A voice in the desert

Published December 5, 2021, 12:05 AM

by Fr. Rolando V. De La Rosa, OP


Fr. Rolando Dela Rosa

In recent years, women who win beauty pageants have an advocacy that they pursue during their reign. I look forward to the day when a Filipina would espouse Erica Harold’s advocacy when she won as Miss America in 2003.

In a country famous for sexual permissiveness, Erika used her title as a platform to promote sexual abstinence among the youth. She asked them to wait until they are married before engaging in sex. Expectedly, liberal-minded Americans labeled her as terribly outdated. They snickered when she talked about the need for self-discipline, prudence, and restraint.

But Erika persisted. Like John the Baptist in our Gospel reading today (Luke 3:4-6), she was a voice in the wilderness — seldom heard and seldom heeded. She talked about the great benefits of sexual abstinence and the heavy price to be paid for permissive sexual behavior. And when Christian principles of morality did not make her audience listen, she would harp on the dire consequences of promiscuity and the unbridled pursuit of sexual pleasure. Among these are teenage pregnancy, date rape, sexually transmitted diseases, abortion and contraception mentality.

Sexual abstinence was actually Erika’s advocacy when she won Miss Illinois. She popularized it with her slogan: “Respect Yourself, Protect Yourself.” When she later won Miss America, the officials of the pageant organization told her to avoid saying anything about her advocacy and talk instead about preventing youth violence.

But Erika insisted that sexual abstinence education is an important part of preventing youth violence. Based on her research, violence is directly related to sexual promiscuity. Those who engage early in sexual activities are more inclined to engage in a pattern of self-destruction. Even the LGBTQ community did not support Erika because they believed that “abstinence until marriage” was an inherently anti-gay position.

Erika ran for Congress in the 2014 election, with a platform that is decidedly pro-life and one that promotes religious freedom. She considered the latter important because people with a religious platform are often told to confine themselves to the four walls of their church.

Sexually adventurous youth, who are unwilling to make a commitment in marriage, inflict incalculable damage on their moral sensibility. They would do well to read this pledge made by a young man who, like Erika, believes in sexual abstinence:

“I will never ask a woman to compromise her moral convictions for my own pleasure, even if we have strong feelings for each other. I will never ask her to risk her mental or physical health, her self-respect, her reputation, her education and her future plans, by engaging in genital sexual activity with me before marriage.

“Even when my girlfriend asks me to, I will never risk fathering my children outside of marriage, especially when I know that I am not prepared to give them a stable future to which they are entitled.

“I am fully aware that making and keeping this pledge will not be easy. My peers may even ridicule me for it. However, keeping this pledge will help me focus my energy on what I want to achieve, and not waste my time undoing avoidable mistakes.” Another man might say after reading that pledge: ‘That’s rubbish. I am sexually active because I am a real man!” Erika’s response would be: “So is a real dog.”