Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A reader's questions answered

As I contemplated what to write about in these last days before my July blog fast, I thought about mourning over stolen innocence here (and the outrage of political injustice that fuels it; vote Obama out!), or lamenting our nation's loss of decency and shame here (may our all-pure and all-holy God have mercy), but then I remembered an email from a reader that I have put off answering for too long.

So, let me get to it.

Hi Leila,
I know you have a ton of worthy topics, but I was wondering if you would be willing to address any of these topics?

Sure! I am an expert on exactly nothing, but I love to throw out my thoughts!

* Raising boys in an over-sexed culture. (I am already praying for [my young son's] purity, but I am still concerned. I know guys are way more visually oriented than girls, and that once they get the images in their heads it is hard to get them out. Could you talk about how you parent your boys with regards to this?)

With six boys of my own (from age 19 down to 2), it's a topic near and dear to my heart. You are soooooooo right about the visual nature of the male mind. If women had any flipping idea how different the mind of a man is when it comes to sexual images and urges, they would be shocked, speechless. The very best thing I have ever read on the subject is something that I also required my teen daughters to read. The book made one daughter weep, because before that day she had no idea. Even I was stunned. I thought I knew. Parents, read it first, and then hand it to your teen daughters:

For Young Women Only: What You Need to Know About How Guys Think

It may seem weird that I'm recommending a book for girls when you asked me about boys. But I promise you, this book will give you so much insight into how your son's mind will work when he becomes a teen that you will be well-equipped to teach and understand him.

To specifics: My boys are raised to know that their bodies are made by God and are used to glorify him. Each son is told that his private parts are not play things, but that they have a very special and holy purpose for marriage. One day, if he marries, he will have the privilege of becoming completely and intimately united with his wife in a way that is unique among all other relationships, and which is reserved only for the two of them. This act of love is so sacred, so special, so transcendent, that it has the capacity to create new human beings who will live for all eternity. My boys understand that sexuality is a powerful gift that a man must learn to control, so as not to hurt any woman or child who might suffer for his selfish actions in this area.

We are not prudes here in my house, and we don't shy away from talking about sex (age-appropriate only, of course), but no one has yet had any trouble grasping the concept of chastity as virtue, the sacredness of marriage, and how important it is to live honorably in this regard.

Here's an exchange I have with all my sons (not limited to the sexual issues of course), starting at a young age:

I say: "Who is the strongest man in the whole world?"*

They answer: "The one with the most self-control!"

*I love that when they are little, they answer: "God!" or "Jesus!" Then I clarify for them that I am talking about merely human men.

I also remind my older boys that using pornography is not only a selfish act that is degrading to them and disrespectful to all women, but it is also highly addictive, and they will easily become a slave to it. Porn will render them weak and wimpy and pathetic -- not like real men at all. There is nothing honorable about it.

Also, they know that pornography and all other sexual sins are mortal sins. My boys have a healthy fear of offending the God Who loves them (and Whom they love). And while it's certainly not something we dwell on, they would prefer not to spend their eternities in the pit of hell, so they act accordingly. Go figure. ;)

* A review of how to prove or disprove an argument logically. (This is mostly because people on facebook and who comment drive me bonkers.)

I hear ya on the "driving me bonkers" thing.

I've never studied formal logic, so my approach is just what makes sense to me. When I encounter something nonsensical or evil that is being passed off as something reasonable or good, I start with a simple question (not a statement) that challenges a person to take his idea a little bit further. No more than a question or two at a time, or else the whole thing just becomes a non-productive multiplication of words.

If the person you are debating becomes emotional and insulting, you stay unemotional and kind. And ask the question again. And again (maybe with different words). Make the question concrete and logical, not nebulous or vague. Wait patiently for an answer, and if it comes, move on to the next logical question. Answer any honest question he has with clarity and truth, and if you don't know the answer, tell him you don't know, but you will find out and get back to him.

Side note: One sign that a person is not debating in good faith is when you get a question like, "How does it feel to know that you are entrusting your children to a band of pedophiles with funny hats?" (Though here's proof that on rare occasions even stuff like that can turn into good! She later apologized and was open to being corrected.) Another example of someone debating in bad faith is when a Protestant accuses Catholics of "worshipping Mary" and then won't accept Catholic teaching itself on the issue (i.e., that worshipping any creature, including Mary, is a mortal sin).

Back to the question at hand, I have to be honest and tell you that not everyone should be involved in these kind of deep exchanges with clever secularists and zealous Protestants. We all have different gifts, and not everyone is cut out for long, philosophical debates. Sometimes an ill-advised or badly executed debate can do more harm than good. A person who is not cut out for the "battle" may instead want to be a powerful, behind-the-scenes prayer warrior while others do the debating, and/or simply have links ready so that a challenger can go to other legitimate sources for answers.

