Nurtured for Chastity or Schooled for Sexual Expression?
When the Trump administration announced in August 2017 a shift in funding from “comprehensive sex education” to “abstinence only,” the public outcry warned that the sky was falling down. Scientific reports circulated stating that abstinence doesn’t work and only comprehensive sex education can train students for success in the real world. A third approach, nurturing children for what Luther called “chaste and decent lives,” was unfortunately overlooked. It is that third approach that truly prepares the youth for success, not only in this world but also in the next.
The problems with comprehensive sex education begin with false assumptions about human nature: that “sexuality” comes in many forms; that people have a need to express their sexual identities virtually from infancy; and, therefore, that biblical morality is too restrictive. “Comprehensive” curricula proceed next to teach “how to … now” rather than “why to wait … marriage,” portraying all manner of sexual experimentation as healthy, so long as “protection” is used and the people involved are gratifying their own desires rather than being coerced.
Oddly enough, the kinds of behaviors encouraged are illegal in most states—depending, that is, on the ages of those involved. For example, if one person is 16 and the other is 15, then any sexual relationship between them could fall under the definition of statutory rape, even if the school lesson plan would be legal for them to follow a year earlier or a year later when both of them fall on the same side of the age-16 cutoff. But the gusto of gnosticism overpowers even the civil law—gnosticism, that ancient heresy that holds the soul, the seat of desire, as the highest authority in the universe and renders both the body and the body’s Creator irrelevant. Our culture’s postmodern proclivities toward same-sex marriage and transgender identities draw from gnosticism and add to it existentialism: the 20th-century philosophy that one’s choice of action can re-create one’s essence. Gone is that old idea that God created human nature long ago; instead, each individual creates his/her/its own nature simply by declaring oneself to possess a new sexual identity.
That’s where the funding used to go. The revised federal spending plan shifts monies toward “abstinence only” programs, which generally extol the value of waiting until marriage before becoming involved sexually with another person. Abstinence programs do not deviate so far from biblical morality as do comprehensive programs, but some problems still remain. For one, it’s not clear quite what “waiting for marriage” means now that the Supreme Court has redefined “marriage” to include same-sex relations. Another problem, present when abstinence education was first launched in the public schools about ninety years ago, is the shift in venue from the privacy of one’s home to the co-ed classroom and the corresponding convolution of vocations from parents nurturing their children in chastity to teachers now discussing sexual matters as casually as they do mathematics or social studies. Modesty tends to get lost when the older standards of “polite conversation” give way to classroom inquiry, and this risk is equal regardless of whether the content is comprehensive or abstinence only.