ever had sunday school sex ed?

What do you think of when the topic of sex and religion comes up?  A lot of folks assume that all religions have a very limited view of sexuality (e.g.: sex is only okay between a married man and woman, and often just for the purposes of procreation).

Others are influenced by news stories like the recent ones covering the Pope’s comments on the sex abuse scandal in the Catholic Church. Or the raid on the polygamous FLDS sect, which allegedly forces marriage between teen girls and older men.

But the pairing of sexuality and religion is not always a negative or conservative thing. In fact, one of the best sources I’ve found for teaching sex ed was created by the Unitarian Universalists and the United Church of Christ.

Together, these two religious groups created a comprehensive sexuality education curriculum called Our Whole Lives, which covers topics about sexual health and behavior in six subject areas: human development, relationships, personal skills, sexual behavior, sexual health and society and culture. From this perspective, sexuality is viewed as a positive thing and the curriculum addresses topics that many groups shy away from including GLBT issues, contraception, condoms and reproductive choices.

But why would a religious group put so much energy int to sex ed?  In an address given to her congregation, the Unitarian Universalist reverend, Cynthia Breen, explained,

"Sexuality education in secular settings, like schools, doesn’t necessarily support our values. For example, a study of secondary school health educators found that only 46 percent teach about sexual orientation at all, and that 91 percent of those devote less than two class periods to the topic. Thirty-three percent even felt that gay and lesbian rights are a threat to the American family and its values. Those views should not be the primary ones our children hear…[Also,] sexuality is about values, respect, emotions, and justice. Sexuality is sacred, part of the miracle of creation. This is why we do sexuality education in church: because sexuality is sacred, and sexuality education is ministry.”

Despite the prevalent idea that religious groups are all right-wing supporters of abstinence-only education, as the OWL curriculum shows, this simply isn’t accurate.

Did you ever get sex ed at Sunday school? What did you learn?


Posted in: Health, Sex & Relationships, The State of Sex Ed
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  • siobhan

    I posted about this on another topic, but… OWL was the best thing to ever happen to me! (All right, that may be an exaggeration…) but I know that I, along with all of my friends with whom I shared the experience, were so grateful for having gone through the program.
    It provides relevant, accurate, and unbiased information, that is really difficult to find in any other setting. … Especially not in my middle school, where I was enrolled in the sex ed program just a month after finishing OWL, I was horrified by the contrast!
    Now that I'm experiencing some of the things we learned about, I feel even more fortunate for the wealth of knowledge I gained from OWL.

  • Raine

    😀 I took OWL! It was a great experince. You learn so much more than you do in a school sex ed program, and it was a fun, relaxed environment (Though, that may not be the case with every group).
    We did the whole condom on the banana thing, and talked about sexual orientation, and being ready.
    It was made with the United Church of Christ, but it doesn't have all of the views you would expect, or I would anyway. It's hard to say though, I'm sure every group is different. But woohoo for UUs!

  • Christina

    I go to a Christian school…(b/c im a Christian) and we dont even talk about sex or have sex ed untill HIGH SCHOOL. I think they are trying to shelter us and I think it is unnessicary. i mean, how do they want us to get the idea of sex? or how do they expect us to learn about it? from MTV? i think not. at my church, however, we have had a sex ed class. it is pretty much the norm of what info we received at school. "as christians, we believe that sex should be saved for the sanctity of marriage. it should be used for both preocreation and bonding/pleasure with our spouse" then they tell us all about the STD's and how we should be cautionate about it…
    but back to how i said we never mention sex until atleast 9th grade…it was awkward in jr. high…when we talked abot the Virgin Mary and how she never had sex with Joseph but was still able to have Jesus, whenever our Bible teacher said the word sex, everybody was all weird and like snickered to each other and i was thinking"havent you guys heard that word before?" if someone ever needed to say sex for whatever the reason..they would like spell it our or say like "that 3-letter word"
    aside from all that, I REALLY THINK THAT THE ABSTINICE GROUPS ARE AN AWESOME THING AND HOPE THAT THEY CONTINUE!!!

  • Sarah

    Unitarian Universalist pride, yo! ^_^ Granted, UU's aren't Christian even though we call ourselves a church (I don't know why). But this is great. I've never heard of it. It's ridiculous to push religious values and misinformation on children and an insult to young adults. =P

  • dontnameme

    I go to Catholic School, so every year i get fed that propaganda.

  • lily

    I took Our Whole Lives (OWL) in 7th grade, and I loved every second! it's really comprehensive and I learned a ton. we talked about EVERYTHING- different sexualities, anatomy, contraception, values- but most importantly, it made me comfortable with the idea of sex and with my own body.

  • adanarama

    I'd never heard of this and am not particularly religious, but I am delighted to hear that there are churches that accept and understand the power and influence of sexuality and do their best to be honest about it.

  • kate

    I go to a United Church of Christ Church as part of confirmation we had an optional sexuality retreat, more like day retreat but it was amazing. I got the best advice ever, they gave us unbiased information, we practiced put condoms on little penis dummies, and they talked a lot about respecting ourselves and communication. I was never told anything like "wait 'til your married to have sex", I was told things like "wait until you are ready and your partner is ready". We also had a lady from planned parenthood come to youth group one time which was also great. I except great things out of this new program.

  • Elinor

    Wow that's cool. Pagans view sex as a sacred act, a gift from the gods to be enjoyed. We have an emphasis on personal responsability, but beyond that we must make our own choices as to whether something is right or wrong.
    So as you said, not all religious groups are sex-negative. But it's really nice to see a christian group be so good, and I hope to see more of it.