However, if one has a fairly good working knowledge of the faith and of the issues, then the debating part can be a learned skill. I'm learning every day, with things becoming more clear and focused to me as time goes on. I know that you (the original questioner) are fully capable of dialoguing in truth and love, so maybe just get some of the basic arguments and questions down pat, on the most important topics, and don't forget to pray before you type! (Or direct the person to the Bubble and I'll take 'em on, ha ha!)

Also, while I genuinely care about the folks I debate and hope to plant seeds, I know that most are not likely to change their ideology. But there are many fence-sitters, as well as Catholics who need to find the courage of their convictions, following the facebook/Bubble conversations. My discussions are often for them more than for the person whom I'm debating.

* Your view on how to best address the cultures descent into chaos. Do you think we should start with whatever the current issue is (e.g., the current one- gay marriage) or just start with contraception (since it all flows from there) or abortion/euthanasia (since you are more likely to encounter people who think they are wrong)?

While six months ago I might have said that gay "marriage" is the most pressing issue of the day, and six months before that I would have said it's definitely the foundational issue of contraception, today it's suddenly, eerily, the very issue of religious liberty itself, and whether we will lose the legal right to speak and live our Faith freely. The battleground is changing faster than I can keep up with it!

So, I guess each encounter in the battle is going to depend on the person and the situation. For example, it can be difficult debating evangelical Protestants and getting them fully on board the Culture of Life, because while they are in love with Jesus and they defend traditional marriage and the rights of the unborn with us (praise God!), they've simultaneously adopted the Planned Parenthood mentality on contraception (as you've said, it all flows from there), and the anti-establishment mentality of bucking (Church) authority. So we Christians are not fighting the Culture of Death effectively, as one Body. That's a sad legacy of the Reformation.

And encounters with secularists have their own special challenges, as it's hard to debate and seek truth among those who see the cultural train wreck as "progress", and who don't believe that an objective moral truth exists in the first place.

Ultimately, it's hard to say precisely where to start on the outside. But we do know where to start on the inside.

While this sexual free-for-all, the destruction of the family, and the loss of a sense of sin and shame has brought us to our knees culturally, it's also brought us to a moment of great grace. It's clear at this low point (ever lowering) that prayer and fasting and a return to God really are the most important weapons in the battle. There is only one thing that has ever overcome the darkness and despair and ugliness of sin, and that is Love. Jesus Christ crushed and defeated evil and death not by overpowering it, but by undergoing it, with love. So, the first step is to remember who we are, where we came from and where we are going. I promise you that the world needs saints more than she needs good debaters. The saints will win the battle for hearts and souls every time, because they have a moral authority and a teaching voice that rises above all others.

Be a saint. Teach your children to be saints.

And please, never despair, no matter how far into the abyss we go, because we have this assurance from the One Who commanded the very universe into being and yet Who stoops to love each of us as tenderly as a Bridegroom loves his bride:

"In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." -- John 16:33

I know that I would really enjoy reading any of your thoughts on these topics.  I know I don't comment much, but I definitely keep up with the reading! 


I did ramble on, so thank you for sticking with me!

PS: Anytime you place an Amazon order through a link on this blog, or click the Amazon link at the bottom, 100% of my commission will be donated to the orphans.



  1. God bless you! I will miss the Bubble in July but I know we all need breaks...just reading the blogs and debating became too much for me for a while so I don't know how you do it (by God's grace?) but it's a gift!

  2. Oh Leila, thank you for this post. I wonder about head-on debates versus praying at the sides (and just blogged about that an hour ago-- we must be listening to the same Spirit) and now my mind has cleared up. Be a saint first, a debater second...because if you don't debate like a saint would, the message is utterly lost. Please keep rambling on. I'm listening, not just lurking anymore.

  3. Manda and Anabelle, thank you!! And, I am glad you de-lurked, Annabelle! :)

  4. Oh, I'm going to miss the Bubble!! Thank you for this incredible post, especially the advice about how to debate/discuss the faith with others. Reading all your posts and the comments has really helped me understand how to debate reasonably and logically. I really appreciated your wise words concerning how you discuss sex with your sons. My sociology class was discussing sex and masterbation today and it killed me to hear the (female) teacher approve of masterbation and say sex is better if men masterbate! Ugh! This post was so refreshing and I'm definitely going to borrow your wisdom for my sociology class.

