By: Lynette Wilhelm, Staff Spotlight
My first exposure to “the Pill” was actually while watching an episode of The Wonder Years on TV as a kid. I loved this show, and dreamed of one day living the hippie lifestyle of the ‘60s by attempting to replicate the style of Karen Arnold. I even made a patchwork dress out of an old pair of overalls that I rocked into college, oh yeah :)
Anyway, I’ll always remember the pilot episode where the narrator, Kevin Arnold, described his family’s evening rituals marked by the arrival of his dad coming home after a long day at a thankless job. Kevin explains that no serious business could be presented to their patriarch until he had loosened his tie and had a good vodka tonic in him. However, the eldest Karen was not as respectful of this ritual, and begins an evening family discussion around the table by announcing, “I’m gonna get some birth control pills; I thought you should know,” triggering chaos at the family dinner table.
At the time, I couldn’t understand the big deal of this statement and its dramatic effect on the family’s evening. But as I grew up, I realized that Karen was basically announcing to her family that she was planning to begin a sexually active lifestyle – while still in high school, no less – the thought of which no parent should really enjoy.
The Catholic schools I attended and youth group repeatedly instilled in me the desire to remain chaste and abstinent until marriage, in accordance with Church teaching. I was graced with many faithful instructors who taught a true, Catholic education: that sex is beautiful and holy and should only be experienced within the context of marriage. I will be entering into the Sacrament of Matrimony later this summer, and I have been blessed to keep this promise to myself, God, and my future husband.
Yet oftentimes, Catholic schools and youth groups forget to take these promises one step further and encourage chastity once married. Just as I didn’t “sleep around” and offer my sexuality to men I did not truly love, once I am committed by the Sacrament of Matrimony to my beloved, I will continue in my understanding that sex is still beautiful and holy. So holy, in fact, that it can bring forth another human life! How awesome is that?!
Erin Kisley, who has written wonderful pieces as a fellow bride-to-be here on Encourage & Teach, recently reflected on this topic and how the process of Natural Family Planning (NFP) can promote this chastity in marriage. We as Catholics must also understand this process in order to teach it in our Catholic schools and youth groups. It’s not enough to teach “no sex before marriage.” We must introduce our youth to what happens to sex after marriage. It remains beautiful and holy, albeit taken up a few thousand notches :) And that is nothing to “wonder” about!
Staff Spotlight is — in an ongoing effort to get a range of content on Encourage & Teach — content from staff members within the Diocese of Arlington from contributors who do not write as a part of their day-to-day job.
Lynette Wilhelm has a B.A. in Political Science from Hillsdale College and a Master’s from the University of Dallas. She works for the Office for Child Protection & Safety coordinating safe environment trainings for the Diocese of Arlington.