Strong Public Message On Chastity Running In Australian Press Leading up to World Youth Day

By Thaddeus M. Baklinski

AUSTRALIA, July 15, 2008 ( - The Australian media are capitalizing on the influx of thousands of Catholic youth to their country in anticipation of the beginning of World Youth Day by promoting the Catholic Church’s teaching on the beauty of chastity and the problems associated with pre-marital and extra-marital sex.

Articles in The Australian yesterday gave first hand accounts by two women, one who had remained chaste from her youth and another who followed the predominant view of our over-sexualized culture, but later decided to embrace chastity.

Ruth Russell, of Adelaide, South Australia, said her decision not to embark on sexual adventures at high school, and later at the University of South Australia, was a constant source of wonder to her peers.

"People didn’t realise a person as young as I was could be living out my Christian faith; they were astounded with how resolute I was," she says.

"I was always a little fascinating. I was constantly probed about these beliefs, and why I held them. It was as though the chaste way of life was a radical decision, because it was in direct contradiction to the message given to young people.

"It is assumed that we have no control, that we will have sex. It is assumed that we enjoy sexual liberty, that young people and chastity are incompatible."

She says her former school friends were not aware that this choice - chastity - was available to them.

In high school we were told, "You will get older and you will become sexually active. That is the way it happens, and when it does, wear a condom. That is the only important thing."

"There was no sense that chastity could protect (us from) the depression, the confusion, that accompanies casual sex, and the breakdown of a relationship, where you have given every part of yourself," she explained

"They didn’t offer chastity as a choice, the way they advertise sexual liberty."

Ruth, who was raised Catholic, and, at the age of 20, remains chaste, has seen the heartbreak of some of her school friends who became sexually active at age 15.

"They were blind in a way, doing what they thought they had to do with their boyfriends. They needed the support of their peers. They should have been told they didn’t have to behave that way, but of course they didn’t get that."

Russell felt things would go wrong for them "and my premonitions were correct. At the age of 20, these same friends, some are depressed, especially the girls, and it greatly affects the relationships they are able to form with other young people."

Russell says she has been in love, experienced longing, and understands "what sex is, and what it does. It touches the deepest core of the human being, and for that reason it is the greatest gift, the gift of my entire self. I’m obviously very cautious as to who I give it to."

She finds chastity "very useful around men, especially in sorting out the good men and the bad men."

"A guy who is interested in sex will very rarely pursue me. He realises he’s not going to get that from me. That’s very handy for me. The more sincere men respect that."

Dawn Eden, whose book The Thrill of the Chaste explores her journey from a sexually active rock music journalist in New York City in the 1990s, to her new life as a single, chaste Catholic, is speaking today at WYD Sydney about her espousal of chastity and her conversion to the Catholic faith.

"I became a Christian in October 1999 but I did not immediately walk the talk. For a while, it was sin, repent, sin, repent," she explained.

"After a while, say after October 2003, I felt in my heart that I should begin living the way God wanted me to live."

Eden, who was born in 1968, was a virgin until she was 20, when she lost her boyfriend to a friend who was willing to have sex with him. The experience convinced her that "I had to gain (sexual) experience if I want to hold a man."

"I wound up losing my virginity to a man I found attractive, but did not love, just to get my card punched," she writes.

Over time, she learned, as most women do, "that if I played my cards right, I could get almost any man I wanted into bed" and so she bedded quite a few. She describes the cyclical nature of her sexual life thus: "Meet interesting guy; have sex; dump or get dumped; repeat."

"Either way, I would end up alone and unhappy," she writes. "I felt trapped in a lifestyle that gave me none of the things that (I thought) it would."

Jaded and depressed, she had a Christian born-again experience at the age of 31, joined the Catholic church, and adopted chastity as a lifestyle. She now believes the cost of casual sex, especially for women, is too high.

"Single women feel lonely, because they are not loved," she says. "To feel less lonely, they have casual sex with men who do not love them."

Eden says she is part of "a new rebellion" against a sex-soaked culture and defines her message as truly counter-cultural. "Every generation needs to have their own cause."

"With this generation, it’s a battle against the world that has been created, a culture of objectification." She observes that much of what is considered entertainment today "makes children act like jaded whores, and it makes adults act like spoiled children."

"Young people grow up, being told by the media, by advertising, by their own friends and family, that they are worth loving according to what they do (and how they look) and not what they are," she says.

"The message of John Paul II, the message that Pope Benedict has continued is that the dignity of every human person is important, and that includes not using their bodies for their own satisfaction," Dawn concluded.

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