    Finally, I just want to reiterate to you how much I appreciate the Bubble. Thank you for sharing your gifts of writing & discussion; praise God that He led me to the Bubble! Have a blessed month off with your family :)

  5. While you're answering reader questions (long-time lurker here, hi!), I am hoping you can clarify something for me.

    I have always been curious about the morality of certain sexual acts within the context of a Catholic (or any, I suppose you could argue) marriage.

    Is there any scenario in which oral sex is permitted? I know that woman to man oral sex resulting in orgasm is not considered moral, but what about woman to man as foreplay or man to woman?
    What about sexual touching (the type of touching that might fall into the category of "mutual masturbation")?

    It seems pretty clear here (http://www.catechism.cc/articles/QA.htm#03) that none of these acts are ever allowed, but what about women who can't orgasm from intercourse alone? Are they expected to forgo that pleasure entirely?

  6. If I may be so brazen as to attempt an answer to your question Jenna......

    According to all I've learned here (and it goes without saying vehemently disagree with), all sex acts within the confines of a Catholic marriage are perfectly acceptable AS LONG As (forgive me for being so forward) the sperm gets inside the vagina. Therefore, all that loving foreplay is considered a-okay as long as that sacred life-making material ultimately is directed and unobstructed from being in the proper, ordered, correct place: your "vajayjay" to put it colloquially.

    Hope that helps,

  7. Hmm, perhaps to get even more graphic, it would be nice to know what the conditions are for certain situations: what if, in the heat of the moment, not all of the sacred life-making material was unable to make it into the correct port of entry? Are you okay as long as most of the ejaculate ends up in the right place? Is there a quantifiable amount that tips the balance in terms of sinfulness or righteousness?


  8. "It seems pretty clear here (http://www.catechism.cc/articles/QA.htm#03) that none of these acts are ever allowed, but what about women who can't orgasm from intercourse alone? Are they expected to forgo that pleasure entirely?"

    Jenna, my guess from what's been written here is that sex is only about 2 things: 1) unity with the spouse and 2) procreating or the possibility of procreating

    Therefore, all that climax stuff is really secondary to the ultimate goal: make baby and reiterate sacredness of marriage.

    If the man needs to "help" his wife in order to achieve those two things, then so be it-it's okay.

    Just a guess-I'll stop blabbing and let the experts chat about this most interesting topic.

  9. You're almost right, Gwen, but you're focusing too much on the product and not enough on the instrument.

    Quantity doesn't matter. What matters is that the marital act was unitive, in that the man and woman were united at the time ejaculation occurred.

    For example, it's acceptable for a husband and wife to use a perforated condom during the marital act for the purpose of collecting a semen sample for fertility testing.

  10. Pretty darned close, Miss Gwen! And yet it's somehow so much better than you make it seem. :)

    Jenna, yep, a married couple is free to explore, kiss, etc., and yes, the woman can be brought to climax during foreplay or afterplay if necessary, but the greatest thing is that the the "one flesh union" of spouses is accomplished and completed each time the couple makes love. A man is never having sex or orgasm apart from full union with the wife he loves. So, while some (maybe like Miss Gwen?) find such a concept bizarre or distasteful, we Catholics really like the fact that consummation (full union) happens each and every time. It's soooo much more personal, satisfying and loving than what the secular world pushes.

  11. Please don't worry about me! My un-sanctified sex-life is blazing, with all sorts of full unions going on

  12. Gwen, if all that "climax stuff is secondary", then why did John Paul II, in his great work, Love and Responsibility, written when he was a parish priest working with married couples, insist that it was a man's duty to bring his wife to climax? Hmmmmm…. And I do believe that "climax stuff" actually has a whole lot to do with that "unity of husband and wife thing" -- as well as, of course, the procreative aspect. Seems those are intrinsically connected, very holistically connected in fact. Very integral (which is the base of the word "integrity"). We crazy Catholics like sexual integrity.

  13. Miss G, what's your opinion of pornography?

  14. Leila, because obviously I've never read "Love and Responsibility" by Pope John Paul II

    That's great that he wrote it's a husband's duty to "rev up" his wife's engines so they can unite and participate in a great climactic holy union of sexual integrity. No arguments there.

  15. Sorry, Gwen, I just know that we've mentioned JPII and his comments before when we discussed this topic a while back, but I should not have expected you to remember. Ultimately, though, it was a rhetorical question. The point is, the Church is really A-okay with sex being satisfying and fun -- but it's also holy. The Catholic view is that sex is like a Renoir. The secular culture wants to take that Renoir and line the birdcage with it.

