Last week the Prime Minister launched an investigation after reports that school children were being given graphic and violent sex education lessons. Here, Lauren Windle argues that the Church should step up to teach on intimacy.
I’ve always felt that the Church’s teaching on sex is woefully limited. Young, unmarried or gay? The message is: don’t do it. That’s it. Often this is delivered with no acknowledgement of the fact that, a great many people in these categories are already at it.
While if you’re married, the message is often that your pre-marital abstinence has earned you great sexual riches and orgasms for days. If you didn’t abstain, oh well – we are where we are – enjoy swinging from the chandeliers sin-free now. But there will be no teaching on body image, growing in comfort, female pleasure, managing expectations and handling any physical or emotional pain associated with the act. All the best in your bedroom endeavours.
I’ve lamented the Church’s lack of instruction for a long time but after reading about the current state of sex education in schools, I think it’s more important than ever that the faith leaders step up. The head of Ofsted criticised school sex ed lessons saying that some had “no basis” in science. Reports suggested some pupils were being given graphic lessons on oral sex and choking. While others had been told there were 72 genders. An investigation has been launched by the Prime Minister and a review of the curriculum and guidelines is pending.
Reports suggested some pupils were being given graphic lessons on oral sex and choking.
In the meantime, can we audit not just what we’re telling school children about sex but also adults in our churches? Afterall – sex isn’t dirty. It’s incredible and God designed and beautiful and sacrificial, in its right time and place.
A friend of mine, who had been a practicing Christian all her life, got married having waited until marriage for sex. When she got married and ventured into the new intimate territory, she was left feeling let down by the Church. She was completely unprepared for the emotional and spiritual implications of sex. She struggled to detach her mindset from the “don’t touch” teaching she’d been given in her youth groups and understood nothing of her own body, anatomy and pleasure.
I’m not suggesting that the Church take the full responsibility for educating people on the mechanics of the act, although in some cases that maybe very valuable. But what Christians can add to the conversation is the real, messy and complicated emotional and spiritual elements of physical intimacy.
She struggled to detach her mindset from the “don’t touch” teaching she’d been given in her youth groups
As a teenager, all I knew from my Sunday school was that sex was bad and we should never do it. But I took this to mean that Jesus was the fun police who wanted us to deny ourselves something enjoyable to prove our love for him. No one took the time to tell me that the biblical teaching isn’t just offering rules for the sake of it. No one told me that when Jesus encourages us not to have sex outside of marriage it’s for our own protection and not for him to satisfy his need for control over our lives. No one told me how great sex can be when paired with covenant-level commitment.
We are short changing everyone; single, married, young and old, by shying away from these important conversations. God cares deeply and wants us to come to him. It’s time the Church stopped playing the role of judgemental dictator and started playing the role of compassionate educator.