Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Updates for March

News, news, and more news! Bad for the blog, good for life. Some of this you may already know, but I'll just go over everything big that's happening so far..

My husband will be leaving his current teaching job at the end of this school year, so we are looking for a new job! He is applying to teaching positions throughout the Midwest, and I am looking for a job in the realm of family life. Because we're on a bit of a time crunch (less than 3 months until his employment ends), we're both looking for jobs. We will probably have one of us stay home with the baby (and possibly work part time) while the other works full time.

While we search for jobs, we're also in another time crunch: our baby is due in 6 1/2 weeks! This weekend two baby showers were hosted for us (one a complete surprise!). I'm spending the week trying to catch up on all the thank you cards--we were overwhelmed by the generosity of our friends, family, and church family.

Speaking of generosity, we have had the greatest blessing! Some members from our congregation (where I did my internship and where my husband works) collected a grant for me to finish my final class for graduation! I started that last week, and I am now buckling down to finish this self-paced course before the baby arrives.

As you can see, between the job applications, thank you cards, homework, and baby prep, life has gone wild here. I'll be taking some time off the blog to catch up on things here, but hopefully within the next week or two things will tone down and I can get back to posting. (I'd like to have some advance posts prepped, also, for when the baby arrives, so we don't end up with a summer-long hiatus.)

I apologize for the temporary break in posts, but while you wait, please check out the blogs linked on the side of my page! There are some great resources there for family life, sexuality, and faith. And if you have any questions I am still available for contact on the Facebook page (which you can also find linked to on the side of this page). Thank you for your patience and understanding, and God's blessings!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Sexual Education: Parent's Responsibility

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The final part of my three-part series answering the question:
Who has the responsibility to teach sexual education?
My final answer: the parents.

It will come as no surprise to my friends, acquaintances, and regular readers--really, anyone who knows me at all--that I believe parents have the ultimate responsibility when it comes to a child's sexual education, as with all other aspects of a child's life. No one in the child's life is so uniquely situated as the parents, to influence them so heavily throughout all life stages.

Psalm 127 speaks of what a blessing children are to their parents. "Children are a heritage from the LORD," the psalmist remarks in verse 3. And as with all other gifts from God, we are called to be good stewards. Scripture is rife with instructions for parents, beginning as early as the creation of man and woman with the command to "be fruitful and multiply" (Genesis 1:28). Proverbs 22:6 urges parents to "train up a child in the way he should go," and the epistles encourage fathers not to "provoke [their] children" (Colossians 3:21 and Ephesians 6:4). Clearly, according to both Scripture and reason, parents ought to educate their children.

Of course, many will argue that by sending their children to church and school, they are teaching them sexual education; to an extent, I have to agree. Ensuring that your child is in a sufficient sexual education course at school is a perfectly acceptable alternative to teaching all the content in the home, and provided that your congregation is covering sexuality and rightly dividing Law and Gospel when doing so, there is nothing wrong with parents "outsourcing" that aspect of sexual education, either.

My concern with this perspective, however, is that many parents naturally assume that the sexual education provided in the church and school is sufficient. In many schools and congregations, this is not true. A friend of mine once told me that in school, he received nothing on sexual education beyond an explanation of the changes in puberty, and the only supplement to this education he received at home was a book. His parents never explained the issues of sexuality that were not covered in school, and he had no one with whom to discuss his questions.

While that friend grew up without a horribly distorted view of sexuality, his parents--to whom I mean no disrespect--clearly missed part of their responsibility. With such little parental guidance, he could have received his sexual "education" from friends, television, or even pornography. Being aware of the content taught in his sexual education at school would have allowed these parents to better supplement it with discussion and targeted resources.

Most parents also assume that their church is covering the issue of sexual morality sufficiently. In many congregations, though, sexuality is a taboo, or issues are taught with a "that's wrong and don't ask questions" framework. To teach sexuality well, congregations should encourage questions, address what is being addressed by the culture, and offer Gospel as well as Law. This can be done in Sunday school, Bible study, youth ministry, or even directly from the pulpit. If it is not being done in the congregation, or not being done comprehensively, parents need to address these issue from home or find a source to do it for them.

Parents can't just assume that schools are teaching sexual education well; nor can we assume that churches are addressing sexuality fully and correctly. We need to be involved in our children's lives and education, aware of what is being taught and supplementing or correcting where needed. To those parents that are already doing so, I applaud you, and to those that were unaware of this need, I encourage you, don't let strangers dictate your child's sexual philosophy.

What are your thoughts? How much responsibility do parents have to teach sexual education? Are most parents, churches, and schools doing enough, or does the system need revamped--and if so, how?

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Sexual Education: Church's Responsibility

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Part two of my three-part series answering the question:
Who has the responsibility to teach sexual education?
This week's answer: the Church.

A sad trend in our modern society is that we've kicked the Church out of our bedrooms. "It's none of the Church's business who I'm sleeping with," we say to ourselves and others. "What happens between two consenting adults is no one's business but their own," we try to justify. All the while, we forget the Sixth Commandment and meaning:
You shall not commit adultery. What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we lead sexually pure and decent lives in what we say and do, and husband and wife love and honor each other. (Luther's Small Catechism)
While I certainly could spend this whole post talking about the Scriptural definition of "sexually pure and decent lives," that's not what I'm here to do. That's the responsibility of our congregational leadership. I am here to explain why the Church has a responsibility to teach sexual education.

When I assert that the Church has a responsibility to teach sexual education, I do not mean that congregations need to teach the same things the schools are teaching. Schools teach the mechanics--the definitions, causes and symptoms of STIs (sexually transmitted infections) and pregnancy, forms and effectiveness of contraceptives, etc. Congregations, then, have the responsibility to give a moral lens through which to view these mechanics.

Schools, at least in the public system, rarely teach that sex outside of marriage is wrong. Rather, they teach how to prevent STIs and unwanted pregnancy both in and out of marriage. They teach what different forms of sexuality and gender identity are, but they do not teach which forms of sexuality and gender identity are acceptable before God. They teach what forms of contraceptives are available, but they do not teach which ones kill an unborn child.

The Church has an obligation to teach what schools cannot or will not--the morality of sexual issues. Congregations have freedom to do so as they will; seminars or classes, parochial schools that provide sexual education, studies on the Sixth Commandment and sexual ethics, and many more options are available for congregations to educate their members on sexual ethics.

Sexual education is best when it is team-taught. If any part of that team fails to do its job, our youth suffer. Schools teach the mechanics, and the Church teaches the morality. When the school fails to teach the mechanics of sexual issues, youth may make physically unhealthy decisions regarding their sex lives. When the Church fails to teach the morality of sexual issues, youth will make spiritually unhealthy decisions regarding their sex lives. And next week I'll be talking about the parents' role in sexual education, as well as what is lost when parents neglect that role.

What are your thoughts? Does the Church actually have a responsibility to teach anything regarding sexuality? What about schools? Who has the primary responsibility--or are all parts of the "sex ed team" equal?