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Sex Education Best Kept at Home

Bioethicist Presents Chastity as Love’s Defender

MEXICO CITY, JAN. 15, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Sex education is chastity education — and these are lessons best taught in the family, said an expert at the 6th World Meeting of Families.

Italian Doctor María Luisa Di Pietro, associate bioethics professor at Rome’s Sacred Heart University and president of the Science and Life Association, affirmed this during her address today to some 10,000 participants in the family meeting theological congress.

The family, she said, creates a “favorable climate” for sex education in a “culture strongly conditioned by the effects of the far-reaching wave of the sexual revolution.”

Above all, Di Pietro contended, there is a need to “clarify the concept of chastity.” She called this virtue a “spiritual energy, which knows how to defend love from the dangers of egotism and aggressiveness, and knows now to promote it toward its total fulfillment.”

“The reduction of sexuality to the merely instinctual dimension has favored, moreover, in its most extreme and lowest manifestations, the spread of pornography and sexual violence,” she said. Thus, the professor contended, it is urgent for families to take on the primary role that they have in the affective and moral formation of their children.

“The haste to skip steps is making the affective maturing of kids ever more difficult and is even putting their health at risk,” she cautioned.

Self-esteem

According to Di Pietro, sex education “should have as a principal objective that of motivating and indicating how to reach big goals, [including] strengthening of the ‘I,’ self-esteem, the sense of one’s own dignity, the capacity to possess and control oneself, openness to plan, coherence, and interior balance, the acquisition of full attention to the values of procreation, life and the family.”

She added: “A true formation directed toward the education of the will, the sentiments and the emotions is necessary.

“To know oneself means having one more reason to serenely accept the reality of man and woman, and to demand greater respect for oneself and for the others.”

Thus, said the bioethicist, parents “have the moral obligation to educate the person in his masculinity or femininity, in his affective and relational dimension: to educate in sexuality as a gift of self in love, that true love that knows how to protect life.”

Pillars

Di Pietro suggested that the two pillars for a love-based education are the concept one has of the person and the human project that is being endeavored.

“If the truth of man is rejected — love for the truth — there is the risk of endangering precisely the educative task,” she said. “If freedom is not introduced and rooted in an integral truth of the person, it can lead man to behaviors and choices that reduce him, or it can become an instrument of deliberate neglect and pure will or lead to attitudes of resignation and dangerous skepticism.”

Thus, Di Pietro affirmed, there is a simultaneous need for education in affectivity and education in the moral sense, or in other words “education for freedom.”

“The person is formed,” she said, “only when he is capable of responding to the question of what kind of person I should be. The commitment should be, then, that of helping the subject to grow as a virtuous person, that is, to acquire a permanent possibility for doing the good and for doing it well.”

Parents should be aware, Di Pietro stated, that the duty to give a moral education is “inalienable” — and can neither be entirely delegated nor entirely usurped.

“In fact,” she concluded, “to fail to give children a family environment that can permit an adequate formation in love and chastity, means to fail in a strict duty.”

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