If we avoid talk of sex with our children, should we do the same with religion? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
Earlier this week, I blogged about the problem of stealing our childhood from our kids. I was asked by a commenter if that would include religion since we don’t want to introduce kids to the world of sex early. Let them be kids before they get involved in a religious debate they don’t understand. Right?
I figured this would come up. Now to be sure, when I say don’t introduce kids to sex, I mean the actual graphic real sex. At the same time, sex is in a sense unavoidable. Girls should be raised to be girls and boys should be raised to be boys. Girls and boys should both be taught basics on how their bodies work and when they have questions and “explore” we should be willing to answer. I have heard it recommended that we don’t come up with nicknames for body parts. Call them what they are.
As for religion, I am not saying we need to get children involved in debates on the age of the Earth or about the rapture or if they should speak in tongues. At the same time, this should be age appropriate. You don’t need to show a teenager a porn video to explain sex to them, but you also aren’t going to talk to them the way you would talk to a five year-old.
Religion is often a family affair so parents will likely bring their children to church and thus to Sunday School. The kids should be allowed to ask questions about any subject matter brought up in class. My Dad and I both share a love of the Fox Trot comic strip and writing this brought to mind this.
Personally, if I was in Jason’s Sunday School class, I would be glad to see that he was thinking this way and not giving any look. This would be a student trying to grasp the idea. Now as someone who is not a Star Wars fan really, I can’t tell how accurate the description is, but if a student is asking, we should celebrate that.
And just as we teach a student in elementary school elementary math and we increase it as the kid grows older, so we should do with religion. When they start entering the teenage area, we need more than just Bible drills. We need them to be having an informed worldview about why they believe what they believe.
Also, this same route would go with politics. Let’s face it. When six year-olds write letters to the president and include statements about the economy and foreign policy, those are the overwhelming majority of the time coming from the parents and not the children. We can raise children with our ideas and we inevitably will, but we should not ban them from asking any question that they want.
As children grow older with the topic of sex and especially getting into puberty, we definitely need to be answering more questions and explaining more material. Girls need to learn what it means to be a woman and boys need to learn what it means to be a man. However, that is for that case.
When children are young and in Elementary school, we don’t need to be rushing them to be adults. We are preparing them for that, but they are also still kids and they only get to be kids once. Sex is often considered an adult topic for a reason. We can refer to a child’s innocence being taken from them.
There is no hard and fast rule, but do things in proper moderation and in proportion to the child’s skills. Many children should be taught math on their age level. For me, my parents knew I was advanced in math early on and I was treated accordingly. If a child seems to be a political prodigy or a religious one, then treat that properly too. However, sex is in the issue of morality and thus makes it different. Also, it’s done with other people and we don’t want small children engaging yet.
But please, don’t use children as pawns in political and religious debates. Let them be kids. They have plenty of years in adulthood to argue with the rest of us on Facebook. Let them enjoy being kids for now.
(And I affirm the virgin birth)