Putting Your Head Above The Parapet
I consider myself so blessed. I have a great God, a great family, a great church, we all enjoy living in a free country, with great health care and a fantastic education system… I have an incredible husband and together we have 3 fantastic children whom we entrust to the teachers at school every day. There are so many things at school that I appreciate, so many extra activities that my children have been privileged to enjoy, so when I say what I am about to say, I do not want you to think we are grumbling parents! Never in my life did I imagine that I would be so unhappy with something being taught at school that I would decide the best course of action would be to remove my child from school for a day… I never, ever expected to be the parent—that parent—who took their child out of sex and relationships lessons.
You see, Ed and I were youth workers for around 20 years, and we discussed pretty much anything with our teenagers, no question was too tough, too embarrassing… We were committed to helping teenagers build healthy lives, we would talk through their questions: “how far is too far?”, “what does the Bible teach about sex before marriage?” And now as pastors we take couples through marriage preparation classes, we spend time with couples who need help to work through difficulties, past hurts, we help wipe away tears and try to constantly point people to Jesus. Those people who have compromised because they are desperate to feel loved, those for whom the unwanted pregnancy happens, who have chosen abortion, and then have to deal with the pain and desperation that brings, often for many years later. We even regularly take Q&A about what the Bible says on many issues that have, in the past, been swept under the church carpet and avoided in the pulpit.
So why then do I find myself in this position and what would you do?
It all began 7 years ago. I remember being invited to a parents meeting at school to be shown the material that was to be taught in school to children in year 3 (7 and 8 year old boys and girls.) I sat astonished as the evening unfolded and the staff made jokes about the material they were to use in the class room. That material, even 7 years later, remains controversial.
Following the meeting we came home and as I did research, we discovered that the material was being trialled in many schools, however the teachers in other schools I spoke to, told me that their schools had consulted with parents and decided not to go ahead with some of the material as it was thought inappropriate for children, even described by some as pornographic.
We then spoke to other parents who were uncomfortable, arranged to visit the head, and wrote to the governors and to the local minister. It did not matter the experience we had, what evidence we produced, the fact that we were not alone in our opinions; it had been decided by the powers that be and was not to be changed! Our only option it seemed was to allow our child to sit out of the lesson.
So for the last 7 years we have made a positive decision and on purpose kept our children out of school for some parts of this curriculum. We made a decision that we are not prepared for our children aged 8 to live with video images playing in their minds of sexual acts. We have committed to answering any question they have, to be open and honest about this whole area of life, it was after all God who created sex to be enjoyed and knows best how it is to be enjoyed, not a DVD, the TV, Internet or even our education system.
And so our children have had the benefit of an extra ‘holiday’ day to most of their classmates! We have been swimming, cycling, out for coffee and cake, had cinema trips, helped out around the farm. None of our children consider themselves as ‘missing out’, in fact they have all wanted to be kept home more often and their friends think they are lucky!
Although we cannot keep our children innocent for as long as we would like, we do not have to just go along with the culture around us.
The Bible says:
‘Do not be conformed to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.’ Romans 12:2
‘It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.’ Galatians 5:1
We are given freedom in Christ to live, not conforming to the world around us, not being squashed into a mould, not feeling pressure to fit in because everyone else does it. No! We are free to choose, we are free to live and free to be whom we were created to be.
Our children have learnt a valuable lesson, they do not have to do something because everyone else does it; they do not have to go along with the crowd, and they can take any question or opinion back to the word of God and test its truth.
It is our responsibility to plough the ground ready for the next generation. What we allow, they will embrace as true, what we put up with, they will pursue, and what we stand up for, they will build their lives upon.
Today, I pray, that whatever situation you are facing, you will know freedom from needing to please those around you, freedom to live a life that does not feel squashed into the mould of our culture, and that you will have the courage and wisdom to live out great choices, so that together we can set up the next generation for a win.
In the words of a famous prayer…
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.
For further info on this issue
If you want to know more about sex education in primary schools, check out the website for The Christian Institute and search sex education in primary schools.
In 2012 the schools minister, Nick Gibb, told Channel 4 executives that parents would be shocked and surprised at the video’s content. He ordered the broadcaster to tone it down. However, this video is still used in some schools today.