    Anyway, what is your opinion of porn? I truly am curious.

  16. Love your thoughts on talking to boys about sex! I have two daughters; perhaps I can alter the verbiage a bit for them someday. :)


  17. So cool of you to give all the proceeds to the orphans! I "pinned" the book for future reading...in about 15 years.

    And "foreplay and afterplay" I remember reading that climax for the woman outside intercourse was only acceptable in "afterplay" if climax wasn't achieved during. Was that Christopher West? Gregory Popcack? Am I getting this wrong?

    And, Ms Gwen-it does sound all very robotic and by the rules. But I promise it's fun :)

  18. And "foreplay and afterplay" I remember reading that climax for the woman outside intercourse was only acceptable in "afterplay" if climax wasn't achieved during. Was that Christopher West? Gregory Popcack? Am I getting this wrong?

    I am going to defer to the others on this. Anyone?

  19. What??? Is it Blogspot or what? I have often wondered why you don't have an Amazon link on your page, and now I know you do, it's just invisible, like the link to have all the Bubble messages sent to my e-mail! Invisible links are really hard to use, which doesn't bother me too much unless it means less $ goes to the orphans! If you know of a way for the orphans to get a cut of my Amazon purchases even though I can't see the link, please let me know! I suppose that sometimes I could just be unselfish, not buy anything at Amazon, and send the entire cost of something I might have bought to the orphans. That is a better idea.

    But as far as this discussion, I would like to get a copy of the book you recommend for my dd to read. We are having lots of fun butting heads over her style of dress. Maybe that book would help.

    Gwen, I should know this but I have a terrible memory. Are you married? "Miss G" should give it away but in the South, it seems like a lot of women are called "Miss" even if they aren't a "Miss" anymore. Anyhow, do you think you "full union" can be achieved in a casual hook up?

  20. Sharon, sorry, ha ha! It's actually just the title of the book that should link you straight to Amazon. Should I put an actual icon on the blog, too, in case people want to shop through this blog and then the money goes to bring orphans home? Big ticket items especially help! Usually, I just link the book titles (or their images) in a blog post, but maybe I should do something more…

    OH, yes. Your daughter will have a whole new perspective about how she dresses after reading what the boys say (especially the good boys…that's what really broke my heart, how the culture is merciless on the good guys).

    Miss Gwen won't mind if I tell you that she is living with her boyfriend, the Viking. ;)

  21. Jenna, that Conte guy is a freaking BOZO! He has no authority whatsoever, and I have encountered his distortions before. UGH! No, no, no.

    In his view, a man would have to hover over his wife like a helicopter and never touch her to get the job done. Trust me, he is NOT a source for Catholic teaching. He's a nut.

  22. In fact, I am going to remove the quotes, because I do not want anyone thinking that those are actual Catechism quotes, and I don't want to give this dude any air time. Thanks for understanding!

  23. Sorry, I honestly thought I was looking at official Church teachings - I'm sure you can see how that was confusing for an outsider.

    If it's not too much trouble, could you find what the Church actually has to say about it? Like from the actual Catechism?

    If the Catechism doesn't specifically mention any times when oral sex or masturbation are permitted, how did someone determine can be?

    I don't quite understand how you - the general Catholic "you," not you specifically, Leila - can reconcile the idea that masturbation and oral sex are intrinsically evil with performing these acts in oddly specific scenarios, particularly since most of the arguments here seem to try to use logic and follow things through to their natural conclusions

    1. ...how did someone determine they can be?*


  24. Leila, great post as usual :). Interesting turn the comments have taken!
    Yes, please do put a link up to your Amazon store - it's easier to do general shopping that way, as opposed to just buying the books that you've recommended. We shop a LOT on Amazon, so I could be sending all that $$ your way for the orphans!

  25. I love that you send your Amazon money to the orphans!!! I am an Amazon Associate too but can never seem to get people to buy via my links. Ah well.

    I am going to have to check out that book - I've had the "men think and see differently than us ladies" conversation many many times with guys and gals and it's just difficult to grasp!

  26. I love your thoughts on where to start in the cultural battles. I think it's so important to pursue holiness. I've also found that at least trying to focus on the beautiful, positive teachings of the Church (and not just proving this or that issue wrong) helps. If a person understands what we believe marriage is and why and how beautiful it is, then often times it clicks as to why other approaches don't jive with or are downright distortions of the real deal. I guess I like to believe we all, deep down, long for truth and beauty and that at least for some, the presentation of that resonates with them. Like when I finally "got" the unitive and procreative purposes of sex, suddenly the problems with pornography (which deep down, I always despised porn anyway) were clear. I also feel like giving something positive/True to strive towards gives them hope vs. simply just pointing out something they must give up. The giving up has to be replaced with something, with a higher calling that makes the sacrifice make sense and worth it.

