believer the vocation to the resurrection of the flesh, already begun thanks to the Spirit who dwells in the just as pledge and seed of the total and definitive resurrection.
44. The disorder provoked by sin, present and operating in the individual as well as in the culture which characterises society, exercises a strong pressure to conceive and live sexuality in a manner opposed to the law of Christ, according to that which St. Paul called the law of sin.(36) At times, economic structures, state laws, mass media and systems of life in the great metropoloi are factors which negatively impinge on people. Christian education takes note of this and indicates guidelines for responsibly opposing such influences.
45. This constant endeavour is sustained and rendered possible by divine grace through the Word of God received in faith, through prayer and through participation in the sacraments. In first place is the Eucharist, communion with Christ in the same act as his sacrifice, where effectively the young believer finds the bread of life as viaticum in order to face and overcome the obstacles on his or her earthly pilgrimage. The Sacrament of Reconciliation, through the grace that is proper to it and with the help of spiritual direction, not only reinforces the capacity for resistance to evil but also gives the courage to pick oneself up after a fall.
These sacraments are offered and celebrated in the ecclesial community. Those who are vitally involved in such community draw from the sacraments the strength to realise a chaste life, according to their state.
46 Personal and community prayer is the indispensable means for obtaining from God the necessary strength to keep faith with one's baptismal obligations, for resisting the impulses of human nature wounded by sin, and for balancing the emotions provoked by negative influences in the environment.
The spirit of prayer helps us to live coherently the practice of the evangelical virtues of faithfulness and sincerity of heart, of poverty and humility in the daily effort of work and of commitment to one's neighbour. The interior life gives rise to christian joy which wins the battle against evil, beyond every moralism and pyschological aid.
From frequent and intimate contact with the Lord, everyone, especially the young, will derive the strength and enthusiasm for a pure life and they will realise their human and christian vocation in peaceful self control and in generous giving to others.
The importance of these considerations can escape noone. Today, in fact, many people, implicitly or explicitly, hold a pessimistic interpretation of the capacity of human nature to accomplish a life-long commitment, especially in marriage. Christian education should raise the confidence of the young so that their understanding of and preparation for life-long commitment be secured with the certainty that God will help them with His grace to accomplish His purposes.
47. Imitation of and union with Christ, lived and handed on by the saints, are the most profound motivation for our hope of realising the highest ideal of a chaste life, unattainable by human effort alone.
The Virgin Mary is the eminent example of christian life. The Church, through centuries of experience is convinced that the faithful, especially the young, by devotion to her, have known how to realise this ideal.
RESPONSIBILITY IN PUTTING SEX EDUCATION
FUNCTION OF THE FAMILY
48. Education, in the first place, is the duty of the family, which " is the school of richest humanity".(37) It is, in fact, the best environment to accomplish the obligation of securing a gradual education in sexual life. The family has an affective dignity which is suited to making acceptable without trauma the most delicate realities and to integrating them harmoniously, in a balanced and rich personality.
49. The affection and reciprocal trust which exist in the family are necessary for the harmonious and balanced development of the child right from birth. So that the affective natural bonds which unite parents to children be positive in the highest degree, parents are in pride of place in realising a peaceful sexual balance, and in establishing a relationship of trust and of dialogue with their, children in a manner appropriate to their age and development.
50. In order to be able to give efficacious guidance, which is necessary for resolving the problems which arise, prior to any theoretical knowledge, adults are to be exemplary in their conduct. Christian parents must know that their example represents the most valid contribution in the education of their children. These, in their turn, can come to certainty that the christian ideal is a reality experienced within the family itself.
51. Openness and collaboration of parents with other educators who are co-responsible for formation, will positively influence the maturation of young people. The theoretical preparation and the experience of parents will help their children to understand the value and specific role of the reality of man and woman.
52 The full realisation of conjugal life and, in consequence, the sanctity and stability of the family, depend on the formation of conscience and on values assimilated during the whole formative cycle of the parents themselves. Moral values seen in the family are transmitted to the children more easily.(38) Among these moral values, respect for life in the womb and, in general, respect for people of every age and condition have great importance. The young must be helped to understand, appreciate and respect these fundamental values of existence.
In view of the importance of these elements for christian life, and also in the perspective of a divine call to the children to the priesthood or consecrated life, sex education acquires an ecclesial dimension.
THE ECCLESIAL COMMUNITY
53. The Church, mother of the faithful born of her to the faith in Baptism, has an educative mission entrusted by Christ, which is realised especially through proclamation, full communion with God and one's fellows, conscientious and active participation in the eucharistic liturgy and through apostolic activity.(39) By being open to life the ecclesial community constitutes an environment adequate to the assimilation of the christian ethic in which the faithful learn to witness to the Good News.
54. The difficulties which sex education often encounters within the bosom of the family solicit a major commitment on the part of the christian community and, in particular, of priests to collaborate in the education of the baptised. In this field, the catholic school, the parish and other ecclesial institutions are called to collaborate with the family.
55. From the ecclesial character of the faith derives the co-responsibility of the christian community in helping the baptised to live coherently and knowledgeably the obligations taken on with baptism. It is the responsibility of the Bishops to establish norms and guidelines adapted to the necessities of the individual churches.
CATECHESIS AND SEX EDUCATION
56. Catechesis is called to be the fertile field for the renewal of all the ecclesial community. Therefore, in order to lead the faithful to maturity of faith, it must illustrate the positive values of sexuality, integrating them with those of virginity and marriage, in the light of the mystery of Christ and of the Church.
This catechesis should bring into relief that the first vocation of the christian is to love, and that the vocation to love is realised in two diverse ways: in marriage, or in a life of celibacy for love of the kingdom.(40) "Marriage and virginity are the two modes of expressing and living the one mystery of the Covenant of God with His people".(41)
57. So that families may be certain that catechesis is by no means apart from the Magisterium, pastors are to be involved both in the selection and preparation of responsible Magisterium personnel and in the determination of content and method.
58. From what has been said above in n. 48, the fact remains ever valid that with regard to the more intimate aspects, whether biological or affective, an individual education should be bestowed, preferably within the sphere of the family.
59. It being understood that catechesis realised in the family constitutes a privileged form, if parents do not feel able to perform this duty, they may have recourse to others who enjoy their confidence. A wise initiative, prudent and adapted to age and environment, can avoid traumas for children and render to them more easy the solution of sexual problems.
60. A fundamental aspect of the preparation of the young for marriage consists in giving them an exact vision of the christian ethic regarding sexuality. Catechesis offers the advantage of facing sexuality in the immediate prospect of marriage. But for its full success, this catechesis must be conveniently continued by developing a true and proper catechumenate. It aspires therefore to sustain and strengthen the chastity proper to the engaged in preparation for conjugal life viewed in a christian manner, and to the specific mission which the married have amongst the People of God. ,
61. Future spouses must know the profound significance of marriage, understood as a union of love for the realisation of the couple and for procreation. The stability of marriage and of conjugal love requires as indispensable conditions: chastity and self control, the formation of character and the spirit of sacrifice. With regard to certain difficulties of married life, rendered more acute by the conditions of our time, chastity during one's youth as an adequate preparation for marital chastity will be a decisive help to the married. They will need therefore to be informed about the divine law, declared by the ecclesiastical Magisterium, necessary for the formation of their consciences.(42)
62 Instructed in the value and greatness of the Sacrament of Matrimony, which specifies for them the grace and vocation of baptism, christian spouses will know how to live conscienciously the values and specific obligations of their moral lives as requirement and fruit of the grace and action of the Spirit, " fortified and, as it were, consecrated for the duties and dignity of their state by a special sacrament ".(43)
Therefore, in order to live their sexuality and to carry out their responsibilities in accord with God's plan,(44) it is important that spouses have knowledge of the natural methods of regulating their fertility. As John Paul II has said, "every effort must be made to render such knowledge accessible to all married people and also to young adults before marriage, through clear, timely and serious instruction and education given by married couples, doctors and experts ".(45) Evidently, contraception, insistently propagated today, constrasts with these christian ideals and these moral norms of which the Church is teacher. This fact renders still more urgent the necessity of transmitting to the young at an appropriate age the teaching of the Church on artificial means of contraception, and the reasons for such teaching, so that the young may be prepared for responsible marriage, full of love and open to life.
GUIDELINES FOR ADULTS
63. A solid catechetical preparation of adults on human love establishes the foundations for the sex education of children. Thus the possession of human maturity illumined by faith in secured, which will be decisive in the dialogue which adults are called to establish with the new generations. Further to indications concerning methods to be used, such catechesis will favour an appropriate exchange of ideas on particular problems, will make the teaching aids for use better known, and will permit eventual encounters with experts, whose collaboration could be particularly useful in difficult cases.
TASK OF CIVIL SOCIETY
64. The person should find in society existing expressions and experiences of values which exercise an influence not secondary on the formative process. Therefore, it will be the task of civil society, in as much as it treats the common good,(46) to be watchful so that a wise physical and moral environment be secured in schools, and conditions which respond to the positive requests of parents, or receive their free support, be promoted.
65. It is the task of the State to safeguard its citizens against injustices and moral disorders, such as the abuse of minors and every form of sexual violence, degrading dress, permissiveness and pornography, and the improper use of demographic information.
RESPONSIBILITY IN EDUCATION IN THE USE OF THE INSTRUMENTS
OF SOCIAL COMMUNICATION
66. In the actual world, the instruments of social communication, by their intrusiveness and suggestion, display to youth and the very young - also and above all in the field of sex education - a continuous and conditioning stream of information and training, which is very much more trenchant than that of one's own family.
John Paul II has indicated the situation in which children find themselves confronted by the instruments of social communication: " Fascinated and devoid of defence before the world and adults, children are naturally ready to accept whatever is offered to them, whether good or bad... They are attracted by the " small screen ", they follow each gesture which is portrayed and they perceive, before and better than every other person, the emotions and feelings which result ".(47)
67. It is therefore to be noted that by the same technological evolution, the necessary control is rendered less easy and opportune. There is an urgency - for proper sex education, too - that " those who are at the receiving end of the media, and especially the young, should learn moderation and discipline in their use of them. They should aim to understand fully what they see, hear and read. They should discuss them with their teachers and with experts in such matters and should learn to reach correct judgements ".(48)
68 In defence of the rights of the child in this area, John Paul II stimulates the consciences of all responsible christians, especially parents and operators of the instruments of social communication, so that they do not hide behind the pretext of neutrality and respect for the spontaneous development of the child, since in reality this is behaviour of preoccupying indifference.(49)
Particular duties " in this matter are incumbent on civil authority in view of the common good ",(50) which requires the juridical regulation of the instruments of social communication to protect public morality, in particular the world of youth, especially with regard to magazines, films, radio and television programmes, exhibitions, shows and publicity.
TASK OF THE SCHOOL WITH REGARD TO SEX EDUCATION
69. It being understood from what has been said on the primary duty of the family, the rôle of the school should be that of assisting and completing the work of parents, furnishing children and adolescents with an evaluation of " sexuality as value and task of the whole person, created male and female in the image of God ".(51)
70. Interpersonal dialogue required by sex education, tends to kindle in the pupil an interior disposition suited to motivating and guiding personal behaviour. Such a point of view is strictly connected to the values inspired by the concept of life. Sex education is not reducible to simple teaching material, nor to theoretical knowledge alone, nor does it consist of a programme to be carried out progressively, but it has a specific objective in view: that affective maturation of the pupil, of self control, and of correct behaviour in social relationships.
71. The school can contribute to the realisation of this objective in various ways. All matters can offer an opportunity to treat themes in their relation to sexuality; the teacher will do so always in a positive key and with great delicacy, concretely evaluating the opportunity and the methods. Individual sex education always retains prior value and can not be entrusted indiscrimately to just any member of the school community. In fact, as will be specified in what follows, as well as right judgement, sense of responsibility, professional competence, affective and decent maturity, this education requires from the teacher outstanding sensitivity in initiating the child and adolescent in the problems of love and life without disturbing their psychological development.
72 Also, though the teacher possess the necessary qualities for sex education in groups, it is necessary always to consider the concrete situation of such groups. This applies above all in mixed groups, since these require special precautions. In each case, the responsible authorities must examine with parents the propriety of proceeding in such a manner. Given the complexity of the problem, it is good to reserve for the pupil a time for personal dialogue in order to accomodate the seeking of advice or clarification - which a natural sense of decency would not allow to arise in front of others. Only a strict collaboration between the school and the family will be able to guarantee an advantageous exchange of experience between parents and teachers for the good of the pupils.(52) It is the responsibility of Bishops, taking account of school legislation and local circumstances, to establish guidelines for sex education in groups, above all if they are mixed.
73 It can sometimes happen that particular events in the life of the school render a timely intervention necessary. In such cases, the school authorities, in accordance with the principle of collaboration, will contact parents interested in agreeing on an appropriate solution.
74 Persons particularly suited by competence and balance, and who enjoy the trust of parents, can be invited to hold private conversations with pupils to help them to develop their affective maturity and to give the right balance in their social relationships. Such interventions in personal guidance belong in particular to the more difficult cases, at least when the gravity of the situation makes necessary recourse to a specialist in the matter.
75 The formation and development of an harmonious personality require a peaceful atmostphere, fruitful understanding, reciprocal trust and collaboration between persons in charge. It is obtained with mutual respect for the specific competence of the various members of the educational staff, their responsibilities and the choice of the differentiated means at their disposal.
APPROPRIATE TEACHING MATERIALS
76. In order to offer correct sex education, appropriate teaching materials can be of assistance. The elaboration of such materials requires the contribution of specialists in moral and pastoral theology, of catechists, of educationists and catholic psychologists. Particular attention is to be paid to the materials to be used by the pupils themselves.
Some school text-books on sexuality, by reason of their naturalist character, are harmful to the child and the adolescent. Graphic and audio-visual materials are more harmful when they crudely present sexual realities for which the pupil is not prepared, and thus create traumatic impressions or raise an unhealthy curiosity which leads to evil. Let teachers think seriously of the grave harm that an irresponsible attitude in such delicate matters can cause in pupils.
77. There exists in education a not negligible factor which goes side by side with the action of the family and the school and which frequently has an even greater influence in the formation of the person: these are youth groups, constituted in leisure time, which impinge intensely on the life of the adolescent and young adult. The human sciences hold that " groups " are a positive condition for formation, because the maturation of the personality is not possible without efficacious personal relationships.
CONDITIONS AND MODE OF SEX EDUCATION
78. The complexity and delicacy of the task requires accurate preparation of teachers, specific qualities in the way the matter is treated and particular attention to precise objectives.
PREPARATION OF TEACHERS
79. The mature personality of the teachers, their training and psychological balance strongly influence their pupils. An exact and complete vision of the meaning and value of sexuality and a peaceful integration within the personality itself are indispensable for teachers in constructive education. Their training takes shape according to environment. Their ability is not so much the fruit of theoretical knowledge but rather the result of their affective maturity. This does not dispense with the acquisition of scientific knowledge suited to their educational work, which is particularly arduous these days. Meetings with parents can be of great help.
80. The dispositions which must characterise the teacher are the result of a general formation, founded on a positive and professional constructive concept of life, and of constant effort in realising it. Such a formation goes beyond the purely necessary professional training and addresses the more intimate aspects of the personality, including the religious and the spiritual. This last will be the guarantee of a recourse to christian principles, which, by supernatural means, must sustain the educational enterprise.
81. The teacher who carries out his or her task outside the family context needs a suitable and serious psychopedagogic training which allows the seizing of particular situations which require a special solicitude. A high degree of this is needed when, in consultation with the parents, a boy or girl needs a psychologist.
82. Beyond the normal topics and pathological cases, there is a whole range of individuals with problems more or less acute and persistent, which risk being little cured, yet are truly in need of help. In these cases, in addition to therapy at the medical level, constant support and guidance on the part of teachers is needed.
