When I was in sixth grade, while we were standing in line at the drug store, waiting for a prescription to be filled, my dad nervously pulled me aside and pointed at a display rack of little square boxes. Standing there in his green surplus-store parka and Elmer Fudd-style hat with ear flaps, he quietly instructed, in an avuncular whisper, "Son, these are prophylactic devices, used to prevent conception during sexual intercourse. Do you understand?"
"Yeah, Dad," I said matter-of-factly, "They're condoms."
Sometimes parents are uncomfortable talking to their children about sex. For the last couple years, Amazing Grace has tried to be a place for our middle schoolers to learn about sexuality in a frank and honest, yet loving and Christian, atmosphere. A wonderful woman in the congregation with a social work background and a few decades experience working with young people in all sorts of settings begins a ten-week series with our confirmation youth this Sunday. She uses Big Decisions, an abstinence-plus curriculum that many Texas school districts use, as well as Free in Christ to Care for the Neighbor: Lutheran Youth Talk about Human Sexuality, an ELCA resource that invites youth into having conversations about issues of sexuality.
When I first interviewed at Amazing Grace, this teacher was worried that I would try to squelch this class. On the contrary, I think that this is a very good thing. I am thankful that we have a skilled and loving teacher who is willing to equip our youth to live in our diverse and often difficult world, always reminding them that they are beloved Children of God.
A few years ago at a workshop for religious and medical professionals on HIV/AIDS, I heard Rev. Jeremiah Wright say that the reason church folk are so uncomfortable talking about homosexuality is that they are uncomfortable talking about sexuality of any sort. He is absolutely right. Let's start talking.