  27. Jenna, it's still so annoying to me that this guy puts out his own "catechism"?! And tries to deceive people into believing he is a theologian an authority. Ugh!

    Yes, it can be confusing, which is why one should always check the source (glad you did). After all, there have always been fakes, frauds and charlatans (and misguided souls) in the world.

    As for the rest, I think you truly are overthinking things. It's fairly simple: A husband and wife can enjoy each other's bodies in pretty much any way they would like (anal penetration, though… ummmm, that might cross the line into degradation… that is where the waste comes out; hardly a place for a life-giving organ to be!), so long as the lovemaking actually ends in union, aka, consummation, aka, the conjugal act. Sex is mutual self-donation, an exchange of persons. The ancient idea of the deepest "knowing" of someone meant actual sexual intercourse ("knowing" in the biblical sense!). I don't really want to get too much more technical, but you can always email me if you would like. Obviously the Catechism is not going to spell this stuff out.

    As for the sin of masturbation… that is a solitary act of self-pleasuring in the context of… oneself. Sex is not meant to be a solitary act. It's about self-giving, not about sitting there having sex (?) with oneself. So, that is not hard to understand, I hope.

    Oral-genital contact is fine (as we've said, you can kiss or explore your spouse's body with abandon), but that is not how a man completes a lovemaking act with a woman. Completion of the act = when a man ejaculates while in union with his bride. They are "one flesh" and as close as two people can be. Oral sex to bring a man to climax? That's a lot of things, but it ain't consummation.

    Again, don't overthink it.

    Jenna, if you don't mind my asking, what is your background?

  28. Call me mama and Liesl, I will put up an amazon link right now! Go orphans! I'm so excited!

    Sarah, bingo on this!

    I guess I like to believe we all, deep down, long for truth and beauty and that at least for some, the presentation of that resonates with them. Like when I finally "got" the unitive and procreative purposes of sex, suddenly the problems with pornography (which deep down, I always despised porn anyway) were clear. I also feel like giving something positive/True to strive towards gives them hope vs. simply just pointing out something they must give up. The giving up has to be replaced with something, with a higher calling that makes the sacrifice make sense and worth it.

  29. I'm so excited!! I just added the Amazon link, right at the bottom of the blog. If you click on it, and order all your stuff through that link (it has to be completed within 24-hours of the first click, I believe), then I get a commission, and 100% of it will be donated to the orphans (either to a special needs child who is still needing a family, or to a family who needs to finish raising the exorbitant amount needed to bring an orphan home). Thank you guys so much for considering shopping through this blog! I will let you know the amount every month (or quarter, depending on how they do it). :)

  30. "If the Catechism doesn't specifically mention any times when oral sex or masturbation are permitted, how did someone determine can be?"

    Jenna, I think theologians are actually divided on this. Our marriage preparer (who is completing his doctoral studies in Marriage and Fam Theology in Rome) really emphasized to us that the international theological community sees the issue of oral sex (even man to woman) as something still hotly discussed/debated and should *not* be taught authoritatively as okay. That's at least my understanding of it. This is the thing about being Catholic... different eras bring about different discussions and call for certain topics to be visited more in depth or even debated. And as many wonderful teachings and doctrines that we have, the Church often is not in the business of micromanaging everything we do so you won't always find a "how to manual" on every question. :) So yeah, discussions and debate happen from time to time. But JPII teaches - with real authority - (and really it's always been believed) that husband and wife should strive for unity and serve one another sacrificially even in physical intimacy... sex should not be a selfish act by the man to use his wife for his own climax or just be about his own pleasure or vice versa (or just be about using each other to produce babies either... yes you can treat your spouse as an object in that manner too!). So the key is to remember the heart and purpose of the marital act and the dignity of our spouses to help guide our decisions (and also to remember that none of us are perfect, we all have the ability to be led into sin, so all couples in their own unique relationships need to guard against that in a healthy way too based on their own situation). I highly recommend reading JPII's (then Wojtyla)'s "Love and Responsibility" that others have mentioned! JPII also does a great job discussing how true prudishness/puritanism is no better than the other extreme of lust. And if you can, read JPII's Catechesis on Human Love (aka Theology of the Body)... it's pretty deep.. okay, very, very, very deep haha, but it goes into so much more than sex yet offers great insights onto the beauty and dignity of sex. I am still trying to get through that one as it's thick, but worth it.