QUALITY OF TEACHING METHODS
83. A clear vision of the situation is required because the method adopted not only gradually conditions the success of this delicate education, but also conditions cooperation between the various people in responsibility. In reality, the criticisms normally raised refer more to the methods used by some teachers than to the enterprise itself. These methods must have definite qualities, both in the same teachers and in the end to which such education is proposed.
NEEDS OF THE PUPIL AND EDUCATIONAL ASSISTANCE
84. Affective-sex education, being more conditioned than others by the degree of physical and psychological development of the pupil, must always be adapted to the individual. In certain cases it is necessary to advise the pupil in preparation for particularly difficult situations, when it is foreseen that the pupil will have to encounter them, or forewarn him or her of imminent or permanent dangers.
85. It is necessary therefore to respect the progressive character of this education. A proper gradual progress of initiatives must be attentive to the stages of physical and psychological growth, which require a more careful preparation and a prolonged period of maturation. One needs to be assured that the pupil has assimilated the values, the knowledge and the motivation which has been proposed, or the changes and the evolution which he or she could observe in him or herself and of which the teacher opportunely indicates the causes, the connections and the purpose.
QUALITY OF THE TEACHER
86. In order to make a valid contribution to the harmonious and balanced development of the young, teachers must regulate their teaching according to the particular rôle which falls to them. The pupil neither perceives nor receives in the same manner from different teachers the information and motivation which they give, because different teachers affect his or her intimacy in a different way. Objectivity and prudence must characterise such teaching.
87. Progressive information requires a partial explanation, but always according to truth. Explanations must not be distorted by reticence or by lack of frankness. Prudence therefore requires of the teacher not only an appropriate adaption of the matter to the expectations of the pupil, but also a choice of language, mode and time in which the teaching is carried out. This requires that the child's sense of decency be taken into account. The teacher, moreover, remembers the influence of parents: their preoccupation with this dimension of education, the particular character of family education, their concept of life, and their degree of openness to other educational spheres.
88. One must insist first of all on the human and christian values of sexuality, so that pupils can appreciate them, and so that the desire to realise them in one's personal life and relationships may be roused. Without disregarding the difficulties which sexual development involves, but without creating an obsessive state, the teacher may have confidence in the educational enterprise: it can rely on the resonance which true values strike in the young, when they are presented with conviction and are confirmed by testimony of life.
89. Given the importance of sex education in the integral formation of the person, teachers, taking account of the various aspects of sexuality and of their incidence in the global personality, are urged in particular not to separate knowledge from corresponding values, which give a sense and orientation to biological, psychological and social information. Consequently, when they present moral norms, it is necessary , that they show how find their raison d'etre and value.
EDUCATION FOR MODESTY AND FRIENDSHIP
90. Modesty, a fundamental component of the personality, may be considered - on the ethical level - as the vigilant knowledge which defends the dignity of man, woman and authentic love. It tends to react to certain attitudes and to curb behaviour which stains the dignity of the person. It is a necessary and effective means of controlling the instincts, making authentic love flower, integrating the affective-sexual life in the harmonions picture of the person. Modesty has great pedagogic weight and must therefore be respected. Children and young people will thus learn to respect the body itself as a gift from God, member of Christ and temple of the Holy Spirit; they will learn to resist the evil which surrounds them and to have a vision and clear imagination to seek to express a truly human love with all its spiritual components when they meet people in friendship.
91. To such an end, concrete and attractive models of virtue are to be presented, the aesthetic sense be developed, inspiring a taste for the beauty present in nature, in art and in moral life; the young are to be educated to assimilate a system of sensible and spiritual values in an unselfish impetus of faith and love.
92. Friendship is the height of affective maturation and differs from mere cameraderie by its interior dimension, by communication which allows and fosters true communion, by its reciprocal generosity and its stability. Education for friendship can become a factor of extraordinary importance in the making of the personality in its individual and social dimensions.
93. The bonds of friendship which unite the young of both sexes contribute both to understanding and to reciprocal respect when they are maintained within the limits of normal affective expression. If however they become or tend to become manifestations of a genital character, they lose the authentic meaning of mature friendship, prejudice the relationships involved and the future prospects with regard to an eventual marriage, and render the individuals concerned less attentive to a possible call to the consecrated life.
SOME PARTICULAR PROBLEMS
The teacher may find that in carrying out his or her mission, he or she may be confronted by several particular problems, which we treat here.
94. Sex education must lead the young to take cognisance of the different expressions and dynamisms of sexuality and of the human values which must be respected. True love is the capacity to open oneself to one's neighbour in generosity, and in devotion to the other for the other's good; it knows how to respect the personality and the freedom of the other,(53) it is self giving, not possessive. The sex instinct, on the other hand, if abandoned to itself, is reduced to the merely genital, and tends to take possession of the other, immediately seeking personal gratification.
95. Relationships of sexual intimacy are reserved to marriage, because only then is the inseparable connection secured - which God wants - between the unitive and the procreative meaning of such matters, which are ordained to maintain, confirm and express a definitive communion of life - " one flesh "(54) - mediating the realisation of a love that is " human " " total " " faithful " " creative "(55) which is marital love. Therefore, sexual relations outside the context of marriage constitute a grave disorder, because they are reserved to a reality which does not yet exist;(56) they are a language which is not found in the objective reality of the life of the two persons, not yet constituted in definitive community with the necessary recognition and guarantee of civil and, for catholic spouses, religious society.
96. It seems that there is a spread amongst adolescents and young adults of certain manifestations of a sexual kind which of themselves tend to complete encounter, though without reaching its realisation: manifestations of the merely genital which are a moral disorder because they are outside the matrimonial context of authentic love.
97. Sex education will help adolescents to discover the profound values of love, and to understand the harm which such manifestations do to their affective maturation, in as much as they lead to an encounter which is not personal, but instinctive, often weakened by reservations and egoistic calculations, without therefore the character of true personal relationship and so much less definitive. An authentic education will lead the young towards maturity and self-control, the fruit of conscientious choice and personal effort.
98. It is the task of sex education to promote a continuous progress in the control of the impulses to effect an opening, in due course, to true and self giving love. A particularly complex and delicate problem which can be present is that of masturbation and of its repercussions on the integral growth of the person. Masturbation, according to catholic doctrine constitutes a grave moral disorder,(57) principally because it is the use of the sexual faculty in a way which essentially contradicts its finality, not being at the service of love and life according to the design of God.(58)
99. A teacher and perspicacious counsellor must endeavour to identify the causes of the deviation in order to help the adolescent to overcome the immaturity underlying this habit. From an educative point of view, it is necessary to consider masturbation and other forms of autoeroticism as symptoms of problems much more profound, which provoke sexual tension which the individual seeks to resolve by recourse to such behaviour. Pedagogic action, therefore, should be directed more to the causes than to the direct repression of the phenomenon.(59)
Whilst taking account of the objective gravity of masturbation, it is necessary to be cautious in evaluating the subjective responsibility of the person.(60)
100. In order that the adolescent be helped to feel accepted in a communion of charity and freed from self enclosure, the teacher "should undramatise masturbation and not reduce his or her esteem and benevolence for the pupil".(61) The teacher will help the pupil towards social integration, to be open and interested in others; to be able to be free from this form of autoeroticism, advancing towards self giving love, proper to mature affectivity; at the same time, the teacher will encourage the pupil to have recourse to the recommended means of christian asceticism, such as prayer and the sacraments, and to be involved in works of justice and charity.
101. Homosexuality, which impedes the person's acquisition of sexual maturity, whether from the individual point of view, or the inter-personal, is a problem which must be faced in all objectivity by the pupil and the educator when the case presents itself.
" Pastorally, these homosexuals must be received with understanding and supported in the hope of overcoming their personal difficulties and their social mal-adaption, their culpability will be judged with prudence; but no pastoral method can be used which, holding that these acts conform to the condition of these persons, accord them a moral justification.
" According to the objective moral order, homosexual relations are acts deprived of their essential and indispensable rule ".(62)
102. It will be the duty of the family and the teacher to seek first of all to identify the factors which drive towards homosexuality: to see if it is a question of physiological or psycho logical factors; if it be the result of a false education or of the lack of normal sexual evolution; if it comes from a contracted habit or from bad example;(63) or from other factors. More particularly, in seeking the causes of this disorder, the family and the teacher will have to take account of the elements of judgement proposed by the ecclesiastical
Magisterium, and be served by the contribution which various disciplines can offer. One must, in fact, investigate elements of diverse order: lack of affection, immaturity, obsessive impulses, seduction, social isolation and other types of frustration, depravation in dress, license in shows and publications. In greater profundity lies the innate frailty of man and woman, the consequence of original sin; it can run to the loss of the sense of God and of man and woman, and have its repercussions in the sphere of sexuality.(64)
103. The causes having been sought and understood, the family and the teacher will offer an efficacious help in the process of integral growth: welcoming with understanding, creating a climate of hope, encouraging the emancipation of the individual and his or her growth in self control, promoting an authentic moral force towards conversion to the love of God and neighbour, suggesting - if necessary - medical-psychological assistance from persons attentive to and respectful of the teaching of the Church.
104. A permissive society which does not offer valid values on which to found one's life promotes alienating escapism, to which the young are subject in a particular way. Their idealism encounters the harshness of life, causing a tension which can provoke, because of the frailty of the will, a destructive escape in drugs.
This is one of the problems which is getting worse and which assumes dramatic tones for the teacher. Some psychotropic substances raise the sensibility for sexual pleasure and in general diminish the capacity for self control and thereby for defense. The prolonged abuse of drugs leads to physical and psychological destruction. Drugs, mistaken autonomy and sexual disorders are often found together. The psychological situation and the human context of isolation being such, many people give up, addicts living in rebellion, creating conditions which easily lead into sexual abuses.
105. Remedial intervention, which calls for a profound transformation of the individual from within and without, is laborious and long, because it must help to reconstruct the personality and relationships with the world of people and values. Preventative action is more efficacious. It secures the avoidance of deep, affective decline. It is love and care which educate towards value, dignity, respect for life, for the body, for sex, for health. The civil and christian community must know how to timely welcome the young who are abandoned, alone, insecure, helping them to be included in study and in work, to occupy their free time, offering them healthy places for meeting, happiness, activity, furnishing them with occasions for affective relationships and for solidarity.
In particular, sport, which is at the service of man and woman, possesses a great educative value, not only as bodily discipline, but also as a healthy relaxation in which young people are encouraged to renounce their egotism and to meet other people. Only a freedom which is authentic, educated, aided and promoted offers protection from the quest for illusory liberty of drugs and sex.
106. From these reflections one can conclude that in the actual socio-cultural situation there is urgent need to give positive and gradual affective-sex education to children, adolescents and young adults, paying attention to the dispositions of Vatican Council II. Silence is not a valid norm of conduct in this matter, above all when one thinks of the " hidden persuaders " which use insinuating language. Their influence today is undeniable: it is up to parents, therefore, to be alert not only to repair the harm caused by inappropriate and injurious interventions, but above all to opportunely inform their own children, offering them a positive and convincing education.
107. The defense of the fundamental rights of the child and the adolescent for the harmonious and complete development of the personality conforms to the dignity of the children of God, and belongs in first place to parents. Personal maturation requires, in fact, a continuity in the educative process, protected by love and trust, proper to the family environment.
108. In accomplishing her mission the Church has the duty and the right to take care of the moral education of the baptised.
The contribution of the school in all education, and particularly in these matters which are so delicate, must be carried out in agreement with the family.
This presupposes in teachers and in others involved, whether implicitly or explicitly, a correct criterion for the purpose of their contribution, and training in order to be able to treat these matters with delicacy and in a climate of serene trust.
109. So that information and affective-sex education may be efficacious, it must be carried out with timely prudence, with adequate expression, and preferably in an individual form. The outcome of this education will depend largely on the human and christian vision in which the educator presents the values of life and love.
110. The christian educator, whether father or mother of the family, teacher, priest or whoever bears responsibility in this regard, can be tempted, today above all, to demand , from others this task which needs such delicacy, principle, patience and courage, and which requires committed generosity in the pupil. It is necessary, therefore, before concluding, to reaffirm that this aspect of education is firstly a work of faith for the christian, and of faithful recourse to grace: each aspect of sex education, in fact, is inspired by faith, and draws indispensable strength from it and from grace. The Letter of St. Paul to the Galatians puts self-control and temperance within the ambit which the Holy Spirit, and He alone, can establish in the believer. It is God who bestows light, it is God who grants sufficient strength.(65)
111. The Congregation for Catholic Education turns to Episcopal Conferences so that they promote the union of parents, of christian communities, and of educators for convergent action in such an important sector for the future of young people and the good of society. The Congregation makes this invitation to assume this educational commitment in reciprocal trust and with the highest regard for rights and specific competences, with a complete christian formation in view.
Rome, November 1st, Feast of All Saints
WILLIAM Card. BAUM
Antonio M. Javierre, Secretary
Titular Archbishop of Meta
(1) Vatican Council II: Decl. Gravissimum educationis, n. 1 .
(3) S. Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith: Declaration on Certain Questions Concerning Sexual Ethics, The Human Person, 29th. December, 1975, AAS 68 (1976) p. 77, n.1 .
(4) Cf. John Paul II, Apostolic Exhortation, Familiaris consortio, 22nd. November, 1981, AAS 74 (1982) p. 128, n. 37: cf. infra n. 16.
(5) Pius XI, in his Encyclical Divini illius Magistri, of 31st. December, 1929, declared erroneous the sex education which was presented at that time, which was information of a naturalist character, precociously and indiscriminately imparted. (AAS 22 (1930) pp. 49-86). The Decree of the Holy Office of 21st. March, 1931 (AAS 23 (1931 ) pp. 118-119) must be read in this perspective. However, Pius XI considered the possibility of an individual, positive sex education " on the part of those who have received from God the educational mission and the grace of state ". (AAS 22 (1930) p. 71) . This positive value of sex education indicated by Pius XI has been gradually developed by successive Pontiffs. Pius XII, in his discourse to the Vth. International Congress of Psychiatry and Clinical Psychology, 13th. April, 1953 (AAS 45 (1953) pp. 278-286) and in his allocution to Italian Women of " Azione Cattolica ", 26th. October, 1941 (AAS 33 (1941) pp. 450-458) defines how sex education should be conducted within the ambit of the family. (Cf. also, Pius XII; to the Carmelites: AAS 43 (1951) pp. 734-738; to French Parents: AAS 43 (1951) pp. 730-734) The Teaching of Pius XII prepared the way to the Conciliar Declaration Gravissimum educationis.
(6) Cf. Gravissimum educationis, n. 1.
(8) Cf. Vat. II: Const. Gaudium et spes, n. 49.
(9) Cf. Gravissimum educationis, n. 5.
(10) Ibid., n. 3; cf. Gaudium et spes, n. 52.
(11) Familiaris consortio, n. 37.
(14) Familiaris consortio, n. 37.
(16) Gaudium et spes, n. 11.
(17) John Paul II: General Audience, 14th. November, 1979, Teaching of John Paul II, II-2, 1979, p. 1156, n. 4.
(18) John Paul II : General Audience, 9th. January, 1980, Teaching of John Paul II, III- I , 1980, p. 90, n. 4.
(19) John Paul II: General Audience, 20th. February, 1980, Teaching of John Paul II, III-I, 1980, p. 430, n. 4.
(20) John Paul II : General Audience, 9th. January, 1980, Teaching of John Paul II, III-I, 1980, p. 90, n. 4.
(21) " Precisely by traversing the depth of that original solitude, man now emerges in the dimension of the mutual gift, the expression of which - and for that very reason the expression of his existence as a person - is the human body in all the original truth of its masculinity and femininity. The body, which expresses masculinity 'for' femininity and, viceversa, femininity 'for' masculinity, manifests the reciprocity and communion of persons. It expresses it by means of the gift as the fundamental characteristic of personal existence ". Ibid.
