The passionate pursuit of purity

Published: Sunday | September 6, 2009

Esther Tyson, Contributor

Passion and purity are two words that do not work together in our current Jamaican mentality. Yet, there are young people in this nation who are all excited by their drive for passion and purity.

If I were to say this to some of our radio-programme hosts they would say that I was being unrealistic and idealistic. They do not think that such a thing is possible in this day and age. Yet, it is.

For the last two years, hundreds of young people across Jamaica have been gathering for conferences across this nation to celebrate their passion and purity. This movement was started by Donnette and Andrew Norman, trained guidance counsellors. It was first started at the Wolmer's Trust Schools and has spread to other schools, such as Jamaica College and Manchester High School, where conferences have been hosted. This year the conference will be at Ardenne High School.

According to a magazine printed by the movement, 'Passion and Purity' is a non-profit initiative currently geared towards youth and children. The movement, with its motto 'Finding Your Passion - Embracing Your Purity', is a resocialising tool aimed at restoring youth to the ideals of being passionate about their ambitions and embracing their purity and childhood innocence. They will be encouraged to find their passion, that is, locating the "object of their enthusiasm" and pursuing it with vigour. Purity in thought, motive, actions and sexuality is also another major aspect of the mandate as these days, youth are being devoured by sexual immorality. The solution must be long-lasting and positive. Boys and girls will be taught the positives of abstinence and how to be proud of their God-given purity.

I have interacted with some of these young people. I want to tell you about Daniel Thomas, who was the deputy head boy of Ardenne High School for 2008-2009. Daniel is now at the University of the West Indies. Daniel is smart, athletic, handsome, charismatic, a leader, and a passionate Christian young man. Daniel was one of the top basketballers on the school's senior team, which came second in the island. Daniel's younger brother, Josef, is of the same mould and is still at Ardenne.

Corporate worship

It was inspiring to watch Daniel go on the stage at corporate worship with the upper school in the school's auditorium and say to the students who were restless, "Shhh! Let's welcome the Holy Spirit," and then to watch and listen as the near 1,000 students suddenly became quiet, respectful and reverential. He then proceeds to lead them in worshipful songs, pointing them to Jesus Christ. His voice is melodious and you sense the depth of relationship which he has with his Lord.

I see Daniel walk around the compound and he is able to correct students and challenge them and they respond to him in a positive manner. To see Daniel at a basketball match where the team is at a crucial point, being led by a few points by the opposing team and he calls the team together to pray, then to watch him go out and score baskets in a dazzling display is truly something to behold. This young man is a top student academically and he is passionate for God, and bold in his declaration of purity.

There are many similar youth in Jamaica. The passion and purity movement is providing a forum for many of them to come toge-ther to declare that passion for life, passion for God, and passion for purity is 'It'.

The movement has outlined some healthy habits of a passionate and pure youth:

  • I am committed to seek and obey God's plan for my life.

  • I strive for excellence and do my best at school.

  • I follow the examples of positive people and seek to emulate positive role models.

  • I remain pure in thoughts and actions.

  • I am a reader: today a reader, tomorrow a leader.

  • I avoid pornographic material and anything than can misdirect my passions.

  • I treat members of the opposite sex with respect and see them as more than an object of sex.

  • I choose positive entertainment, music, friends and literature.

  • I am obedient to those in authority.

  • I choose to forgive those who hurt me, thus freeing myself of the poisonous effect of unforgiving emotions.

    Regretfully, it seems that some of our adults who have not made right choices in their lives when faced with the possibility that our youth can make right choices about relationships, about their sexual lifestyle, about their spirituality, find this to be an impossibility. We sometimes seem ready to accept that our youth cannot display self-control, because we are not able to display self-control. We instead seek to enable their negative behaviours in a 'safe' way because this is all what we are capable of.

    Sexual-lifestyle problems

    I am, therefore, quite heartened to see that instead of the singular message that condoms is the answer to our sexual-lifestyle problems, that abstinence is now being actively promoted. As the leaders in Jamaica, we need to hold up high standards for our youth to achieve. We need to let them know that it is possible. As adults, let us share with them from our mistakes and help to point them to a better path.

    A life of passion and purity is possible as Daniel, in one of his meditations to God, reflects: "I release myself to you, for impossibility is non-existent in your hand and after feeling your touch, it disappears, though still seen by many. I release myself to the plans you have for me, because life is only worth living where it is intended to, in the middle of your hand."

    Esther Tyson is principal of the Ardenne High School, St Andrew. Feedback may be sent to