Sex Ed and Religion — A battle in Washington State
by Caleb Backholm 3/6/2020
Washington State has introduced a new sexual education bill, WA Senate Bill 5395, that seems likely to become law soon. Few things generate as much controversy as teaching sex ed in schools. A person’s view of sex is as personal as his view of religion. So in matters of religion and deeply held beliefs, the state is supposed to tread lightly and with respect. This bill does not.
Eleven times in four pages, Senate Bill 5395 uses the word “comprehensive” when describing the type of sexual education it intends to teach. But comprehensive according to whom? I have read the bill, and from the Judeo-Christian worldview, it is not at all comprehensive, but instead mandates teaching incomplete and inaccurate views that conflict with Christianity.
Here are the issues with the bill.
- Page 2, line 3. Consent is what determines if sex is right or wrong. As addressed above, all the major theistic religions of the world teach that sex between “two consenting people” is still usually wrong. For a plan that constantly claims to be “comprehensive,” it fails to truthfully tell our children that sex is about far more than just consent. If our children get the impression that consent is all that matters in their sex lives, they will have been horribly miseducated.
- Page 2, line 7. Abstinence before marriage may not be taught exclusively. This means that even if the parents in a community want abstinence to be taught exclusively to their children, they will not have the right to teach exclusively on abstinence. This bill would forbid any public school in the state from doing so.
- Page 2, line 12. “Protected classes” must be recognized in the instruction. Putting aside the inequality of only certain classes of people being protected by their government, and thus others not protected, this section will be used to advance an LBGT agenda and mandate its instruction. Students will be taught that homosexual sex is just as normal and good as heterosexual sex. They will be taught that sometimes people are born into the wrong bodies and should try to change their appearance/bodies to match their feelings about their gender — a belief that implies God sometimes makes mistakes and gets gender and sex wrong. And they will not be taught that there are various beliefs on sex and gender, they will only hear the information from one side — that of the LGBTQ advocates.
- Page 2, line 28. The sex education will begin in kindergarten and last through 12th grade. The bill does call for “age-appropriate” teaching, but the anti-Christian views of sexuality and gender that many find objectionable will most likely begin with 5-year-olds and continue for 13 years.
- Page 2, line 9. “Guest speakers” will be invited to speak on these topics in the schools. I know from personal experience of my own children at the high schools that the guest speaker is often a Planned Parenthood representative. The giant abortion provider is given a significant influential platform to market to our children – all high school age and younger – about their contraceptive and abortion services. Planned Parenthood’s goal is not simply to educate but eventually to turn these students into their customers.
- Page 1, line 11 and Page 2, line 32. The bill calls for “scientifically accurate” and “evidence-based programs.” This part actually sounds reassuring. You can bet though that there will be no mention of what biology has to say about when human life begins after sex, or the biological impossibility of a third gender, or the fact that no man can become a woman and get pregnant. Inconvenient science is not likely to appear in the curriculum.
- Page 3, line 31. Speaking of curriculum, the schools “must use curriculum from the list developed” by the state board, or “that complies with the requirements of” the bill. These teachings will no longer be optional. Furthermore, each school “must report, on an annual basis” the curriculum they are using to prove compliance.
If that doesn’t harken thoughts of Soviet-style education I don’t know what does.
And that is the worst part of all of this. Starting with the very first line of the bill, and reinforced repeated throughout, the authors make it quite clear that this is not optional. The curriculum is not only antithetical to the most fundamental teachings of our faith, but it’s being made mandatory.
- Page 4, line 24. Right at the end of the bill, this line encourages students and staff to “report harassment, intimidation, and bullying” to the state board. No one supports bullying but in this climate of “safe spaces” and political correctness, who is defining “harassment”? It’s the same people who authored this bill.
What if a student or teacher states that homosexuality is among the list of sexual desires that should be resisted, or that biology teaches that there are only two genders and humans can’t change theirs? Will those people be reported for harassment toward a child or staff member who identifies as gay or transgender? I’ll just go ahead and answer this one. Yes, they will be.
On a positive note, the bill does provide a provision for parents to opt their children out of the instruction. But to me, that is little solace. Like I told my son’s health teacher last year when she offered the same opt-out over transgender training of 9th graders, I don’t want him opted out — I want all the other kids opted out. I’m fine with my own children being exposed to anti-Christian teachings because they also have access to the truth and are being taught to discern between the two. But what of all the other children whose only religious instruction is laid out in this bill? Our schools will be raising a generation of children who have been taught to be hostile to the design of God. Tax dollars of Christians will be going to fund religious instruction that is “preaching a different gospel” (Gal 1:8).
Of all activities in the Christian faith, there is no single ritual or behavior that is more sacred than sex within marriage. Some might find that statement surprising, but regular readers of the Bible likely won’t.
Sex (and by extension, marriage) is uniquely designed by God to be a picture of our relationship with Him.
Just as worship is reserved for only the one true God, sex is reserved exclusively for marriage with one, unmarried, consenting, opposite-gender, adult, to whom we have committed the rest of our lives.
It is monogamous, and it is exclusive. For the Christian, sex is reserved for only one person and only the right person.
This design mirrors our theology –our worship is reserved for only one God, and only the true God.
Thus the purpose of sex for humans, even above procreation, is to teach us about God, and our relationship with Him.
This is why throughout the Old Testament, the spiritual failings of Israel are frequently compared to the sin of an adulterous spouse (Jer 3:8, Hos 3:1). And in the New Testament, sexual sins are often called out by name when the writer is listing sins to avoid (Acts 15:20, Rom 1:29). The proper understanding of sex is critical in the Christian life.
It is not my intention today to convince you of the rightness of this Christian view of sex and marriage. It is, however, my intention to demonstrate that the teachings being mandated in this WA Senate bill are in direct opposition to that view — and as such, in the minds of many, the bill constitutes false religious instruction and should be opposed in public schools.
Last year, similar curriculum was introduced in schools in the United Kingdom. One such school was majority Muslim, and the parents rightly saw it as an attack on their religious beliefs. Six hundred children were pulled out in one day and parents protested on the streets around the school.
Christian parents should be equally alarmed by this legislation and see it for what it is — religious indoctrination that opposes their own beliefs, and that is being mandated by the state for every child in a public school.
If this proposed law is concerning to you, if you find it to be lacking in truth, respect, and tolerance toward important religious views, the time to speak out is now. Residents of WA can call the legislative hotline at 1-800-562-6000 and leave your thoughts with your representative.
Residents of other states should also be alert and find out what kind of sex education is being taught in your schools. We are called to be salt and light, a witness of God’s standards, and this is one great way we can live up to that.
Caleb Backholm is a married father of three and a small business owner. A “political nerd” since childhood, he first started publishing social and political news commentaries in the Jr. High school newspaper and has been writing ever since. He attended Northwestern College in St. Paul, MN where he studied Broadcast Communications, Biblical Studies, and History. Originally from Washington State, he currently lives in Ft. Worth, Texas and is a student at Southwestern Seminary. Caleb can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.