UNITED NATION’S COMPREHENSIVE SEXUALITY EDUCATION: SOWING THE SEED OF THE CULTURE OF DEATH IN OUR CHILDREN.

 REV. FR. DANIEL EVBOTOKHAI

Introduction

Nodoubt this topic is timely, especially now that desires and passions are at the door post of every individual waiting for an affirmation. The culture, language, music, dressing of our people is almost sexually saturated. Universities, Colleges and Institutes have been overtaken by a “hook-up” culture in which “yes” in the words of Gary Inrig is the default setting for expected sexual engagement. Sex has always been a powerful engine of human behavior and if we swing the pendulum to the cradle we shall uncover stories of how sexual passions burnt out of control. In spite of the presence of the gospel this force has almost render preachers hypocrites. Clerics, politicians, teachers and other public figures often allow uncontrolled sexual longings lead them into entanglement that weakens the moral bar or their declared values.

 A quick look at the topic will leave one to a simple conclusion that comprehensive sexuality education is destructive. However, when viewed with deeper reflection we can sweetly conclude in those very eternal lines of the scripture that my people suffer because of lack of knowledge. “No nonsense Knowledge” is the header of a book written by Richard Popkin and Avrum Stroll. The book is entitled “Philosophy Made Simple”. Actually, there is no nonsense knowledge. Any knowledge gained is for the good and betterment of those who were privileged of it. In order to confront the issues posed by the shattering of old customs and questioning of traditional norms, it is important to offer sex education that is complete, and comprehensive.

Worthy to note within this sphere therefore, is a consideration of the developmental stage of children. Assuredly, some sexual revelations may be too rude or boorish for certain age; like given a child that is a day old Eba to swallow. This of course has adverse effect, if it is not breeding a symptom of death already.  Therefore, while it is our primary focus to ensure that sexual knowledge is communicated to children  ipso facto we must ensure that the level of sexual education is directly proportionate to the  developmental stage of the children. Vatican II buttresses this when it says: “As they (children and young people) advance in years, they should be given positive and prudent education in matters relating to sex.”[1]

Again, comprehensive sexual education that informs the use of contraceptives should be morally evaluated to produce a morally sound curriculum for learning. In this case, sexual education will become a spring board for a culture of life in our children.  As we proceed in this topic we shall uncover some of the basic idea therein.

Comprehensive Sexual Education usually abbreviated as (CSE) is a sex education instruction method absolutized by the United Nations that is based on-curriculum that aims to give students the knowledge, attitudes, skills and values to make appropriate and healthy choices in their sexual lives. The intention is that this understanding will prevent students from contracting sexually transmitted infections in the future, including HIV. CSE is also designed with the intention of reducing teenage and unwanted pregnancies, as well as lowering rates of domestic and sexual violence, thus contributing to a healthier society, both physically and mentally.To do this Comprehensive sex education ultimately promotes sexual abstinence as the safest sexual choice for young people.[2]

However, CSE curriculums and teachers are still committed to teaching students about topics connected to future sexual activity, such as age of consentsafe sexcontraception such as: birth controlabortion, and use of condoms. This also includes discussions which promote safe behaviors, such as communicating with partners and seeking test for sexually transmitted infections. Additionally, comprehensive sex education curricula may include discussions surrounding pregnancy outcomes such as parenting, adoption, and abortion. The most widely agreed benefit of using comprehensive sex education over abstinence-only sex education is that CSE acknowledges the student population will be sexually active in their future. By acknowledging this, CSE can encourage students to plan ahead to make the healthiest possible sexual decisions.[3] This ideology of arming students to most successfully survive their future sexual experiences underlies the majority of topics within CSE, including condoms, contraception, and refusal skills.

Consequently, while the above out pouring of CSE sound so positive it leaves us with the basic question of morality and the sacredness of human life. In the light of this, the definition of  Pazhayampallil becomes most appropriate in this regard. For him,  sexual education is the process by which an individual person accepts and appropriate the bodily, sexual and spousal gift of his existence from the loving creative hand of God and is enabled to return it to him by a nuptial surrender in Christian marriage or celibacy.[4]  This education is on-going as it demands self-education, influence of home, School, Church , society and interaction with other persons of both sexes who are also on their way to advancing or receding maturity, and above all by the grace of God. This definition puts us in better disposition to handle this topic at hand.

