Hope you don’t have any liquid in your mouth, because you may spit it out in about 30 seconds.
Exhibit A: Teen Talk
I mentioned this site in my last post. It’s been revamped since I last looked through it, so I decided to check it out. A lot of things disturbed me. Remember, this is a site made for teenagers. Here are a few quotes directly from the site:
Most people masturbate. It doesn’t matter who people are, what they do, or what they say, chances are they masturbate. In fact, many people masturbate throughout their lives regardless of whether they have a sexual partner or not. People may masturbate alone or with a partner. Watching a partner masturbate can be a good way to see how she or he likes to be touched.
I masturbate every day — is that too much?
There isn’t any set amount of time per day, week, or month that would constitute as masturbating too much. Some people masturbate a few times every day while others do it twice a month. Some people don’t masturbate at all.
There is a wide range of fun, safe, pleasurable activities that people can engage in that are sexual. Good news: there is a variety of intimate behaviors that are very low risk for pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (such as mutual masturbation, phone sex, cybersex, and real-life manual sex play). Bad news: some behaviors (such as unprotected vaginal intercourse) can be very high risk for both! So whatever “having sex” means to you, play carefully!
Exhibit B: Safe Is Sexy.
Here’s a delightful commercial featuring young actors in bed. I’m sure they’re very religious.
Exhibit C: It’s Perfectly Normal
And the crown jewel? A children’s book on sex, masturbation, and abortion.
How can the Church counter these media products?
We can start with responsible parenting, beginning before marriage. Talk to your fiancee about how you want to raise your children. As parents, formulate a plan early in your children’s lives about how to teach them patience and self-mastery, that their bodies are beautiful, and that sex belongs in a loving marriage bed. I’m proud of the work that the USCCB has done through their For Your Marriage project. The site deals with this and other important conversations for engaged and married couples.
Theology of the Body for Teens is a video series and EWTN show featuring Jason and Crystalina Evert that hopes to become a solution for youth. (You can search for the series on YouTube and come up with several clips and trailers.) While it’s a step in the right direction, I don’t know if the Church as a whole should be satisfied with one series. It seems to me that everyone who wants to teach their teens the Theology of the Body uses Jason Evert or Christopher West as a crutch, shoving a book, website, or DVD into a teen’s face. How effective is that, really?
We need to give teens options. Let’s channel our healthy fears that teens are consuming unhealthy media products. Why? We need to make media products that are not only accessible and authentic, but produced with a quality that will attract teens to adopt positive media products on their own. That’s how Planned Parenthood is selling their message. (Someone in Planned Parenthood’s central communications department would certainly be fired from their job if they released media products with the production quality equal to many Catholic media products.)
As with any Catholic media solution, media efforts that counter the sexual lies of our age should be executed hand-in-hand with real-world efforts. Parents, parishes, mentors and communities should be an essential part of every media strategy. (Ex: For Your Marriage provides resources that stress the importance of discussion, prayer and discernment along with websites and other helpful media products.)
Church, how much do we really want our message to be heard? Are we willing to put in the hours it will take to produce quality media? Are we basing our standards on church media or on secular media? Are we taking the time to educate ourselves on methods that produce high-quality media with fewer resources? Are we learning from secular production experts?
Or…are we selling the Gospel short?