Monday, March 07, 2005

Of Love, Of Sex

Sex and sexuality is a part of our lives. Sex and sexuality permeates everything men, women and children do. The ongoing struggle of Philippine society to come to accept a position on this matter is the first step in transforming our childish culture to a more adult one.

Arguably, Philippine society is more conservative by nature. It was born that way through over 300 years of conservative Spanish Friar rule. It is in our racial memory to be conservative. It is our natural “default” mode as they say.

The proposition made to begin sexual education at a very young age is the boldest liberal move thus far, and without a doubt the more strictly conservative factions of our society are against it.

Perhaps they have forgotten that everyday, Children are exposed to sex and sexuality. Sex--- in every commercial, in every skimpy dress an actress wears on TV and in movies. Sexuality because it is important in every child's development to have a healthy sexual outlook after all it inspires confidence and it is part of every person.

Perhaps the more conservative factions of society have also forgotten that by denying our people, especially young people information about the subject, we push them towards curiosity and deny to them the truth. That in itself creates even bigger problems.

It is hard to find the balance between being conservative and being practical in that with an uncontrollable population explosion, we find more children going hungry. We find more children unable to reap the right to education, the right to play, the right to a happy and memorable childhood and the right to have the opportunities to be greater than themselves. The denial of these rights is evil.

It is in the best interest of everyone to actively debate the issue with open minds and open hearts, to explore all points, to be enlightened by the coming together of both liberal and conservative views because in the end, we all want the same thing: what is best for our people.

Responsible Parenthood

In the Philippines, there is a serious ongoing problem with regard to our moral compass and population explosion. We have a lot of children and one day they will be adults. It is the responsibility of every Filipino to provide for them: education, health care, and jobs. That word, “responsibility” is where we clash.

The more conservative factions of society are twisting the term “responsible parenthood”. Like many teachings of the church, they twist it with their own meaning, applying their own rigid view irregardless of vision, irregardless of what is best for our people. They put limits to responsibility where there should be no limits to it!

What is the true meaning of “Responsible Parenthood”?

The Holy Father, John Paul II in his book “Crossing the Threshold of Hope” said that “Responsible Parenthood is the necessary condition for human love, and it is also the necessary condition for authentic conjugal love”[1]. His Holiness says “that love cannot be irresponsible. Its beauty is the fruit of responsibility”[2]. “When love”, he adds, “is truly responsible, it is also truly free.[3]”

What the Holy Father is telling us is that we must teach our young children to be responsible in their actions. We must teach them that their actions have consequences and that those consequences, they must live up to.

Love, as the Holy Father says, can not be love without responsibility! Love is not reckless.

It is our duty to provide our people all the tools--- knowledge being the principal one is one of them because it is power. We must inform them about the biological aspects of our human development. We must go beyond it--- to speak in a more personal note, to prepare them to take up the mantel of being adults in a healthy, loving, sexually active relationship bound by the magic of marriage. It is through knowledge, through proper education of our young people that they are properly armed.

Whose role is it to educate? It is everyone's role! It is the role of the Church to teach love. It is the role of the parents and family to teach love. It is the role of society and thereby government which leads that society to teach love. It is everyone's responsibility to educate people to love.

It is with this concept of love and responsibility we can create a true, meaningful framework for managing population growth.

Let us make an active campaign for the use of contraception. Arguably, the conservatives will note that we are encouraging people to have sex outside of marriage.

Yes it more than likely, it is probably that they will do so. Our people are doing so now with or without it. People have been doing it since the dawn of human civilization, since the beginning of the concept of marriage itself and even before. We will not stop it that way.

Contraception are simple tools to help reduce the likely hood of disease in those who choose to be promiscuous, to reduce the likely hood of unwanted pregnancies in those who are already active.

Failure to accept these facts will only close our minds to the more viable and morally just answers that we can take. There are many more important points with which we must deal with.