Within this view we can say that sexual education programs that have as their exclusive aim the prevention of pregnancy will cause more harm than good. Therefore, rather than applying a curriculum of CSE that promotes condoms, contraception and abortion; Peschke noted that a sound program of sex education should comprise the following[5]:

  1. Communication of an understanding of sexuality  as God’s gift and a comprehension of its procreative meaning as well as its capability for being an expression of love.
  2. Information on essential biological facts concerning sexual differences and equality of the sexes, on lovemaking, intercourse, pregnancy, and birth.
  3. Information on why people have a need for children as well as on its limits of the right to have children and the need of responsible parenthood.
  4. Information on the method of natural family planning and alternative methods and an ethical evaluation of the various methods.
  5. Discussion of the rights of the unborn child, the problems of genetic disorders and supportive attitudes towards defective persons.
  6. Reflections on the problem of homosexuality and similar difficulties in psychological development.

Though other moral theologians have presented a list of about 13 guides they nevertheless can be harmonized into the above points. Thus, for  Peschke, the list promotes Psychological and moral hygiene, and by the provision of factual information and authentic values help young people to confront life in a realistic and constructive way.

Should sex education be taught in Nigerian Schools?

Many families are divided as to an answer to this question. In fact the percentage is almost on the equal side. Many are against it and many are for it. There have even been facebook comment in this regard with almost same number supporting and same number against it. Based on age differences, certain sexual myths and others who believe that it is a natural discovery of the individual. Some have argued that educating students on topics relating to sex safety and the use of condoms may make them become rebellious and act out. While others believe that children should be taught sex education in schools, based on their level of understanding. Nevertheless, this paper would rather argue that they should be taught but with a morally sound program like that of Peschke with the consideration of the factors of Age, Teachers, and the Environment.

The Age for Sex Education[6]

Every child has to be protected against the abuse of sex and helped to form the right habits from the very start. However, over the years most parents shy away from this basic responsibility; some make fair attempt, others leave the children to fate, street expressions and societal norms.  Parents may guide their children about eating, speaking dialect and cooking but will never guide them on the more serious task as sexuality. That is why we are left with many evil genius. Therefore, sexual education must be adjusted to the different stages of development of the child and in a graded manner. Sexual education within the class must be discouraged, especially in mixed classes, since the students there are likely to be different chronological age and mental development.

From birth to four or five years of age, the mother must see to it that the child’s sex organs are kept clean. He may sometimes be seen scratching or feeling his genital organs often due to uncleanliness. The parents should ignore it and as a rule should not utter angry word or punish the child.

When the child is six or seven years old, the mother or teacher must tell him unemotionally what the child wants to know.  The natural questions of the inquisitive child must be answered frankly, without seriousness or anger. Only the elementary facts should be given.   

The parents and teachers should ensure that children within the age bracket of seven and eleven, imbibe good habits, get proper nourishment, play with good companions, read good books, see informative and constructive films. Keep themselves clean and have sound sleep in a well-ventilated room.  They should get very definitive information about sex in the biology classes; they must be made to understand that reproduction is one of the natural functions of the body like blood circulation, digestion.

More so, the girls approaching puberty should be instructed regarding menstruation, not to consider it as “venereal disease” or a punishment for possible sins. They need not to be ashamed of this natural occurrence. They should submit to it in calmness and composure. They should know that they now take part in vital duties of womanhood.

For the males, it is essential to let them know that nightly pollutions are natural. The less the adolescent is alarmed about the revolutionary events going on in his body and mind, the less he defends himself against the new development, the more normal and natural will his further mental and moral development be.

Lastly, teenagers should be advised about the evils of masturbation, sex indulgence and sex perversion, about the inherent diseases, and the unhappiness that accrue from sex deviation. They should get instruction also in the right choice of a future vocation.

Who should give sex education?[7]

Sex education is the basic right and duty of parents. Girls are generally given instruction by their mothers; boys by their mothers or fathers. Beyond instructions the good example of the parents is the best education. Pope John Paul II, in his homily during Mass, in Cebu Philippines on 19 February 1981 said: “The delicate responsibility for sex education belongs principally to the families, where an atmosphere of loving reverence will be conducive to a fully human and Christian understanding of the meaning of love and life.[8]

More so, where parents fail to dare this basic duty, teachers or even priests should impart it. However, it is important to make clear that girls should be instructed by lady teachers or elder sisters; very rarely should priests undertake this duty. Boys should be instructed by men teachers or priests.[9]

Very fundamental to this aspect is the fact that those who are entrusted with sex education have to be themselves persons who are sexually mature and balanced because beyond vocabularies and method the personality of the teacher counts more. [10] Again, sex education should be taught together with the whole process of moral formation and training. Sex education is part of the continuing process of the development of the total human personality.

The environmental factor in sex education is very important. The environment requires wise organization. Fervent elimination of harmful influences. An anthropologist once said  that man is the product of his environment. Sexual education within a promiscuous environment is a deficiency. Some environment are sexually charged, indecent dressing, whether students environment or not. Others are clouded with immoral songs, vulgar conversations either in slangs or regular language. All these makes sex education almost deficient.

