By Celine Klosterman
CLINTON — In pursuing chastity, love your spouse before you meet him or her, Jason Evert said.
Do you want your future spouse fooling around with someone else?, he asked high-school students from Prince of Peace College Preparatory Oct. 7. If not, don’t be unfaithful to your future spouse, either.
The nationally known chastity speaker gave several 75-minute, humor-filled talks to students — and some talks to parents — at Catholic churches and schools in Burlington, Clinton, Davenport and Bettendorf last week. His visit to the Davenport Diocese resulted largely from the efforts of the pro-life committee at Prince of Peace Parish and was supported by the Love Squad, a new, 16-member pro-life club at Prince of Peace College Preparatory.
The California-based speaker told The Catholic Messenger he began his speaking ministry 12 years ago and now gives 170 talks a year.
During his “Romance without Regret” presentation in Clinton, Evert said that as a teen, he didn’t think God had a plan for his love life, so he got physical with girls quickly. Now, he said he knows the only place guys should look to learn how to love a girl is Ephesians 5, which tells husbands to love their wives as Christ loved in dying for us.
Pornography reflects the opposite of Jesus’ love. Evert said it teaches men to use women for themselves and trains men to have unrealistic expectations of women. “Porn is the perfect way for a guy to shoot his marriage in the head.”
“Is your wife’s body worth waiting to see?” Evert asked. Then get rid of porn for her sake.
Shifting gears, he acknowledged it could seem as if most teens aren’t practicing chastity. But he cited a year-old study showing that 34 percent of high-school students were sexually active. It only seems as if no one’s chaste because “nobody gossips about virtue,” he joked.
But he spoke of one benefit associated with virtue, saying people who marry as virgins have a divorce rate that’s 70 percent lower than that of the general population.
Addressing girls later, he advised dressing in a way that invites respect. Modesty isn’t about “dressing dumpy,” he said, but wearing clothes that make guys take you seriously. After joking that no one wants to see guys wearing shirts exposing their belly-button, he told girls, “For the sake of guys trying to be gentlemen, don’t wear belly-button shirts.”
He said he once asked an audience of girls how many of them wanted to date a guy who treated them as a gentleman would. “Every hand went up.” But a guy at a later talk told Evert he couldn’t believe girls felt that way because they dressed like “Paris Hilton.”
“You will never convince a boy of your dignity if you don’t convince yourselves,” Evert said.
He then shared the story of one woman who learned as much. He said her dad had left the family, so she didn’t know how a man should treat a woman. At age 15, she lost her virginity to a boyfriend who told her that if she loved him, she’d show him. Eventually, she started to feel as if he wanted to spend time with only her body, not her. The couple later broke up and she thought, “That guy is leaving with something that never belonged to him in the first place, and I’ll never get it back.”
After another, abusive relationship, her mother asked her to go to a chastity speaker. After the talk, whenever she was tempted to spend time with people who would encourage her old lifestyle, she wrote a love letter to her future husband.
On her honeymoon, she gave those letters to Evert. “I was so grateful,” said the married father of three.
He said he and his wife, Crystalina, didn’t sleep together before marriage. “If she’s not my wife, sex is a lie… Sex is a promise: I’m completely yours,” he said.
“Love can wait to give; lust can’t wait to get.”
Discussing sex within marriage, Evert said there was “no way” he’d want his wife’s body to be on artificial birth control. “You’re not told the risks.”
He said Depo-Provera, for example, thins out a woman’s bones and decreases libido so much that in some states, it’s given to sex offenders. The birth control pill increases a woman’s risk of breast cancer, and the implant Implanon advises women to call their doctor if they cough up blood or experience blindness.
But Natural Family Planning has no side effects, Evert noted. “Fertility’s not a disease,” he said. “It’s a gift.”
He said he’s never known more joy than that of being a new dad. And just as he doesn’t let his children do unsafe things they want to do, dating partners should do only what’s best for each other, he said. For that reason, “abstinence proves love.”
He discussed medical risks of sex, noting that people can show no symptoms of a sexually transmitted disease and still be infected. He cited a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association that found 45 percent of college women surveyed had HPV, the human papillomavirus and most common STD. Since the STD can be spread through skin-to-skin contact, condoms don’t eliminate the risk of contracting it. “The only real protection is purity,” Evert said.
Wrapping up, he suggested ways for students to achieve that purity. Find good friends, he said; don’t surround yourself with people who don’t support a chaste lifestyle. Girls, instead of fearing guys will leave you, make them fear you’ll leave if they don’t respect you, Evert said. And attend Mass, go to confession and pray the rosary. “Devotion to Our Lady taught me how to see women,” he said.
His advice resonated with student Angie Ryu, who called his talk “fabulous.” She especially appreciated the idea that if you truly love your future spouse, you’ll save yourself for him or her.
“I liked it a lot,” student Haley Chapman said of Evert’s talk. It was different than the usual “safe-sex” messages, she said. “I thought it was really interesting.”