OPINION | Dr Patricia Weerakoon, Christian sexologist
Friday 12 February 2016
When we speak about sex education in today’s culture, what we’re saying is that it is never too early to start teaching your children.
The point is not what age do you start, but what are they hearing and who are they hearing it from?
The brain, in terms of neurophysiology, at the age of anywhere between pre-teens to teens, is at a stage of very rapid development and so anything that feeds that developing brain is going to influence values and attitudes of the brain wiring. The brain will be affected by what it is being fed by. So it is critical what we, as parents, teach the children.
When children are getting ready for primary school, they should be taught about the body, good touch/bad touch and, sadly, about recognising and turning away from pornography. So awareness of sexuality and awareness of what is considered right and wrong, these are things that should be taught early.
The concern is that in a developing brain, if we are going to teach that all gender or all diversity is to be accepted, if we’re going to teach that any form of sexuality is individual choice, then these things will be wired into developing brains. Therefore, children are more accepting of LGBTIQ behaviours.
The problem here is that we are teaching the developing brain value systems that are going to be wired in which, as Christians, we would say are inappropriate and not in keeping with what we want our children to be learning.
I continuously encourage parents that from the time children are really, really young, we should teach them that, firstly, all people are created in the image of God, that we are a fallen people and things go wrong with everything in our life including our gender, the way we see our gender, the way we are attracted to people.
We can teach children at 7 and 8 this, and they understand because they see it in their playgrounds. And then, we teach children that God is a loving God. God loves all people, so we love all people, and we have compassion. But we also understand what the Bible says about gender and sexual behaviour … about everything in life. The Bible has a message for everything in life and that includes our sex life and our gender.
So, teaching children at an early age that people can be different in how they behave, in how they look and how they choose to act, and that is not something we treat as something to be laughed at or bullied, but rather with love and compassion. But you can have the courage to stand on your own conviction. That’s not easy. This is why when I speak to teens and pre-teens, I saw that basically we are calling you to a counter-cultural lifestyle. That’s what the Christian life is.
We need to teach our kids early and providing knowledge and values so they’re empowered. So that even in public schools, where they are being taught to celebrate diversity, they can say, “I don’t hate you, but if you ask me, I have to say that the Bible says that man and woman were created for each other. But I’m called to love you and accept you for who you are, like me: made in the image of God.”
This is the reality. We need to prepare our children early so when they’re hearing the message that all diversity must be celebrated, they can go ‘OK, I hear you. But what we’re saying is that all diversity exists, but that doesn’t mean all diversity needs to be celebrated.’ There’s a difference.
We need to be very careful about an ‘us and them’ mentality. That makes us seem like we’re wearing the cap of homophobic, transphobic, bigoted … And that’s not what God calls us to be. But God calls us to be compassionate and to stand for biblical truth. Sadly, this is what our children must do today too in their schools.
I talk to parents all the time about this and they are terrified of this. Primary school kids are coming home and saying that so-and-so are coming back next semester as a girl. This is primary school. Our kids need to be ready to deal with this. One boy in a class has said that his daddy is becoming his mummy, a woman. Or kids come home and say their friend has two mummies or two daddies. This is happening so we better get our kids ready to understand diversity and be compassionate, but not celebrate it, because it’s part of a fallen nature.
We need to do it but so wish we didn’t have to. But this is the world. We must gird our loins and get our children ready for what is going to obviously get worse.