My mother is a brilliant woman. She never subscribed to the “build a wall between family and society” theory when it came to raising her children. She wanted to fill us with good things so when we met the world, we couldn’t be filled up with the bad stuff. She always took the opportunity to take media messages and make teachable moments out of them for us.
For example, The J Geils Band released the song, “Centerfold” in 1981, a song about a sweet high school girl who later became a magazine centerfold. The radio stations played it incessantly. I graduated high school that year and it was the perfect opportunity for my Mom to talk to me about the song’s message in light of my Catholic beliefs and morals. I will never forget her saying, “Think about how the actions of this girl posing in the magazine affected the boy who thought she was an ‘angel’ and remember that your actions have an affect on people.”
My mother’s guidance was priceless and a lifesaver as I became an adult. It grounded me on a firm foundation. I, like you, went out to face a world where the sensationalism of sex has saturated our every day lives. Drive down your street and you see inappropriately dressed people. Get out to the city and every billboard, every bus stop, every corner has some type of sex for sale. Go to a party, go to a movie, watch the ballgame on TV, and sex is always there.
- Have a purpose for being on the internet: One of the key ways to stumble into sexual temptation is surfing the internet without a purpose. The traps are set and if you don’t have a goal to accomplish and are just looking for ways to entertain yourself, look out! Make a pledge to yourself that whenever you get on the internet, you will have a purpose… logging in to Catholic Match to view your matches, going to your internet banking site to pay bills, whatever it may be. You can avoid a great deal of sexual temptation in this one step.
- Discuss your desire to remain chaste with your dates: Be as upfront as possible and and as soon as possible. Then, avoid places and situations where the temptations will be.
- Commit to chaste speech: Words can be just as dangerous when it comes to sexual temptations. Eliminate all questionable language from your speech. Walk away or change the subject when someone tells an off-color joke. Let your speech reflect the goodness and beauty of life, not the depravity of humanity.
- Dress appropriately: I can’t stress enough how important this is and it’s not just about the men who may be watching. Women watch, too. This issue always gets me in trouble with some of my readers but that’s okay. Too much skin revealed can be the slippery slope someone else crashes on.
- Say a quick prayer: When you’re faced with a temptation head on utter a brief prayer. My favorite is “Create in me a clean heart, O Lord.” Quick, easy, and effective.
- Frequent the Sacrament of Confession: The Sacrament of Confession fortifies you with the graces you need to be stronger next time you’re faced with a temptation. The more frequently you receive this sacrament, the more sensitive your conscience becomes.