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John Livingston

Context and Mystery

Several of my buddies and I during my junior year of high school falsified IDs and gained access to THE LITTLE ART THEATRE. All during junior high, we heard stories from our big brothers about the infamous “LAT”. After years of anticipation, we finally made it inside after passing a bouncer who knew just by looking at our peach fuzzed chins that we had to be two years underage—but he let us in anyway if we promised to buy 2 beers (which also required that we be two years older). As we settled into our seats we started giggling like little girls and almost got bounced before the show even started.

We saw things that night that none of us have ever seen since. We still talk about it almost 55 years later. One of my buddies still remembers the names of the actresses from the credits—he says. Even at that age, our ideas about sex were very primitive. Over the next few years, they seemed to become more primitive. Health class was nothing like the (LAT). After satisfying our adolescent proclivities we all made sure to attend Confession the following Saturday night. The Priest that heard all our Confessions that night told me thirty years later—without ever disclosing the confessions per say, that he never had to stifle a laugh more than during those 5 Confessions. He said the first Confession he took very seriously, but after hearing about what we had seen that night, and apparently, we had all seen something different or at least we saw the same things differently, he was in tears biting his lip trying not to laugh. Thirty years later I heard a similar story from a well-known Priest in Boise who heard confessions from a group of underage boys after a visit to the infamous KIT CAT CLUB. When I found my son’s fake ID several years later as we were helping him move to college, I felt relieved (maybe it was hopeful) but I wasn’t sure, to know that maybe he was one of those boys who went to confession. Maybe not.

Years later I told that story to my adopted stepbrother also a Catholic Priest and he gave me an interesting perspective. Fr. Lance said to me that we were “lucky”! The reason being was that at the time of our first exposure to sex, it started out and remained a “MYSTERY”. Even in our young minds, there was a connection between the physical and the spiritual. Today, when young boys and girls are exposed to issues of sex and gender, we approach the subject in purely humanistic and secular ways. Maybe with the introduction of birth control and in the age of “free love” sex has become mechanical early on in a person’s life and the connection between the body and soul is never present in modern day “hook up” mechanical unions. God made man different than any other creature. He made man from the dust (material) and breathed life (spirit) into this unique human being that he made in His image. A mechanical means to a physical end always results in incompleteness. It took me and I am sure many of us to mature well into adulthood before we fully realized this reality. The empty holes in our hearts can only be filled with unique spirits and loves. The biggest hole that is for God, can only be filled with the Holy Spirit. When it is filled with other things drugs alcohol, sex money, lust for power, it remains empty. In our quest for Joy, we find nothing. As C. S. Lewis states: “All searches for pleasure are substitutes for Joy”.

The issue of sex is complex and complicated. I sent my children to Catholic schools where it is taught early on—but with the proper context. From the second grade on in the Catechism marriage is a Sacrament—”A Holy Mystery”. That is the predicate for sex education in Catholic schools even today— how can kids learn about sex in health class, when they have not been given the proper frame of reference? How many teachers in public schools today are afraid to even talk about the issue in such terms? How many of them are equipped to talk about such complex and personal matters?

Neurologists and endocrinologists tell us that our brains don’t become mature until the age of 25-30. Understanding who we are physically, emotionally, and spiritually may take many years after that—it did for me. When I see young children receiving a barrage of signals mostly coming from adults who may have a selfish political narrative and maybe even a need for their own decisions to be validated—misery loves company as they say, I worry about how they are filling the “holes in their hearts”. Are many young children, trying to make an adult in their life happy or more loving and accepting of them? As a Christian here is one big issue for me. God’s greatest gift to each of us is our “FREE WILL’. A gift that can be used for good or evil, but to exercise our free will, we need the experience of growing up and experiencing life. Parents who exert their “Will” on their children regarding gender identification early on in their lives, abrogate the child’s ability to exercise their free will when they become an adult.

Gender-changing therapies or surgeries are never an emergency. They are always elective. Let nature have time to take its course, I say. When I was 9 years old, I wanted to be Willie Mays. So, one day Tommie Comer and I colored our faces with burnt cork. It temporarily changed the color of my skin (physical), but it didn’t make me a better baseball player (playing baseball in my neighborhood was as close to spiritual as a boy could get). It washed off in two days. What we are talking about is a lifetime. God made me and He made every person unique. He doesn’t make “junk”. Every person should be proud of who and what they are. You don’t need surgery or hormones to change anything. You just need to love God and know that He loves you just the way you are.

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