Bernardo M. Villegas
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Educating Children On Human Sexuality

           Except for the concern about summary killings, I think that Filipinos are a hundred percent in favor of serious efforts of the Duterte Government to combat the evils of the drug trade that have reached epidemic proportions.  Illicit drugs are ruining the lives of families from all walks of life.  There is, however, another evil that has to be fought with equal determination and tenacity.  I am referring to pornography in all of its forms, especially through the internet.  Those who are peddling pornographic materials are also guilty of destroying families and spreading an addiction that kills both body and spirit of numerous individuals.  They also have to be prosecuted with equal zeal.

          Immunizing potential victims, especially among the youth, against pornography requires a great deal of character building based on the truth about the legitimate use of sex.  It is very important that sex and the pleasure that goes with it are presented in a most positive manner.  It is in this regard that we have to spread far and wide the doctrine about the erotic dimension of love that Pope Francis recently included in his best-selling Apostolic Exhortation entitled “The Joy of Love.”  He could not have put more emphatically and positively the sacred nature of sex:  “God himself created sexuality, which is a marvelous gift to His creatures.   If this gift needs to be cultivated and directed, it is to prevent the impoverishment of an authentic value.  Saint John Paul II rejected the claim that the Church’s teaching is a ‘negation of the value of human sexuality,’ or that the Church simply tolerates sexuality ‘because it is necessary for procreation.’  Sexual desire is not something to be looked down upon, ‘and there can be no attempt whosoever to call into question its necessity.”

          Parents, before teachers, have to be very much involved in communicating these truths to their children, especially those in their adolescence.  Fathers, especially, should never be too busy to be able to spend a lot of time on this important educational responsibility of theirs.  Pope Francis advises them:  “To those who fear that the training of the passions and of sexuality detracts from the spontaneity of sexual love, Saint John Paul II replied that human persons are ‘called to full and mature spontaneity in their relationships’, a maturity that ‘is the gradual fruit of a discernment of the impulses of one’s own heart.’  This calls for discipline and self-mastery, since every human person ‘must learn, with perseverance and consistency, the meaning of his or her body.’  Sexuality is not a means of gratification or entertainment; it is an interpersonal language wherein the other is   taken seriously, in his or her sacred and inviolable dignity.  As such, ‘the human heart comes to participate, so to speak, in another kind of spontaneity.’  In this context, the erotic appears as a specifically human manifestation of sexuality.  It enables us to discover ‘the nuptial meaning of the body and the authentic dignity of the gift.’ “

          Parents should be especially qualified to teach the following doctrine of Saint John Paul II to their children:  “Sexual differentiation not only is a source of fruitfulness and procreation, but also possesses the capacity of expressing love:  that love precisely in which the human person becomes a gift.”  Pope Francis adds these following comments:  “A healthy sexual desire, albeit closely joined to a pursuit of pleasure, always involves a sense of wonder, and for that very reason can humanize the impulses.  In no way, then, can we consider the erotic dimension of love simply as a permissible evil or a burden to be tolerated for the good of the family.  Rather, it must be seen as gift from God that enriches the relationships of the spouses.  As a passion sublimated by a love respectful of the dignity of the other, it becomes a pure, unadulterated affirmation revealing the marvels of which the human heart is capable.  In this way, even momentarily, we can feel that ‘life has turned out good and happy.’ “

          Parents who want some help from educational experts in carrying out this irreplaceable duty of theirs to educate their children on human sexuality should consider attending a lecture to be given by Dr. Tom Lickona, one of the most respected authorities in character formation in the world today.  Dr. Lickona is author of some of the most important books on developing virtues, and educating young people to become smart and good.  He will talk about chastity based on his latest book:  “Sex, Love, and You:  Making the Right Decisions” at the University of Asia and the Pacific on August 5, Friday, at 1 to 4 p.m.  For information, visit the website www.cepphilippines.com or call 0936 994 1771 or 0922 255 5905.  Landline 02 559 0658 and email: info@cepphilippines.com. For comments, my email address is bernardo.villegas@uap.asia.