What ‘Friday Night Lights’ got wrong

How did we ever live without Netflix?

I work out on my treadmill in the mornings. And now, thanks to the the iPad and the wonders of online entertainment streaming, I can binge-watch TV shows while I'm exercising.

My current binge is "Friday Night Lights." It's a good show about high school football in a small Texas town. Although I have to say that, as I finish season two of the show, I'm getting a little tired of all of the teen sex storylines.Which brings us to the topic of this column.

Back in season one, Coach Eric Taylor's daughter Julie was dating the quarterback, Matt Saracen. One day, Coach Taylor's wife, Tami, was grocery shopping and happened upon young Matt, who was shopping for condoms. She went home and confronted Julie, who confirmed that she and Matt were contemplating having sex.

It was at this point that Tami Taylor began talking to her 16-year-old daughter about premarital sex. Loudly. Telling her it's not a good idea. Telling her about the risks. And Julie did what any 16-year-old who doesn't know any better would do. She rolled her eyes.

And I was thinking that Tami had gone about it all wrong. That the time to start talking to your daughter about sex is not after you have spotted her boyfriend in the Trojan section at the Piggly Wiggly. She needed to start that conversation about 10 years earlier.

Granted, I'm not a mother. But I was a teenager. And I spent about 20 years of my life - the same 20 years that most women spend raising children - traveling around the world talking to teenagers about this very subject.

And here is what I know: Kids face a lot of pressure to be sexually active. And the way to counteract it is to start talking to them when they are very, very young.

No, you aren't talking to your 5-year-old about sex. You are talking about love, about respect. You are teaching them about their incredible dignity as being created in the image and likeness of God. You are teaching them about the difference between loving and using (between "real love" and "pizza love," as I used to explain it.) You are teaching them that real love means always looking out for what is best for the other person, instead of using that person to get something we want without caring what happens to them. And that respecting ourselves means refusing to tolerate others using us. And you are teaching them that their bodies are sacred and that the instinct to cover the private parts is not because they are bad, but because they are especially sacred and important, and thus merit special respect and protection.

And when the time comes to teach them about sex, they need to learn about a lot more than the plumbing. They need to understand the meaning. They need to know, on a very deep level, that sex speaks the language of self-donation between a husband and a wife.

I'm not a big fan of scaring kids. They need to know the consequences, of course. They need to know about disease and unwed pregnancy and the misnomer of "safe" sex. But all of that needs to be wrapped in the context of the beauty and the sacredness of God's creation of human sexuality. They need to see that all those consequences don't tell us that sex is bad, but rather that it is sacred and beautiful and powerful and created for the committed expression of marital love between a husband and a wife. The consequences come from taking something beautiful and removing it from the context in which it belongs.

And they need to understand that someone who would expose them to those consequences doesn't really love them.

Once all of this respect for sex is burned into a very deep place in a child's brain, the teenage conversation will change.

And that makes all the difference.

Bonacci is a syndicated columnist based in Denver and the author of We're On a Mission from God and Real Love.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2016