Promoting chastity to young people, between rounds

When it comes to talking about God, most people probably envision a church setting full of older adults. The atmosphere is polite, orderly and low-key.

But on Sept. 29 the Landmark Americana Tap & Grill in Glassboro was the setting for sacred talk among young adults. The patrons were more than 80 young adults from across the Diocese of Camden.

The event was the first meet-up for South Jersey Theology on Tap, part of a movement reaching young people with the Gospel on their own turf.

Organizers say the relaxed atmosphere of a bar or café is a great opportunity to discuss Catholic issues with those who are hesitant about attending a church even.

It’s also a chance for those in their late teens, 20s and 30s to connect with Catholics their age over drinks and good food.

“We were very excited to see so many people there,” said Andres Arango, director of evangelization, young adult and campus ministry for the diocese. “Dawn really spoke to the hearts of the young people on an issue they could relate to.”

On Sept. 29, the South Jersey TOT featured music journalist and chastity speaker Dawn Eden.

Eden’s divorced Jewish parents taught her that there was nothing sacred about sex or marriage. She grew up feeling emotionally isolated and tried to fill the void with men as a young adult.

Her life-changing breakthrough came during a 1995 interview with a musician who mentioned he was reading a book by the English Christian apologist G.K. Chesterton. Eden didn’t know anything about the famous Catholic writer, but curiosity led her to buy one of his books.

That decision would bring the fulfillment she was searching for. Eden quickly moved from Chesterton to the Bible, later going on to accept Christ as her Savior in a Protestant church. After years of reading and prayer, she converted to Catholicism in 2006.

Now, Eden travels the country, encouraging young adults to build intimate relationships while staying sexually pure. Her book, “The Thrill of the Chaste: Finding Fulfillment While Keeping Your Clothes On,” was published in 2007 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.

“Not always having been pure, I wanted to write a book for adults who might have missed the memo on practicing chastity,” Eden told the group. (She begins the introduction of her book with the line, “Chastity, like me, has long suffered from a bad reputation — only in chastity’s case, it’s undeserved.”)

Eden said that chaste relationships are about giving love selflessly, instead of abusing the gift through sex outside of marriage. “God wants you to have great sex,” Eden joked, “just not until the person you’re called to marry shows up.”

Heather Price, a 25-year-old Rowan graduate from Stratford, can’t wait for the next Theology on Tap. “The atmosphere and speaker were both very uplifting,” Price said. “Actually getting to talk to (Eden) and seek advice was awesome. She was so down to earth and full of energy.”

The next Theology on Tap will be held on Wednesday, Oct. 27 at 7 p.m. Admission is free.

Melissa Pileiro is a freelance writer and senior journalism major at Rowan University, Glassboro.

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