Several months ago, eight year old Elizabeth climbed into my lap and asked, “Daddy, why do brides wear veils?” I looked at Regina and smiled as my bride smiled back waiting to see how I managed this one. In an instant, the leading of the Holy Spirit to be sure, I decided to give Beth her first sex education talk.
I started by asking Beth what we place around the Tabernacle in church. “A veil,” was the correct response, though Beth looked a bit puzzled by the non sequitur. “And what does the Priest place over the chalice and ciborium, which also hold the Blessed Sacrament?” “A veil,” was the correct response. Beth was beaming; she was on a roll. “And what sign do we use to indicate that Jesus dwells within the Tabernacle?” “The sanctuary lamp,” came the response. Correct, but secondary. The veil, going back to the Tent of the Meeting in the desert and later the Temple in Jerusalem has always been the sign that God dwells within. Beth soaked up the new material like a sponge.
I could hear Dr. Scott Hahn of Franciscan University giving a lecture where he made this connection, “That which is veiled is that which is Holy”.
“Every one of our bodies is not only the tabernacle of our souls, but also of the Holy Spirit who dwells within us. So every person’s body is sacred Beth. But women’s bodies have an added dimension of the sacred. When you grow up, God will use your body to make your babies, just as He used Mamma’s to make you, Joseph and little Regina. So when you get married and I walk you down the aisle, that veil will tell your husband that your body is sacred to God and he is to treat you and your body with reverence. Don’t forget, Jesus could have hopped off of a cloud. He chose to be born of a woman, and that makes every woman so much more sacred.”
From the gleam in Regina’s eyes, it was obvious that she loved this first step down the road of Beth’s sexual maturation.
I think we go wrong when discussing contraceptives and their ill-effects as the substance of sex education. It misses the mark by a mile. We’re Holy, fearfully and wonderfully made by God; which is why St. Paul tells us to glorify God in our bodies. Sex isn’t dirty. Our human sexuality is one of the greatest goods of all creation. At only eight years old, I couldn’t tell Beth the other half of that good, that she and her husband will use their bodies to forge inseparable bonds of passionate love and selfless devotion. I’ll tell her in due course. There’s simply no room for premarital sex in that equation. Forgetting sexually transmitted diseases, which afflict 1/4 of all girls by their nineteenth birthday, 80% of all adults during their lifetimes according to CDC, premarital sex corrodes that sense of the sacred and the dual, inseparable purposes for which sex was made: Unitive and Procreative.
All sex education MUST begin here: teaching a reverential love for what God has made. Little girls dream of being beautiful brides. Passionate daddies look beyond the wedding day to their daughters being good and faithful wives and mothers, to them marrying men who will honor and cherish them. Therefore, we fathers need to look in the mirror each morning when we shave and make sure that the guy looking back at us is a sound role model for our sons and duaghters.
That’s the best sex education of all.