You: Life, Love, and the Theology of the Body is the sexual education program that Catholics have been waiting for. Rather than presenting the Church’s teaching on human sexuality as an archipelago of unrelated prohibitions, it connects that teaching with a life-giving, positive vision of the human person.
You: Life, Love, and the Theology of the Body is the revamped program by Ascension Press that used to be titled “Theology of the Body for Teens.” It’s a significant revision, with a new look stylistically, new DVD supplements, and new sections that address homosexuality, porn, and gender dysphoria. It also comes with a parent’s guide.
Those of us who grew up with other types of sex education programs, whether religious or secular, have a special appreciation for the holistic, global approach of You: Life, Love, and the Theology of the Body. By exploring human sexuality within the larger context of an integral Christian anthropology, You provides young people with a cohesive understanding of human sexuality that is rooted in a positive, life-giving vision of the human person. No longer does the Church’s moral teaching on sexuality stand alone, an archipelago of prohibitions; here, as with the rest of Theology of the Body literature, human sexuality is connected to deeper questions about identity, purpose, and other fundamental life questions. This an understanding of human sexuality that young people can get excited about. (It’s no wonder that Theology of the Body studies are so popular on Catholic college campuses.)
As the title of the program suggests, You: Life, Love, and the Theology of the Body does a great job of making those important connections. It’s a very good looking, orthodox, teen-oriented program—the videos in particular are well-made, have a very contemporary, somewhat urban, almost jazzy feel, and are short enough to get into the subject and leave time for questions. The book is similar, with questions for discussion (or reflection), and the ideas are presented alongside a project orientation (the project being your life!). This is a textbook with classroom video supplements, and seems angled to high school classrooms or perhaps religious education or youth groups. Arguably the book could be used without the DVD, and vice versa.
Given the focus of Peanut Butter and Grace on helping parents form their children in the faith, we paid special attention to the parent’s guide. First, it’s great it exists, because any teaching they receive on sexual ethics that is not supported at home will have limited impact. Additionally, parents really deserve to know how such a sensitive topic is being presented. The parent’s guide offers a brief overview of each chapter in the text and suggests various family applications and questions for your teen. The guide is not only a brief introduction to Theology of the Body (which many Catholic parents do not know), but also a nice model of how to do stealth formation with your kids—through family practices and scattered conversations about life, love, and what God wants for us.
We sampled this program with our two teens, a 14-year-old girl and a 16-year-old boy, both of whom gave the materials a thumbs up and a rating of 7 out of 10 for presentation.
While we haven’t completed the entire program with our kids, it’s on our agenda for the coming year.
You can view the trailer for You: