Pastor's Desk - June 2023

Jun 04, 2023

Dear family, last month was child’s month and we continue to celebrate our family during this month as well, and today I want to talk a little more about the family and sexuality education.

Sexuality education in the family

If children learn of sex as a relation between their parents to which they owe their own existence, they learn of it in its best form and in connection with its biological purpose.” Bertrand Russell – Marriage and morals.

“When intimacy is divorced from sex, then power takes over” – (unknown)

The World Health Organization (WHO) published in a document on Comprehensive Sexuality Education that sexuality education should be taught in Europe to children between 0-4 years. The article states that at this age children should be provided with information, skills, and attitudes. The main areas to be covered should be relationships and lifestyles, sexuality, health and well-being, sexuality and rights, and social and cultural determinants of sexuality such as values and norms.

The statement has been met with significant alarm and outcry from the church, educators, parents, and particularly people from the global south, Asia, Africa (sub-Saharan), Latin America and the Caribbean.

What are some of the concerns?

  • It is seen as part of a greater agenda to sensitise children to accept all forms of sexual relations and new family constructions.
  • It will expose children to early sexual experiences.
  • It does not show enough appreciation for people’s culture and religious expressions and seems to have a bias towards Europe and the United States.

When the proverbial dust settles, we will need to engage the following:

  • The church needs to reaffirm its position on sexuality education, that sex is not evil or sinful but is a gift from God which when used appropriately contributes to wholesome human relations and healthy communities. However, when practiced inappropriately, in an abusive, exploitative manner, leads to destruction of human relationships and community.
  • Sexuality education is best taught in a healthy family context. However, many families need help as that is where there is great miseducation and abuse occurs.
  • Some of the people who are parents and even teachers had very limited sexuality education and invariably pass on the limited knowledge they had infused with their biases, taboos, and values. I am a grown man, whose knowledge of sexuality has evolved over the years. Yet some of my early education on sexuality was gleaned from the walls of the toilets at primary school and other public spaces. How equipped are parents and even younger teachers to help children negotiate this stage of their development? Today children have gotten more sophisticated. Their informal teacher is social media with all its corruption and deviations.
  • The church needs to take its “head out of the sand” and begin to be more proactive in its teaching on human sexuality. Is it because of the gap in the Church’s teachings why the WHO seems to be assuming the position of guardian of children’s health and wellbeing?
  • There is no doubt that inadequate sexuality education has contributed to teenage pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections including HIV and Pelvic Inflammatory diseases which often render many of its victims infertile.
  • The church is often reactive when these issues hit the media and raises its voice in condemnation and accusation of a hidden agenda behind the proposals. It is sad that in some cases the failures of the church, and its own embarrassing acts of child sexual abuse comes up for scrutiny.
  • The WHO document posits that abstention, which quite often is one of the main approaches of the church to deal with delayed sexuality, has been discovered to be less than adequate. Teaching abstinence without accompanying sexuality education is like using a lighted match to find one’s way in a shed flooded with flammable gaseous fumes.

The message from the WHO to parents and to the churches is that sexuality education starts at birth. This is not new knowledge; this is an observation. The question for us as a church is, how are we going to address this fact? How will being more proactive in our teachings, our programmes, our ministries, make a difference in the lives of the children we have been called to parent and to lead?

Before you go,

Trust that you gained much from the various discussions and presentations we had on the family to assist in deepening your own family relationship and the relationship with the church family. Do remember if there was an issue which you wanted to be addressed which was not, let us know so we can incorporate somewhere.

Your Pastor