Fighting Abortion from Pro-Choice to Pro-Woman
One of the deep contention of the Church is abortion. It is undoubtedly evil. It is evil because it encourages irresponsibility between the couple--- they choose not to take responsibility for their actions. They also choose not to be responsible for the life they've help create. It is evil because it is the killing of a defenseless human being who has done nothing wrong.

Again, we turn to the Holy Father who gives us the proper answer. He chooses to be pro-woman rather than pro-choice. Isn't this the same thing being pro-choice and pro-woman?

With pro-choice we give the woman the choice to give life and to take it. Because it is her body, she is the one most affected. As the Holy Father says, the woman is left utterly alone to make this decision[4]. The key word is “alone”.

The Holy Father says the answer as many halfway houses and counselors throughout the world have found out, for teenage pregnancies or single mothers they have noted, a woman's natural reaction is not to abort[5]. We must be pro-woman in that young women in these circumstances must be accepted and not chastised. The Holy Father already gives us the solution: “honest stance, in this cases, is the that of radical solidarity with the woman.”[6]

We must crackdown on Abortion Clinics, true. We must implement strict enforceable laws to ensure that these places do not exist and we must make it harder on couples or a woman to ever find these places.

At the same time, we must actively promote being pro-woman. We must include this at the very beginning with any sexual education program. We must make available counseling services to women already in this position. We must encourage them to bring the life to full term and maybe perhaps to actively promote adoption of children. In this we all must take active responsibility.

Education is the Answer
As the sages have told us, Knowledge is power. We must arm our people with knowledge. When properly educated about the facts--- not just the biological facts of making a baby but also the moral, social and psychological aspects they become ready to make their choices.

Education is the responsibility of not just the parents, not just the church and not just the state. It is the duty of every parent, of every organization and of the state. Sex and Sexuality begins at home, is reinforced actively by both Church and State. We each are responsible make no mistake of it.

We must shed our rigid view of population control, of sex education.

By providing all the necessary information, we can thereby leave it to the couple when to engage in sex. By giving our people, all the proper information, all the facts, all the education, we give them freedom to choose wisely and responsibly.

Of course, we must have safeguards to prevent such evil as abortion, so we must likewise have a pro-woman policy as much as we have a pro-contraception and pro-sex-education policy.

Love and Responsibility
As a people, we must come to accept that sex and sexuality is as natural as air. It is not dirty. It is not evil. It is even a deeper mystery beyond the flesh that men and women explore together. We shouldn't be afraid of it. Sex and Sexuality are in fact related to every faction of our daily life, in how we view ourselves and everyone around us.

We must as a nation, as a people being a campaign to teach young men to respect women and vice versa.

We must teach our people to value human life and to value others in their uniqueness.
Our country must enact a policy of responsibility for our actions. We must teach our people to be responsible and to love responsibly. Our people must learn to accept the consequences for their actions. It is the way to properly manage our population not to mention every aspect of our daily and national life.

We can not deny irregardless of your belief in the Holy Father's office or his religion that his words do not speak wisdom when His Holiness says, “When love is truly responsible, it is truly free”[7]. This fact rings true for every religion on Earth. We fight the evil that is abortion with it. We ensure we are pro-woman with it. We uphold the rights and dignity of every human being with it. It is with this concept of love and responsibility we can create a true, meaningful framework for managing population growth not to mention our daily life.

I hope Government sees the truth in it.

I hope the Church and other Religions see the wisdom in it.

I hope you are enlightened by it.

As a song goes, “Love is the answer”, indeed.

[1-3] His Holiness, John Paul II, tras. Jenny and Martha McPhee, Crossing the Threshold of Hope, Random House, p. 208
[4] His Holiness, John Paul II, tras. Jenny and Martha McPhee, Crossing the Threshold of Hope, Random House, p. 206-207
[5-6] His Holiness, John Paul II, tras. Jenny and Martha McPhee, Crossing the Threshold of Hope, Random House, p. 207
[7] His Holiness, John Paul II, tras. Jenny and Martha McPhee, Crossing the Threshold of Hope, Random House, p208