Sunday, 1 March 2015

Hurricane #OntSexEd

I was really disappointed last week.

Did you see that media storm leave with as much abruptness as it came? It wasn't one of those over-promised, under-delivered weather events created by our favorite whipping boy (or girl - you pick the gender) a.k.a. The Weather Network. No, I'm talking about the storm with million an hour 'vocal' winds that left the "hallowed halls of learning" virtually untouched - Hurricane #OntSexEd. Not that it contains too much information, I think it contains too little. I was really hoping that the teachers would have to pick up more slack because I really don't want to teach my kids about sex...private parts...same sex attraction...gender identity...who does what...where...what comes next...and, of course, the obligatory 5 minute cuddling! This particular view of the sand is pleasant and not at all uncomfortable for my neck and back.

'Cause what am I supposed to do with Ezekiel 23:20 or Genesis 38:9. Back when I was a kid, my parents - having what I'm assuming was providential wisdom - read from the King James Version (KJV). And, I can only assume it was because King James and his 47 biblical scholars had it together - he knew that young children and women would be reading the Bible so he dutifully 'sanitized' certain unsavoury passages. Here's what I would have heard...although I can almost assure you I never did.

From the KJV

Ezekiel 23:20
20 For she doted upon their paramours, whose flesh is as the flesh of asses, and whose issue is like the issue of horses.

and from

Genesis 38:9
9 And Onan knew that the seed should not be his; and it came to pass, when he went in unto his brother's wife, that he spilled it on the ground, lest that he should give seed to his brother.

Hmmm. I'm thinking the readers of scripture could have read those verses so fast that only the ears of the scholarly and the wide awake parishioners would perk up. Those too tired from doing early morning barnyard chores or too distracted from making 'shooshing' noises because of the loud peppermint wrappers wouldn't would have been none the wiser.  But, when 1978 rolled around and the New International Version (NIV) surfaced, I can only imagine the content of the hushed conversations around the kitchen table when devotions were read.

Now, the same passages from the NIV would be the source of unwelcome blushing and embarrassment. Fast reading just won't do anymore. From the NIV:

Ezekiel 23:20
20 There she lusted after her lovers, whose genitals were like those of donkeys and whose emission was like that of horses.

and from

Genesis 38:9
But Onan knew that the child would not be his; so whenever he slept with his brother’s wife, he spilled his semen on the ground to keep from providing offspring for his brother.

UGH. And more...UGH.

Now, I can appreciate why my Grade 12 Bible teacher, no less, told us to ask our parents about Genesis 38 because, in his words: "I'm not touching that one with a ten foot pole." It was the classic move - "Don't ask me, ask your parents." So, true to form, our parents deflected the responsibility back to the teachers and they, in turn, passed it back...and that's how it's supposed to go. I'm sure there's an unwritten rule...somewhere.

So, when the new sex education curriculum arrived I was really hoping they would have tackled some of the - let's just say - fabulous functions and fun features of the human body. But, it doesn't - so I'm still on the hook for some of the explanations. Don't worry I promise not to diagram anything! Secretly though, I'm hoping my kids are past the age where I need to tell them anything at all and that 'the street' fulfilled it's obligation by filling in where I've failed. C'mon sexting! Don't let me down!

Seriously, I'm hoping you've picked up on my 'tongue in cheek' tone! I'm not 100% thrilled with the new curriculum and I was ready to jump all over it until my cousin, Linda Geerts, outlined a very thoughtful critique of the new curriculum. Linda has taught primary aged children for 21 years within the Christian, parental school system. She speaks from remarkable experience and - if you know her, even a little - you would know she is a child of God and truly has the best of intentions toward the children entrusted to her care.

Here is Linda's analysis (reprinted with permission):

"I haven't noticed that much different than what is already on our Health curriculum requirements, what we call "Family Life" in my school. For the record, I teach in an independent, Christian school, and have taught grades 1-6, for 21 years. Sex ed. isn't the only thing that's changed. Some thoughts:
1. The media is over-hyping this controversy.
2. Ultimately, it IS the parents' job to instruct their children in sexual matters. But, because so many DON'T, we teachers fill in the gap. Do we want to? Not necessarily. But we will.
3. The culture around us has changed considerably! Do you know what children watch on TV/screens these days? I'm often shocked by what parents allow their children to watch. I explained to a gr.1 student a few years ago why watching "2 1/2 Men" is inappropriate for him - even for adults! Students of all ages have asked me questions such as What does gay mean? or What is rape? (Hey, just read the stories in the Old Testament. These questions regularly come up in Bible class!)
4. Teachers are always conscious about using age-appropriate terminology and keeping things simple according to the needs or level of the students.
5. When significant questions or discussions have popped up, I'll contact parents to say, Hey, we talked about this in class today, and why. Often I've redirected a student, "You've asked a really good question! I'm willing to answer it, but I'd like you to ask your mom/dad first."
6. I have ALWAYS used (and always will use) proper words for body parts when talking about health and sexuality, whether it's been to a 6 year old or 12 year old. I will not use nicknames; it's too confusing, as every family seems to have their own nicknames.
7. The topic of consent: is that just a different word for what is already taught - appropriate and inappropriate touching, etc.
8. Keep in mind: families have 1,2,3,4 children at home. Parents have a duty to love and protect their kids. So do I, and I have 20-30. Chances are, somewhere in that group, there might be someone who needs to hear that inappropriate touching or sexual abuse is wrong. It's my duty to protect them.
9. The greatest difference I've noticed is regarding same-sex relationships. But in our culture today, it's there. Kids have already seen it and heard about it. TV shows include it. Talk shows talk about it. It's on the Internet. Why shouldn't I then broach the topic from a region of sensitivity, clarity, and age-appropriateness?
10. Your family doctor asks your kids questions about these things also to protect them.
11. Puberty is hitting kids earlier. They need to know what to expect. 20 years ago it arrived around gr 6-7 or even 8. Now it's earlier. My grade 5s and many gr.4s need to know.

Do you trust your kids' teachers?"


Makes you think, doesn't it? Are we off loading on our teachers too much? Have you ever talked to your children about the passages above? Truthfully I haven't talked about those passages - yet. Well, maybe Genesis 38...but I'm not sure.What about discussing the content of The Songs of Solomon? Or other passages in the Bible where sex and sexual acts are written about? Try finding Christian literature on how to discuss the how's, the what's, and the where's of sex without it sounding medicinal and smelling of an antiseptic.

God made sex for practicality - i.e. reproduction, for pleasure - i.e. P.L.E.A.S.U.R.E, and for unity i.e. "and the two shall be as one". God's gift of sex has responsibilities attached and he takes our sex lives very seriously. Don't ignore it...because your kids won't and the Internet certainly won't and doesn't! And, if you feel secretly indebted, you might even want to thank a Liberal MPP for picking up your slack.