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The Theology of Sex Education Convocation

By Fr. Prof. Dr Anthony E. Onyeocha

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Lecture to Catechists/Catechisers Catholic Archdiocese of Owerri Nigeria 27 August 2021

[1] The Catholic Church’s traditional teaching about the contents of sex education, especially as formulated by Popes Pius XI and Pius XII, and reformulated by Paul VI is that it should not be primarily a matter of giving explicit “information” about sex, (teaching sexology), but rather it should be a matter of inculcating modesty, chastity and morality. It should explain God’s rule in the sixth and ninth commandments for a chaste life in four areas: the married, the single and the religious in vows and those engaged.
Sex Education should emphasize the supernatural as well as the natural virtues. It should emphasise the means for preserving chastity (sacraments, prayer, special devotions, awareness of the occasions of sin, self-control etc), and the reason for such preservation.

[2] The four working principles of Catholic sex education are:
(a) Human sexuality is a sacred mystery and must be presented according to the doctrinal and moral teaching of the Church, always bearing in mind the effects of original sin.
(b) Only information proportionate to each phase of their individual development should be presented to children and young people.
(c) No material of an erotic nature should be presented to children or young people of any age, individually or in a group.
(d) No one should ever be invited, let alone obliged, to act in any way that could objectively offend against modesty or that could subjectively offend against his or her own delicacy or sense of privacy.
[3] Sex education has two major sides, the study of the process of human growth and the theology of sex. In this discussion we shall briefly study the theology of sex education as revealed – in the two commandments of sex education.

The two commandments of Sexual Education
[4]. God in his infinite goodness and wisdom has given us two commandments that regulate the sexual urge namely:-.
The Sixth Commandment – Thou shalt not commit adultery, and
The Ninth Commandment – Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife.
With this extension:
You have heard that it was said, “You shall not commit adultery.” But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.These two commandments teach us sexual ethics.

[5] Positive side of the two commandments – what we should do.
How do we fulfil these two divine injunctions?
Sexual morality answers: we must do three things:

  1. We are bound to be chaste.
  2. We are bound to be pure.
  3. We are bound to be virgins.

[6]Therefore we have nothing to offer God expect our chastity, our purity and our virginity. In my talks to young people about chastity – I do tell them (quote)
We are bound to be chaste. We are bound to be pure. We are bound to be virgins. We have nothing to offer God except our chastity, our purity and our virginity. Without these things we are like counterfeit coins before God. These days many of our young people, girls and boys are losing their virginity at a very tender age. This is not good. It annoys the Lord.
St Paul warns: Flee from fornication. Every other sin a man can commit is outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body 19. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own (I Cor.6, 18-19). Let us obey this divine command of Paul when the temptation to break our virginity comes. It will surely come with godless men who lust after pretty young girls.
Let me repeat – we are bound to be chaste, we are bound to be pure, we are bound to be virgins. If you have lost your own virginity, please go and find it wherever you carelessly dropped it and I, as your spiritual Father promise to help you to find it.
Our parents praise us when they realise that we are virgins. The Church glorifies us, our friends adore and the Holy Trinity claims us as his own since our virgin body is called the temple of the said Holy Spirit. Virgins have peace of soul and are always at peace with the Lord. They are blessed.

[7] Suppose I have already had sex?
Sexual Ethics tries to answer this question:
You have to repent of your sins, go to confession to a Catholic priest and your sins will be forgiven. Then promise God that you will not fall again and try not to. Everyone falls into sin in some area or another. If your area happens to be sex, then you must watch out and avoid the occasions of a future fall. You have to cut off the hand that leads you to sin, pluck out the eye that leads to sin and cut off the leg that leads to sin. What truly angers God is wilful sin and stubbornness in sin. When you know you are sinning and keep on participating in that sin, God will be highly offended. He calls us to abstain from sex and to remain sexually pure until marriage. We are commandment in the sixth commandment

– Thou shalt not commit adultery. Let us try to obey this divine Law and the Lord will be happy with us. This is wonderful. “Blessed are those, who hear the word of God, and keep it ( Luke 11:28).

