PENSACOLA, FLMuch to his son Paul's chagrin, minister Donald Genzler takes every possible opportunity to proudly inform members of Faith United Presbyterian Church that the 16-year-old is still a virgin, "unspoiled by sins of the flesh," sources reported Tuesday.
"As it says in the second book of Timothy, 'Now flee from youthful lusts, and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart,'" said Genzler from the pulpit Sunday. "Young people, I urge you to stand tall against the temptation of premarital sex, just as my own son Paul has done."
Seated in the third row, a mortified Paul slid low in the pew and buried his face in his hymnal, hoping not to be spotted.
"It's not easy to grow up in this confusing world, where everyone tells you to 'just do it,'" said Genzler, continuing his sermon. "You teenagers out there should know that not everyone's 'doing it.' My son Paul is not 'doing it.'"
After barely looking up through the remainder of the sermon, Paul fled the church the moment the service ended, taking the side exit and making a beeline for the family minivan.
Genzler has made a habit of touting his unhappily virginal son as a symbol of chastity.
"It is not an easy road to virtue, but it is one that holds infinite returns," said Genzler during a recent Bible-study session. "I have seen my own son making the courageous choice of remaining abstinent while so many of his peers choose to turn their young bodies into vessels of immorality."
Impressed and inspired by Paul's sanctity, members of the congregation have taken to lavishing him with praise at every turn. Last weekend, during an outing to the mall with some friends, Paul was approached by parishioners Roberta and Albert Voss.
"Hello, Paul!" said Roberta before the humiliated teen could conceal himself within his group of friends. "It was nice to hear what your father was saying about you on Sunday. Keep up the good work."
"Remember, Albert?" Roberta continued. "Reverend Genzler was saying Paul's still a virgin. Isn't that wonderful?"
Genzler said he wishes every parent would feel comfortable discussing sex openly with their children.
"A lot of parents have no idea the pressure today's teens are under," Genzler said. "Kids today need strong guidance. See, I talk about these matters with my children, but not every parent does. That's why I like to discuss Paul's virginity in sermons, at youth groups, on retreats, at church dinners... whenever possible. He's a living example of the power of self-respect and self-love."
During a June 12 catechism class, Genzler addressed his son along with 18 of his classmates, many of whom Paul sees every day at school.
"I know it's easy to become adrift in today's sea of sexually explicit imagery," Genzler said. "It's on the TV, it's in the magazines, it's on the album covers. But do not let it drive you to a life of vice. I've seen what my son Paul faces, and if he can resist it, so can the rest of you folks."
Added Genzler: "Some of your peers will try to tell you that it's 'cool' to break the rules. Well, my son doesn't. And he's cool... very cool."
Genzler has even attempted to enlist his son's help in educating his fellow teens. In addition to asking him to speak on virginity at a youth seminar this summeran offer Paul declinedGenzler has encouraged his son to start a teen-abstinence group at his high school.
"Well, I'm going to be pretty busy with marching band this year, so I don't think I can," Paul told his father. "Then there's getting ready for the junior promyou know, if I can find someone willing to go with me."