(22) Cf. John Paul II : General Audience, 26th. March, 1980, Teaching of John Paul II, III-I, 1980, pp. 737-74I
(23) Gaudium et spes, n. 49.
(24) Ibid. n. 12.
(25) Ibid., in which comment is made on the social sense of Gen. 1, 27.
(26) Ibid., nn. 47-52.
(27) John Paul I I : General Audience, 20th. February, 1980, Teaching of John Paul II, III-I, 1980, p. 429, n. 2.
(28) Gaudium et spes, n. 22.
(29) Cf Eph. 4, 13.
(30) Cf. Mt. 19, 3-12.
(31) Cf. I Cor. 7, 32-34.
(32) Cf. I Cor. 13, 4-8; cf. Familiaris consortio, n. 16.
(33) Cf. Vat. II : Const. Lumen gentium, n. 39.
(34) S. Congregation for Catholic Education: A Guide to Formation in Priestly Celibacy, 11th. April, 1974, n. 22.
(35) Cf. I Cor. 6, 15, 19-20.
(36) Cf. Rom. 7, 18-23.
(37) Gaudium et spes, n. 52; cf. Familiaris consortio, n. 37.
(38) Cf. Familiaris consortio, n. 37.
(39) Cf. Gravissimum educationis, n. 3-4; cf. Pius XI, Divini illius Magistri, l.c., pp. 53f., 56f.
(40) Cf. Familiaris consortio, n. II.
(41) Ibid., n. 16.
(42) Cf. Paul VI, Encyc. Letter, Humanae vitae, 25th. July, 1968, AAS 60 (1968) p. 493 ff., n.17 ff.
(43) Gaudium et spes, n. 48.
(44) Cf. Humanae vitae, n. 10.
(45) Familiaris consortio, n. 33. On actual contraceptive propaganda widely diffused cf. Humanae vitae, nn. 14-17.
(46) Cf. Gaudium et Spes, n. 26; cf. Humanae vitae, n. 23.
(47) John Paul II, Message for the XIII World Communications Day, 23rd. May, 1979, AAS 71, (1979-II) p. 930.
(48)Vat. II: Dec. Inter mirifica, n. 10; cf. Pontifical Commission for Social Communications : Past. Inst. Communio et Progressio, AAS 63 (1971) p. 619, n. 68.
(49) Cf. John Paul II: Message for the XIII World Communications Day, 23rd. May, (1979) AAS 71 (1979-II) pp. 930-933.
(50) Inter mirifica, n. 12.
(51) Familiaris consortio, n. 32.
(52) Cf above n. 58.
(53) Cf. 1 Cor. 13, 5.
(54) Mt. 19, 5.
(55) Humanae vitae, n. 9.
(56) Cf. The Human Person, n. 7.
(57) Cf. The Human Person, n. 9.
(61) A Guide to Formation in Priestly Celibacy, n. 63.
(62) The Human Person, n. 8.
(64) Cf. Rom. 1, 26-28; cf., per analogia, The Human Person, n. 9.
(65) Cf. Gal. 5, 22-24.
THE TRUTH AND MEANING OF HUMAN SEXUALITY
THE PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR THE FAMILY
THE TRUTH AND MEANING OF HUMAN SEXUALITY
Guidelines for Education within the Family
The Situation and the Problem
1. Among the many difficulties parents encounter today, despite different social contexts, one certainly stands out: giving children an adequate preparation for adult life, particularly with regard to education in the true meaning of sexuality. There are many reasons for this difficulty and not all of them are new.
In the past, even when the family did not provide specific sexual education, the general culture was permeated by respect for fundamental values and hence served to protect and maintain them. In the greater part of society, both in developed and developing countries, the decline of traditional models has left children deprived of consistent and positive guidance, while parents find themselves unprepared to provide adequate answers. This new context is made worse by what we observe: an eclipse of the truth about man which, among other things, exerts pressure to reduce sex to something commonplace. In this area, society and the mass media most of the time provide depersonalized, recreational and often pessimistic information. Moreover, this information does not take into account the different stages of formation and development of children and young people, and it is influenced by a distorted individualistic concept of freedom, in an ambience lacking the basic values of life, human love and the family.
Then the school, making itself available to carry out programmes of sex education, has often done this by taking the place of the family and, most of the time, with the aim of only providing information. Sometimes this really leads to the deformation of consciences. In many cases parents have given up their duty in this field or agreed to delegate it to others, because of the difficulty and their own lack of preparation.
In such a situation, many Catholic parents turn to the Church to take up the task of providing guidance and suggestions for educating their children, especially in the phase of childhood and adolescence. At times, parents themselves have brought up their difficulties when they are confronted by teaching given at school and thus brought into the home by their children. The Pontifical Council for the Family has received repeated and pressing requests to provide guidelines in support of parents in this delicate area of education.
2. Aware of this family dimension of education for love and for living one's own sexuality properly and conscious of the unique "experience of humanity" of the community of believers, our Council wishes to put forward pastoral guidelines, drawing on the wisdom which comes from the Word of the Lord and the values which illuminate the teaching of the Church.
Therefore, above all, we wish to tie this help for parents to fundamental content about the truth and meaning of sex, within the framework of a genuine and rich anthropology. In offering this truth, we are aware that "every one who is of the truth" (John 18: 37) hears the word of the One who is the Truth in Person (cf. John 14: 6).
This guide is meant to be neither a treatise of moral theology nor a compendium of psychology. But it does owe much to the gains of science, to the socio-cultural conditions of the family, and to the proclamation of gospel values which are always new and can be incarnated in a concrete way in every age.
3. In this field, the Church is strengthened by some unquestionable certainties that have also guided the preparation of this document.
Love is a gift of God, nourished by and expressed in the encounter of man and woman. Love is thus a positive force directed towards their growth in maturity as persons. In the plan of life which represents each person's vocation, love is also a precious source for the self-giving which all men and women are called to make for their own self-realization and happiness. In fact, man is called to love as an incarnate spirit, that is soul and body in the unity of the person. Human love hence embraces the body, and the body also expresses spiritual love. Therefore, sexuality is not something purely biological, rather it concerns the intimate nucleus of the person. The use of sexuality as physical giving has its own truth and reaches its full meaning when it expresses the personal giving of man and woman even unto death. As with the whole of the person's life, love is exposed to the frailty brought about by original sin, a frailty experienced today in many socio-cultural contexts marked by strong negative influences, at times deviant and traumatic. Nevertheless, the Lord's Redemption has made the positive practice of chastity into something that is really possible and a motive for joy, both for those who have the vocation to marriage (before, in the time of preparation, and afterwards, in the course of married life) as well as for those who have the gift of a special calling to the consecrated life.
4. In the light of the Redemption and how adolescents and young people are formed, the virtue of chastity is found within temperance a cardinal virtue elevated and enriched by grace in baptism. So chastity is not to be understood as a repressive attitude. On the contrary, chastity should be understood rather as the purity and temporary stewardship of a precious and rich gift of love, in view of the self-giving realized in each person's specific vocation. Chastity is thus that "spiritual energy capable of defending love from the perils of selfishness and aggressiveness, and able to advance it towards its full realization".
The Catechism of the Catholic Church describes and in a sense defines chastity in this way: "Chastity means the successful integration of sexuality within the person and thus the inner unity of man in his bodily and spiritual being".
5. In the framework of educating the young person for self-realization and self- giving, formation for chastity implies the collaboration first and foremost of the parents, as is the case with formation for the other virtues such as temperance, fortitude and prudence. Chastity cannot exist as a virtue without the capacity to renounce self, to make sacrifices and to wait.
In giving life, parents cooperate with the creative power of God and receive the gift of a new responsibility not only to feed their children and satisfy their material and cultural needs, but above all to pass on to them the lived truth of the faith and to educate them in love of God and neighbour. This is the parents' first duty in the heart of the "domestic church".
The Church has always affirmed that parents have the duty and the right to be the first and the principal educators of their children.
Taking up the teaching of the Second Vatican Council, the Catechism of the Catholic Church says: "It is imperative to give suitable and timely instruction to young people, above all in the heart of their own families, about the dignity of married love, its role and its exercise".
6. The challenges raised today by the mentality and social environment should not discourage parents. In fact it is worth recalling that Christians have had to face up to similar challenges of materialistic hedonism from the time of the first evangelization. Moreover, "This kind of critical reflection should lead our society, which certainly contains many positive aspects on the material and cultural level, to realize that, from various points of view, it is a society which is sick and is creating profound distortions in man. Why is this happening? The reason is that our society has broken away from the full truth about man, from the truth about what man and woman really are as persons. Thus it cannot adequately comprehend the real meaning of the gift of persons in marriage, responsible love at the service of fatherhood and motherhood, and the true grandeur of procreation and education".
7. Therefore, the educative work of parents is indispensable for, "If it is true that by giving life parents share in God's creative work, it is also true that by raising their children they become sharers in his paternal and at the same time maternal way of teaching......Through Christ all education, within the family, and outside of it, becomes part of God's own saving pedagogy, which is addressed to individuals and families and culminates in the Paschal Mystery of the Lord's Death and Resurrection".
In their at times delicate and arduous task, parents must not let themselves become discouraged, rather they should place their trust in the help of God the Creator and Christ the Redeemer. They should remember that the Church prays for them with the words that Pope Saint Clement I raised to the Lord for all who bear authority in his name: "Grant to them, Lord, health, peace, concord and stability, so that they may exercise without offence the sovereignty that you have given them. Master, heavenly King of the ages, you give glory, honour and power over the things of the earth to the sons of men. Direct, Lord, their counsel, following what is pleasing and acceptable in your sight, so that by exercising with devotion and in peace and gentleness the power that you have given to them, they may find favour with you".
On the other hand, having given and welcomed life in an atmosphere of love, parents are rich in an educative potential which no one else possesses. In a unique way they know their own children; they know them in their unrepeatable identity and by experience they possess the secrets and the resources of true love.
CALLED TO TRUE LOVE
8. As the image of God, man is created for love. This truth was fully revealed to us in the New Testament, together with the mystery of the inner life of the Trinity: "God is love (1 John 4: 8) and in himself he lives a mystery of personal loving communion. Creating the human race in his own image... God inscribed in the humanity of man and woman the vocation, and thus the capacity and responsibility, of love and communion. Love is therefore the fundamental and innate vocation of every human being". The whole meaning of true freedom, and self-control which follows from it, is thus directed towards self-giving in communion and friendship with God and with others.
Human Love as Self-Giving
9. The person is thus capable of a higher kind of love than concupiscence, which only sees objects as a means to satisfy one's appetites; the person is capable rather of friendship and self-giving, with the capacity to recognize and love persons for themselves. Like the love of God, this is a love capable of generosity. One desires the good of the other because he or she is recognized as worthy of being loved. This is a love which generates communion between persons, because each considers the good of the other as his or her own good. This is a self-giving made to one who loves us, a self-giving whose inherent goodness is discovered and activated in the communion of persons and where one learns the value of loving and of being loved.
Each person is called to love as friendship and self-giving. Each person is freed from the tendency to selfishness by the love of others, in the first place by parents or those who take their place and, definitively, by God, from whom all true love proceeds and in whose love alone does man discover to what extent he is loved. Here we find the root of the educative power of Christianity: "Humanity is loved by God! This very simple yet profound proclamation is owed to humanity by the Church". In this way Christ has revealed his true identity to man: "Christ the new Adam, in the very revelation of the mystery of the Father and of his love, fully reveals man to himself and brings to light his most high calling".
The love revealed by Christ "which the Apostle Paul celebrates in the First Letter to the Corinthians...is certainly a demanding love. But this is precisely the source of its beauty: by the very fact that it is demanding, it builds up the true good of man and allows it to radiate to others". Therefore it is a love which respects and builds up the person because "Love is true when it creates the good of persons and of communities; it creates that good and gives it to others".
Love and Human Sexuality
10. Man is called to love and to self-giving in the unity of body and spirit. Femininity and masculinity are complementary gifts, through which human sexuality is an integrating part of the concrete capacity for love which God has inscribed in man and woman. "Sexuality is a fundamental component of personality, one of its modes of being, of manifestation, of communicating with others, of feeling, of expressing and of living human love". This capacity for love as self-giving is thus "incarnated" in the nuptial meaning of the body, which bears the imprint of the person's masculinity and femininity. "The human body, with its sex, and its masculinity and femininity, seen in the very mystery of creation, is not only a source of fruitfulness and procreation, as in the whole natural order, but includes right ?from the beginning' the ?nuptial' attribute, that is, the capacity of expressing love: that love precisely in which the man-person becomes a gift and by means of this gift fulfils the very meaning of his being and existence". Every form of love will always bear this masculine and feminine character.
11. Human sexuality is thus a good, part of that created gift which God saw as being "very good", when he created the human person in his image and likeness, and "male and female he created them" (Genesis 1:27). Insofar as it is a way of relating and being open to others, sexuality has love as its intrinsic end, more precisely, love as donation and acceptance, love as giving and receiving. The relationship between a man and a woman is essentially a relationship of love: "Sexuality, oriented, elevated and integrated by love acquires truly human quality". When such love exists in marriage, self-giving expresses, through the body, the complementarity and totality of the gift. Married love thus becomes a power which enriches persons and makes them grow and, at the same time, it contributes to building up the civilization of love. But when the sense and meaning of gift is lacking in sexuality, a "civilization of things and not of persons" takes over, "a civilization in which persons are used in the same way as things are used. In the context of a civilization of use, woman can become an object for man, children a hindrance to parents...".
12. The gift of God: this great truth and basic fact stands at the centre of the Christian conscience of parents and their children. Here we refer to the gift which God has given us in calling us to life, to exist as man or woman in an unrepeatable existence, full of endless possibilities for growing spiritually and morally: "human life is a gift received in order then to be given as a gift". "In fact the gift reveals, so to speak, a particular characteristic of human existence, or rather, of the very essence of the person. When God Yahweh says that ?it is not good that man should be alone' (Genesis 2:18), he affirms that ?alone', man does not completely realize his existence.
He realizes it only by existing ?with some one' and even more deeply and completely: by existing ?for some one '". Married love is fulfilled in openness to the other person and in self-giving, taking the form of a total gift that belongs to this state of life. Moreover, the vocation to the consecrated life always finds its meaning in self-giving, sustained by a special grace, the gift of oneself "to God alone with an undivided heart in a remarkable manner" in order to serve him more fully in the Church. Therefore, in every condition and state of life, this gift comes to be ever more wondrous by redeeming grace, through which we become "partakers of the divine nature" (2 Peter 1:4) and are called to live the supernatural communion of love together with God and with our brothers and sisters. Even in the most delicate situations, Christian parents cannot forget that the gift of God is there, at the very basis of all personal and family history.
13. "As an incarnate spirit, that is, a soul which expresses itself in a body and a body informed by an immortal spirit, man is called to love in his unified totality. Love includes the human body, and the body is made a sharer in spiritual love". The meaning of sexuality itself is to be understood in the light of Christian Revelation: "Sexuality characterizes man and woman not only on the physical level, but also on the psychological and spiritual, making its mark on each of their expressions. Such diversity, linked to the complementarity of the two sexes, allows thorough response to the design of God according to the vocation to which each one is called".
14. When love is lived out in marriage, it includes and surpasses friendship. Love between a man and woman is achieved when they give themselves totally, each in turn according to their own masculinity and femininity, founding on the marriage covenant that communion of persons where God has willed that human life be conceived, grow and develop. To this married love, and to this love alone, belongs sexual giving, "realized in a truly human way only if it is an integral part of the love by which a man and a woman commit themselves totally to one another until death". The Catechism of the Catholic Church recalls: "In marriage the physical intimacy of the spouses becomes a sign and pledge of spiritual communion. Marriage bonds between baptized persons are sanctified by the sacrament".
