The Age of Enlightenment
I was in fourth grade when I first heard about sex. For all I know, it may not have existed before that point in history (October 16, 1969, a Wednesday, I believe). In a rather memorable moment, a neighbor boy whom we shall call Bobby (because that is his name), told me all about it. As I recall, Bobby had the whole thing embarrassingly backwards, and I trust that he has been informed of this, particularly now that he has his own counseling ministry.
Thinking back, I suppose I should have known that this other dimension existed, for there were clues all along the way. Earlier that same year, for instance, Jennifer Lynn Watkins stood before our class, her long black hair cascading toward the floor like frost-bitten willow branches. “My aunt won’t be having any more kids,” she informed us. “Her tubes are tired.”
Mr. Kowalski almost injured himself he was laughing so hard. But the rest of us didn’t get the joke. Except for Cheryl Janz. She pretended to know everything.
When I was 12, my mother attempted to broaden my horizons by interrupting a perfectly good baseball game for a straightforward discussion of the birds, the bees, and other assorted insects. Although some of the details are a little sketchy now, I do remember sitting upon our plaid couch, baseball mitt in hand, thoroughly amazed at Mom’s frankness. In less than 20 minutes, my normally reserved mother told me:
- Where I came from.
- How I got there.
- That it was all a part of God’s marvelous plan, carrying with it rules that, when followed, would lead to a lifetime of freedom and fulfillment.
- To, for goodness’ sake, stop picking my nose.
Let me assure you: coming from a Presbyterian, the first three points were well worth listening to.
“Philip,” she said in conclusion, “sex is a beautiful gift that God has set aside for husbands and wives. Don’t you ever forget that.”
I sat, wide-eyed, staring at the baseball glove. I was sure I wouldn’t forget it.
“Do you have any questions?”
I did have a question. In fact, for about 20 minutes I had been overcome with a desire to ask something of great importance. Finally I voiced it: “Um…may I go play baseball now?”
Moments later I was heading back to the diamond, smacking my glove and thinking: There must be a better way to reproduce. If ever I have children, I’m sure I shall have found it.
I called Mom today to remind her of The Talk. Like Mr. Kowalksi, she laughed until it wasn’t so funny anymore. Then she reminded me that they didn’t have 100 zillion child-rearing books available to tell them how to pass on all the delicate details. And she added, “You live in a very different world, Son. We pray for your children every day.”
It’s a different world alright. And sometimes it’s a scary one. Wherever our kids turn–school, television, the video or convenience store–they are inundated with flashy signs pointing them in the wrong direction. Christian parents can no longer afford to remain silent. Nor can we limit sex education to The Talk.
At our house, opportunities to discuss the topic arrive unexpectedly. Just yesterday Jeffrey and I were out in the yard when two flies came by, cruising at rather low altitude and in startlingly close formation. “Daddy,” said Jeff, “They’re getting married.” We laughed together and had a brief chat. It was nothing new. From the time he was four or five, we’ve had many such impromptu conversations.
Of course, this whole thing can be carried too far:
SON: “Dad, would you pass the sunflower seeds, please?”
DAD: “You know, Billy, you were once a seed.”
SON: “Well then, please pass the chips.”
It’s important for all of us to remember that the disbursement of information is a small part of education. You see, you can have all the knowledge in the world, but without wisdom it can be dangerous.