LIVONIA — Hollywood has no place in Jason Evert’s vision of how male-female relationships should be built.
Evert recalled having once asked an audience to name a movie with central characters of opposite sexes who simply wanted to be friends. After a lengthy silence, one respondent had finally offered "Finding Nemo."
"But that doesn’t count, because they’re fish," Evert quipped to a crowd of nearly 100 on Sept. 29 at St. Matthew Church.
Evert, 31, gave 13 lectures at Rochester-area parishes, high schools and colleges from Sept. 28-Oct. 1 on the subject of "Romance Without Regret." As a staff apologist for Catholic Answers — a nonprofit organization from San Diego, Calif., dedicated to promoting the Catholic faith — Evert speaks on chastity throughout the country and appears regularly on EWTN television.
He emphasized to the many teens in attendance at St. Matthew that they should avoid the peer pressure of having a boyfriend or girlfriend. Rather, they should focus on developing as individuals, setting high standards along the way: "Instead of finding the perfect guy, become the perfect woman and let him come find you."
Evert added that females should be regarded as more than just objects, but also that girls should not dress in a way that conveys them as such.
"Girls get seduced through their ears, and guys get seduced through their eyes. And we’re very different in this regard," Evert said, remarking that a girl who wears revealing outfits "doesn’t have any idea what she’s doing to the guy’s imagination" whereas practicing modesty is "not hiding your body. You’re revealing your dignity."
He added that if a couple does happen to be dating, this should occur without sexual activity, despite societal messages to the contrary. Evert stressed that taking this route leads to greater happiness, noting that the potential for depression rises sharply among teen boys and girls who become sexually active. Lest young people fear losing their popularity, he pointed out that football’s Philip Rivers, quarterback for the San Diego Chargers, was a virgin and so was his wife, Tiffany, when they got married.
Evert noted that chastity and abstinence are not the same things: Whereas abstinence means not having sex, chastity also includes pure thoughts and speech. He also pointed out the difference between infatuation and true love, declaring that "a lot of people think if the feeling goes down, love is disappearing. That’s not true at all."
Evert asserted that true love is not really a feeling, but "an act of the will to do your best for someone else" that has a much greater permanence. For instance, he told of a woman with Alzheimer’s disease who asked her husband every few minutes where they were going — and the husband patiently repeated his answer, as if each time was the first she’d asked. He also provided her with loving care even when she no longer recognized him.
"They got into the deepest part of love," Evert said.
In contrast, he said that a relationship is not truly loving when it’s tainted by a partner abusing alcohol, using pornography and otherwise being disrespectful. Evert advised that when somebody has caught his or her partner cheating, it’s best not to welcome that person back.
"The infidelity of a person’s body is only the manifestation of the heart and mind," he said.
EDITOR’S NOTE: St. Leo Parish in Hilton, one of the sites that hosted Jason Evert, is offering two chastity programs: "Love and Life, A Christian Sexual Morality Guide for Teens" for middle-school students, and "Theology of the Body for Teens" for high-schoolers. Parents are invited to attend. Classes begin on Oct. 19 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Child care will be provided. For details, contact Dominic Salamida at 585-392-2710 or DSalamida@dor.org.