Christians who once fondly admired Surgeon General Everrett Koop are upset about his anti-AIDS sex education policy (CT, Apr. 3, p. 34). Their primary concern is legitimate: Does teaching sex in public schools attach inappropriate values to otherwise technical information?

In measuring the prospects of avoiding non-Christian values in public school sex education, we feel a bit like Blaise Pascal as he remarked during his struggle to affirm the existence of God: “Seeing too much to deny and too little to assure me, I am in a pitiful state.” We are assured by the fact that historically, public schools have augmented Christian values such as honesty, fair play, hard work, and commitment. Perhaps the same could even be true of the schools’ treatment of sexual values as well.

Yet evidence suggests public school support of Christian values has slipped drastically in recent decades. The track record on sex education is even more dismal. From our point of view, sex education has not been successfully taught in public schools.

So we are left with the question of how to teach children about sex—a question exacerbated by the alarming truth about AIDS.

The surgeon general’s recommendations regarding sex education are good ones. Christian values are not compromised, and may even be promoted. But much additional work must be done by Christians to clinch the positive identification of Christian values to sex education.

First, those values must be taught even more forcefully in our homes. If the school’s specialization should be technical information, it is up to Christian parents to attach the proper values. The surgeon general’s call may not be the ideal solution. But if, as in this case, the law is powerless to insert Christian values into the sexed curriculum, then we must support the next best thing: parents teaching their children about God’s gift of sexuality.

Second, the church must play an equally active role. But the focus of our church sex-education programs should be aimed not so much at the children of our churches, but at the adults. After all, we don’t need to turn our Sunday schools into factions competing with sex-education classes at school. Nor should the church be required to do what the parents have neglected to do (although the church can certainly support and augment the parental role). Instead, the church should teach parents how to talk with their children about sex; how to create a comfortable atmosphere in the home that promotes good learning.

As schools try to combat AIDS by teaching children about sex, the value-laden voice of Christian families and churches must be raised. Contrary to his critics, such a voice will not be disharmonious with Surgeon General Koop’s programs. But it is the only thing that can elevate the lessons of the perfunctory classroom lecture to the realm of love and grace—the arena where sex blooms and flowers.

By Terry Muck.

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