WCR PHOTO | CHRIS MILLER
Chastity educator Pam Stenzel is thanked by John Paul II High School Principal Bill Tonita for bringing her straight talk to his students.
FORT SASKATCHEWAN – Unlike animals, humans can choose when, with whom and why to have sex.
Pam Stenzel, a renowned chastity educator from Minnesota, cautioned young people that God created sex with a boundary, and that boundary is marriage. Sexual intercourse was ordained by God and designed exclusively for a husband and wife.
Stenzel gave students a straight message about sexual behaviour: "Here's the rule: if you are not married, don't do it. If you are married, go for it with the person you're married to."
Stenzel presented a blunt discussion about the importance of chastity and abstinence. In Sherwood Park, she spoke to parents at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church and to students at Archbishop Jordan Catholic High School. The next day, Nov. 4, she spoke to students at John Paul II High School in Fort Saskatchewan.
"I did not tell my husband 26 years ago, I will stay married to you if you treat me the way I expect to be treated, put your socks where they belong and if you don't weigh 500 pounds in the next 10 years.
"I said that I was committed to him for the rest of my life no matter what. That is the safe context for sex."
Married sex is considered holy and sacred when it focuses on the unity of the husband and wife - two people deserving dignity, respect, communication, honesty, fidelity and compassion.
As a former counsellor at a pregnancy crisis centre for nine years, Stenzel has witnessed firsthand the detrimental effects of misused sexuality.
"If you have sex outside of marriage, you will pay. There is a cost every time. No one has ever had more than one partner and not paid. What's the cost and is it worth paying? There are physical, emotional and spiritual costs," she told high school students.
Stenzel cited unplanned pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases as some examples of how people "pay" for extra-marital sex.
Many young men and women believe abortion is an easy way out of an unplanned pregnancy, but Stenzel cautioned that abortion is painful and has long-lasting detriments.
"I've counselled hundreds of women, five, 10, 15 years after having abortions, and still hurting. I've counselled teenage girls with anorexia, bulimia, depression, cutting and attempted suicide because of an abortion that they couldn't take back.
"An abortion is not like going to the dentist and getting a tooth pulled. There are consequences that last forever," said Stenzel.
Stenzel's mother was raped at age 15 and Pam was given up for adoption. She does not buy into the view that an infant conceived from rape deserves the death penalty - an opinion held by many. Even in church, she's heard people say they are against abortion, except in instances of rape.
"What they're saying is, 'You're a mistake, Pam.' I don't believe that. I believe that every child is wanted by someone. I believe that God in his mercy has a plan for me."
About 80 per cent of teenage girls who choose to parent a child will live below the poverty level for at least 10 years, and 90 per cent will never graduate from college.
"Do you know what the number one indicator of poverty is in the U.S.? It has nothing to do with race or where you live. The number one indicator of poverty is single-parent households."
Young men, of course, are held accountable for the women they impregnate. She told the males that if they are not prepared financially, emotionally and spiritually to father a child, don't have sex.
She further cautioned the teenage boys that it's cute, harmless fun to talk about which girl they want to take to the prom. But it takes a tremendous amount of maturity to grow up enough to ask the tougher question: Whom do I want as the mother of my children?
Stenzel told the students their approach to sexual behaviour now will not change after high school and university. Past behaviour predicts future behaviour. Opposites might attract when it comes to personality, she said, but opposites never attract when it comes to character.
"You will get what you are every time. You think you can be a player, sleep around, view sex as a game and do whatever you want right now. Yet someday you expect to meet someone who will be faithful to you? That's utter insanity!
"What in the world made us believe we could sleep around and someday have a magic discipline fairy sprinkle dust on us at a wedding ceremony and now be able to control what we could never control before we walked that aisle?"
Principal Bill Tonita was pleased to have Stenzel speak to his students. In a world plagued with mixed messages that tell us our bodies, our minds and our emotions are virtually worthless, Stenzel is a straight shooter who shared the dignity of all people, he said.
Tonita said students are surrounded by messages in the mainstream media that it's acceptable for them to be sexually active outside of marriage. Having Stenzel provide a counterargument is important.
"When they walk out of here, if she changes one student's perspective and encourages one student to make the right choice, that alone is worth her presentation. But I have a feeling she has challenged so many more to think about the choices they make," he said.
In the 1950s, there were only five known sexually transmitted diseases. Today there are more than 30, many incurable.
"She's telling you the truth," said Tonita. "If you look at the statistics on STDs, and if you look at the stats that we can find from Capital Health, we'd find that our kids are exposed to so many sexually transmitted diseases. A message like Pam's says it's all around you, so you have got to make good choices."