  31. Sarah, that was EXCELLENT. Thank you.

    When theologians are divided and when the Church has not definitively spoken on it, then you can be pretty certain that you are to use your prudential judgment on things. Not every thing is going to be right for every couple and not every couple is going to feel comfortable doing something that another couple might be. What Sarah says is just right. Ultimately, everything is about self-giving love (self-donation of ourselves to the other, as a gift), and always protecting our own and others' human dignity. Love is funny that way, putting the good of the other first, and receiving others as gifts, and not as objects to be used. Beautiful!

  32. Will do my Amazon shopping via your blog from now on. :) Thanks for the link! Love your thoughts on raising, good holy men in our over-sexualized world. Just curious...does your family have cable? I'm definitely thinking we'll get rid of it soon...the trash on there kills me! Will have to check out your book recommendation in a few years...right now I'm dealing with temper tantrums...the fun/worrying of motherhood never ends I guess, hehe...!

  33. A doctorate in "Marriage and Family Theology" you say, eh? I'll bet it's "hotly" debated. In another universe maybe I'd pursue a doctorate in that area of study myself. ha ha ha ha ha!!

    Seriously though, if it's such a "simple truth" (sex=unitive and procreative) why are there so many questions about specifics and occasions of divisive debate?

  34. Miss G, I doubt that they debate things as raunchily as you seem to wish. But if you did pursue such a doctorate, it might open your eyes to a whole other level of reverence in the realm of sexuality that the secular "sexologists" don't quite approach. Again, study the Renoir, or line the birdcage with it.

    Nothing's stopping you from reading John Paul II's Theology of the Body. It might surprise you and open up a whole new world for you as an academic.

    And, why won't you answer my question: What is your opinion of porn?

    Seriously though, if it's such a "simple truth" (sex=unitive and procreative) why are there so many questions about specifics and occasions of divisive debate?

    It's what I've said dozens of times on this blog, Gwen. Ideas and principles are simple. But people and emotions are complicated.

    Your question also reminds me of an oft-asked question by those who want to know why the Church gets so specific on so many things. For example, "Why does the Church ponder whether or not chewing on a blade of grass breaks the Eucharistic fast?" Answer: Because someone asked.

    We don't shut out inquiry, we welcome it, even when it's minutiae, and even when it's something that in the course of normal events the Church does not care one whit about. But she cares about her members and she cares about truth seeking and intellectual inquiry. That may seem funny to you, but it shouldn't, as you are an academic who benefits from the patrimony that actually set up the university system that you so love.

    Like JoAnna said, "human nature" is why there are so many questions.

    1. Make that: "...revere the Renoir, or line the birdcage with it."

  35. Seriously though, if it's such a "simple truth" (sex=unitive and procreative) why are there so many questions about specifics and occasions of divisive debate?

    The application of E= mc2 is a simple mathematical, scientific truth. One constant and two unknowns. Now applying that is complex.

    Solve for your variables. It's simple, but complex. Correct?

    There's a lot of possiblilities. You're confusing "simple truth" with simple direction. Life is anything but simple.
    People that ask about "specifics" are being responsible in adhering to simple truth.

    On another note - nice post, Leila!

  36. Typo-
    The equation of E=mc2 is a simple truth.
    Application is another story.

  37. Leila,

    Is it cheating if I ask another question in the comments for you to answer on raising our children to be chaste and virtuous? ;) My daughter is ten...should I be talking to her right now about sex? I have told her that if she has any questions she can come to me, whatever they may be..we have talked about planned parenthood and how their views are the world's views and not our views and how sex and marriage are so much deeper and more meaningful than the world's...

    Is she old enough to read Theology of the Body for teens? Also, I had her out of wedlock when I was 20 and living in the world. How do I convince her that 'do what I say and not what I do' is so much more beneficial and fulfilling when she can look at me and think things turned out just fine? She might think she can put God on the backburner and live it up as I did...help! (I know you don't have firsthand experience here but you have wisdom with raising teenagers...)

  38. Looks good, although I haven't seen that book in question, I am very skeptical of anything that claims to be a definitive guide to how "males think."

    1. Leila will you please suggest another blog to read...I am really going to miss your blog in July...have a nice break!


  39. Manda, I'll be back later with a coherent answer!

    And, Nicholas, it's actually the words of the boys themselves, thousands of them, in surveys that the authors put out. I've had confirmation from many males that what they came up with was dead on. You can probably get the book at the library, so check it out. There is one that is for grown women to understand how their husband's think, too. AND, one for husbands to understand how women think. I read it, and I can tell you that it is EXACTLY right.

