It was late on Friday afternoon and my son, Joe, and I were cruising south on Interstate 94 toward the Twin Cities. We were on our way back from a pair of college visits, one to Minnesota State University Moorhead and the other to North Dakota State University.
Joe spotted a deer on the edge of the woods and noticed it still had antlers. Most bucks have shed them by this time, so I thought this was an unusual sight. We also noticed that this deer and several others looked full bodied and healthy. They obviously have gotten through the cold, snowy winter in excellent shape.
The sightings gave me an opportunity to share a spiritual lesson based on a hunting-related experience Joe had recently. When we went to Montana over Thanksgiving to visit his grandparents and hunt with Grandpa Bob, Joe got an unexpected gift at the end of the trip. Grandpa Bob had a beautiful .270-caliber rifle with a high-quality Nikon scope. He got the gun before the season and hunted the entire fall with it. As it turned out, he never fired a shot at an animal with it.
Still, he was very fond of the firearm. Yet, in an amazing act of generosity, he gave the gun to Joe right before we left. Joe was nearly speechless and could hardly believe what had happened.
I brought this up on our drive home and asked him a few questions about this extraordinary gift: Why would Granpa Bob give you such a gift? What does it mean to you? Why did he choose you?
I wanted him to get a sense of the magnitude of this gift and to develop an appreciation for it. I went on to encourage him to think about his sexuality in a similar manner to this gift from his grandpa. Our sexuality is a precious gift that we give to another. It is very special and not meant to be casually given. God wants us to treat it with the highest degree of respect and only to give it away to one person, and in the context of a committed relationship — marriage.
This was my opportunity to drive home lessons I had learned on Theology of the Body from a book written by Christopher West, one of the foremost experts on the subject. The primary expert, of course, was Pope John Paul II, who delivered this work of theology in a series of talks that were picked up and assembled into the work that was eventually called Theology of the Body.
I know my brief analogy doesn’t do the topic justice, but I wanted to be able to take something Joe could relate to and connect it to this important concept. When he goes off to college — wherever it ends up being — there is sure to be all kinds of temptations, including sexual temptation. The best safeguard is to have a firm foundation of theology and morals in place, and to develop a high sense of responsibility in living according to your beliefs.
Also, I am hoping he will choose a college that has an environment compatible with his beliefs. In three weeks, we will be visiting the University of Dallas, which is a Catholic college with a strong liberal arts emphasis and a great reputation. We’ll see how Joe reacts to it. This is an important decision for him, and my hope is he will select the college that’s right for him — the one God has for him.
So, I will be fervently praying for him in the coming weeks. I humbly ask those reading this to do the same.