Editor’s note: Jason Evert, a best-selling author of more than 10 books, has brought the message of chastity to more than one million people on six continents. He will offer two evening presentations, “Purified,” to teens and parents 7-9 p.m. Oct. 5 at Holy Cross Church, DeWitt, and Oct. 6 at St. Vincent Blessed Sacrament, Vestal. The evening includes the Sacrament of Reconciliation and Eucharistic Adoration, with free materials offered for every family. Registration, at Chastity.com/Purified, is free but is required to save your seat (for information, call 315-472-6754). Evert is also speaking to students in our four Catholic high schools on Oct. 6 and 7.

In advance of his presentation, billed as a “life-changing event for families,” Evert answered questions submitted to him by the diocesan Family/Respect Life Office:

Q: Chastity is such a weird, outdated-sounding word. Would you tell us what it means and why it is important? 

A: You’re right, it has a lot of baggage associated with it. But I think this is why Saint John Paul II said the word needs to be rehabilitated. It does not mean that a person has a neurotic and repressive idea of sexuality. Rather, chastity is a virtue that helps you to order your sexual desires according to the demands of real love. For example, when you love a person, you do whatever is necessary to keep from harming them, and you’re willing to make heroic sacrifices in order to do what is best for them. Chastity means that you take this definition of love and apply it to sex. Some think that chastity simply means “no sex.” But that’s abstinence: focusing on what you can’t do and can’t have. Chastity focuses on what you can do and can have, right now: a lifestyle that brings freedom, respect, peace and even romance—without regret. Because chastity involves purity and self-control, some people think it means sexual repression. On the contrary, it frees a couple from the selfish attitude of using each other as objects, thus making them capable of true love.

Q: Why do families/teens need this?

A: Because of online porn, divorce, infidelity and even the re-definition of what it means to be human, families are under attack like never before. Young people are marinated in a culture that is unable to distinguish love from lust, and so they›re longing for straight answers to tough questions about dating, relationships and sexual purity. Parents also need to be empowered to bring the message of chastity to their children, while learning effective strategies to guard the family from dangers that await them online.

Q: How will the “Purified” event equip families and teens?

A: Parents are the primary sex educators of their kids, but unfortunately many feel as if they›re not equipped to tackle this difficult subject effectively. So, we want to support the parents in their role by helping the teens to realize how chastity defends love from lust. We cover all the topics the teens are wondering about the most, including finding real love, breaking free from pornography, starting over, practicing modesty and knowing how far is too far. It›s a positive hope-filled message, so the teens don›t need to worry about being made to feel shameful, awkward or afraid. God’s plan for human love is good news!

Q: How do we help parents and their children become comfortable with talking about this topic and way of life?

A: We invite them to come to our event! I’ll do the talking, and then the opportunity will be opened for the parents to talk to their kids afterward, based on what they both heard.

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