Recalling that these posts are just therapy for me and probably of no use to anyone else, I will proceed with my rant for the last time, I promise.
So far I have argued that sex education can not be confined to biology lessons, it simply doesn’t belong there as it isn’t science and treating it as science trivialises the issues. I have also said how worrying the attitude of the state is to children, how it sees them just as young consumers.
How can we teach about growing-up to children in such a way that we do justice them, treating them as precious and unique gifts of God whose wholeness, dignity and grace must be preserved and encouraged as much as is possible?
For Catholics, surely the answer lies within the context of the Theology of the Body. In order to get anywhere with this however certain things will need to happen. Firstly, we will have to reclaim Genesis from the biblical literalists. Adam and Eve and their intended nature and fallen nature are essential to an understanding of the Theology of the Body. We live in a culture where even mentioning Adam and Eve makes people think you are a simpleton who denies evolution. In contrast, Adam and Eve profoundly encompass what makes us human, what makes us so dependent on God and through God’s interaction with them we understand more clearly why a second Adam was needed to redeem us. Secondly we need to be really convinced about the validity of what we are doing, if we were then we would face the secularists with confidence and on our own terms, we would also face sex education with joy and confidence…we are a long way from this.
I have often been tempted to say to my fellow teachers (but lack the bottle), Holy Mother Church loves and cares for us and wants to protect us from lousy sex., She wants us to be good lovers by teaching us to love in the way God intended us to love each other. Yes, we must adopt an unpopular NO SURRENDER approach to the sanctity of life, to sex before marriage, to contraception and to all forms of illicit and immoral sexual activity. However, we must not forget that the Catholic Church is a great defender of the sensual world. We have great feasts, we ought to know how to put on good public pageantry, we have fantastic art and music and our sensual world transcends the ordinary because it is all directed towards God. We are equally at home with the natural and the supernatural and with the marvelous and the miraculous. We are the home of mystery and awe. Little of this penetrates the average Catholic secondary school and our children are not properly nourished as a result.
What about the non-Christian world? I have some sympathy with any secularist who says he doesn’t want to have to believe in God. I do believe that we can deliver good quality sex-education in this context too. Firstly, a new anatomy of the human body is needed. An anatomy that takes into consideration our self-awareness. An anatomy that acknowledges that the human body is the seat of the intellect (our ability to reason), the will (our ability to desire) and our heart (our ability to love). Without this anatomy, children are left without any framework for their emotions and will be left believing they are consumers is a shopping mall of choices and lifestyles devoid of higher purpose. It is truly is sinful if we allow this to continue to happen to the younger generation.