SINGAPORE – Lee Shufen, 22, is a university student, but her school still conducts lessons to educate students about relationships with the opposite sex.

Following the Singapore government’s call for young adults to get married and have children, there has been a surge in such courses by government and private groups for young Singaporeans.2008-12-07

Unsatisfied with the courses’ superficial content, Ms Lee says she has been attending talks related to sexuality organised by Catholic groups. One topic of interest to her is sex education.

Some of her friends are in "shotgun marriages", arranged after a child was on the way, she said. "I want to know what to do when I have children in the future, so that they will not be in shotgun marriages themselves."

Ms Lee was among 170 people who attended "Love, Sex and Babies – What’s the Church doing in my bedroom?"

The Family Life Society (FLS) organised the Oct 27 congress, held at Blessed Sacrament Church, to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Humanae Vitae (human life), Pope Paul VI’s 1968 encyclical "On the Regulation of Birth". Among other things, that seminal document declared abortion and contraception incompatible with Church teaching on the value of human life.

In addition to two talks, eight workshops were offered. The topics included pornography, talking to one’s children about sex, fertility options for Catholics and natural family planning. The other topics were the challenges of raising large families today, Church teachings and infallibility, condom effectiveness in preventing sexually transmitted diseases, and "Sex and the Single".

"The workshops were meant to cater to diverse interest groups," said Andrew Kong, FLS senior programme executive and a member of the organising committee. "The good attendance at the workshops was a testament to this."

During an open forum, when asked how one can share the teachings of Humanae Vitae with people who live contrary to Church teachings, the speakers provided encouragement.

"You have to persist in saying your message," said Father Anthony Hutjes. "We are standing for the truth. As a follower of Christ, you cannot expect to always be embraced with love and jubilation. We need courageous witnesses who dare to stand alone."

Natalie Loo, a presenter for the "Sex and the Single" workshop, advised: "Do not stop talking to people who are closed to the teachings of Humanae Vitae, and also talk to people who are open to the truth." She added, "When those who follow the teachings lead happy lives, those who have not will question themselves." - By Regina Xie

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