Love Open to Life
15. The revealing sign of authentic married love is openness to life: "In its most profound reality, love is essentially a gift; and conjugal love, while leading the spouses to the reciprocal ?knowledge'....does not end with the couple, because it makes them capable of the greatest possible gift, the gift by which they become cooperators with God for giving life to a new human person. Thus the couple, while giving themselves to one another, give not just themselves but also the reality of children, who are a living reflection of their love, a permanent sign of conjugal unity and a living and inseparable synthesis of their being a father and a mother". From this communion of love and life spouses draw that human and spiritual richness and that positive atmosphere for offering their children the support of education for love and chastity.
TRUE LOVE AND CHASTITY
16. As we will later observe, virginal and married love are the two forms in which the person's call to love is fulfilled. In order for both to develop, they require the commitment to live chastity, in conformity with each person's own state of life. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church says, sexuality "becomes personal and truly human when it is integrated into the relationship of one person to another, in the complete and mutual lifelong gift of a man and a woman". Insofar as it entails sincere self-giving, it is obvious that growth in love is helped by that discipline of the feelings, passions and emotions which leads us to self-mastery. One cannot give what one does not possess. If the person is not master of self through the virtues and, in a concrete way, through chastity he or she lacks that self-possession which makes self-giving possible. Chastity is the spiritual power which frees love from selfishness and aggression. To the degree that a person weakens chastity, his or her love becomes more and more selfish, that is, satisfying a desire for pleasure and no longer self-giving.
Chastity as Self-Giving
17. Chastity is the joyous affirmation of someone who knows how to live self-giving, free from any form of self-centred slavery. This presupposes that the person has learnt how to accept other people, to relate with them, while respecting their dignity in diversity. The chaste person is not self-centred, not involved in selfish relationships with other people. Chastity makes the personality harmonious. It matures it and fills it with inner peace. This purity of mind and body helps develop true self-respect and at the same time makes one capable of respecting others, because it makes one see in them persons to reverence, insofar as they are created in the image of God and through grace are children of God, re-created by Christ who "called you out of darkness into his marvellous light" (1 Peter 2:9).
18. "Chastity includes an apprenticeship in self-mastery which is a training in human freedom. The alternative is clear: either man governs his passions and finds peace, or he lets himself be dominated by them and becomes unhappy". Every person knows, by experience, that chastity requires rejecting certain thoughts, words and sinful actions, as Saint Paul was careful to clarify and point out (cf. Romans 1:18; 6: 12-14; 1 Corinthians 6: 9-11; 2 Corinthians 7: 1; Galatians 5: 16-23; Ephesians 4: 17-24; 5: 3-13; Colossians 3: 5-8; 1 Thessalonians 4: 1-18; 1 Timothy 1: 8-11; 4: 12). To achieve this requires ability and an attitude of self-mastery which are signs of inner freedom, of responsibility towards oneself and others. At the same time, these signs bear witness to a faithful conscience. Such self-mastery involves both avoiding occasions which might provoke or encourage sin as well as knowing how to overcome one's own natural instinctive impulses.
19. When the family is providing real educational support and encouraging the exercise of all the virtues, education for chastity is made easy and lacks inner conflicts, even if at certain times young people can experience particularly delicate situations.
For some who find themselves in situations where chastity is offended against and not valued, living in a chaste way can demand a hard or even a heroic struggle. Nonetheless, with the grace of Christ, flowing from his spousal love for the Church, everyone can live chastely even if they find themselves in unfavourable circumstances.
The very fact that all are called to holiness, as the Second Vatican Council teaches, makes it easier to understand that everyone can be in situations where heroic acts of virtue are indispensable, whether in celibate life or marriage, and that in fact in one way or another this happens to everyone for shorter or longer periods of time. Therefore, married life also entails a joyous and demanding path to holiness.
Chastity in Marriage
20. "Married people are called to live conjugal chastity; others practise chastity in continence". Parents are well aware that living conjugal chastity themselves is the most valid premise for educating their children in chaste love and in holiness of life. This means that parents should be aware that God's love is present in their love, and hence that their sexual giving should also be lived out in respect for God and for his plan of love, with fidelity, honour and generosity towards one's spouse and towards the life which can arise from their act of love. Only in this way can their love be an expression of charity. Therefore, in marriage Christians are called to live this selfgiving in a right personal relationship with God. This relationship is thus an expression of their faith and love for God with the fidelity and generous fruitfulness which distinguishes divine love. Only in this way do they respond to the love of God and fulfil his will, which the Commandments help us to know. There is no legitimate love, at its highest level, which is not also love for God. To love the Lord implies responding positively to his commandments: "If you love me, you will keep my commandments" (John 14:15).
21. In order to live chastely, man and woman need the continuous illumination of the Holy Spirit. "At the centre of the spirituality of marriage...lies chastity, not only as a moral virtue (formed by love), but likewise as a virtue connected with the gifts of the Holy Spirit above all the gift of respect for what comes from God (donum pietatis)... So therefore, the interior order of married life, which enables the ?manifestations of affection' to develop according to their right proportion and meaning, is a fruit not only of the virtue which the couple practise, but also of the gifts of the Holy Spirit with which they cooperate".
On the other hand, convinced that their own chaste life and the daily effort of bearing witness are the premise and condition for their educational task, parents should also consider any attack on the virtue and chastity of their children as an offence against the life of faith itself that threatens and impoverishes their own communion of life and grace (cf. Ephesians 6:12).
Education for Chastity
22. Educating children for chastity strives to achieve three objectives: (a) to maintain in the family a positive atmosphere of love, virtue and respect for the gifts of God, in particular the gift of life; (a) to help children to understand the value of sexuality and chastity in stages, sustaining their growth through enlightening word, example and prayer; (c) to help them understand and discover their own vocation to marriage or to consecrated virginity for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven in harmony with and respecting their attitudes and inclinations and the gifts of the Spirit.
23. Other educators can assist in this task, but they can only take the place of parents for serious reasons of physical or moral incapacity. On this point the Magisterium of the Church has expressed itself clearly, in relation to the whole educative process of children: "The role of parents in education is of such importance that it is almost impossible to find an adequate substitute. It is therefore the duty of parents to create a family atmosphere inspired by love and devotion to God and their fellow-men which will promote an integrated, personal and social education of their children. The family is therefore the principal school of the social virtues which are necessary to every society". In fact education is the parents' domain insofar as their educational task continues the generation of life; moreover, it is an offering of their humanity to their children to which they are solemnly bound in the very moment of celebrating their marriage. "Parents are the first and most important educators of their children, and they also possess a fundamental competency in this area: they are educators because they are parents. They share their individual mission with other individuals or institutions, such as the Church and the State. But the mission of education must always be carried out in accordance with a proper application of the principle of subsidiarity. This implies the legitimacy and indeed the need of giving assistance to the parents, but finds its intrinsic and absolute limit in their prevailing right and their actual capabilities. The principle of subsidiarity is thus at the service of parental love, meeting the good of the family unit. For parents by themselves are not capable of satisfying every requirement of the whole process of raising children, especially in matters concerning their schooling and the entire gamut of socialization. Subsidiarity thus complements paternal and maternal love and confirms its fundamental nature, inasmuch as all other participants in the process of education are only able to carry out their responsibilities in the name of the parents, with their consent and, to a certain degree, with their authorization".
24. In particular, the project of education in sexuality and true love, open to self- giving, is confronted today by a culture guided by positivism, as the Holy Father notes in the Letter to Families: "..the development of contemporary civilization is linked to a scientific and technological progress which is often achieved in a onesided way, and thus appears purely positivistic. Positivism, as we know, results in agnosticism in theory and utilitarianism in practice and in ethics... Utilitarianism is a civilization of production and of use, a civilization of things and not of persons, a civilization in which persons are used in the same way as things are used... To be convinced that this is the case, one need only to look at certain sexual education programmes introduced into the schools, often notwithstanding the disagreement and even the protests of many parents...".
In this context, based on the teaching of the Church and with her support, parents must reclaim their own task. By associating together, wherever this is necessary or useful, they should put into action an educational project marked by the true values of the person and Christian love and taking a clear position that surpasses ethical utilitarianism. For education to correspond to the objective needs of true love, parents should provide this education within their own autonomous responsibility.
25. Moreover, in relation to preparation for marriage the teaching of the Church states that the family must remain the main protagonist in this educational work.
Certainly "the changes that have taken place within almost all modern societies demand that not only the family but also society and the Church should be involved in the effort of properly preparing young people for their future responsibilities". It is precisely with this end in view that the educational task of the family takes on greater importance from the earliest years: "Remote preparation begins in early childhood in that wise family training which leads children to discover themselves as being endowed with a rich and complex psychology and with a particular personality with its own strengths and weaknesses".
IN THE LIGHT OF VOCATION
26. The family carries out a decisive role in cultivating and developing all vocations, as the Second Vatican Council taught: "From the marriage of Christians there comes the family in which new citizens of human society are born and, by the grace of the Holy Spirit in Baptism, those are made children of God so that the People of God may be perpetuated throughout the centuries. In what might be regarded as the domestic church, the parents by word and example, are the first heralds of the faith with regard to their children. They must foster the vocation which is proper to each child, and this with special care if it be to religion". Yet the very fact that vocations flourish is the sign of adequate pastoral care of the family: "where there is an effective and enlightened family apostolate, just as it becomes normal to accept life as a gift from God, so it is easier for God's voice to resound and to find a more generous hearing".
Here we are dealing with vocations to marriage or to virginity or celibacy, but these are always vocations to holiness. Indeed, the document Lumen Gentium presents the Second Vatican Council's teaching on the universal call to holiness: "Strengthened by so many and such great means of salvation, all the faithful, whatever their condition or state though each in his own way are called by the Lord to that perfection of sanctity by which the Father himself is perfect".
1. The Vocation to Marriage
27. Formation for true love is always the best preparation for the vocation to marriage. In the family, children and young people can learn to live human sexuality within the solid context of Christian life. They can gradually discover that a stable Christian marriage cannot be regarded as a matter of convenience or mere sexual attraction. By the fact that it is a vocation, marriage must involve a carefully considered choice, a mutual commitment before God and the constant seeking of his help in prayer.
Called to Married Love
28. Committed to the task of educating their children for love, Christian parents first of all can take awareness of their married love as a reference point. As the Encyclical Humanae Vitae states, such love "reveals its true nature and nobility when it is considered in its supreme origin, God, who is love (cf. 1 John 4: 8), ?the Father from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named' (Ephesians 3: 15). Marriage is not, then, the effect of chance or the product of evolution of unconscious natural forces; it is the wise institution of the Creator to realize in mankind his design of love. By means of the reciprocal personal gift of self, proper and exclusive to them, husband and wife tend towards the communion of their beings in view of mutual personal perfection, to collaborate with God in the generation and education of new lives. For baptized persons, moreover, marriage invests the dignity of a sacramental sign of grace, inasmuch as it represents the union of Christ and of the Church".
The Holy Father's Letter to Families recalls that: "The family is in fact a community of persons whose proper way of existing and living together is communion: communio personarum". Going back to the teaching of the Second Vatican Council, the Holy Father teaches that such a communion involves "a certain similarity between the union of the divine Persons and union of God's children in truth and love". "This rich and meaningful formulation first of all confirms what is central to the identity of every man and every woman. This identity consists in the capacity to live in truth and love; even more, it consists in the need of truth and love as an essential dimension of the life of the person. Man's need for truth and love opens him both to God and to creatures: it opens him to other people, to life in communion, and in particular to marriage and to the family".
29. As the Encyclical Humanae Vitae affirms, married love has four characteristics: it is human love (physical and spiritual), it is total, faithful and fruitful love.
These characteristics are founded on the fact that "In marriage man and woman are so firmly united as to become, to use the words of the Book of Genesis one flesh (Genesis 2:24). Male and female in their physical constitution, the two human subjects, even though physically different, share equally in the capacity to live in truth and love. This capacity, characteristic of the human being as a person, has at the same time both a spiritual and a bodily dimension... The family which results from this union draws its inner solidity from the covenant between the spouses, which Christ raised to a Sacrament. The family draws its proper character as a community, its traits of communion, from that fundamental communion of the spouses which is prolonged in their children. Will you accept children lovingly from God, and bring them up according to the law of Christ and his Church?, the celebrant asks during the Rite of Marriage. The answer given by the spouses reflects the most profound truth of the love which unites them". With the same formula, spouses commit themselves and promise to be "faithful forever" because their fidelity really flows from this communion of persons which is rooted in the plan of the Creator, in Trinitarian Love and in the Sacrament which expresses the faithful union between Christ and the Church.
30. Christian marriage is a sacrament whereby sexuality is integrated into a path to holiness, through a bond reinforced by the indissoluble unity of the sacrament: "The gift of the sacrament is at the same time a vocation and commandment for the Christian spouses, that they may remain faithful to each other forever, beyond every trial and difficulty, in generous obedience to the holy will of the Lord: ?What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder' ".
Parents Face a Current Concern
31. Unfortunately, even in Christian societies today, parents have reason to be concerned about the stability of their children's future marriages. Nevertheless, in spite of the rising number of divorces and the growing crisis of the family, they should respond with optimism, committing themselves to give their children a deep Christian formation to make them able to overcome various difficulties. Actually, the love for chastity, which parents help to form, favours mutual respect between man and woman and provides a capacity for compassion, tolerance, generosity, and above all, a spirit of sacrifice, without which love cannot endure. Children will thus come to marriage with that realistic wisdom about which Saint Paul speaks when he teaches that husband and wife must continually give way to one another in love, cherishing one another with mutual patience and affection (cf. 1 Corinthians 7: 3-6; Ephesians 5: 21-23).
32. Through this remote formation for chastity in the family, adolescents and young people learn to live sexuality in its personal dimension, rejecting any kind of separation of sexuality from love understood as self-giving and any separation of the love between husband and wife from the family.
Parental respect for life and the mystery of procreation will spare the child or young person from the false idea that the two dimensions of the conjugal act, unitive and procreative, can be separated at will. Thus the family comes to be recognized as an inseparable part of the vocation to marriage.
A Christian education for chastity within the family cannot remain silent about the moral gravity involved in separating the unitive dimension from the procreative dimension within married life. This happens above all in contraception and artificial procreation. In the first case, one intends to seek sexual pleasure, intervening in the conjugal act to avoid conception; in the second case conception is sought by substituting the conjugal act with a technique. These are actions contrary to the truth of married love and contrary to full communion between husband and wife.
Forming young people for chastity should thus become a preparation for responsible fatherhood and motherhood, which "directly concern the moment in which a man and a woman, uniting themselves in one flesh, can become parents. This is a moment of special value both for their interpersonal relationship and for their service to life: they can become parents father and mother by communicating life to a new human being. The two dimensions of conjugal union, the unitive and the procreative, cannot be artificially separated without damaging the deepest truth of the conjugal act itself".
It is also necessary to put before young people the consequences, which are always very serious, of separating sexuality from procreation when someone reaches the stage of practising sterilization and abortion or pursuing sexual activity dissociated from married love, before and outside of marriage.
Much of the moral order and marital harmony of the family, hence also the true good of society, depends on this timely education, which finds its place in God's plan, in the very structure of sexuality and the intimate nature of marriage.
33. Parents who carry out their own right and duty to form their children for chastity can be certain that they are helping them in turn to build stable and united families, thus anticipating, insofar as this is possible, the joys of paradise: "How can I ever express the happiness of the marriage that is joined together by the Church, strengthened by an offering, sealed by a blessing, announced by angels and ratified by the Father....They are both brethren and both fellow servants; there is no separation between them in spirit or flesh....Christ rejoices in them and he sends them his peace; where the couple is, there he is also to be found, and where he is, evil can no longer abide".
