By Anne Marie Amacher
DAVENPORT — After completion of a 12-week session on Theology of the Body for Teens at the Holy Family Youth Center, the teen participants wanted more.
So the session leader, Sandi Hansen of Holy Family Parish, agreed to continue meeting with teens on a monthly basis to help them in their quest for knowledge and sharing on a variety of topics.
Theology of the Body is a series of 129 lectures by Pope John Paul II during his Wednesday audiences at the Vatican from 1979-84, according to the Theology of the Body for Teens website. Those addresses were compiled into a single work called “The Theology of the Body According to John Paul II.” Now it is called “Male and Female He Created Them.”
Hansen said Theology of the Body for Teens addresses teens and what they are feeling concerning topics such as the human person, nature of human sexuality, human need for communication and marriage.
She first offered Theology of the Body for Teens in fall 2009. About nine teens participated in the 12-week program. “We talked about dating and relationships a lot more in detail because of the smaller groups,” Hansen said.
During fall 2010, 20 or more teens from Holy Family and other parishes participated in the program that wrapped up right before Christmas.
In January, the teens got together again and The Catholic Messenger sat in on the session.
After an icebreaker and opening prayer, the talks began.
Hansen told the teens how she was at a program in which she was representing the Women’s Choice Center in Bettendorf, a pro-life center located across the street from a Planned Parenthood clinic. During the program Hansen attended, another woman spoke about safe sex. She felt students in school are only taught about abstinence and that more needs to be taught about safe sex. “There is no such thing as safe sex,” Hansen said.
The teens chimed it at the Holy Family meeting. “You’re not safe emotionally,” said one. “You’re not safe physically,” added another.
The discussion led into the topic of purity and why individuals should wait until marriage to have sex.
“You give yourself not just physically, but emotionally. That’s why you should wait for marriage. There are consequences,” Hansen added.
One youth said, “God gave us desires — and they’re not all bad. He gave us time to learn patience and self-control. God made us this way.”
Another said the topic of sex is glossed over.
A third teen said those who get married to have sex or because the girl becomes pregnant often have a short-lived relationship.
One teen went on to say that since he started attending Theology of the Body, he has a different perspective on many things. He referred to internationally known chastity speaker Jason Evert, who has spoken in the Davenport Diocese. Evert says, “virginity is the best gift you can give someone.” The teen said that statement “totally changed my perspective of everything.”
Several teens felt Theology of the Body gave them a “confidence boost” in their relationship with God.
The group then watched one of Evert’s video presentations in which he and his then-fiancée, now wife Crystalina, talked about the consequences of sex before marriage. They cited statistics and other factual information.
“Is it lust or love?” is a question addressed in the video that the teens at Holy Family also talked about.
“Chastity trains you for faithfulness. You are worth waiting for,” Crystalina said in the video. “Set your standards high. Purify your soul and go to confession. I was cleansed through confession of my past sexual sins. Chastity is your freedom.”