Teenage Sexuality Educators Training Camp

13753. No, that’s not the latest figure for the stock index, but the number of legal abortions done right here in Singapore in 1999, according to the Annual Report 2000 from the Ministry of Health. Yes, the Abortion Holocaust is still here with us, and since the enactment of the Abortion Act by Parliament in 1970 (when there were 1913 abortions), the number of abortions had increased steadily, reaching a peak of 23512 sixteen years ago in 1985. Although the figures have gradually declined since then, each procured abortion is one too many.

About 30 concerned youths gathered at the Sentosa Holiday Chalet over the March 16-18 weekend to discuss and learn more about pro-life issues, not only to be educated about the horrors of abortion, but also to fully grasp the full meaning of human sexuality.

The Celebration of Life (COL) team, led by Family Life Society (FLS) full-time staff Andrew Kong, organized the course targeting youths: pre-university students, undergraduates and young working adults involved in youth ministry or catechism, whether in the school, parish or in archdiocesan groups.

Almost the whole range of pro-life topics were covered, including the respect of life and sex, chastity, bioethics, natural law, Catholic teachings, cultivating the Interior Life and even on communication, basic leadership and self-motivational skills.

“The family environment is the normal & usual place for forming children and young people to consolidate and exercise the virtues of charity, temperance, fortitude and chastity. Parents must find time to be with their children and take time to talk with them. It is their most important task. Parents must be models for their children, as good example and leadership of parents is essential in strengthening the formation of young people in chastity. Self-control is a necessary condition for being capable of self-giving. Young people should be encouraged to have esteem for and to practise self-control and restraint, to live in an orderly way, and to make personal sacrifices in a spirit of love and self-respect and generosity towards others. The family is the basic unit of society, as it is built on the institution of marriage. Therefore sex is the language of love belonging in marriage.” Dr John Lim, MBBS, a veteran pro-life advocate for FLS, mentioned this in his talk entitled, ‘Love Them Both’. “Do you know it is legal to have an abortion in Singapore for up to 24 weeks? How can we say that the foetus is not life? The fertilised ovum is complete. This single cell has a different genetic make up from the mother. The mother provides only nutrients. The individual grows and develops, and keeps on doing so even after he has transferred out of the womb! This being is alive, human, sexed, intact and complete, a tiny boy or girl from the time of fertilisation. There are no several versions of embryology - only one set of facts!”

“In any morally significant human action, the first question is not who is allowed to choose to perform it, but is the action itself right or wrong? If no one has a right to do wrong, then ‘Women do not have the right to choose to abort’.” Dr Lim continued, “How about raped pregnancies? For every 1,000 forcible rapes, only 1 pregnancy results. So is she forced to choose abortion? There are other considerations! What is her chief complaint usually? It is how we treat her! Should we kill an innocent baby for his father’s crime? It is up to us to ‘Love them both!’”

Talking about sexual ethics, Mr Kong, who is also the Senatus Vice-President of the Legion Of Mary (LOM), said, “Sex is distinguished from the other bodily appetites: the sexual experience is essentially deeper, it has a greater moral significance as sex is sacred, in and with sex, we ‘give’ ourselves, sex is the ‘secret’ of the individual, which we instinctively hide from others, it belongs to one’s innermost being, our attitude towards sex determines our modesty, and therefore we must have an attitude of respect towards sex.”

“What is the rationale for this discourse? It provides the framework for the values underlining our sexual ethics, facilitates the task of sharing the values convincingly, and assists in answering ‘tough’ questions by referring to first principles.” For each human person, it is then imperative to know how to determine what is right, and what is wrong. Mr Kong then gave the answer, “Singapore is a multi-religious and cultural society, and with each religion or culture having its own views, thus society governed by the rule of law requires a common set of ethical rules. The only solution is to rely on natural law ethics.”

When defining bioethics, Mr Kong said it is “the discipline dealing with the ethical implications of both (a) biological research and (b) the applications of that research, especially in medicine, inclusive of life sciences ethics and medical ethics.” When determining ethics, Mr Kong said we should use natural law.

“What is Natural Law? There are some basic human goods and values, discoverable by reflection, experience, common sense and anthropology. We should not act against, harm or undermine them, which is to avoid evil or bad acts. We then should promote, respect and protect the goods, i.e., to do good acts. The characteristics of Natural Law include: an objective standard, a higher law, being natural as it is intrinsic to Man, universal, unchangeable. The alternative moral systems, relativism, subjectivism, proportionalism, consequentialism, utilitarianism and situation ethics have no moral absolutes!”

But what’s is wrong with moral relativism? Mr Kong explains, “It is a contradiction in saying one should not impose one’s moral view, like what moral relativists are saying. Natural law ethics and relativism ethics are mutually exclusive, as relativism ethics has no basis or standard for civil laws or rules, no rule of law, no basis or standard for morality, therefore it has no morality. The only rational choice is to reject relativism ethics and adopt natural law ethics!”