2. The Vocation to Virginity and Celibacy
34. Christian revelation presents the two vocations to love: marriage and virginity. In some societies today, not only marriage and the family, but also vocations to the priesthood and the religious life, are often in a state of crisis. The two situations are inseparable: "When marriage is not esteemed, neither can consecrated virginity or celibacy exist; when human sexuality is not regarded as a great value given by the Creator, the renunciation of it for the sake of the kingdom of heaven loses its meaning". A lack of vocations follows from the breakdown of the family, yet where parents are generous in welcoming life, children will be more likely to be generous when it comes to the question of offering themselves to God: "Families must once again express a generous love for life and place themselves at its service above all by accepting the children which the Lord wants to give them with a sense of responsibility not detached from peaceful trust", and they may bring this acceptance to fulfilment not only "through a continuing educational effort but also through an obligatory commitment, at times perhaps neglected, to help teenagers especially and young people to accept the vocational dimension of every living being, within God's plan... Human life acquires fullness when it becomes a self-gift: a gift which can express itself in matrimony, in consecrated virginity, in self-dedication to one's neighbour towards an ideal, or in the choice of priestly ministry. Parents will truly serve the life of their children if they help them make their own lives a gift, respecting their mature choices and fostering joyfully each vocation, including the religious and priestly one".
When he deals with sexual education in Familiaris Consortio, this is why Pope John Paul II affirms: "Indeed Christian parents, discerning the signs of God's call, will devote special attention and care to education in virginity or celibacy as the supreme form of that self-giving that constitutes the very meaning of human sexuality".
Parents and Priestly or Religious Vocations
35. Parents should therefore rejoice if they see in any of their children the signs of God's call to the higher vocation of virginity or celibacy for the love of the Kingdom of Heaven. They should accordingly adapt formation for chaste love to the needs of those children, encouraging them on their own path up to the time of entering the seminary or house of formation, or until this specific call to self-giving with an undivided heart matures. They must respect and appreciate the freedom of each of their children, encouraging their personal vocation and without trying to impose a predetermined vocation on them.
The Second Vatican Council clearly set out this distinct and honourable task of parents, who are supported in their work by teachers and priests: "Parents should nurture and protect religious vocations in their children by educating them in Christian virtues". "The duty of fostering vocations falls on the whole Christian community....The greatest contribution is made by families which are animated by a spirit of faith, charity and piety and which provide, as it were, a first seminary, and by parishes in whose abundant life the young people themselves take an active part". "Parents, teachers and all who are in any way concerned in the education of boys and young men ought to train them in such a way that they will know the solicitude of the Lord for his flock and be alive to the needs of the Church. In this way they will be prepared when the Lord calls to answer generously with the prophet: ?Here am I! send me' (Isaiah 6:8)".
This necessary family context for maturing religious and priestly vocations brings to mind the serious situation of many families, especially in certain countries, families with an impoverished life because they have chosen to deprive themselves of children or where they have only one child, a situation in which it is very difficult for vocations to arise and even difficult to develop a full social education.
36. The truly Christian family will also be able to communicate an understanding of the value of celibacy to unmarried children or those who are incapable of marriage for reasons apart from their own will. If they are formed well from childhood and during their youth, they will be equipped to face their own situation more easily. Likewise, they will be able to discover the will of God in such a situation and so find a sense of vocation and peace in their own lives. These persons, especially if they have some kind of physical disability, need to be shown the great possibilities for self-realization and spiritual fruitfulness which are open to those who make a commitment to help their poorest and most needy brothers and sisters, sustained by faith and the love of God.
FATHER AND MOTHER AS EDUCATORS
37. In granting married persons the privilege and great responsibility of becoming parents, God gives them the grace to carry out their mission adequately. Moreover, in the task of educating their children, parents are enlightened by "two fundamental truths...: first, that man is called to live in truth and love; and second, that everyone finds fulfillment through the sincere gift of self". As spouses, parents and ministers of the sacramental grace of marriage, they are sustained from day to day by special spiritual energies, received from Jesus Christ who loves and nurtures his Bride, the Church.
As husband and wife who have become "one flesh" through the bond of marriage, they share the duty to educate their children through willing collaboration nourished by vigorous mutual dialogue that "has a new specific source in the sacrament of marriage, which consecrates them for the strictly Christian education of their children: that is to say, it calls upon them to share in the very authority and love of God the Father and Christ the shepherd, and in the motherly love of the Church, and it enriches them with wisdom, counsel, fortitude and all the other gifts of the Holy Spirit in order to help the children in their growth as human beings and as Christians".
38. In the context of formation in chastity, "fatherhood-motherhood" also includes one parent who is left alone and adoptive parents. The task of a single parent is certainly not easy because the support of the other spouse and the role and example of a parent of the other sex is lacking. But God sustains single parents with a special love and calls them to take on this task with the same generosity and sensitivity with which they love and care for their children in other areas of family life.
39. Some other persons are called upon in certain cases to take the place of parents: those who take on the parental role in a permanent way, for instance, for orphans or abandoned children. They, too, have the task of educating children and young people in an overall sense, as well as in chastity, and they will receive the grace of their state of life to do this according to the same principles that guide Christian parents.
40. Parents must never feel alone in this task. The Church supports and encourages them, confident that they can carry out this function better than anyone else. She also encourages those men or women who, often with great sacrifice, give children without parents a form of parental love and family life. In any case, all of them must approach this duty in a spirit of prayer, open and obedient to the moral truths of faith and reason that integrate the teaching of the Church, and always seeing children and young people as persons, children of God and heirs to the Kingdom of Heaven.
The Rights and Duties of Parents
41. Before going into the practical details of young people's formation in chastity, it is extremely important for parents to be aware of their rights and duties, particularly in the face of a State or a school that tends to take up the initiative in the area of sex education.
The Holy Father John Paul II reaffirms this in Familiaris Consortio: "The right and duty of parents to give education is essential, since it is connected with the transmission of human life; it is original and primary with regard to the educational role of others, on account of the uniqueness of the loving relationship between parents and children; and it is irreplaceable and inalienable, and therefore incapable of being entirely delegated to others or usurped by others", except in the case, as mentioned at the beginning, of physical or psychological impossibility.
42. This doctrine is based on the teaching of the Second Vatican Council, and is also proclaimed by the Charter of the Rights of the Family: "Since they have conferred life on their children, parents have the original, primary and inalienable right to educate them; hence they ...have the right to educate their children in conformity with their moral and religious convictions, taking into account the cultural traditions of the family which favour the good and the dignity of the child; they should also receive from society the necessary aid and assistance to perform their educational role properly".
43. The Pope insists upon the fact that this holds especially with regard to sexuality: "Sex education, which is a basic right and duty of parents, must always be carried out under their attentive guidance, whether at home or in educational centres chosen and controlled by them. In this regard, the Church reaffirms the law of subsidiarity, which the school is bound to observe when it cooperates in sex education, by entering into the same spirit that animates the parents".
The Holy Father adds, "In view of the close links between the sexual dimension of the person and his or her ethical values, education must bring the children to a knowledge of and respect for the moral norms as the necessary and highly valuable guarantee for responsible personal growth in human sexuality". No one is capable of giving moral education in this delicate area better than duly prepared parents.
The Meaning of the Parents' Duty
44. This right also implies an educational duty. If in fact parents do not give adequate formation in chastity, they are failing in their precise duty. Likewise, they would also be guilty were they to tolerate immoral or inadequate formation being given to their children outside the home.
45. Today this task encounters a particular difficulty with regard to the dissemination of pornography, through the means of social communication, instigated by commercial motives and breaking down adolescent sensitivity. This must call for two forms of concerned action on the part of parents: preventive and critical education with regard to their children, and courageous denunciation to the appropriate authorities. Parents, as individuals or in associations, have the right and duty to promote the good of their children and demand from the authorities laws that prevent and eliminate the exploitation of the sensitivity of children and adolescents.
46. The Holy Father stresses this parental task and outlines guidelines and the objective in this regard: "Faced with a culture that largely reduces human sexuality to the level of something commonplace, since it interprets and lives it in a reductive and impoverished way by linking it solely with the body and with selfish pleasure, the educational service of parents must aim firmly at a training in the area of sex that is truly and fully personal: for sexuality is an enrichment of the whole person body, emotions and soul and it manifests its inmost meaning in leading the person to the gift of self in love".
47. We cannot forget, however, that we are dealing with a right and duty to educate which, in the past, Christian parents carried out or exercised little. Perhaps this was because the problem was not as acute as it is today, or because the parents' task was in part fulfilled by the strength of prevailing social models and the role played by the Church and the Catholic school in this area. It is not easy for parents to take on this educational commitment because today it appears to be rather complex, and greater than what the family could offer, also because, in most cases, it is not possible to refer to what one's own parents did in this regard.
Therefore, through this document, the Church holds that it is her duty to give parents back confidence in their own capabilities and help them to carry out their task.
PATHS OF FORMATION WITHIN THE FAMILY
48. The family environment is thus the normal and usual place for forming children and young people to consolidate and exercise the virtues of charity, temperance, fortitude and chastity. As the domestic church, the family is the school of the richest humanity. This is particularly true for the moral and spiritual education on such a delicate matter as chastity. Physical, psychological and spiritual aspects are involved in chastity, as well as the first signs of freedom, the influence of social models, natural modesty and strong tendencies inherent in a human being's bodily nature. All of these aspects are connected to an awareness, albeit implicit, of the dignity of the human person, called to collaborate with God and, at the same time, marked by fragility. In a Christian home, parents have the strength to lead their children to a real Christian maturation of their personalities, according to the measure of Christ, in his Mystical Body, the Church.
While the family is rich in these strengths, it also needs the support of the State and society, according to the principle of subsidiarity: "It can happen...that when a family does decide to live up fully to its vocation, it finds itself without the necessary support from the State and without sufficient resources. It is urgent therefore to promote not only family policies, but also those social policies which have the family as their principle object, policies which assist the family by providing adequate resources and efficient means of support, both for bringing up children and for looking after the elderly...".
49. Aware of this and of the real difficulties that exist for young people in many countries today, especially when social and moral deterioration is present, parents are urged to dare to ask for more and to propose more. They cannot be satisfied with avoiding the worst that their children do not take drugs or commit crimes. They will have to be committed to educating them in the true values of the person, renewed by the virtues of faith, hope and love: the values of freedom, responsibility, fatherhood and motherhood, service, professional work, solidarity, honesty, art, sport, the joy of knowing they are children of God, hence brothers and sisters of all human beings, etc.
The Essential Value of the Home
50. In their most recent findings, the psychological and pedagogical sciences come together with human experience in emphasizing the decisive importance of the affective atmosphere that reigns in the family for a harmonious and valid sexual education, especially during the first years of infancy and childhood, and perhaps also during the prenatal stage, because children's deep emotional patterns are established in these phases. The importance of the couple's balance, acceptance and understanding is stressed. Furthermore, emphasis is placed on the value of a serene relationship between husband and wife, on the value of their positive presence (both father and mother) during these important years for the processes of identification, and on the value of a relationship of reassuring affection toward their children.
51. Certain serious privations or imbalances between parents (for example, one or both parents' absence from family life, a lack of interest in the children's education or excessive severity) are factors that can cause emotional and affective disturbances in children. These factors can seriously upset their adolescence and sometimes mark them for life. Parents must find time to be with their children and take time to talk with them. As a gift and a commitment, children are their most important task, although seemingly not always a very profitable one. Children are more important than work, entertainment and social position. In these conversations more and more as the years pass parents should learn how to listen carefully to their children, how to make the effort to understand them, and how to recognize the fragment of truth that may be present in some forms of rebellion. At the same time, parents will have to be able to help their children to channel their anxieties and aspirations correctly, and teach them to reflect on the reality of things and how to reason. This does not mean imposing a certain line of behaviour, but rather showing both the supernatural and human motives that recommend such behaviour. Parents will succeed better if they are able to dedicate time to their children and really place themselves at their level with love.
Formation in the Community of Life and Love
52. The Christian family is capable of offering an atmosphere permeated with that love for God that makes an authentic reciprocal gift possible. Children who have this experience are better disposed to live according to those moral truths that they see practiced in their parents' life. They will have confidence in them and will learn about the love that overcomes fears and nothing moves us to love more than knowing that we are loved. In this way, the bond of mutual love, to which parents bear witness before their children, will safeguard their affective serenity. This bond will refine the intellect, the will and the emotions by rejecting everything that could degrade or devalue the gift of human sexuality. In a family where love reigns, this gift is always understood as part of the call to self-giving in love for God and for others. "The family is the first and fundamental school of social living: as a community of love, it finds in self-giving the law that guides it and makes it grow. The self-giving that inspires the love of husband and wife for each other is the model and norm for the self-giving that must be practised in the relationships between brothers and sisters and the different generations living together in the family. And the communion and sharing that are part of everyday life in the home at times of joy and at times of difficulty are the most concrete and effective pedagogy for the active, responsible and fruitful inclusion of the children in the wider horizon of society".
53. Basically, education for authentic love, authentic only if it becomes kind, welldisposed love, involves accepting the person who is loved and considering his or her good as one's own; hence this implies educating in right relationships with others. Children, adolescents and young people should be taught how to enter into healthy relationships with God, with their parents, their brothers and sisters, with their companions of the same or the opposite sex, and with adults.
54. It must also not be forgotten that education in love is an overall reality. There will be no progress in setting up proper relationships with one person if at the same time there are no proper relationships with other people. As we have already mentioned, education in chastity, as education in love, is at the same time education of one's spirit, one's sensitivity, and one's feelings. The attitude toward other persons depends largely on the way spontaneous feelings for them are handled, the way some feelings are cultivated and others are controlled. Chastity as a virtue is never reduced to merely being able to perform acts conforming to a norm of external behaviour. Chastity requires activating and developing the dynamisms of nature and grace which make up the principal and immanent element of our discovery of God's law as a guarantee of growth and freedom.
55. Therefore, it must be stressed that education for chastity is inseparable from efforts to cultivate all the other virtues and, in a particular way, Christian love, characterized by respect, altruism and service, which after all is called charity. Sexuality is such an important good that it must be protected by following the order of reason enlightened by faith: "The greater a good, the more the order of reason must be observed in it". From this it follows that in order to educate in chastity, "self-control is necessary, which presupposes such virtues as modesty, temperance, respect for self and for others, openness to one's neighbour".
Also of importance are what Christian tradition has called the younger sisters of chastity (modesty, an attitude of sacrifice with regard to one's whims), nourished by the faith and a life of prayer.
Decency and Modesty
56. The practice of decency and modesty in speech, action and dress is very important for creating an atmosphere suitable to the growth of chastity, but this must be well motivated by respect for one's own body and the dignity of others. Parents, as we have said, should be watchful so that certain immoral fashions and attitudes do not violate the integrity of the home, especially through misuse of the mass media. In this regard, the Holy Father stressed the need "to promote closer collaboration between parents, who have primary responsibility for education, those in charge of the mass media at various levels and the public authorities, so that families are not left without guidance in such an important sector of their educational mission... In fact the presentations, content and programmes of healthy entertainment, information and education to complement that of the family and the school must be recognized. Unfortunately this does not change the fact that in some countries especially there are many shows and publications abounding in all sorts of violence with a kind of bombardment of messages that undermine moral principles and make it impossible to achieve a serious climate in which values worthy of the human person may be transmitted".
In particular, with regard to use of television, the Holy Father specified: "The life-style especially in the more industrialised nations all too often causes families to abandon their responsibility to educate their children. Evasion of this duty is made easy by the presence of television and of printed materials in the home. These occupy the time for children and young people. No one can deny the justification for this when the means are lacking, to develop and use to advantage the free time of the young and to direct their energies". Another circumstance that facilitates this is the fact that both parents are busy with their work, in and outside the home. "The result is that these young people are in most need of help in developing their responsible freedom. There is the duty especially for believers, for men and women who love freedom, to protect the young from the aggressions they are subjected to by the media. May no one shirk from this duty by using the excuse that he or she is not involved". "Parents as recipients must actively ensure the moderate, critical, watchful and prudent use of the media".