[8] The Forbidden Fruits – Number One.
The Negative Side of the commandment
In the Sixth Commandment Almighty God prohibits everything that might stain our own chastity or that of our neighbour.
Hence St. Paul exhorts US:
“All uncleanness – let it not so much as be named among you, as becomes saints” (Eph. 5. 3). For this vice perhaps causes the destruction of more souls than any other; in fact, among the lost souls in Hell, a few will be found entirely free from it.
Our Lady of Fatima cried: “The sins which cause most souls to go to hell are the sins of the flesh/ adultery.” (-July 13, 1917).
[9] We know from our catechism lessons that a mortal sin is worse than a venial sin since through one mortal sin we lose God’s grace in our souls. And to die without God’s grace (i.e. to die with mortal sin on the soul) would condemn a soul to Hell forever. Such a matter is basic Catholic knowledge [CCC-1861]

A mortal sin… results in… the privation of sanctifying grace, that is, of the state of grace. If it is not redeemed by repentance and God’s forgiveness, it causes exclusion from Christ’s kingdom and the eternal death of hell-[CCC-1861]

The sins against this commandment are –
10 Igbo Katechism nke abuo:
Kedu ihe amachiri n’iwu nke ishii machiri?
– Iyi oyi machiekwa okwu na omume niile n’egosi amanso
(2) Ndu Dinwenu anyi Katechism:
Ndia buga nnukwu njo, nke ishii – iyi oyi, omume ruru inyi nke anyi chere were mee na onwe anyi m’obu nke anyi na ndiozo mere, ikpa nkata ruri inyi, igwu egwu ruru inyi, igu akwukwo ruru inyi, ikpa akuku onu-aha n’uzo n’akwuro oto aka.


[11} Examination of conscience – the sins against chastity
When the Lord gives his command:
Thou shall not commit adultery, he means the following:
Thou shalt not commit fornication – you must flee from it.
Thou shall not practise polygamy – you must flee from it.
Thou shalt not commit rape – you must flee from it.
Thou shalt not commit incest – you must flee incest.
Thou shalt not divorce your spouse – you must flee divorce.
Thou shalt not practise prostitution – you must flee from it.
Thou shall not practise contraception – you must attempt it.
Thou shalt not watch pornography – you must flee it
Thou shalt not watch immoral films – you must flee them
Thou shalt not commit masturbation – you must flee it,
Thou shall not commit homo-sex – you must never think of it.
Thou shall not commit lesbianism – you must never think of it.
Thou shalt avoid impure touches and desires – you must flee them.
Thou shalt avoid adultery of the heart – you must flee.
Thou shalt not look at a woman lustfully – It is adultery of the heart. You must flee.

But remember –

Blessed are those, who hear the word of God, on these sexual matter and keep it ( Luke 11:28:)

There prohibitions are the decrees of God in sexual matters.
We must obey them.
We must flee the sins. They offend God. They are mortal sins
and will kill our soul. They may land us in hell if we persist in them
and die in them without proper repentance.
{12} St Paul’s teaches us that – Adulterers will be excluded from heaven
(a) “Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, sodomites, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revellers, robbers – none of these will inherit the kingdom of God.” 1 Cor. 6:9-10 “Now the works of the flesh are obvious: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. I am warning you, as I warned you before: those who do these things will not inherit the kingdom of God.,” [Gal. 5:19-21]
Summary: According the bible: adulterers and fornicators and those who live immoral life will not inherit the kingdom of heaven.

{12} The New Catechism gives a comprehensive list of the sins against these two commandments of sexual morality (CCC 2391).
These sins are against chastity

  1. Adultery: Sexual purity forbids adultery. It is a mortal sin.
  2. Divorce: Sexual purity forbids divorce. It is against the dignity of marriage.
  3. Polygamy: Sexual purity forbids polygamy. It is against the dignity of marriage.
  4. Rape: Sexual purity forbids rape. It is against the dignity of marriage.
  5. Incest: Sexual purity forbids incest. It is against the dignity of marriage.
  6. Free union: Sexual purity forbids free union. It is against the dignity of marriage.
  7. Fornication: Sexual purity forbids fornication. It is against the dignity of marriage.
  8. Prostitution: Sexual purity forbids prostitution. It is against the dignity of marriage.
  9. Contraception.: Sexual morality forbids contraception.
    It is against the dignity of marriage.
  10. Pornography – watching immoral films – It is always a mortal sin.
  11. Lust: is a strong desire for someone in sex matters
    To these we add this group (Baltimore Catechism):-
  12. Birth Control, sins against nature, masturbation, immodest dressing, impure looks and desires, impure touches, kisses, pornography, keeping a sinful company.

