By Dr. Josh Mulvihill
I want to introduce you to the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS). More than likely, you have never heard of this organization, but if you have a child in the public school system, you are being impacted by its curriculum. For over a decade, SIECUS has published Guidelines for Comprehensive Sexuality Education: Kindergarten–12th Grade to help educators teach a robust sex education curriculum. SIECUS claims, “Guidelines [for Comprehensive Sexuality Education] have become one of the most influential publications in the field and a trusted resource for educators, curriculum developers, and school administrators.” SIECUS states, “It is our hope ... to ensure that all young people receive the comprehensive education about sexuality they need to become sexually healthy adults.”
The words “sexually healthy adults” should catch your attention. What is a sexually healthy adult? According to whose standards? And on what authority? You’ll soon see that a sexually healthy adult defined by SIECUS looks very different from the sexually healthy adult who follows God’s teaching in the Bible. SIECUS encourages children to seek pleasure, explore desire, reject external ethics, and decide for themselves what is right.
The following are short excerpts taken from over 100 pages of sex-education material and are examples of concepts that children are taught in public schools across the country.1 Take a moment to explore what children are being exposed to and at what age. It is critical that you know the messages being communicated so that you can counter those messages with the life-giving truth of God’s Word.
For children ages five to eight (kindergarten to second grade):
Some people are homosexual, which means they can be attracted to and fall in love with someone of the same gender. (p. 29)
Love means having deep and warm feelings about oneself and others. (p. 36)
Many people live in lifetime committed relationships, even though they may not be legally married. (p. 39)
People who are married or committed to each other may get divorced or break up if they decide they do not want to be together anymore. (p. 39)
Touching and rubbing one’s own genitals to feel good is called masturbation. (p. 51)
Some boys and girls masturbate, and others do not. (p. 52)
Some people may expect or demand that boys and girls behave in certain ways, but this is beginning to change. (p. 72)
For children ages nine to twelve (third to sixth grade):
Sexual orientation is just one part of who a person is. (p. 29)
People of all sexual orientations can have relationships that are equally fulfilling. (p. 29)
Gender identity refers to a person’s internal sense of being male, female, or a combination of these. (p. 31)
Children may have a mother, a mother and a father, two mothers, two fathers, or any other combination of adults who love and care for them. (p. 34)
Sexual feelings, fantasies, and desires are natural. (p. 51)
Many boys and girls begin to masturbate for sexual pleasure during puberty. (p. 52)
The belief that all people of the same gender should behave the same way is called a stereotype. (p. 72)
For children ages twelve to fifteen (seventh to eighth grade):
Many scientific theories have concluded that sexual orientation cannot be changed by therapy or medicine. (p. 30)
There are organizations that offer support services, hotlines, and resources for young people who want to talk about sexual orientation. (p. 30)
Some Internet sites offer gay, lesbian, bisexual, and heterosexual individuals the opportunity to join a community and find friendship and support. (p. 30)
The origin of people’s gender identity is not known. (p. 31)
Some transgender individuals may take hormones or have surgery to alter their bodies to better match their gender identity. (p. 31)
Marriage is a legal contract between two people and the state. (p. 39)
Two people who live together without being married can have the same commitment and responsibility toward one another as married people. (p. 39)
Some agencies specialize in working with young people and provide services for teenagers that do not require parental permission, are confidential, and cost little to no money. (p. 49)
There are many ways to give and receive sexual pleasure without having intercourse. (p. 54)
In most states, young people can get prescriptions for contraception without their parents’ permission. (p. 59)
Individuals should be allowed to make their own choices about appropriate roles for themselves as men and women. (p. 72)
For children ages fifteen to eighteen (ninth to twelfth grade):
Sexual orientation is determined by a combination of a person’s attractions, fantasies, and sexual behaviors. (p. 30)
A person may accept his/her family’s values and not always agree with all of them. (p. 43)
Communication about sexual feelings, desires, and boundaries can improve sexual relationships. (p. 46)
Many teenagers have had sexual intercourse, and many have not. (p. 54)
Some people use erotic photographs, movies, art, literature, or the Internet to enhance their sexual fantasies when alone or with a partner. (p. 56)
Emergency contraception is a high dose of birth control pills that when taken shortly after vaginal intercourse can prevent pregnancy. (p. 60)
Gender role stereotypes are harmful to both men and women. (p. 73)
These guidelines should trouble Christians at every age level. First, they contradict the Bible and often teach the opposite of what God instructs in His Word. Children are being taught an erroneous definition of marriage, a faulty understanding of who may marry whom, and an unbiblical view on the roles of men and women in marriage. Children are encouraged to explore sexual desires at very young ages and given damaging guidance about gender identity, abortion, homosexuality, cohabitation, and divorce.