57. Respect for privacy must be considered in close connection with decency and modesty, which spontaneously defend a person who refuses to be considered and treated like an object of pleasure instead of being respected and loved for himself or herself. If children or young people see that their legitimate privacy is respected, then they will know that they are expected to show the same attitude towards others. This is how they learn to cultivate the proper sense of responsibility before God by developing their interior life and a taste for personal freedom, that makes them capable of loving God and others better.
58. All of this reminds us more generally of self-control, a necessary condition for being capable of self-giving. Children and young people should be encouraged to have esteem for, and to practise self-control and restraint, to live in an orderly way, to make personal sacrifices in a spirit of love for God, self-respect, and generosity towards others, without stifling feelings and tendencies, but channeling them into a virtuous life.
Parents as Models for Their Children
59. The good example and leadership of parents is essential in strengthening the formation of young people in chastity. A mother who values her maternal vocation and her place in the home greatly helps develop the qualities of femininity and motherhood in her daughters, and sets a clear, strong and noble example of womanhood for her sons. A father, whose behaviour is inspired by masculine dignity without "machismo", will be an attractive model for his sons, and inspire respect, admiration and security in his daughters.
60. This is also true for education in a spirit of sacrifice in families, subject more than ever today to the pressures of materialism and consumerism. Only in this way will children grow up "with a correct attitude of freedom with regard to material goods, by adopting a simple and austere life style and being fully convinced that ?man is more precious for what he is than for what he has'. In a society shaken and split by tensions and conflicts caused by the violent clash of various kinds of individualism and selfishness, children must be enriched not only with a sense of true justice, which alone leads to respect for the personal dignity of each individual, but also and more powerfully by a sense of true love, understood as sincere solicitude and disinterested service with regard to others, especially the poorest and those in most need". "This education is fully a part of the ?civilization of love'. It depends on the civilization of love and, in great measure, contributes to its upbuilding".
A Sanctuary of Life and Faith
61. No one can deny that the first example and the greatest help that parents can give their children is their generosity in accepting life, without forgetting that this is how parents help their children to have a simpler lifestyle. Moreover, "...it is certainly less serious to deny their children certain comforts or material advantages than to deprive them of the presence of brothers and sisters, who could help them to grow in humanity and to realize the beauty of life at all its ages and in all its variety".
62. Lastly, we recall that in order to achieve these objectives, the family first of all should be a home of faith and prayer, in which God the Father's presence is sensed, the Word of Jesus is accepted, the Spirit's bond of love is felt, and where the most pure Mother of God is loved and invoked. This life of faith and "Family prayer has for its very own object family life itself, which in all its varying circumstances is seen as a call from God and lived as a filial response to his call. Joys and sorrows, hopes and disappointments, births and birthday celebrations, wedding anniversaries of the parents, departures, separations and home-comings, important and far-reaching decisions, the death of those who are dear, etc. all of these mark God's loving intervention in the family's history. They should be seen as suitable moments for thanksgiving, for petition, for trusting abandonment of the family into the hands of their common Father in heaven".
63. In this atmosphere of prayer and awareness of the presence and fatherhood of God, the truths of faith and morals should be taught, understood and deeply studied with reverence, and the Word of God should be read and lived with love. In this way Christ's truth will build up a family community based on the example and guidance of parents who "penetrate the innermost depths of their children's hearts and leave an impression that the future events in their lives will not be able to efface".
64. Parents in particular have the duty to let their children know about the mysteries of human life, because the family "is, in fact, the best environment to accomplish the obligation of securing a gradual education in sexual life. The family has an affective dignity which is suited to making acceptable without trauma the most delicate realities and to integrating them harmoniously in a balanced and rich personality". As we have recalled, this primary task of the family includes the parents' right that their children should not be obliged to attend courses in school on this subject which are not in harmony with their religious and moral convictions. The school's task is not to substitute for the family, rather it is "assisting and completing the work of parents, furnishing children and adolescents with an evaluation of sexuality as value and task of the whole person, created male and female in the image of God".
In this regard, we recall what the Holy Father teaches in Familiaris Consortio: "The Church is firmly opposed to an often widespread form of imparting sex information dissociated from moral principles. That would merely be an introduction to the experience of pleasure and a stimulus leading to the loss of serenity while still in the years of innocence by opening the way to vice".
Therefore, four general principles will be proposed and afterwards the various stages in a child's development will be examined.
Four Principles Regarding Information about Sexuality
65. 1. Each child is a unique and unrepeatable person and must receive individualized formation. Since parents know, understand and love each of their children in their uniqueness, they are in the best position to decide what the appropriate time is for providing a variety of information, according to their children's physical and spiritual growth. No one can take this capacity for discernment away from conscientious parents.
66. Each child's process of maturation as a person is different. Therefore, the most intimate aspects, whether biological or emotional, should be communicated in a personalized dialogue. In their dialogue with each child, with love and trust, parents communicate something about their own self-giving which makes them capable of giving witness to aspects of the emotional dimension of sexuality that could not be transmitted in other ways.
67. Experience shows that this dialogue works out better when the parent who communicates the biological, emotional, moral and spiritual information is of the same sex as the child or young person. Being aware of the role, emotions and problems of their own sex, mothers have a special bond with their daughters, and fathers with their sons. This natural bond should be respected. Therefore, parents who are alone will have to act with great sensitivity when speaking with a child of the opposite sex, and they may choose to entrust communicating the most intimate details to a trustworthy person of the same sex as the child. Through this collaboration of a subsidiary nature, parents can take advantage of expert, well-formed educators in the school or parish community, or from Catholic associations.
68. 2. The moral dimension must always be part of their explanations. Parents should stress that Christians are called to live the gift of sexuality according to the plan of God who is Love, i.e., in the context of marriage or of consecrated virginity and also celibacy. They must insist on the positive value of chastity and its capacity to generate true love for other persons. This is the most radical and important moral aspect of chastity. Only a person who knows how to be chaste will know how to love in marriage or in virginity.
69. From the earliest age, parents may observe the beginning of instinctive genital activity in their child. It should not be considered repressive to correct such habits gently that could become sinful later, and, when necessary, to teach modesty as the child grows. It is always important to justify the judgement of morally rejecting certain attitudes contrary to the dignity of the person and chastity on adequate, valid and convincing grounds, both at the level of reason and faith, hence in a positive framework with a high concept of personal dignity. Many parental admonitions are merely reproofs or recommendations which the children perceive more as the result of fear of certain social consequences, or related to one's public reputation, rather than arising out of a love that seeks their true good. "I exhort you to correct, with the greatest commitment, the vices and passions that assail us in every age. For if in some stage of our life we sail on, deprecating the values of virtue and thereby suffer continuous shipwreck, we risk arriving in port devoid of all spiritual charge".
70. 3. Formation in chastity and timely information regarding sexuality must be provided in the broadest context of education for love. It is not sufficient, therefore, to provide information about sex together with objective moral principles. Constant help is also required for the growth of children's spiritual life, so that the biological development and impulses they begin to experience will always be accompanied by a growing love of God, the Creator and Redeemer, and an ever greater awareness of the dignity of each human person and his or her body. In the light of the mystery of Christ and the Church, parents can illustrate the positive values of human sexuality in the context of the person's original vocation to love and the universal call to holiness.
71. Therefore, in talks with children, suitable advice should always be given regarding how to grow in the love of God and one's neighbour, and how to overcome any difficulties: "These means are: discipline of the senses and the mind, watchfulness and prudence in avoiding occasions of sin, the observance of modesty, moderation in recreation, wholesome pursuits, assiduous prayer and frequent reception of the Sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist. Young people especially should foster devotion to the Immaculate Mother of God".
72. To teach children how to evaluate the environments they frequent with a critical sense and true autonomy, as well as to accustom them to detachment in using the mass media, parents should always present positive models and suitable ways of using their vital energies, the meaning of friendship and solidarity in the overall area of society and of the Church.
When deviant tendencies and attitudes are present, which require great prudence and caution so as to recognize and evaluate situations properly, parents should also have recourse to specialists with solid scientific and moral formation in order to identify the causes over and above the symptoms, and help the subjects to overcome difficulties in a serious and clear way. Pedagogic action should be directed more to the causes rather than to directly repressing the phenomenon, and, if necessary, they should seek the help of qualified persons, such as doctors, educational experts and psychologists with an upright Christian sensitivity.
73. The objective of the parents' educational task is to pass on to their children the conviction that chastity in one's state in life is possible and that chastity brings joy. Joy springs from an awareness of maturation and harmony in one's emotional life, a gift of God and a gift of love that makes self-giving possible in the framework of one's vocation. Man is in fact the only creature on earth whom God wanted for its own sake, and "man can fully discover his true self only in a sincere giving of himself". "Christ gave laws for everyone...I do not prohibit you from marrying, nor am I against your enjoying yourself. I only want you to do this with temperance, without indecency, guilt and sin. I do not make a law that you should flee to the mountains and deserts, rather that you should be good, modest and chaste, as you live in the midst of the cities".
74. God's help is never lacking if each person makes the necessary commitment to respond to his grace. In helping, forming and respecting their children's conscience, parents should see that they receive the sacraments with awareness, guiding them by their own example. If children and young people experience the effects of God's grace and mercy in the sacraments, they will be capable of living chastity well, as a gift of God, for his glory and in order to love him and other people. Necessary and supernaturally effective help is provided by the Sacrament of Reconciliation, especially if a regular confessor is available. Although it does not necessarily coincide with the role of confessor, spiritual guidance or direction is a valuable aid in progressively enlightening the stages of growth and as moral support.
Reading well-chosen and recommended books of formation is also of great help both in offering a wider and deeper formation and in providing examples and testimonies of virtue.
75. Once the objectives of the information to be provided have been identified, the time and ways must be specified, starting from childhood.
4. Parents should provide this information with great delicacy, but clearly and at the appropriate time. Parents are well aware that their children must be treated in a personalized way, according to the personal conditions of their physiological and psychological development, and taking into due consideration the cultural environment of life and the adolescent's daily experience. In order to evaluate properly what they should say to each child, it is very important that parents first of all seek light from the Lord in prayer and that they discuss this together so that their words will be neither too explicit nor too vague. Giving too many details to children is counterproductive. But delaying the first information for too long is imprudent, because every human person has natural curiosity in this regard and, sooner or later, everyone begins to ask themselves questions, especially in cultures where too much can be seen, even in public.
76. In general, the first sexual information to be given to a small child does not deal with genital sexuality, but rather with pregnancy and the birth of a brother or sister. The child's natural curiosity is stimulated, for example, when it sees the signs of pregnancy in its mother and experiences waiting for a baby. Parents can take advantage of this happy experience in order to communicate some simple facts about pregnancy, but always in the deepest context of wonder at the creative work of God, who wants the new life he has given to be cared for in the mother's body, near her heart.
Children's Principal Stages of Development
77. It is important for parents to take their children's needs into consideration during the different stages of development. Keeping in mind that each child should receive individualized formation, parents can adapt the stages of education in love to the particular requirements of each child.
1. The Years of Innocence
78. It can be said that a child is in the stage described in John Paul II's words as "the years of innocence" from about five years of age until puberty the beginning of which can be set at the first signs of changes in the boy or girl's body (the visible effect of an increased production of sexual hormones). This period of tranquility and serenity must never be disturbed by unnecessary information about sex. During those years, before any physical sexual development is evident, it is normal for the child's interests to turn to other aspects of life. The rudimentary instinctive sexuality of very small children has disappeared. Boys and girls of this age are not particularly interested in sexual problems, and they prefer to associate with children of their own sex. So as not to disturb this important natural phase of growth, parents will recognize that prudent formation in chaste love during this period should be indirect, in preparation for puberty, when direct information will be necessary.
79. During this stage of development, children are normally at ease with their body and its functions. They accept the need for modesty in dress and behaviour. Although they are aware of the physical differences between the two sexes, the growing child generally shows little interest in genital functions. The discovery of the wonders of creation which accompanies this phase and the experiences in this regard at home and in school should also be oriented towards the stages of catechesis and preparation for the sacraments which takes place within the ecclesial community.
80. Nonetheless, this period of childhood is not without its own significance in terms of psycho-sexual development. A growing boy or girl is learning from adult example and family experience what it means to be a woman or a man. Certainly, expressions of natural tenderness and sensitivity should not be discouraged among boys, nor should girls be excluded from vigorous physical activities. On the other hand, in some societies subjected to ideological pressures, parents should also protect themselves from an exaggerated opposition to what is defined as a "stereotyping of roles". The real differences between the two sexes should not be ignored or minimized, and in a healthy family environment children will learn that it is natural for a certain difference to exist between the usual family and domestic roles of men and women.
81. During this stage, girls will generally be developing a maternal interest in babies, motherhood and homemaking. By constantly taking the Motherhood of the most holy Virgin Mary as a model, they should be encouraged to value their femininity.
82. In this period, a boy is at a relatively tranquil stage of development. This is often the easiest time for him to set up a good relationship with his father. At this time, he should learn that, although it must be considered as a divine gift, his masculinity is not a sign of superiority with regard to women, but a call from God to take on certain roles and responsibilities. Boys should be discouraged from becoming overly aggressive or too concerned about physical prowess as proof of their virility.
83. Nonetheless, in the context of moral and sexual information, various problems can arise in this stage of childhood. In some societies today, there are planned and determined attempts to impose premature sex information on children. But, at this stage of development, children are still not capable of fully understanding the value of the affective dimension of sexuality. They cannot understand and control sexual imagery within the proper context of moral principles and, for this reason, they cannot integrate premature sexual information with moral responsibility. Such information tends to shatter their emotional and educational development and to disturb the natural serenity of this period of life. Parents should politely but firmly exclude any attempts to violate children's innocence because such attempts compromise the spiritual, moral and emotional development of growing persons who have a right to their innocence.
84. A further problem arises when children receive premature sex information from the mass media or from their peers who have been led astray or received premature sex education. In this case, parents will have to begin to give carefully limited sexual information, usually to correct immoral and erroneous information or to control obscene language.
85. Sexual violence with regard to children is not infrequent. Parents must protect their children, first by teaching them a form of modesty and reserve with regard to strangers, as well as by giving suitable sexual information, but without going into details and particulars that might upset or frighten them.
86. As in the first years of life also during childhood, parents should encourage a spirit of collaboration, obedience, generosity and self-denial in their children, as well as a capacity for self-reflection and sublimation. In fact, a characteristic of this period of development is an attraction toward intellectual activities. Using the intellect makes it possible to acquire the strength and ability to control the surrounding situation and, before long, to control bodily instincts, so as to transform them into intellectual and rational activities.
An undisciplined or spoilt child is inclined toward a certain immaturity and moral weakness in future years because chastity is difficult to maintain if a person develops selfish or disordered habits and cannot behave with proper concern and respect for others. Parents should present objective standards of what is right and wrong, thereby creating a sure moral framework for life.
87. Puberty, which constitutes the initial phase of adolescence, is a time in which parents are called to be particularly attentive to the Christian education of their children. This is a time of self-discovery and "of one's own inner world, the time of generous plans, the time when the feeling of love awakens, with the biological impulses of sexuality, the time of the desire to be together, the time of particularly intense joy connected with the exhilarating discovery of life. But often it is also the age of deeper questioning, of anguished or even frustrating searching, of a certain mistrust of others and dangerous introspection, and the age sometimes of the first experiences of setbacks and of disappointments".
88. Parents should pay particular attention to their children's gradual development and to their physical and psychological changes, which are decisive in the maturing of the personality. Without showing anxiety, fear or obsessive concern, parents will not let cowardice or convenience hinder their work. This is naturally an important moment for teaching the value of chastity, which will also be expressed in the way sexual information is given. In this phase, educational needs also concern the genital aspects, hence requiring a presentation both on the level of values and the reality as a whole. Moreover, this implies an understanding of the context of procreation, marriage and the family, a context which must be kept present in an authentic task of sexual education.