Apart from that, we are bombarded with sex and sexual images in magazines, in movies and on television, in music, on billboards, and most of all, on the internet. None of this is without consequence. In as much as it is not wrong to be thought sexually attractive, that desire can unleash an obsession with appearance and physical beauty. Today, many youths and even some adults invest so much time and money into compelling physical image, whether through fashion and cosmetic makeups, plastic surgeries, weight lost or exercise designed to produce figure 8 or six packs.  This has become the pursuit of this generation such that young children feel dissatisfied with their body image; a dissatisfaction that can lead to serious sexual disorders. Therefore, parents and teachers must work on their environment whether immediate or distant.

Benefits of Comprehensive Sexual Education[11]

  1. It helps young people become more responsible in their attitude regarding sexual and reproductive health
  2. It is essential to combat the school dropout of girls due to early or forced marriage, teenage pregnancy and sexual and reproductive health issues
  3. It is necessary because in some parts of the world, two out of three girls reported having no idea of what was happening to them when they began menstruating and pregnancy and childbirth complications are the second cause of death among 15 to 19-year olds
  4. It reduces sexual activity, sexual risk-taking behavior and infection rates.
  5. It provides information and guidance to young people about the transition from childhood to adulthood and the physical, social and emotional challenges they face.
  6. It tackles the challenges posed by sexual and reproductive health issues, which are particularly difficult during puberty
  7. It raises awareness of sexual infections of which only 34 per cent of young people around the world can demonstrate accurate knowledge
  8. It complements or counters the large body of material of variable quality that young people find on the internet.
  9. It increase moral sanity of the family and the society

About the Culture of death

 According to Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI, Culture of death is an opposite state to the “culture of life”. In contemporary political discourse, it is a culture that is deemed to be inconsistent with the concept of a “culture of life”, such as cultures that support contraceptionabortioneuthanasiadegradationhumiliationhuman cloningselfabsorptionapathypoverty and capital punishment . Some commentators would add to that list homosexuality,  and other phenomena perceived to attack marriage and the family.

Within this parlance Comprehensive sexual education that teaches contraception and abortion will rather foster a culture of death. This informs the warning given by “Humanae Vitae”  that the widespread use of contraception would lead to conjugal infidelity and the general lowering of morality. This is not a message that people will like to hear; but the fact is that the dawn of contraceptives has lead us all into the dusk of morality. Countless number of babies die every day through the use of abortion pills. With countless more succumbing to the abortion aspect of the hormonal birth control pill.  Because of condom many  youth feel sex outside marriage is a fun not fornication. There is the increase in  hook-up culture and sexual promiscuity. Many young ladies die in brothels and hotel rooms. More so, homosexuality and others heads towards the death of marriage and family life.

Conclusion

The Church family life unit are the present day prolifers, who see to the proper and health formation of children. Knowing that adequate guidance through the grace of God will help build a better life in the society. In as much as this remains herculean we cant rest on our oas and see the future of our children clouded. Therefore the focus of comprehensive sexual education should be informed with the model of the Blessed Virgin Mary who was most chaste. Yet she knew what was necessary to be known with regard to procreation. “Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be since I am a virgin?’” (Lk1:34).  This question reveals Mary’s awareness. Sexual education reveals to us our sexual awareness thereby averting the insanity of sexuality and preserving the dignity of self and others.


[1] Gravissimum Educationis, “Declaration on Christian Education 28 Oct. 1965” no. 1 p. 643

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comprehensive_sex_education retrieved 7/8/2019

[3] Ibid.

[4] Thomas Pazhayampallil, Pastoral Guide Vol.2, India: Bangalore, Kristu Jyoti Publication, 2012, p.1587

[5] Karl H. Peschke, Christian Ethics: Moral Theology in the Light of Vatican II, Newly Revised Edition, Bangalore: Theological Publication, 2013. p. 458

[6] Adapted from Pastoral Guide vol.2 no. 627

[7] Adapted from Pastoral Guide Vol. 2 no. 628

[8] L’Osservatore Romano, ed. English, 2 March 1981, p.5

[9] John R. Cavanagh, Fundamental Marriage Counseling, Cork, 1966, p. 119-126

[10] The Congregation for Catholic Education, A Guide to Formation in Priestly Celibacy, Rome, 1974, p. 36-37

[11] This is an adaption from what was given by UNAIDS, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), UN Women, and the World Health Organization (WHO).

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Fr. Daniel Evbotokhai is a priest of the Catholic Diocese of Auchi, Edo State, Nigeria. He was ordained October 20th, 2018. He offers his daily homilies, talks and articles that bother on, faith, theology, morals and many other burning issues in religion and politics. Fr. Daniel writes poems, inspirational quotes and clips.

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