IN a “sex-saturated” and “pornified” world, it might be surprising that a message about chastity, the dignity of the human person and marriage could gain so much traction.
But that’s exactly what Real Talk Australia presenters see every day as they tour the country, talking to thousands of young people nationwide.
Real Talk co-founder Paul Ninnes said of all the topics that you could present to young people, the topics of sex, relationship and marriage were the ones they responded to most and had the most “transformational experience” around.
“When we go into a school, we’re trying to, first and foremost, talk about the dignity of the human person and also the awesomeness of love, sex and marriage,” Mr Ninnes said.
“So, primarily, all good teaching around these sorts of topics starts with self-worth and understanding of the Imago Dei – understanding you are made in the image and likeness of God.
“And from that flows healthy relationships, healthy friendships, healthy marriage, chastity, vocations, all those sorts of things.”
Mr Ninnes said pornography was one of the main hindrances to healthy sexuality and one of the key things Real Talk addressed.
“If we’re allowing people to experience the awesomeness of what it means to be made in the image of God, and also the awesomeness of relationships in an authentic way, then we’ve got to address the barriers to that,” he said.
“And pornography would be one of, if not the main barrier to healthy sexuality at the moment.”
The responsiveness to the Real Talk message suggested a deep privation in society.
“I think sometimes all people need is to hear the truth once,” Mr Ninnes said.
He said he was recently on a flight, sitting next to a girl for an hour, and he explained his message to her.
“The truth resonated with her even though I don’t think (she was) of faith,” he said.
“The truth just resonated with her because she’s experienced the pains of broken sex and relationships, of the misuse of it.
“And so she very quickly resonated with what I was saying about the truth of the value of sex and the value of your body and your person.
“I think people recognise truth very quickly.”
The engagement Real Talk receives propelled it from one school to about 200 in about eight years.
Mr Ninnes said about eight years ago he and co-founder Kym Keady launched the ministry in its current form.
He said while he was travelling the country, particularly when he was on National Evangelisation Team Ministries, he saw the issue of the human person and human sexuality as the biggest topic that needed to be addressed.
Real Talk, he said, was a call to evangelise.
“I think evangelisation is the key word,” Mr Ninnes said.
“Myself and Kim, and so many people saw there was a need for evangelisation on this topic – particularly around Theology of the Body.
“So we sometimes think of evangelisation as just evangelising people to Jesus, or evangelising people to the Church, but I think they need evangelising to the awesomeness of the Church’s teaching on sex and marriage and chastity.”
Theology of the Body was central to Real Talk’s message.
“I’ve always believed Theology of the Body is a gift to the Church – not just for the human person and sex, but for bringing wholeness to Church and to people’s relationship with Jesus,” Mr Ninnes said.
But their message wasn’t just for young people.
“I think, for married couples, there is just more; there is always more to discover of the beauty and gift of being married,” Mr Ninnes said.
“It’s a sacrament.
“It’s a real, tangible and practical way to encounter Jesus.
“It’s through the gift of marriage, and the more we foster it, the more we appreciate it, the more we dignify it and meditate on it and experience, the more we can encounter of God.
“I think there’s so much for marriages that is left untapped.
“There is so much more about marriages that we’re not experiencing as a Church.”
Mr Ninnes said marriage was the centrepiece of the domestic church.
“From healthy marriages, comes healthy families, and from healthy families comes healthy society,” he said.
But society had a way to go yet.
Mr Ninnes said he was working on a project called Stout Hearted, specifically for helping men live lives of sexual integrity so “they can be better men”.
That was particularly needed in a world wracked by pornography, he said.
“We need to be formed, we need catechesis, formation, guidance and discipleship on topics of chastity and purity and sexuality,” he said.