How Should Christians View Sex Education in Schools?

Children and young people will learn about sexuality from someone. Their options are peers, pornography, media, teachers at school, experimentation, and their parents. Biblically, it is the responsibility of the parents to ensure their children are properly educated about both the biological and moral aspects of sexuality. Parents are to “bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). God holds parents responsible for the upbringing of their children not schools, churches, or governments. 

So what’s a parent to do?

First, understand that sex education in schools is done by and large from the standpoint of explaining biology, anatomy, and preventing sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and unwanted pregnancies. Since many young people are sexually active, the assumption is that if they are given this information they will have the skills to make healthy decisions. While I agree it is important for them to be educated, the problem is that it is done under the guise of moral neutrality.

So second, understand that morally “neutral” sex education is a myth. Due to the intrinsic complexities of human sexuality, the physical aspects of biological reproduction cannot be separated from moral responsibility. If you're talking about sex, you're talking about morality, and if you're talking about sex education, you're talking about someone's morality. There is no such reality as sex education without morality. By definition that cannot exist. The only question is whose morality is it? Leaving your children’s morals and values training to others is dangerous.

Under the guise of neutrality, sex education today presents every form of sexuality as normal and merely a matter of personal choice and mutual consent. One of the problems with this is that since there are no adequate normative criteria to help young people choose among competing lifestyles, their choices will not be free in any meaningful sense of the term. Instead, their choices will be arbitrary, based on only the whim of the moment. When all sexual alternatives are presented as of equal value, young people will find it difficult to perceive the different moral implications and social consequences of various lifestyles.

The “neutral” sex education received at school undermines young people’s ability to comprehend the deep moral implications of sexual behaviour. It makes them insensitive to moral distinctions by conveying the impression that there are no absolute sexual norms: all forms of sexual behaviour based on mutual consent are regarded as normal and acceptable. Thus, neutralizing sex education deprives young people of the capacity to distinguish between genuine love and exploitative sexuality.

In addition, because of its “objective” and biologically reductive approach, “neutral” sex education tends to use explicit sexual material, which violates young people’s moral sensitivity and natural modesty and thereby undermines their capacity for moral agency.

Third, be aware of what your children are learning and correct any misinformation given to them. That will require that you talk to their teachers and find out what they are being taught. Educate your children in such a way as to equip the children to discern biblical truth from cultural error. 

Finally, any sex education outside the home should be in addition to, not in place of, sex education at home. These parent-child conversations must begin very early. Although it may feel awkward, begin sex education early on, focusing on what is most appropriate at each stage of your child's life. Parents know their children best and their unique characteristics and capacities enabling you to better teach your children than some blanket mass sex-education course.

Before you allow a school system to instruct in sexuality or morality, you must be sure your children have already learned the truth. It is then crucial to stay abreast of what the children are learning and how they are applying their knowledge. Keeping a constant, open dialogue with your children is a key to staying in charge of what they are learning. When parents are proactive in their children’s instruction, those children have a basis upon which to recognize and reject errors that the world promotes as truth.

By talking about the realities of the human body, how men and women are made differently, and other matters related to sexuality, you help your children feel comfortable to come to you with questions and concerns. Your child will be informed of God's true design for sex and be able to discern truth from lies as they encounter sex outside of the home. You should also continue to educate yourself as culture evolves and provide children with a positive model of what a healthy relationship looks like.