By Lindsay Steele
The Catholic Messenger
IOWA CITY — A picture of “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” character Veruca Salt popped up on the projector screen, surrounded by a phrase from her signature song in the film: “Don’t care how, I want it now.” The scene evoked laughter from the crowd of parents and young adults attending a Nov. 13 seminar on sexuality and pure love at St. Patrick Church in Iowa City.
Speaker Jamie Rathjen explained that today’s culture teaches youths and teens that instant gratification is normal and healthy but in reality it is harmful, especially in relation to love and sexuality. The Creighton Model Fertility-Care practitioner and pro-life advocate from Cedar Falls, Iowa, urged unmarried members in the crowd to say “yes” to waiting and for parents to encourage their children to postpone sex until marriage. Additionally, she urged the crowd to steer clear of contraceptives and to be open to life.
“It’s going be hard, but it’s going to be worth it,” she said.
About 50 people attended the seminar, sponsored by Johnson Country Right to Life, Our Lady of Perpetual Health Catholic Radio, FIAT FertilityCare Center of Cedar Falls, Iowa and Iowa City-Area Knights of Columbus. Rathjen had spoken to teenagers at St. Wenceslaus Parish in Iowa City the night before.
At the seminar for young adults and parents, Rathjen said the first step to helping teens stay pure for marriage is to not think of chastity as saying “no” to something but rather saying “yes” to saving oneself for one’s future spouse. She also explained that parents have a bigger role than they might think in shaping their children’s behavior. “What shapes teens’ sexual beliefs? When I travel, the number one answer I get (from teens) is their parents. … People underestimate how effective they are with teens.”
She was clear that teenagers — boys especially — will inevitably face urges. They should not give in to them but work to channel that energy elsewhere. Self-control is a form of strength, she said. Additionally, she asked parents to watch for depression in female teenagers because depression can lead girls to participate in unhealthy relationships. She said statistics show that teens who wait longer to date are more likely to postpone sex until marriage.
She also spoke out against the prevalence of the birth control pill. She admitted that following Church teaching by rejecting contraception in marriage can be a challenge. Natural Family Planning, however, is effective and can help strengthen love and respect between a husband and wife, she said. Rathjen, 30, who is married and has a 2-year-old daughter, said practicing this method helps her and her husband prolong the “honeymoon effect” because they don’t take the act of intercourse for granted and have an opportunity to look forward to it.
fter the seminar concluded, she made herself available for over an hour to answer private questions from attendees. While the Church’s guidelines are not always easy to follow, “there is a lot of wisdom in Church teaching,” she said.
St. Wenceslaus Knights of Columbus offering scholarships to doctors, practitioners for NFP training
Creighton Model FertilityCare practitioner Jamier Rathjen said doctors often prescribe the birth control pill for female hormonal imbalances. She said using the pill for these reasons only serves as a “Band-Aid.” It is more effective to treat the source of these conditions through charting with Natural Family Planning and using the charts as a means to detect, diagnose and treat underlying problems, she added.
Attendee David Fetzer told The Catholic Messenger that it is difficult for people in the Diocese of Davenport to find doctors educated in Natural Family Planning methods. The St. Wenceslaus Knights of Columbus Council in Iowa City, of which Fetzer is a member, is offering $3,000 scholarships to doctors and practitioners in the Iowa City area wishing to learn the Creighton Model FertilityCare method; $2,500 scholarships are available to eligible persons outside the Iowa City area.