Sexual Education teaches –
[13] Adultery of the heart: “But I say to you that whosoever shall look on a woman to lust after her, has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”(Matthew 5:28).
Remember, temptation is not a sin. If you reject a temptation, you do a good act and receive extra grace. Christ was tempted three times and he rejected the three.
[14] Sexual Abstinence is the only legitimate way to avoid unwanted pregnancy. We must form the habit.
[15] It is the only legitimate way to avoid sexually transmitted diseases and other associated health problems.
[16] Sexual ethics tells me that God is the owner of my sexuality and so I have to use the powers of sex according to the divine plan. I should therefore respect my body and the power of sex.
[17] Sexual ethics teaches me that my body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, therefore I should not defile it by breaking any of these two commandments of sex education.
[18] Sexual ethics teaches us that sex is a very powerful force, very disobedient energy that disobeys me. It does not keep quiet and will not keep calm when I command it.
[19]Sexual Ethics commands us to cultivate the virtue of chastity which applies to everyone, the unmarried and married people, the widows and especially the clerics.
[20] Sexual ethics condemns pregnant brides, the Church frowns at them.
[21] Sexual ethics calls my attention to the command of the Lord:

  • To avoid the occasion of sin:
    (a) If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. “If your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to go into hell (Matthew 5:27-30). (b) He that moves with danger will die in the evil therein (Ecclesiasticus 3:26)
    [22] A young girl told me that they were taught in Block Rosary meetings, not to look at a man when he is bathing. But if one does it, the one must go to confession. This is sex education.
    [23] In the Block Rosary meetings also the boys were equally taught not to look at a woman bathing, if they see her by mistake they should take away their eyes and run away but to continue to look/gaze at the bathing lady would be a sin and they should go to confession before they can worthily receive holy Communion. This is equally sex education.
    [24]. The boys and girls are warned to avoid sinful friendship, because
    (a) “egbe na okuko anaghie akpa uri”
    (b) If cockroaches carry one thousand guns, de no fit pass okuko road”
    (c) Udara dachiri uzo mpiwa n’agu ya.'”
    (d) Anaghie ejim oka ekwushi onu oke.”

Sex education in old Igbo Family:
[25]. Sex education teaches us the sexual taboos of the old African family. Incest is a crime. Rape is equally a crime. They are sins against the goddess of the land..
[26]. Incest: Sex education teaches us that my sister is not my sex mate and should never be. My brother is not my sexual partner and should never be, neither is my niece or my nephew or my uncle, my aunt or my cousin, my half-sister or my half-brother. People do not marry their blood relations and should never have sexual intercourse with them. This is a taboo in Africa and in the Church. It is incest.
[27]. In the old Igbo family, incest attracted an expiatory sacrifice called (ipu-ala) cleansing of the land. The culprits’ names were put into satirical song music. The aim is to train the social conscience.
[Let us hear a sample in its originality –
[28]. Who slept with his sister?].
Onye na nwa nneya labara na-ulo eeh? – Nwa-nhyee!!
Onye na nwa nneya labara na-ulo eeh? – Nwa-nhyee!!
Sunday na nwanneya labara na-ulo – Nwa-nhyee!!
Abo evele – nwa-nhyee! Abo izhi – – Nwa-nhyee!!
Abo okuko – nwa-nhyee!
Ihe eji apu ala – nwa-nhyee! Ka odi nma – nwa-nhyee!
Okitankwo anyi anokwa nkee – nwa-nhyee!

Ala ukwu aanyi anokwaa nkee – nwa-nhyee!
Abo evele – nwa-nhyee! Abo izhi – nwa-nhyee!
Abo okuko – nwa-nhyee!
Ihe eji apu-ala – nwa-nhyee! Ka odi nma – nwa-nhyee!

[29]. Sex education teaches us that prostitution is a disaster.
I should neither practise such a thing nor support it
[30]. Promiscuity: Sex education teaches us that no boy/girl should be wayward. None should sleep around putting other people into sex problems.
In the olden days also, any girl who became pregnant out of wedlock had her name put into a mock music that was publicly song in the village.
[31]. We had the case of one Miss Regina.
Onye je Owerre?
Eh! Regina je Owerre, eh.
Sa akom na eme ya, eh.
Dokita ele ya ahu, oh.
Sa akom wu afime eh,
Nnewuchi sina ebe ahu bere yo ma, sa Regina di-ime. Oh.
Nnewuchi sina ebe ahu bere yo ma, sa Regina di-ime. Oh.