    (There is also one for young men to learn how teen girls think, and one for parents to know what their children are thinking of them, ha ha.)

    All of them are fascinating and ring very, very true. Because it's not an author or therapist speculating or pontificating or spreading an agenda. It's the words of the people themselves. Very interesting stuff.

  40. Sorry accidentally hit reply...this is still somewhat complex...sorry

  41. Thank you for this post Leila. I love to see your breakdown of how your debate and discuss. I think I am one of those people who are better at praying then debating. Thank goodness for you and those like you! I will miss you in July!

  42. Manda,

    I know that Leila will give you a fuller answer, but I would suggest two main points:

    1) LOOK FOR TEACHABLE MOMENTS. Don't just wait for your daughter to come to you with questions. When you all come across something on television, in a book, or in real life about sex, dating, relationships use it as an opportunity to bring up what the Church teaches on that subject, scientific facts, your expectations, and how you have handled those issues for good and for bad.

    For instance, my older two kids (9 and 6) already know that it is best if a man and a woman wait until they are married before they do the act that can create babies (even though they don't know the details of that act). They know that for young kids to have "boyfriends" and "girlfriends" is a silly, waste of time because dating should be about preparing for marriage. They know that kissing someone you are attracted to before you really get to know them can cause chemical reactions in your brain that make you trust them before they have earned that trust. This is just a small sample of things we've covered between my constant pregnancies, seeing their "fatherless" neighborhood friends, and things we've encountered on television.

    2)HONESTY IS THE BEST POLICY. If you want your daughter to come to you, then she needs to know that you will take your time and be honest with her. This doesn't mean that you need to give her every single detail; there's nothing wrong with saying "I don't think you're ready for all of the details about that yet, but when you get a little older we will talk about it more." But you should try to give her the most honest answer that you feel that she is ready for.

    *By age 10, I personally don't think she needs the nitty gritty details of sex, but she should have a basic understanding of modesty, your feelings about dating, and preparation for puberty (since girls as early as 9 start their periods these days).

    You could also ask her what she already has heard, knows, or believes about some things (puberty, dating, and sex) from school or the media. Last summer my neighbor's ten-year-old niece was discussing celebrity sex tapes with her 8-year-old cousin and my 8-year-old daughter as well as the girl's 7-year-old sister. The aunt and mother were shocked to learn that stuff was even on the ten-year-old's radar.

  43. Relative to your gay marriage comment, I sent a comment to the local newspaper (which was unpublished) noting that it seems strange to me that there is so much focus on the DEMANDS that 2% of the population (gays) be allowed marriage, when about 50% of the population (and growing) are apparently saying they don't want marriage.

  44. I think the statistic is 10% of the population, a little more than 2. Maybe that's why it was unpublished?

    1. My source is my mother, who is a college professor with a PhD.

  45. "The 2000 U.S. Census Bureau found that homosexual couples constitute less than 1% of American households." - http://www.gallup.com/poll/6961/what-percentage-population-gay.aspx

  46. Chelsea, the 10% number is inflated. The number is more like 2% from what I understand. Now, with the normalization of all sorts of sexual "orientations" and increasing experimentation, there are likely to be higher numbers in the future, as people get more and more confused. I personally know several young women who were actively lesbian in their college years, but admit now that they are NOT gay (and are actually not in support of the gay agenda). Experimentation and normalization opens people up to things and ideas they never would have thought of or done before. So, the numbers might change because of that, but it's still quite low.

  47. Dreampuff, I will put some thoughts on that on my next blog post, before I 'exit'!

    Manda, I love what Barbara C. said. Honesty and age-appropriate.

    Does your daughter already know that she was born out of wedlock? If so, you just reiterate to her how God brought a great good (her!) out of a bad situation -- that's how he works! He will bring great good out of sin, but that does not give us permission to sin. And that although she is loved and cherished beyond words, it's not how God wants children to be conceived. God's plan is that every baby should be born to a married mom and dad because it's what's best for them. Then, perhaps in a different conversation, you can tell her God's plan for human sexuality. It truly is so beautiful that it sells itself! :) Your situation makes it a little bit trickier, but I think kids are pretty smart and they can make those distinctions! Show a child truth and beauty, and they will want it!

