Written by Andrew Murphy
“So the line had stuck in my head. “Sex,” I was pretty sure, meant whether you were a boy or girl, and “sin” made Tante Jans very angry, but what the two together meant I could not imagine. And so, seated next to Father in the train compartment, I suddenly asked, “Father, what is sexsin?” He turned to look at me, as he always did when answering a question, but to my surprise he said nothing. At last he stood up, lifted his traveling case from the rack over our heads, and set it on the floor.
“Will you carry it off the train, Corrie?” he said.
I stood up and tugged at it. It was crammed with the watches and spare parts he had purchased that morning.
“It’s too heavy,” I said.
“Yes,” he said. “And it would be a pretty poor father who would ask his little girl to carry such a load. It’s the same way, Corrie, with knowledge. Some knowledge is too heavy for children. When you are older and stronger you can bear it. For now you must trust me to carry it for you.”
– from The Hiding Place: The Triumphant True Story of Corrie Ten Boom
Some knowledge is indeed too heavy for children. There is great wisdom in the words spoken by the father of Corrie Ten Boom – a Dutch Christian holocaust survivor whose family helped hundreds of Jews escape the Nazis. It is the duty of parents to carry this knowledge and only communicate it to their children when they are old enough and in a way which is suited to the individual.
However, this important precept is ignored all around the world in places where explicit sex education is taught in schools to mixed classes of boys and girls. Its promoters argue it is necessary to help students avoid sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies. They assume young people are going to have sex anyway so it’s important to make sure they are “protected”
Family Life International has been pointing out the problems with sex education for decades. We have argued that sex education, delivered in a classroom setting, usurps the rights of the parents and promotes the idea that casual sex and sexual experimentation are normal activities for teens. It robs children of their innocence and denies them the vision to strive for a higher ideal. This is the ideal that “life is sacred, sexuality is sacred, conception is sacred, the body is sacred and holy, needs to be known and shown.” When sex is instead presented as a “smorgasbord of choices,” adults have failed in their duties towards the younger generation. We have also argued that cases of abortion have increased precisely because of widespread distribution of contraception and sex education in schools.
In her book Adam and Eve after the Pill: Paradoxes of the Sexual Revolution, Mary Eberstadt makes the convincing argument that the arrival of modern contraception had a more significant impact on the relations between the sexes than any other event since Eve ate the forbidden fruit. Eberstadt argues the sexual revolution would not have been possible without the Pill and its ability to make fertile women infertile with “nearly 100 per cent accuracy”. It may even be seen as the “central act” of the modern world as it is “hard to think of any other whose demographic, social, behavioural, and personal fallout has been as profound.”
Nearly 54 years ago, in his encyclical Humanae Vitae, Pope Paul VI issued a stark warning about the great harm which would be caused by the widespread use of artificial birth control. He said it would lead to “marital infidelity and a general lowering of moral standards.” He also argued it would cause men to reduce women to a “mere instrument for the satisfaction of his own desires.” His words, which were ridiculed by many at the time, have turned out to be tragically prophetic.
Until the creation of the Pill, “fear of pregnancy, fear of social stigma and punishment, and fear of disease,” discouraged people from engaging in intercourse outside of marriage. The Pill’s ability to wipe out all these natural consequences of sex was truly revolutionary and has resulted in the sexual act becoming divorced from its life giving purpose. This has opened the door to all kinds of ‘sexual expressions’ which have come to be largely accepted by our culture. The public setting of sex ed contributes to these issues by stripping the sexual act of its intimate and sacred nature. It also breaks down the natural barriers which safeguard against “pre-mature sexual expression”.
Comprehensive sex education has actually created many of the problems it was allegedly introduced to solve. An edition of FLI’s LifeLines newsletter from 1993 drew attention to this fact, stating: “Abortion would not have become so widespread but for the prevalence of contraception and sex education in our schools, desensitising the minds of people and thus bringing about a lack of respect for human life.” Pope Pius XI also criticised the proponents of sex ed in his 1929 encyclical on Christian Education, Divini IIllius Magistri, saying: “Such persons grievously err in refusing to recognize the inborn weakness of human nature, and the law of which the Apostle speaks, fighting against the law of the mind; and also in ignoring the experience of facts, from which it is clear that, particularly in young people, evil practices are the effect not so much of ignorance of intellect as of weakness of a will exposed to dangerous occasions, and unsupported by the means of grace.”
As we can see, the Church also recognises that some knowledge is too heavy for children to carry, and has wisely taught that their innocence must be protected. In the 1950s the Catholic Bishops of the United States put out a statement on The Child: Citizens of Two Worlds, in which they protested “in the strongest possible terms” against the introduction of sex education in schools. They argued that “if sex education is properly carried on in the home, a deep reverence will be developed in the child and he will be spared the shameful inferences which he often makes when he is left to himself to find out about sex.”
In more recent times the New South Wales government has introduced new sexual consent laws, accompanied by an ad campaign. The government’s “Make No Doubt” education campaign, with its slogan “Check Consent, Every Time,” is targeted primarily towards young people between the ages of 16 and 24 and tells them that sexual consent must always be clearly communicated. It also advises them that someone is unable to consent if they are: “heavily affected by drugs or alcohol, unconscious or asleep, manipulated or threatened into consenting.” Surely there would not be a need for these obvious facts to be communicated via a government campaign if young people had been instilled with a healthy respect for sex and saved intercourse for marriage. Instead they’ve been brought up in a sex-saturated culture and have been taught how to use contraception to avoid STDs. The exposure to explicit sex education from a young age has also undoubtedly led many to seek out pornography which is now easily accessible in almost any place and at any time thanks to modern technology. Pornography addiction further twists a young person’s understanding of sexuality and can inspire young men in particular to abuse women in imitation of what they have seen online.
It is clear that our society’s respect for human life will continue to be eroded for as long as children are taught that so-called “safe-sex” outside of marriage is normal and abortion can be used as a backup when contraception fails. People need to recognise that sex education shares some of the responsibility for the millions of lives lost to abortion which has been used as a “solution” to unwanted pregnancies.
We would do well to heed the words of Corrie Ten Boom’s father. All we have to do is look around to see the devastation which is wrought when adults neglect their responsibilities and force children to carry a weight which they are too young to bear.