{32} Chastity
Sex education teaches us chastity in four areas of life: the married, the single, the widows and the religious in vows and those engaged.
01) Husband and wife are called to be faithful to each other and avoid jumping around. No husband should commit adultery and no wife should do it. Adultery defiles the marriage bed.
02) In a telephone conversion a man once told (quote) –
“Father, I commit adultery at least 3 times a week. I cannot do without it. I want to keep on doing it for the time being. Since I got married 12 years ago, I have done it over 100 times.” I pitied him and sang him Sir Warrior’s popular spiritual:–
Manu bu nwamkpi, nwankpi mechara kpaa nneya,
ihu-na si ala aruola. (Man is like a he-goat that sexes his mother,
this is abomination)
03) Single people, those in religious and vowed life abstain totally from sexual activity, for the sake of the Kingdom of heaven and give themselves to God alone (CCC 2349).
04) Those not yet married (single) are to practise chastity, through “continence”, abstaining by God’s grace from all that would arouse sexual passions and from all sexual activity (CCC 2349).
05) Those engaged (courtship) to be married also must live in continence. “They should reserve for marriage the expressions of love that belong to married love. They will help each other grow in chastity” (CCC 2350).
06) A warning – traditional wedding alone does not give husband and wife the permission to starting making babies. They must receive the sacrament of Matrimony before sleeping together. Sleeping together without the sacrament is adultery and they must go to Confession and confess it to their priest before the wedding holy Mass.
{33} Here I must praise the Mary League/the Charismatic groups who insist on chaste brides, enforce the law and reward the obedient girls. God will bless them.

{34} Excellence of Chastity:
Sex education requires all to cultivate chastity according to their state of life.
The excellence of this virtue is seen:
(a) From the special love that God bears it. He chose a virgin as the mother of his son the chaste St. Joseph as his foster father, and the beloved and virgin Apostle,
St. John to care for his mother;
(b) From the fact that God promises a special reward to the pure in heart (Rev,15. 3) ;
(c) from the fact that, in consequence of purity, God grants special favours, such as, clearness of vision, peculiar taste for heavenly things, deep interior peace, etc.;
(d) From the fact that it is called the angelic virtue (Wis.5.1).

[35] The chief means of cultivating this virtue are:
(the Sacraments, prayer, special devotions, awareness of the occasions of sin, self-control),
(a) prayer (Wis. 7.21);
(b) mortification, which consists in shunning idleness (Ecclus. 33. 29),
(c) avoiding sinful company keeping, avoiding reading sex books and pornography, etc;
(d) frequent reception of the Sacraments of Penance and Holy Communion,
(e) meditation on the four last things (death, judgment, heaven and hell),
(f) and devotion to the Blessed Virgin – praying the Rosary daily.
(g) Reading books on life of virgins/martyrs of the Church– St Maria Gorretti, St Agnes etc..
[36] We shall always be tempted
12 Things to Know About Temptation: A Summary
(1) Temptation is an attraction, either from outside oneself or from within, to act contrary to right reason and the commandments of God (CCC 538).
(2) The capital sins: pride, greed, envy, anger, lust, gluttony, and sloth/laziness are at the root of all temptations.
(3) “Man is never wholly free from temptation… but with patience and true humility we become stronger than any enemy” (Pope Benedict XVI).
(4) “The patience and humility required to defeat the enemy come by following Christ every day and from learning to build our life not outside of him” (Pope Benedict XVI).
(5) The victory that conquers the world is our faith (1 John 5:4). When we fall, begin again in faith.
(6) The gift of faith is dynamic. It leads us into God’s victory over temptation and sin.
(7) The opposite of faith in God is pride because a proud person thinks that everything depends on him, as if God did not exist in his life. Self-reliance in the face of temptation is folly.
(8) Temptation closes us in, takes away the ability to see ahead, closes every horizon and in this way leads us to sin” (Pope Francis).
(9) Christ is always willing to teach us how to escape from temptation. Jesus is great because he not only brings us out of temptation, but also gives us more confidence (Pope Francis).
(10) If our faith becomes lukewarm and has no expression, God can allow us to fall. God does not want evil but may want its consequences, since the consequences of evil impart grace and the call to be converted (Fr. Tadeusz Dajczar).
(11) “No trial has come to you but what is human. God is faithful and will not let you be tried beyond your strength, but with the trial he will also provide a way out, so that you may be able to bear it” (1 Cor. 10:13).
(12) When our bond of love for God is fortified by sacramental confession, our spiritual armour is strengthened for resisting continuous temptations from the world, the flesh and the devil.

[37] Prayer for Chastity by St. Thomas Aquinas

Dearest Jesus! I know well that every perfect gift, and above all others that of chastity, depends upon the most powerful assistance of Your Providence, and that without You a creature can do nothing. Therefore, I pray you to defend, with Your grace, chastity and purity in my soul as well as in my body. And if I have ever received through my senses any impression that could stain my chastity and purity, may You, Who are the Supreme Lord of all my powers, take it from me, that I may with an immaculate heart advance in Your love and service, Amen.

The Theology of Sex Education
Convocation lecture to catechists/catechisers
Catholic Archdiocese of Owerri Nigeria
27 August 2021
By Fr. Prof. D.Dr Anthony E. Onyeocha

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