As Christians, it’s not uncommon to talk about abstinence only education. Unfortunately, that’s not really the best approach for sex ed. I’m not here to argue against Christian sexual ethics, I fully uphold them. However, I want to talk about why comprehensive sex ed should be taught (whether in a public or private school).
And I should also say here, sexual morals and ethics shouldn’t be taught by the sex ed teacher. (Other than, possibly, what consent means.) Sexual ethics are argued over by Christians themselves. It is the duty of the parents (and the Church by extension) to teach about sex from a Christian perspective.
So, why should comprehensive sex ed be taught?
Most of us will naturally feel sexual desires. For most men (and women) masturbation was discovered on their own. No one had to tell them it felt good, they figured it out themselves. I have spoken to Christians who didn’t even know they were masturbating because they had only heard the word in passing but didn’t actually know what it was. The same can be true of couples as well. As romantic relationships grow, the physical side of the relationship becomes more and more desirable. Teenagers could stumble into things when they don’t even know what it is.
And I want to say very clearly, teaching children about sex does not increase sex. Talking to parents, most kids have at least some vague idea about what sex is by the time they leave elementary school. We need to be proactive on this.
It would not be difficult to find people (Christian or not) whose only knowledge of sex came from porn. And that’s bad. Porn does not portray real sex. It doesn’t necessarily show the foreplay, lube, contraception, and just generally the work that goes into a good sex life. (Also, I fully believe porn is against God’s plan for us, to clarify.)
People need to know what real sex is like before they get married. And if kids already have ideas about sex in elementary school, we need to be teaching kids about anatomy, boundaries (what is okay around others, who can touch them and when/why/where, etc.), and reproduction. Otherwise, people could be developing all sorts of preconceptions and issues due to the influence of porn and the media because no one just told them what sex actually is.
You wouldn’t believe the things people don’t know about their own bodies or the opposite sex. We all know the funny ones, “babies come out of butts”. But many misconceptions can affect relationships and sex.
I have talked to married people, women and men, who didn’t know where the clitoris was located. For most women clirotal stimulation is the only way they can orgasm. If they don’t know where it is, the wife may never orgasm. And that’s bad. I’ve heard people say they thought having sex during a period was bad for you, and whether you want to or not is a personal decision, but it’s not harmful.
Most shockingly, my wife had a friend who got married in their mid 20s. They had never gone to the OBGYN. Not even once. Their mother told them you only go to the OBGYN if you’re having sex. That is dangerous. There are a myriad of issues that can exist in the female reproductive system outside of sexual activity.
People need to know what male and female anatomy is so they can enjoy their sex lives without causing problems.
If you’ve grown up in church, or even been in church for a while, you know that sex is probably never talked about or a pastor just says its bad unless you’re married. If you’ve had sex, you know how emotional it can be. Going into a marriage (or just starting a sexual relationship) carries a lot of stress. It’s new, it’s different, it can be difficult. If you want to add on top of that the confusion of what sex looks like, what’s acceptable, and even just what basic anatomy is, you’re adding so much unnecessary stress to newlyweds.
We need to be able to say that sex (and sexual desires) are normal. You don’t have to be married to be horny. But once you are married, you’re going to have lots of different desires. We want married couples to be safe when they try things. They need to know how to approach penetration, oral sex, toys, etc. Go talk to any ER doctor or nurse and you will hear all about how people need to be better educated on their own body.
I’m sorry if this is news to you, but even among Christians, most people have sex outside of marriage. That is the reality. Estimates say around 60% of people have sex before graduating high school in the United States. The average age people first have sex in the US is 17 for both men and women. As Christians, that might make us uncomfortable. But also, those numbers might include you as well. And if you have children, there’s around a 60% chance they will have sex before leaving for college.
As a pastor, parent, or just a Christian, it is our job to teach other Christians what the Bible teaches, but the Bible also teaches us very clearly that sin exists. We can’t just pretend that sex doesn’t exist outside of marriage.
A lot of teenagers are having sex. Most people are having sex outside of a committed, marriage relationship. We need to teach them how to be safe. STIs can be spread by all sorts of physical contact. We need to teach people about contraception and how to use it.
Having a kid is a big deal. And certainly what consent means. I’m sure a number of you reading this were coerced into your first sexual experience. You thought it was just what everyone did. Maybe you didn’t even realize that oral sex was sex. Maybe you thought you didn’t have a choice because women have to listen to men (newsflash, they don’t).
By pretending a problem doesn’t exist, we only create more problems. Sex is inherently natural. We need to be proactive in teaching children how male and female bodies function, what sexual activity is (and the different types), and how to be safe when engaging in those activities. As Churches and parents it is our responsibility to teach God’s plan for sex.
So I’ll leave you with a final thought from Solomon, himself:
A fool does not delight in understanding, but only wants to show off his opinions.Proverbs 18:2
Christian Sex Talk (@christians3xtalk) is run by a married couple that wants to open up the conversation around sex as Christians, asking any and all questions but always coming back to the Bible.