89. Beginning with the changes which their sons and daughters experience in their bodies, parents are thus bound to give more detailed explanations about sexuality (in an on-going relationship of trust and friendship) each time girls confide in their mothers and boys in their fathers. This relationship of trust and friendship should have already started in the first years of life.
90. Another important task for parents is following the gradual physiological development of their daughters and helping them joyfully to accept the development of their femininity in a bodily, psychological and spiritual sense. Therefore, normally, one should discuss the cycles of fertility and their meaning. But it is still not necessary to give detailed explanations about sexual union, unless this is explicitly requested.
91. It is very important for adolescent boys to be helped to understand the stages of physical and physiological development of the genital organs before they get this information from their companions or from persons who are not well-intentioned. The physiological facts about male puberty should be presented in an atmosphere of serenity, positively and with reserve, in the framework of marriage, family and fatherhood. Instructing both adolescent girls and boys should also include detailed and sufficient information about the bodily and psychological characteristics of the opposite sex, about whom their curiosity is growing.
In this area, the additional supportive information of a conscientious doctor or even a psychologist can help parents, without separating this information from what pertains to the faith and the educational work of the priest.
92. Through a trusting and open dialogue, parents can guide their daughters in facing any emotional perplexity, and support the value of Christian chastity out of consideration for the other sex. Instruction for both girls and boys should aim at pointing out the beauty of motherhood and the wonderful reality of procreation, as well as the deep meaning of virginity. In this way they will be helped to go against the hedonistic mentality which is very widespread today and particularly, at such a decisive stage, in preventing the "contraceptive mentality", which unfortunately is very common and which girls will have to face later in marriage.
93. During puberty, the psychological and emotional development of boys can make them vulnerable to erotic fantasies and they may be tempted to try sexual experiences. Parents should be close to their sons and correct the tendency to use sexuality in a hedonistic and materialistic way. Therefore, they should remind boys about God's gift, received in order to cooperate with him "to actualize in history the original blessing of the Creator that of transmitting by procreation the divine image from person to person..."; and this will strengthen their awareness that, "Fecundity is the fruit and the sign of conjugal love, the living testimony of the full reciprocal self-giving of the spouses". In this way sons will also learn the respect due to women. The parents' task of informing and instructing is necessary, not because their sons would not know about sexual reality in other ways, but so that they will know about it in the right light.
94. In a positive and prudent way, parents will carry out what the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council requested: "It is important to give suitable and timely instruction to young people, above all in the heart of their own families, about the dignity of married love, its role and its exercise; in this way they will be able to engage in honourable courtship and enter upon marriage of their own".
Positive information about sexuality should always be part of a formation plan so as to create the Christian context in which all information about life, sexual activity, anatomy and hygiene is given. Therefore, the spiritual and moral dimensions must always be predominant so as to have two special purposes: presenting God's commandments as a way of life, and the formation of a right conscience.
To the young man who asked him what he had to do in order to attain eternal life, Jesus replied: "If you would enter life, keep the commandments" (Matthew 19:17). After listing the ones that concern love for one's neighbour, Jesus summed them up in this positive formulation: "You shall love your neighbour as yourself" (Matthew 19:19). In order to present the commandments as God's gift (written by his hand, cf. Exodus 31: 18), expressing the Covenant with him, confirmed by Jesus' own example, it is very important for the adolescent not to separate the commandments from their relationship with a rich interior life, free from selfishness.
95. As its departure point, the formation of conscience requires being enlightened about: God's project of love for every single person, the positive and liberating value of the moral law, and awareness both of the weakness caused by sin and the means of grace which strengthen us on our path towards the good and towards salvation.
"Moral conscience, present at the heart of the person" which is "man's most secret core and sanctuary", as the Second Vatican Council affirms, "enjoins him at the appropriate moment to do good and to avoid evil. It also judges particular choices, approving those that are good and denouncing those that are evil. It bears witness to the authority of truth in reference to the supreme Good to which the human person is drawn, and it welcomes the commandments".
In fact, "conscience is a judgement of reason whereby the human person recognizes the moral quality of a concrete act that he is going to perform, is in the process of performing, or has already completed". Therefore, the formation of conscience requires being enlightened about the truth and God's plan and must not be confused with a vague subjective feeling or with personal opinion.
96. In answering children's questions, parents should offer well-reasoned arguments about the great value of chastity and show the intellectual and human weakness of theories that inspire permissive and hedonistic behaviour. They will answer clearly, without giving excessive importance to pathological sexual problems. Nor will they give the false impression that sex is something shameful or dirty, because it is a great gift of God who placed the ability to generate life in the human body, thereby sharing his creative power with us. Indeed, both in the Scriptures (cf. Song of Songs 1-8; Hosea 2; Jeremiah 3: 1-3; Ezekial 23, etc.) and in the Christian mystical tradition, conjugal love has always been considered a symbol and image of God's love for us.
97. Since boys and girls at puberty are particularly vulnerable to emotional influences, through dialogue and the way they live, parents have the duty to help their children resist negative outside influences that may lead them to have little regard for Christian formation in love and chastity. Especially in societies overwhelmed by consumer pressures, parents should sometimes watch out for their children's relations with young people of the opposite sex without making it too obvious. Even if they are socially acceptable, some habits of speech and conduct are not morally correct and represent a way of trivializing sexuality, reducing it to a consumer object. Parents should therefore teach their children the value of Christian modesty, moderate dress, and, when it comes to trends, the necessary autonomy characteristic of a man or woman with a mature personality.
3. Adolescence in One's Plan in Life
98. In terms of personal development, adolescence represents the period of self- projection and therefore the discovery of one's vocation. Both for physiological, social and cultural reasons, this period tends to be longer today than in the past. Christian parents should "educate the children for life in such a way that each one may fully perform his or her role according to the vocation received from God". This is an extremely important task which basically constitutes the culmination of the parents' mission. Although this task is always important, it becomes especially so in this period of their children's life: "Therefore, in the life of each member of the lay faithful there are particularly significant and decisive moments for discerning God's call...Among these are the periods of adolescence and young adulthood".
99. It is very important for young people not to find themselves alone in discerning their personal vocation. Parental advice is relevant, at times decisive, as well as the support of a priest or other properly formed persons (in parishes, associations or in the new fruitful ecclesial movements, etc.) who are capable of helping them discover the vocational meaning of life and the various forms of the universal call to holiness. "Christ's ?Follow me' makes itself heard on the different paths taken by the disciples and confessors of the divine Redeemer".
100. For centuries, the concept of vocation was reserved exclusively for the priesthood and religious life. In recalling the Lord's teaching, "You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect" (Matthew 5:48), the Second Vatican Council renewed the universal call to holiness. As Pope Paul VI wrote shortly after the Council: "This strong invitation to holiness could be regarded as the most characteristic element in the whole Magisterium of the Council, and so to say, its ultimate purpose". This was reiterated by Pope John Paul II: "The Second Vatican Council has significantly spoken on the universal call to holiness. It is possible to say that this call to holiness is precisely the basic charge entrusted to all the sons and daughters of the Church by a Council which intended to bring a renewal of Christian life based on the gospel. This charge is not a simple moral exhortation, but an undeniable requirement arising from the mystery of the Church".
God calls everyone to holiness. He has very precise plans for each person, a personal vocation which each must recognize, accept and develop. To all Christians priests, laity, married people or celibates the words of the Apostle of the Nations apply: "God's chosen ones, holy and beloved" (Colossians 3:12).
101. Therefore, in catechesis and the formation given both within and outside of the family, the Church's teaching on the sublime value of virginity and celibacy must never be lacking, but also the vocational meaning of marriage, which a Christian can never regard as only a human venture. As St. Paul says "This is a great mystery, and I mean in reference to Christ and the church." (Ephesians 5:32). Giving young people this firm conviction is of supreme importance for the good both of the Church and humanity which "depend in great part on parents and on the family life that they build in their homes".
102. Parents should always strive to give example and witness with their own lives to fidelity to God and one another in the marriage covenant. Their example is especially decisive in adolescence, the phase when young people are looking for lived and attractive behaviour models. Since sexual problems become more evident at this time, parents should also help them to love the beauty and strength of chastity through prudent advice, highlighting the inestimable value of prayer and frequent fruitful recourse to the sacraments for a chaste life, especially personal confession. Furthermore, parents should be capable of giving their children, when necessary, a positive and serene explanation of the solid points of Christian morality such as, for example, the indissolubility of marriage and the relationship between love and procreation, as well as the immorality of premarital relations, abortion, contraception and masturbation. With regard to these immoral situations that contradict the meaning of giving in marriage, it is also good to recall that: "The two dimensions of conjugal union, the unitive and the procreative, cannot be artificially separated without damaging the deepest truth of the conjugal act itself". In this regard, an in-depth and reflective knowledge of the documents of the Church dealing with these problems will be of valuable assistance to parents.
103. Masturbation particularly constitutes a very serious disorder that is illicit in itself and cannot be morally justified, although "the immaturity of adolescence (which can sometimes persist after that age), psychological imbalance or habit can influence behaviour, diminishing the deliberate character of the act and bringing about a situation whereby subjectively there may not always be serious fault". Therefore, adolescents should be helped to overcome manifestations of this disorder, which often express the inner conflicts of their age and, in many cases, a selfish vision of sexuality.
104. A particular problem that can appear during the process of sexual maturation is homosexuality, which is also spreading more and more in urbanized societies. This phenomenon must be presented with balanced judgement, in the light of the documents of the Church. Young people need to be helped to distinguish between the concepts of what is normal and abnormal, between subjective guilt and objective disorder, avoiding what would arouse hostility. On the other hand, the structural and complementary orientation of sexuality must be well clarified in relation to marriage, procreation and Christian chastity. "Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained". A distinction must be made between a tendency that can be innate and acts of homosexuality that "are intrinsically disordered" and contrary to Natural Law.
Especially when the practice of homosexual acts has not become a habit, many cases can benefit from appropriate therapy. In any case, persons in this situation must be accepted with respect, dignity and delicacy, and all forms of unjust discrimination must be avoided. If parents notice the appearance of this tendency or of related behaviour in their children, during childhood or adolescence, they should seek help from expert qualified persons in order to obtain all possible assistance.
For most homosexual persons, this condition constitutes a trial. "They must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfil God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition". "Homosexual persons are called to chastity".
105. Awareness of the positive significance of sexuality for personal harmony and development, as well as the person's vocation in the family, society and the Church, always represents the educational horizon to be presented during the stages of adolescent growth. It must never be forgotten that the disordered use of sex tends progressively to destroy the person's capacity to love by making pleasure, instead of sincere self-giving, the end of sexuality and by reducing other persons to objects of one's own gratification. In this way the meaning of true love between a man and a woman (love always open to life) is weakened as well as the family itself. Moreover, this subsequently leads to disdain for the human life which could be conceived, which, in some situations, is then regarded as an evil that threatens personal pleasure. "The trivialization of sexuality is among the principal factors which have led to contempt for new life. Only a true love is able to protect life".
106. We must also remember how adolescents in industrialized societies are preoccupied and at times disturbed not only by the problems of self-identity, discovering their plan in life and difficulties in successfully integrating sexuality in a mature and well-oriented personality. They also have problems in accepting themselves and their bodies. In this regard, out-patient and specialized centres for adolescents have now sprung up, often characterized by purely hedonistic purposes. On the other hand, a healthy culture of the body leads to accepting oneself as a gift and as an incarnated spirit, called to be open to God and society. A healthy culture of the body should accompany formation in this very constructive period, which is also not without its risks.
In the face of what hedonistic groups propose, especially in affluent societies, it is very important to present young people with the ideals of human and Christian solidarity and concrete ways of being committed in Church associations, movements and voluntary Catholic and missionary activities.
107. Friendships are very important in this period. According to local social conditions and customs, adolescence is a time when young people enjoy more autonomy in their relations with others and in the hours they keep in family life. Without taking away their rightful autonomy, when necessary, parents should know how to say "no" to their children and, at the same time, they should know how to cultivate a taste in their children for what is beautiful, noble and true. Parents should also be sensitive to adolescents' self-esteem, which may pass through a confused phase when they are not clear about what personal dignity means and requires.
108. Through loving and patient advice, parents will help young people to avoid an excessive closing in on themselves. When necessary, they will also teach them to go against social trends that tend to stifle true love and an appreciation for spiritual realities: "Be sober, be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking some one to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experience of suffering is required of your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, establish, and strengthen you" (1 Peter 5:8-10).
4. Towards Adulthood
109. It is not within the scope of this document to deal with the subject of proximate and immediate preparation for marriage, required for Christian formation and particularly recommended by the needs of the times and Church teaching. Nevertheless, it must be kept in mind that the parents' mission does not end when their children come of legal age which, in any case, varies according to different cultures and laws. Some particularly significant moments for young people are also when they enter the working world or higher education, moments when they come into contact with different behaviour models and occasions that represent a real personal challenge a brusque contact at times, but a potentially beneficial one.
110. By keeping open a confident dialogue that encourages a sense of responsibility and respects their children's legitimate and necessary autonomy, parents will always be their reference point, through both advice and example, so that the process of broader socialization will make it possible for them to achieve a mature and integrated personality, internally and socially. In a special way, care should be taken that children do not discontinue their faith relationship with the Church and her activities which, on the contrary, should be intensified. They should learn how to choose models of thought and life for their future and how to become committed in the cultural and social area as Christians, without fear of professing that they are Christians and without losing a sense of vocation and the search for their own vocation.
In the period leading to engagement and the choice of that prefered attachment which can lead to forming a family, the role of parents should not consist merely in prohibitions, much less in imposing the choice of a fiancé or fiancée. On the contrary, they should help their children to define the necessary conditions for a serious, honorable and promising union, and support them on a path of clear and coherent Christian witness in relating with the person of the other sex.
111. Parents should avoid adopting the widespread mentality whereby girls are given every recommendation regarding virtue and the value of virginity, while the same is not required for boys, as if everything were licit for them.
For a Christian conscience and a vision of marriage and the family, St. Paul's recommendation to the Philippians holds for every type of vocation: "...whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellency, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things" (Philippians 4:8).
112. In the context of education in the virtues, parents thus have the task of making themselves the promoters of their children's authentic education for love. Through its very nature, the primary generation of a human life in the procreative act must be followed by the secondary generation, whereby parents help their child to develop his or her own personality.
Therefore, summing up what has been said so far and putting it on a practical level, whatever is set out in the following paragraphs is recommended.
Recommendations for Parents and Educators
113. It is recommended that parents be aware of their own educational role and defend and carry out this primary right and duty. It follows that any educative activity, related to education for love and carried out by persons outside the family, must be subject to the parents' acceptance of it and must be seen not as a substitute but as a support for their work. In fact, "Sex education, which is a basic right and duty of parents, must always be carried out under their attentive guidance whether at home or in educational centres chosen and controlled by them". Frequently parents are not lacking in awareness and effort, but they are quite alone, defenceless and often made to feel they are wrong. They need understanding, but also support and help by groups, associations and institutions.
1. Recommendations for Parents
114. 1. It is recommended that parents associate with other parents, not only in order to protect, maintain or fill out their own role as the primary educators of their children, especially in the area of education for love, but also to fight against damaging forms of sex education and to ensure that their children will be educated according to Christian principles and in a way that is consonant with their personal development.
115. 2. In the case where parents are helped by others in educating their own children for love, it is recommended that they keep themselves precisely informed on the content and methodology with which such supplementary education is imparted. No one can bind children or young people to secrecy about the content and method of instruction provided outside the family.
