DISCUSS: Objections to Catechizing Children about Adultery

DISCUSS: Objections to Catechizing Children about Adultery October 6, 2023

In a Lutheran school, certainly in a Lutheran classical school, children are taught the catechism, which is built around the key texts of the Ten Commandments, the Apostle’s Creed, and the Lord’s Prayer.

These are accompanied with explanations and questions geared to help children understand, in the words of the great refrain of Luther’s Small Catechism, “What does this mean?”  Thus, we have the Sixth Commandment (by Augustine’s, the Catholic, and the Lutheran numbering):

You shall not commit adultery.

What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we lead a sexually pure and decent life in what we say and do, and husband and wife love and honor each other.

Important to teach, is it not?  Especially in this day and age.  But I have heard from two separate schools that they have parents objecting to this wording.  They have problems with their young children hearing and having to memorize the word “sexually.”

One school has actually printed up a bowdlerized catechism that changes the wording to “that we lead a physically pure and decent life.”

I understand that parents want to shelter their young children from the preoccupation with sex that goes on in public schools, from explicit sex education classes to literature classes that teach pornographic young adult novels.  This is, in fact, why they send their kids to a Christian school.  But is the word  “sex” not to be uttered, even in a context of teaching Christian sexual morality?  How can Christian sexual morality be taught without saying “sexual”?

I realize that teaching a second grader the Commandment and its meaning invites the question, “what is sexually?” the answer to which might go beyond what is age-appropriate.

But couldn’t this be explained in a way that is age-appropriate?  And what would that explanation be?  (Maybe something along the lines of God made two sexes, boys and girls [taking the opportunity to teach the gender binary] and when they get married, they stay married [taking the opportunity to reassure a primal worry of children today that their parents will leave them.]  Adultery is when people who are married leave each other to chase after someone else.)

I would add that the word “sex” refers to the male/female distinction.  Using that word for “the procreative act” is already a euphemism.

Actually, the older translation might be better all around:  “We should fear and love God that we may lead a chaste and decent life in words and deeds, and each love and honor his spouse.”  But what it means to be “chaste” might also lead to parentally-unwanted sex education.

Do you have any suggestions for parents, teachers, administrators, and pastors for how they should deal with this?

"“The MAGA faction” controls the GOP in virtually every dimension. Dissent from Trump, including pointing ..."

The Rich Are Different from You ..."
"What's an education for if we don't expect well educated people to think differently than ..."

The Rich Are Different from You ..."
"The quote from Fitzgerald is clearly about people who inherited wealth. That's a different group ..."

The Rich Are Different from You ..."
"It's where all the New Yorker snow birds go to retire. And the culture farther ..."

The Rich Are Different from You ..."

Browse Our Archives