  48. PS: Yes, I think ten is too young yet for TOB for Teens. :)

  49. Thank you, Barbara and Leila! She has known her whole life because her father and I did not work out but she still spends time with him. He lives nearby and is married with other children also, and he is African American so my daughter looks different than the rest of us. My husband has been in the picture since she was 18 months old so he is also dad and it would seem to be a normal father/daughter relationship, but I asked her recently whether she ever wished her biological father and I were still together and the sad eyes and nod almost broke my heart. I used that as a moment to tell her sex outside of marriage, even though very good things can come from it (her) is not fair to begin with as it was made for marriage. Sigh. This parenting thing is hard and quite frankly, I don't feel qualified sometimes. But it's really not as bad as I am making it seem. She is amazing in so many ways and is a very happy, well adjusted ( to my sin) child.

  50. Manda, you handled that moment PERFECTLY! Wow, you've got this… God bless her sweet soul!

  51. Snce this has (happily!) turned into a Q & A about Catholic sexual ethics, i was wondering if there has been a definite answer on whether or not it's licit to adopt abandoned embryos and carry them to term? Last i heard, catholic Bioethicists were still arguing about that one.

    Also, i second the request for a list of Leila's favorite blogs to read during the month-long Bubble Break.

  52. ErinH, yep, the jury is still out on that one. Bioethicists disagree, and the Church has not spoken. I can see both sides of the issue. Bottom line, those embryos shouldn't have been created in a lab in the first place. What a sticky wicket when we leave the moral law and open up that Pandora's Box! Sometimes, it leaves us in a very dark place with no clear resolution to all the problems we've created.

    I will try to get that list of blogs!

  53. Leila, I have purchased "For Young Women Only" and have a couple of quick questions. As I read the first chapter, I kept thinking that while the information about respect is important, it doesn't apply that much to relationships with guys in general. I mean, we are supposed to treat everyone with respect. It seemed to me that the advice especially applies in marriage,when you have already chosen a man for the qualities you see in him and now you have to keep encouraging him by showing him that you have confidence in his abilities. The authors touch on this a bit, saying that Ephesians 5 applies more so to marriage than to dating, but I guess my first question is, how can a young woman apply this information in general, or should she just keep it in mind until she needs it in regard to her husband?

    After that chapter, I headed to "Keeper of the Photo Files", since that is the section that most concerns me about my own daughter. The book does a good job of communicating the difference between the way women think and the way men think. The author relates a discussion with her husband, where he finds it just incredible that if they see a movie with an attractive male star, a woman can watch that movie and never once think again about that attractive man. On the other hand, if a beautiful woman is in a movie, her image will pop up in a man's mind many, many times after seeing the movie. That was a very helpful illustration, I think. Also, the way the book said that for a woman to be immodest in her dress, she is causing a man to be stimulated in a way that being touched would stimulate her, and she should care if she is constantly stimulating him in the same way that she would not want men constantly touching her. Of course, the book puts it better than that. My question, though, is what about young women who WANT that much attention from guys, who see it as a compliment or as a part of their arsenal, you could say, in the competition with other women? A young girl could say, if I dress modestly, all I am doing is making sure he is thinking of every girl BUT me. (This can apply to fully grown women as well, since obviously some women use their bodies intentionally as an edge in competition in the working world.) I really would be interested in anyone's thoughts on this. I suspect that some girls do see things this way - that to dress modestly would be to decrease their chances of getting attention from guys. I have told my dd that she is sometimes getting attention she wouldn't want - including attention of married men whose wives are standing right there, and attention from aging men whose attention she most definitely is not seeking, but I think she figures that her goals are her goals, and she can't worry about those extraneous factors.

  54. Leila, I loved this post. I really liked how you said private parts are not toys or play things and how you explained they're special parts of our body designed for marriage. And I LOVED your strongest man in the world question and answer! I'm SO stealing that!

  55. Sharon, great question!!! First, about the respect part… I haven't read the book in a while, so I would have to go back and see what I think on that.

    As for the question about a girl dressing that way for sexual attention: I agree! Some girls are THRILLED that boys are lusting after them and they use that for a power trip and to build up their own self-esteem. It's very, very sad. I guess I hadn't thought that those types of girls (the overly sexualized, desperate for male attention types) would be the ones that were affected by the words of the boys in the book. I am assuming that most girls want to respect boys, and that most Christian girls do not want to be a stumbling block to their male friends. Like I mentioned, my daughter was horrified to learn how difficult it is to be a boy in this culture, especially trying to be a good Christian young man. She just had no idea. (Not that she was dressing badly… they had modest uniforms, even at the public charter school, but still, there are "images" everywhere that any boy trying to be "good" must avoid. I think later on in the book they may address the question of how can a girl get positive male attention. Healthy attention. If I remember correctly.

  56. Lauren, I was hoping someone would want to steal that! It is one of the few parenting lines that I came up with that I really like, ha ha!


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