116. 3. We are aware of the difficulty and often the impossibility for parents to participate fully in all supplementary instruction provided outside the home. Nevertheless, they have the right to be informed about the structure and content of the programme. In all cases, their right to be present during classes cannot be denied.
117. 4. It is recommended that parents attentively follow every form of sex education that is given to their children outside the home, removing their children whenever this education does not correspond to their own principles. However, such a decision of the parents must not become grounds for discrimination against their children. On the other hand, parents who remove their children from such instruction have the duty to give them an adequate formation, appropriate to each child or young person's stage of development.
2. Recommendations for All Educators
118. 1. Since each child or young person must be able to live his or her own sexuality in conformity with Christian principles, and hence be able to exercise the virtue of chastity, no educator not even parents can interfere with this right to chastity (cf. Matthew 18: 4-7).
119. 2. It is recommended that respect be given to the right of the child and the young person to be adequately informed by their own parents on moral and sexual questions in a way that complies with his or her desire to be chaste and to be formed in chastity. This right is further qualified by a child's stage of development, his or her capacity to integrate moral truth with sexual information, and by respect for his or her innocence and tranquility.
120. 3. It is recommended that respect be given to the right of the child or young person to withdraw from any form of sexual instruction imparted outside the home. Neither the children nor other members of their family should ever be penalized or discriminated against for this decision.
Four Working Principles and Their Particular Norms
121. In the light of these recommendations, education for love can take concrete form in four working principles.
122. 1. Human sexuality is a sacred mystery and must be presented according to the doctrinal and moral teaching of the Church, always bearing in mind the effects of original sin.
Informed by Christian reverence and realism, this doctrinal principle must guide every moment of education for love. In an age when the mystery has been taken from human sexuality, parents must take care to avoid trivializing human sexuality, in their teaching and in the help offered by others. In particular, profound respect must be maintained for the difference between man and woman which reflects the love and fruitfulness of God himself.
123. At the same time, when teaching Catholic doctrine and morality about sexuality, the lasting effects of original sin must be taken into account, that is to say, human weakness and the need for the grace of God to overcome temptations and avoid sin. In this regard, the conscience of every individual must be formed clearly, precisely and in accord with spiritual values. But Catholic morality is never limited to teaching about avoiding sin. It also deals with growth in the Christian virtues and developing the capacity for self-giving in the vocation of one's own life.
124. 2. Only information proportionate to each phase of their individual development should be presented to children and young people.
This principle of timing has already been presented in the study of the various phases of the development of children and young people. Parents and all who help them should be sensitive: (a) to the different phases of development, in particular, the "years of innocence" and puberty, (b) to the way each child or young person experiences the various stages of life, (c) to particular problems associated with these stages.
125. In the light of this principle, the relevance of timing in relation to specific problems can also be indicated.
(a) In later adolescence, young people can first be introduced to the knowledge of the signs of fertility and then to the natural regulation of fertility, but only in the context of education for love, fidelity in marriage, God's plan for procreation and respect for human life.
(b) Homosexuality should not be discussed before adolescence unless a specific serious problem has arisen in a particular situation. This subject must be presented only in terms of chastity, health and "the truth about human sexuality in its relationship to the family as taught by the Church".
(c) Sexual perversions that are relatively rare should not be dealt with except through individual counselling, as the parents' response to genuine problems.
126. 3. No material of an erotic nature should be presented to children or young people of any age, individually or in a group.
This principle of decency must safeguard the virtue of Christian chastity.
Therefore, in passing on sexual information in the context of education for love, the instruction must always be "positive and prudent" and "clear and delicate". These four words used by the Catholic Church exclude every form of unacceptable content in sexual education.
Moreover, even if they are not erotic, graphic and realistic representations of childbirth, for example in a film, should be made known gradually, so as not to create fear and negative attitudes towards procreation in girls and young women.
127. 4. No one should ever be invited, let alone obliged, to act in any way that could objectively offend against modesty or which could subjectively offend against his or her own delicacy or sense of privacy.
This principle of respect for the child excludes all improper forms of involving children and young people. In this regard, among other things, this can include the following methods that abuse sex education: (a) every "dramatized" representation, mime or "role playing" which depict genital or erotic matters, (b) making drawings, charts or models etc. of this nature, (c) seeking personal information about sexual questions or asking that family information be divulged, (d) oral or written exams about genital or erotic questions.
128. Parents and all who help them should keep these principles and norms in mind when they take up various methods which seem suitable in the light of parental and expert experience. We will now go on to single out these recommended methods. The main methods to avoid will also be indicated, together with the ideologies that promote and inspire them.
129. The normal and fundamental method, already proposed in this guide, is personal dialogue between parents and their children, that is, individual formation within the family circle. In fact there is no substitute for a dialogue of trust and openness between parents and their children, a dialogue which respects not only their stages of development but also the young persons as individuals. However, when parents seek help from others, there are various useful methods which can be recommended in the light of parental experience and in conformity with Christian prudence.
130. 1. As couples or as individuals, parents can meet with others who are prepared for education for love to draw on their experience and competence. These people can offer explanations and provide parents with books and other resources approved by the ecclesiastical authorities.
131. 2. Parents who are not always prepared to face up to the problematic side of education for love can take part in meetings with their children, guided by expert persons who are worthy of trust, for example, doctors, priests, educators. In some cases, in the interest of greater freedom of expression, meetings where only daughters or sons are present seem preferable.
132. 3. In certain situations, parents can entrust part of education for love to another trustworthy person, if there are matters which require a specific competence or pastoral care in particular cases.
133. 4. Catechesis on morality may be provided by other trustworthy persons, with particular emphasis on sexual ethics at puberty and adolescence. Parents should take an interest in the moral catechesis which is given to their own children outside the home and use it as a support for their own educational work. Such catechesis must not include the more intimate aspects of sexual information, whether biological or affective, which belong to individual formation within the family.
134. 5. The religious formation of the parents themselves, in particular solid catechetical preparation of adults in the truth of love, builds the foundations of a mature faith that can guide them in the formation of their own children. This adult catechesis enables them not only to deepen their understanding of the community of life and love in marriage, but also helps them learn how to communicate better with their own children. Furthermore, in the very process of forming their children in love, parents will find that they benefit much, because they will discover that this ministry of love helps them to "maintain a living awareness of the ?gift' they continually receive from their children". To make parents capable of carrying out their educational work, special formation courses with the help of experts can be promoted.
Methods and Ideologies to Avoid
135. Today parents should be attentive to ways in which an immoral education can be passed on to their children through various methods promoted by groups with positions and interests contrary to Christian morality. It would be impossible to indicate all unacceptable methods. Here are presented only some of the more widely diffused methods that threaten the rights of parents and the moral life of their children.
136. In the first place, parents must reject secularized and anti-natalist sex education, which puts God at the margin of life and regards the birth of a child as a threat. This sex education is spread by large organizations and international associations that promote abortion, sterilization and contraception. These organizations want to impose a false lifestyle against the truth of human sexuality. Working at national or state levels, these organizations try to arouse the fear of the "threat of over-population" among children and young people to promote the contraceptive mentality, that is, the "anti- life" mentality. They spread false ideas about the "reproductive health" and "sexual and reproductive rights" of young people. Furthermore, some antinatalist organizations maintain those clinics which, violating the rights of parents, provide abortion and contraception for young people, thus promoting promiscuity and consequently an increase in teenage pregnancies. "As we look towards the year 2000, how can we fail to think of the young? What is being held up to them? A society of ?things' and not of ?persons'. The right to do as they will from their earliest years, without any constraint, provided it is ?safe'. The unreserved gift of self, mastery of one's instincts, the sense of responsibility these are notions considered as belonging to another age".
137. Before adolescence, the immoral nature of abortion, surgical or chemical, can be gradually explained in terms of Catholic morality and reverence for human life.
As regards sterilization and contraception, these should not be discussed before adolescence and only in conformity with the teaching of the Catholic Church. Therefore, the moral, spiritual and health values of methods for the natural regulation of fertility will be emphasized, at the same time indicating the dangers and ethical aspects of the artificial methods. In particular, the substantial and deep difference between natural methods and artificial methods will be shown, both with regard to respect for God's plan for marriage as well as for achieving "the total reciprocal self- giving of husband and wife" and openness to life.
138. In some societies professional associations of sex-educators, sex-counsellors and sex-therapists are operating. Because their work is often based on unsound theories, lacking scientific value and closed to an authentic anthropology, and theories that do not recognize the true value of chastity, parents should regard such associations with great caution, no matter what official recognition they may have received. When their outlook is out of harmony with the teachings of the Church, this is evident not only in their work, but also in their publications which are widely diffused in various countries.
139. Another abuse occurs whenever sex education is given to children by teaching them all the intimate details of genital relationships, even in a graphic way. Today this is often motivated by wanting to provide education for "safe sex", above all in relation to the spread of AIDS. In this situation, parents must also reject the promotion of so-called "safe sex" or "safer sex", a dangerous and immoral policy based on the deluded theory that the condom can provide adequate protection against AIDS. Parents must insist on continence outside marriage and fidelity in marriage as the only true and secure education for the prevention of this contagious disease.
140. One widely-used, but possibly harmful, approach goes by the name of "values clarification". Young people are encouraged to reflect upon, to clarify and to decide upon moral issues with the greatest degree of "autonomy", ignoring the objective reality of the moral law in general and disregarding the formation of consciences on the specific Christian moral precepts, as affirmed by the Magisterium of the Church. Young people are given the idea that a moral code is something which they create themselves, as if man were the source and norm of morality.
However, the values clarification method impedes the true freedom and autonomy of young people at an insecure stage of their development. In practice, not only is the opinion of the majority favoured, but complex moral situations are put before young people, far removed from the normal moral choices they face each day, in which good or evil are easily recognizable. This unacceptable method tends to be closely linked with moral relativism, and thus encourages indifference to moral law and permissiveness.
141. Parents should also be attentive to ways in which sexual instruction can be inserted in the context of other subjects which are otherwise useful (for example, health and hygiene, personal development, family life, children's literature, social and cultural studies etc.). In these situations it is more difficult to control the content of sexual instruction. This method of inclusion is used in particular by those who promote sex instruction within the perspective of birth control or in countries where the government does not respect the rights of parents in this field. But catechesis would also be distorted if the inseparable links between religion and morality were to be used as a pretext for introducing into religious instruction the biological and affective sexual information which the parents should give according to their prudent decision in their own home.
142. Finally, as a general guideline, one needs to bear in mind, that all the different methods of sexual education should be judged by parents in the light of the principles and moral norms of the Church, which express human values in daily life. The negative effects which various methods can produce in the personality of children and young people should also be taken into account.
Inculturation and Education for Love
143. An authentic education for love must take account of the cultural context in which the parents and their children live. As a union between professed faith and concrete life, inculturization means creating a harmonious relationship between faith and culture, where Christ and his Gospel have absolute precedence over culture. "Therefore, because it transcends the entire natural and cultural order, the Christian faith is, on the one hand, compatible with all cultures insofar as they conform to right reason and good will, and, on the other hand, to an eminent degree, is a dynamizing factor of culture. A single principle explains the totality of relationships between faith and culture: Grace respects nature, healing in it the wounds of sin, comforting and elevating it. Elevation to the divine life is the specific finality of grace, but it cannot realize this unless nature is healed and unless elevation to the supernatural order brings nature, in the way proper to itself, to the plenitude of perfection". Therefore, explicit and premature sex education can never be justified in the name of a prevailing secularized culture. On the contrary, parents must educate their own children to understand and face up to the forces of this culture, so that they may always follow the way of Christ.
144. In traditional cultures, parents must not accept practices which are contrary to Christian morality, for example rites associated with puberty which sometimes involve introducing young people to sexual practices or acts contrary to the dignity and rights of the person, such as the genital mutilation of girls. Thus the authorities of the Church are to judge whether local customs are compatible with Christian morality. But, the traditions of modesty and reserve in sexual matters, which characterize various societies, must be respected everywhere. At the same time, the right of young people to adequate information must be maintained. Furthermore, the particular role of the family in such a culture must be respected, without imposing any Western model of sex education.
Assistance for Parents
145. There are various way of helping and supporting parents in fulfilling their fundamental right and duty to educate their children for love. Such assistance never means taking from parents or diminishing their formative right and duty, because they remain "original and primary", "irreplaceable and inalienable". Therefore, the role which others can carry out in helping parents is always (a) subsidiary, because the formative role of the family is always preferable, and (b) subordinate, that is, subject to the parents' attentive guidance and control. Everyone must observe the right order of cooperation and collaboration between parents and those who can help them in their task. It is clear that the assistance of others must be given first and foremost to parents rather than to their children.
146. Those who are called to help parents in educating their children for love must be disposed and prepared to teach in conformity with the authentic moral doctrine of the Catholic Church. Moreover, they must be mature persons, of a good moral reputation, faithful to their own Christian state of life, married or single, laity, religious or priests. They must not only be prepared in the details of moral and sexual information but they must also be sensitive to the rights and role of parents and the family, as well as the needs and problems of children and young people. In this way, in the light of the principles and content of this guide, they must enter "into the same spirit that animates parents". But if parents believe themselves to be capable of providing an adequate education for love, they are not bound to accept assistance.
Valid Sources for Education for Love
147. The Pontifical Council for the Family is aware of the great need for valid material, specifically prepared for parents in conformity with the principles set out in this guide. Parents who are competent in this field and convinced of these principles should be involved in preparing this material. They will thus be able to offer their own experience and wisdom in order to help others educate their children for chastity. Parents will also welcome the assistance and supervision of the appropriate ecclesiastical authorities in promoting suitable material and in removing or correcting what does not conform to the principles set out in this guide, concerning doctrine, timing and the content and method of such education. These principles also apply to all the modern means of social communication. In a special way, this Pontifical Council for the Family is counting on the work of sensitization and support by the Episcopal Conferences, who will know how to vindicate, where necessary, the right of the family and parents and their proper domains, also with regard to State educational programmes.
Solidarity with Parents
148. In fulfilling a ministry of love to their own children, parents should enjoy the support and cooperation of the other members of the Church. The rights of parents must be recognized, protected and maintained, not only to ensure solid formation of children and young people, but also to guarantee the right order of cooperation and collaboration between parents and those who can help them in their task. Likewise, in parishes or apostolates, clergy and religious should support and encourage parents in striving to form their own children. In their turn, parents should remember that the family is not the only or exclusive formative community. Thus they should cultivate a cordial and active relationship with other persons who can help them, while never forgetting their own inalienable rights.
Hope and Trust
149. In the face of many challenges to Christian chastity, the gifts of nature and grace which parents enjoy always remain the most solid foundations on which the Church forms her children. Much of the formation in the home is indirect, incarnated in a loving and tender atmosphere, for it arises from the presence and example of parents whose love is pure and generous. If parents are given confidence in this task of education for love, they will be inspired to overcome the challenges and problems of our times by their own ministry of love.
150. The Pontifical Council for the Family therefore urges parents to have confidence in their rights and duties regarding the education of their children, so as to go forward with wisdom and knowledge, knowing that they are sustained by God's gift. In this noble task, may parents always place their trust in God through prayer to the Holy Spirit, the gentle Paraclete and Giver of all good gifts. May they seek the powerful intercession and protection of Mary Immaculate, the Virgin Mother of fair love and model of faithful purity. Let them also invoke Saint Joseph, her just and chaste spouse, following his example of fidelity and purity of heart. May parents constantly rely on the love which they offer to their own children, a love which "casts out fear", which "bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things" (1 Corinthians 13:7). Such love is and must be aimed towards eternity, towards the unending happiness promised by Our Lord Jesus Christ to those who follow him: "Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God" (Matthew 5:8).
Vatican City, December 8, 1995
Alfonso Card. López Trujillo
President of the Pontifical Council for the Family
+ Most Rev. Elio Sgreccia
Titular Bishop of Zama Minor
Secretary of the Pontifical Council
for the Family