Sex education, true to its origin, celebrates human sexuality. But is the Christian called to celebrate sexuality (the creation) or God (the Creator)? Celebrating sexuality may sound appealing in a utopian sort of way, but what is the promise? What is the fruit?
Sex Education Is a Life Issue
“Christian sex education” that unwittingly builds on humanist ideology and secular principles wrongly identifies children. Wrongly identified, the life of a child takes on a very different meaning and purpose. “Sexual from birth” affects the way we see ourselves and others and also the way we treat ourselves and others. It becomes who we are and easily influences the choices we make. It might assume a “right” or a “need.” It provides an excuse for a buffet of sexual preferences. “Reproductive rights” become necessary to enable people to live their lives as “sexual from birth.” The humanist founders of modern sex education denied that God has absolute authority over what we do with our bodies. The pro-abortion mantra of “my body, my choice” takes the premise that “children are sexual from birth” to a natural but deadly conclusion. It sacrifices children in the name of “my sexuality.” It demeans the vocations of fatherhood and motherhood. It assaults marriage and family, which God designed as the pillars of civilization.
There was a time when abortion was clearly not an option for someone who professed faith in Jesus Christ. But has sex education that continually refers to boys and girls as “sexual from birth” or “sexual beings” made abortion thinkable for young Christians who have become sexually intimate? Ultrasound technology—indeed, a “window to the womb”—has caused a younger generation to be more pro-life than their parents’ generation, but these same young people defend cohabitation, homosexuality, and same-sex “marriage.” Once people identify themselves as “sexual,” they become increasingly open to and tolerant of personal expressions of sexuality. They may challenge the boundaries that God places around the “one flesh” union of marriage. Daniel Heimbach observes:
The gradual slide toward paganism starts when a person still committed to the Bible entertains dissatisfaction with something God says about sex, and a single logic connects a series of steps that extend from sliding ever so slightly from biblical teaching at one end to full-scale attack on biblical morality on the other. Letting dissatisfaction fester sparks interest in ways to soften or remove the offending biblical teaching. At first, this is done in ways that do not challenge the authority of Scripture but only try to change its meaning.
But shaping Christian morality to the culture destroys respect for the Bible, and as respect for biblical accuracy and authority collapses, biblical moral standards seem less and less relevant. Eventually the moral authority of the Bible is abandoned completely in favor of a culturally popular, indulgent approach. Sexual morality is defined by sexual desires, and the indulging of sexual desires is thought necessary to achieve higher levels of personal development. At this stage, biblical standards are ridiculed, sexual differences are maligned, and the boundaries God has set to keep sex pure and good are attacked as harmful or dangerous.
If “sexuality is our whole selves” and “central to human life” as sexologists claim, then even Christians will be tempted to defend abortion as a “personal sacrifice.” The number of surgical abortions appears to have decreased, but a sexualized generation is noticeably more dependent on pharmaceutical companies for chemical abortifacients and birth control, drugs to manage sexually transmitted and life-long diseases, and anti-depressants.
We want to grow a culture of life, but we cannot do so until we see that abortion is the consequence of an identity problem. Sexual intimacy outside of marriage, living together, pedophilia, the practice of homosexuality—these are all the consequences of an identity problem. Our behavior and choices say something about how we view ourselves. Even pro-life people stand on slippery ground when we default to labeling ourselves “sexual beings.” The woman with five children who says she will “never have an abortion” but is not married to any of her children’s fathers is saying something about her identity. Identifying first and foremost as a sexual being puts baptized children of God at odds with themselves.
Sex Education Is a Baptism Issue
Sex education, as intended by its founders, assigns an identity contrary to the one God bestows at Baptism. At Baptism the sign of the cross is made over us to indicate that we are redeemed by Christ the crucified. We have His mark on us. We are baptized, not in the water of sexuality, but in the water of pure Word and through the work of the Holy Spirit. We are called not to ways of weak flesh, but to holy and noble purpose. We are encouraged not to glorify self, but to glorify Jesus Christ who makes us children of God. Baptism is “an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 3:21). Even as Baptism cleans the sinner, it gives strength to be different from the world and restrain our own fickle desires.
Baptism changes our perspective. Our Baptism is a daily reminder to see ourselves the way God sees us. We are so much more than sexual beings; we are heirs of God! “[H]e saved us … by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” (Titus 3:5-7). Through daily contrition and repentance, the Old Adam in us is drowned and dies with all wrong thoughts and desires. A new person in Christ rises up to live before God in righteousness and purity (Romans 6:4).
Biblical instruction in purity helps us remember that we are sons and daughters of God in Christ. It helps us remember that we can think, feel, and act in more than sexual ways. While being sexual here on earth may bring the blessing of procreation in marriage, it is not the part of us that stays with us in our eternal home.
Excerpted from “The Failure of Sex Education in the Church: Mistaken Identity, Compromised Purity by Linda Bartlett available through Amazon.
1 Daniel R. Heimbach, True Sexual Morality: Recovering Biblical Standards for a Culture in Crisis (Wheaton, Illinois, Crossway, 2004), 114.
2 “Holy Baptism”, Lutheran Service Book (St. Louis, MO., Concordia Publishing House, 2006), 268-271.
Linda. D. Bartlett is the founder of Titus 2 for Life (titus2-4life.org).