So what are the human goods that are the basis for natural law? “They perfect human nature when we promote and respect them; they provide us with an objective standard for what is right and wrong; they are the basic reasons for our actions; and we have a natural inclination to them, e.g., life, beauty, truth, friendship, peace, procreation, marriage, etc.” Mr Kong told the youths at the chalet.

“The first principles of Natural Law follow the first principle of practical reasoning: ‘That good is to be done and evil avoided.’ The first principle of moral choice is to act morally, one have to act in such a way that all the basic human goods are respected and honoured, to have an integral human fulfilment, for ‘the ends never justify the means’.” There is a universal rule in which we can apply in every situation to determine whether the action is good or bad, and Mr Kong explained it to be the ‘Principle of Double Effect’. “1. The act itself must be good or morally indifferent, 2. The good effect must not be attained by means of the bad effect, 3. The bad effect although foreseeable, must not be intended, 4. There must be sufficient balance between the good effect and the bad effect.”

Mr John Ooi, also a veteran pro-life advocate with FLS, talked about the Church teachings on sex. He mentioned that the dangerous current trends in the world today, where especially in Singapore the emphasis on life sciences is becoming prevalent, but the ethical issues are not resolved, as people desire for ‘immortality’ in this world. Abortion is freely available, contraception is accepted and practiced, and there is a disdain for moral absolutes (rejecting Natural Law). This ‘Culture of Death’, as termed by Pope John Paul II, had prompted him to issue several encyclicals like Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life) in 1995 and Donum Vitae (Respect for Human Life and Dignity of Procreation) in 1987.

Mr Ooi said that the Church teaches about the ‘good of procreation’, where all sexual acts should be in accord with this good. Also called the good of children, it is one of the goods of marriage, and acts that undermine this good include adultery, contraception, sterilization, IVF, premarital sex, homosexual acts, masturbation, etc. Natural moral law is objective, universal and unchangeable, where it prohibits always and without exceptions intrinsically evil acts, e.g., the intentional killing of the innocent, infanticide, abortion, euthanasia, suicide, adultery, fornication, rape, and intrinsically disordered acts like masturbation, contraception, and homosexual acts. The Church also believes in the basic human good of human life, where human life begins at conception, which shows the evil of abortion, infanticide, in-vitro fertilization (IVF), human cloning, embryo (incl. foetal stem cell) research and eugenics.

“Sexual intercourse has two inseparable aspects, the unitive and the procreative, i.e., sex is for bonding (love) and babies (life).” Mr Ooi reiterated this common pro-life statement in his talks, and secular society often separates these two to the detriment of the other aspect in the long run. As sexuality is a fundamental element of human nature, all human sexual acts engages the entire person: the physical, psychological & spiritual, thus sexual intercourse has both the unitive and procreative meaning, making sexual pleasure licit and proper only within marriage.

Mr Stanis Benjamin, a professional communication skills trainer, has a unique ability to 'connect' with his participants, motivating them through his natural humour and his array of entertaining learning games to acquire practical skills effectively. He had the whole room in laughter almost throughout his talk. Relating about his speech impediment in his youth, he showed that he had almost completely overcome that in his later years and even grown to become President (1999) and even Area Governor (2000) of the Life Underwriter’s Association Toastmasters Club! “Satisfaction to your speech is equal to your performance over your audience’s expectation of you. Your performance is then equal to your talent multiplied by your attitude and the opportunity given to you.” Mr Benjamin also touched on the importance of managing our fears of public speaking, where FEAR is the acronym of ‘False Experiences Appearing Real’, and fear is Nature’s way of helping you protect yourself.

Mr Patrick Oei, told the youths to look to role models for leadership and self-motivation, and perhaps the greatest leader for us would be our Lord Jesus Christ. He said ‘we must draw strength and follow the good examples of our Lord, in his humility, charisma and wisdom’. Prayer is also extremely important for motivating ourselves.

Jesuit priest Fr Colin Tan celebrated his first ‘overseas’ Mass at the Sentosa Holiday Chalet, where he told those gathered that when in this season of Lent, repentance is important as with the fig tree in the Gospel reading (Luke 13:1-9), God will give us some time bear fruit, or else we will be ‘cut down’ like the fig tree.

Kevin Tan, 23, a NUS undergraduate teaching catechism at the Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour (OLPS), commented, "It had been a very informative and enriching 3 days in understanding not only on the Church’s teachings on the issue of sexuality, but also in the discovery and formation of my own values and ethics. True love waits and true love really waits. Issues such as homosexuality, fornication and pornography that many youths of today are faced with were explored and discussed in depth. Furthermore with my intent of working with youths in the field of social work in future, I hope to share with them what I’ve learnt. Hopefully, they too could see the value and sanctity of God’s beautiful gift of life.”

Michelle Wu, 22, of YouthWorks, the youth group of the Church of St Francis Xavier (SFX), said, “It was an intensive 3 day course in applying the Christian values in the various issues that the present society faces, such as abortion, pornography, contraception etc. Also, I have learnt to draw a line between the values of society and Christianity, which has formed an aspect of my morals and values. Hopefully, I am able to share this with young adults one day.”

Please visit the local pro-life web site at http://www.prolife.org.sg or call FLS at 4880287 for more details.