It’s estimated that there are 60,000,000 victims/survivors of sexual abuse in America today.
1 out 3 girls and 1 out 6 boys are sexually abused before the age of 18.
It’s important for parents and catechists to be able to spot signs of sexual abuse.
Among consenting teens and young adults, the temptation of sex before marriage is strong and ever present.
The following lesson plan created by CRE Walter Coddington addresses the issue of sex before marriage.
Lesson Plan for Religious Education Program Catechesis
Course Title: Sex and the Spirit 1
Content Area: Morality/Human Sexuality
Grade Levels: Seven and Eight
Day/Time/ Length: Sunday, 10:00am, 60 minutes
Ideal Class Size: 6 to 8 boys and girls
To make a case for waiting until marriage to have sexual intercourse. And, to foster personal and spiritual growth, from the perspective of The Ministry of Leadership Development.2
Teen sexuality is one of the most difficult topics to tackle in the Church for at least three reasons:
- young people are reluctant to talk about sex with their parents or other adults;
- the potential for misunderstanding or mistrust between Catechist and student in the light of highly publicized sexual misconduct by Church lay and ordained people is high; and
- most Catechists are not trained psychologists or human behavior specialists.
Why is this topic so important to address?
Sex is to teens like a new planet or star is to an astronomer. It’s top of mind for most young people from 6th grade up. If faith formation professionals want to influence teens, we need to start by addressing topics that are of most importance to them.
Some believe that the rapid climb in the divorce rate (worldwide) is tied to an increase in promiscuity coupled with a lack of spirituality. Whether that’s true or not, something is definitely missing from the union of many men and women today.
This lesson explores the nature of sexuality and spirituality with the objective of finding common ground between the two and using that common ground as the bases for leading a healthy and happy (in the long run) lifestyle.
Human sexuality is a big topic and would take numerous classes to cover properly. In the short amount of time available, we will focus on just a few paragraphs found in the Archdiocese text Guidelines for Catechists, Grade Seven and Grade Eight.
“Developing Friendships. Fully integrated human beings need to develop a variety of relationships with family, friends and acquaintances. We need to form friendships with persons of both sexes.
Some of these relationships will be closer and more enduring than others. During young adolescence, we need to avoid exclusive dating, which limits our own growth and our opportunities for friendship with others.” Page 50. C.
Implied in the above text is dating different people over the period of adolescence is the preferred course of action.
“Misuses of Sexual Activity. God has given the human race a basic need and capacity to give and receive love. Our experience of love helps us develop a sense of self-esteem and reduce our sense of loneliness.
Sometimes people use sexual activity as a substitute for a basic communication of love, or to make them feel important, powerful or needed. Sexual activity does not solve underlying problems of loneliness and self esteem.” Page 47. B.
Sex and love are not the same thing. Experiencing sex before love can greatly diminish our ability to ever really know or trust love. It’s this tragic potential that young people need to more aware of.
Class Exercise No. 1:
After listening to Avril Lavigne‘s song “Don’t Tell Me,” write down what you think about the lyrics. Have you experienced what the songwriter is talking about? Can you relate?
Don’t identify yourself. Collect the papers. The Catechist then reads the papers out loud and classmates comment.
You held my hand and walked me home, I know
When you gave me that kiss it was something like this it made me go ooh ohh
You wiped my tears, got rid of all my fears, why did you have to go?
Guess it wasn’t enough to take up some of my love
Guys are so hard to trust
Did I not tell you that I’m not like that girl?
The one who gives it all away, yeah
Did you think that I was gonna give it up to you, this time?
Did you think that it was somethin I was gonna do and cry?
Don’t try to tell me what to do,
Don’t try to tell me what to say,
You’re better off that way
Don’t think that your charm and the fact that your arm is now around my neck
Will get you in my pants I’ll have to kick your ass and make you never forget
I’m gonna ask you to stop, thought I liked you a lot, but I’m really upset
Get out of my head get off of my bed yeah that’s what I said
Did I not tell you that I’m not like that girl, the one who, throws it all away
This guilt trip that you put me on won’t, mess me up I’ve done no wrong
Any thoughts of you and me have gone away
Better off that way
I’m better off alone anyway
Class Exercise No. 2:
Discuss among yourselves what you believe are the characteristics of sexuality and spirituality. What characteristics are common to both? Here are two:
- both are sacred gifts of God; and
- both are preparation for everlasting relationships — one with a marriage partner, the other with God.
Can the characteristics that are common to both be used to justify or strengthen your resolve to abstain from sex before marriage? What personal qualities or characteristics does it take to “just say no.” What is the relationship between premarital sex and sexually transmitted diseases, abortions, unwed mothers and unwanted pregnancies?
- sexual character; possession of the structural and functional traits of sex.
- recognition of or emphasis upon sexual matters.
- involvement in sexual activity.
- an organism’s preparedness for engaging in sexual activity.
1 the quality or fact of being spiritual.
- incorporeal or immaterial nature.
- predominantly spiritual character as shown in thought, life, etc.; spiritual tendency or tone.
- a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person.
- a feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection, as for a parent, child, or friend.
- sexual passion or desire.
- The act or practice of refraining from indulging an appetite or desire.
Ephesians 5:25. “Husbands, love your wives …” (Respect for women.)
1 Corinthians 6:19. “… your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you.” (Respect for self.)
2 Samuel 11-12. (Using the example of David and where his adultery ended up. Selfishness. Ignoring our conscience.)
1 Corinthians 13:4-8. “4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, and it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres. 8 Love never fails. (Love)
Guidelines for Catechists, Grade Seven and Grade Eight. The Guidelines are not supposed to be used as a substitute for more fully developed (with more teacher tips, scriptural references, prayers and activities) and Archdiocese approved texts on the various topics. However, when it comes to human sexuality, there are not many good textbooks suitable for use in the religious education classroom.
Make up your own prayer about temptation and/or asking for assistance in managing your personal relationships.
Here is an example:
“Father, I know sex to be but one leg of a loving relationship. I would no sooner start or build a relationship based on sex than I would place a camera on a tripod with one leg. Father, my body is your body. And your will be done. In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen”
Timeline for the lesson:
- 10:00am – 10:05am. Introduce Catechists and children present to one another.
- 10:05am – 10:10am. Play the Avril Lavigne DVD “Don’t Tell Me.”
- 10:10am – 10:30am. Class Exercise No. 1. Work in the Class Narrative (above).
- 10:30am to 10:35am. Break.
- 10:35am to 10:55am. Class Exercise No. 2.
- 10:55am – 11:00am. Assign homework. Closing prayer: the Our Father.
Developer: Walter Coddington, CRE
Church: The Roman Catholic Church of Transfiguration and St. James/St. Joseph, New York, NY
- Others have written under the title Sex and the Spirit:
- A mainline church publication titled Sex and the Spirit by Verlee A Copeland and Dale B. Rosenberger. It’s focus, however, is not premarital sex.
- Deepak Chopra wrote an article, Insights into Sex and Spirituality extracted from his e-book Kama Sutra. He claims, “sexual energy is sacred energy.”
- Focus on the Family ran an article titled Sex is a Spiritual Need.
A quick reading of these texts didn’t surface a similarity to the direction taken this lesson.
- How does the Ministry of Leadership Development fit with the lesson? It takes great personal confidence and conviction to “just say no.” And, while a young person may not be aware of it at the time, confidence and conviction are important leadership qualities. This lesson should also make clear that the choices we make today greatly influence the choices we have left to make in the future; choices having to do with our spiritual path, our health, our relationships and our careers.