Second, these guidelines encourage certain behaviors and plant ideas in children’s minds while suggesting certain behaviors are normal and good. The statements are subtle, but many of them equate to an immoral how-to manual. They imply that young people can and should use porn, touch themselves for pleasure, take emergency contraception, and contact organizations to talk about homosexuality without their parents’ knowledge. These are presented as “options” or “ideas,” but they are more than that. Why would you give children options you don’t want them to act on?
Children are met with unbiblical views of sex and marriage in public school classrooms and curricula. A high percentage of content comes from literature in the media center or school library and as extracurricular books read aloud in the classroom. As a result, many unbiblical messages go undetected by parents and slowly erode a child’s faith in Christ and belief in the Bible. Although many examples could be chosen, I will introduce you to two books that embody the essence of unbiblical teaching that confronts children today.
King and King, a picture book by Linda de Haan and Stern Nijland, is read in many public school classrooms around the country.2 Written for children as young as kindergarten, it follows a familiar storyline—that of a queen finding her king—except with a twist: two men fall in love and get married. The pictures in the book are descriptive and present the two men as happy and their marriage as normal. There are pictures of the men holding hands, participating in a wedding ceremony, and kissing. No overt arguments are made; a story is simply told. It is a powerful way to teach young children an unbiblical view of marriage.
Another potent picture book, My Princess Boy, tells the story of a young boy who wants to wear a dress to school but fears being made fun of by his classmates.3 Cheryl Kilodavis, the boy’s mother, wrote the book to convince young children to accept and not question people who want to dress and act like those of the opposite gender. Children are encouraged to view crossdressing, transgender individuals as no different from others, suggesting that gender confusion is normal. This storybook seeks to normalize transgenderism and can lead to gender confusion by suggesting that it is acceptable to reject our God-given gender.
By introducing you to these two books, I want to show you firsthand how our children are being taught an unbiblical view of marriage and sex. Ideas are introduced when children are young, then reinforced through different avenues as children age. Parents are often unaware this is happening. From the children’s point of view, they are being read a picture book just like mom or dad would read before bedtime. It seems harmless. But subtle, dangerous, unbiblical worldviews are being taught, and parents must know about them and be proactive.
How Should You Respond? Parents must understand that public school literature is increasingly sex-saturated and that many educators operate with a missionary zeal to influence the beliefs of children. Children are receiving a robust secular sex education and being taught society’s views about marriage. As a result, many children are absorbing a secular, self-indulgent, anti-biblical worldview. At best, many young people are confused about what is good, right, true, and noble related to marriage and sex. At worst, they are being set on a trajectory away from Christ.
Much is at stake. These are life-altering, eternity-impacting, major worldview issues. The health of your child’s soul, future marriage, walk with Jesus, and trajectory in life in part depend on what he or she believes and how he or she behaves when it comes to sex and marriage. Here are six things you can do:
Do not allow your child to check out unvetted books from the school library.
Request prenotification for every book that is read in your child’s classroom.
Read your child’s curriculum and literature and discuss unbiblical teachings about marriage and sex.
Opt your child out of classroom-based sex-education teaching.
Consider Christian education. To learn more about a biblical philosophy of education, I highly recommend Glen Shultz’s book Kingdom Education.
Teach your child what the Bible says about marriage and sex. I wrote Preparing Children for Marriage to equip you for this task.
Parents have the critical job of articulating and embodying a biblical vision of marriage and sex to their children. Unless our children are well grounded in Scripture, they will look more like the culture than Christ. Our children need the soul-gripping, life-shaping words of Scripture to ground them, to guide them, and to guard them.
Take a moment and think about your child. When your child encounters a message about sex or marriage, like the topics from SIECUS, is your child able to test what is said against the Bible? Would your child be swayed to believe and act on what is taught, or would he or she be able to spot the error and stand firm in his or her faith?
Dr. Josh Mulvihill is the Executive Director of Church and Family Ministry at Renewanation. He served as a pastor for nearly 20 years and helped launch The Legacy Coalition, a ministry that equips grandparents to pass faith on to future generations. He holds a Ph.D. from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is the author of Biblical Grandparenting and Preparing Children for Marriage. Josh is married to Jen, and they have five children. Connect with Josh on Twitter at @DrJoshMulvihill.
ENDNOTES 1. Guidelines for Comprehensive Sexuality Education: Kindergarten–12th Grade, 3rd Edition (Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States, 2004), https://siecus.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/Guidelines-CSE.pdf. 2. Linda de Haan and Stern Nijland, King and King (Tricycle Press, 2003). 3. Cheryl Kilodavis, My Princess Boy (Aladdin, 2010).