September 8, 2008

Biblical Sex Education
by Pastor George Van Alstine

Last week I wrote about my own sex education, which came more from the gym locker room than from parental or church guidance. Maybe some of you had a more ideal start in your understanding of sex and sexuality. Those whose parents made a stab at it, even if the effort was awkward or inadequate, should feel very special, for this was a proof of their love for you.

But parents, like mine, who never even made the attempt should not be judged too harshly. They had no model in their own upbringing, as their parents were probably even more closed to discussing such things. And they probably had no help from their church, which chose to pretend these issues didn’t exist. When occasionally a young girl from the church fellowship became pregnant, there would be a flurry of blame, probably a quickie marriage, then all would return to normal, without any reflection by the family or the believing community on what this event meant.

Actually, there wasn’t much help found in the Bible either. If you were looking for simple prooftexts, you wouldn’t find much. One of the Ten Commandments prohibited adultery, but premarital sex was not addressed. There were occasional relevant references in the Levitical Law, but these often were discussed in terms of ritual impurity which are hard to apply to our culture.

It’s also hard to find Biblical models or examples. I have a 1963 Christian book entitled Family Living in the Bible. It gives several examples of “Chastity in Young Womanhoodâ€? and “Nobility in Young Manhood.â€? All the stories are from the Old Testament, and almost all are from the time of the Patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph). The circumstances in which these families lived were so different from ours that it’s virtually impossible to make direct correlations about sexual behavior.

No models or examples from the New Testament are mentioned. This is probably because the New Testament is such a “breathlessâ€? cluster of writings, written by eyewitnesses to an amazing series of events that, to them, seemed to be the beginning of â€?end times.â€? On the agenda of items that needed to be addressed, the sexual behavior of adolescents just didn’t rise high enough to be discussed.

So, I think we should start over. Let’s not look for Bible models or prooftexts. Let’s look for deeply imbedded Biblical principles about who we humans are and what is our destiny. When we’ve come up with these, let’s find creative ways to teach them to our children from their earliest years.

Here is my initial attempt to put together a list of such principles. There are four I’d like to discuss:

(1)   A person’s creation in the image of God as male or female.

(2)   A person’s Mind as the primary processor and definer of the way life is lived.

(3)   A person’s Body as an essential part of who the person is and the arena in which life is lived.

(4)   A person’s Spirit as the creative and dynamic expression of the person by which life is given its ultimate significance.

I feel I’d like to invest another Messenger article discussing these four principles and how they can impact the emergence of a person through adolescence and its sexual discoveries. Please hang with me.