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BURLINGTON — With MTV constantly airing sexualized music videos and magazines promoting sexual freedom for young people, it can be difficult for many teens to defend God’s call to chastity until marriage.
Hundreds of teens got a little help and advice on the freedom and respect that comes from engaging in chaste relationships, March 7, from Jason Evert, a nationally recognized speaker on the subject.
Evert, 28, began his presentation “Romance without Regret,” held at Burlington High School, with a prayer to the Virgin Mary. He proceeded to tell the young people, in an easy and entertaining manner, his history of dating and how his relationships with girls got “very physical, very fast.” Each time he was about to go “too far” with a girl he heard a voice in his head say, “This gift is not for her, this gift is for me. Please wait for me.”
He told the teens to respect their bodies out of respect for their future spouses. The easiest way to know how far is too far, Evert told them, is to ask, “Would I want someone doing this with my future spouse?”
Chaste relationships before marriage develop into more successful marriages he said, noting a study which found that people who marry as virgins have a 70 percent lower divorce rate than those who are not virgins. In the past 10 years, he added, the number of sexually active high school students has decreased and the majority of high schools students are virgins.
"It's sweeping the country because we want a better kind of love," Evert said.
Sex, he said, is giving yourself “completely” to another person, and it would be “lying” to give yourself completely to your future spouse before marriage. He told the teens that he waited to have sex with his wife until marriage out of love for her.
"Love can wait to give, but lust can't wait to get," Evert said.
He had separate messages for the boys and the girls in the audience. To the boys, he addressed pornography, which he said causes boys “to confuse love and lust” and to develop a false perception of women.
He told them that society has lied to them about the definition of manhood, telling them that it is about “‘getting some’ from a woman.” Evert explained that the Bible details how a man should act when it says that a man should love his wife like Christ loved the Church.
"Christ emptied Himself [on the cross] for love of the Church," Evert said. "Pornography flips the crucifix backwards" and tells a boy to "empty a lady for the sake of himself."
Evert then spoke to the girls about modesty, at a time when many feel pressured to dress in revealing clothes and are told that boys will like them more if they become physically involved.
If a boy sees a girl dressed provocatively, Evert said, the boy “thinks she’s trying to tell him the greatest thing about her is her body.” Like a bride on her wedding day, Evert said that girls should “veil” their bodies.
"The veil of modesty invites a guy to think there is so much more about you than your body," he told the girls. "You have the power to turn a guy's head, but also to turn his heart."
He urged the group to stay away from birth control, which, he said, treats a woman’s “fertility like a disease” and can lead to breast cancer and other maladies. He warned them about sexually transmitted diseases (STD), such as Human Papilloma virus, the most common STD in the United States.
To those who have already become sexually involved, he urged them to go to confession and “get the slate wiped clean,” because “it does not matter where you’ve been or what you’ve done ... God will say ‘welcome home.’” He told them to “stay close to the Eucharist” and to pray the Rosary.
Those in the crowd were grateful to hear Evert’s message.
"I thought it was great," said Brian Ea, 15, of Hanson, who came with his mother. "It makes you more aware that it's not always great to do that stuff."
Daniela Pellegrini, 14, of Woburn, agreed.
"It helped me a lot because I've had a boyfriend for eight months and I though I had to do all of that," she said. "Now I know that it's my body and I have to respect it ... There's a lot of stuff I'm gonna go home and think about."
Her friend Jackie Roszak, 17, has heard Evert speak before and was able to get out of an abusive relationship because of what she heard. “It helped me to see that he [her ex-boyfriend] didn’t want me,” she said. “He wanted my body.”
"It's the ultimate love test," Roszak continued. If he leaves you because you will not cross a certain line with him, "then it wasn't meant to be."