For a sex education book, Sex, Love & Romance has surprisingly little to say about sex, and what it does say is largely negative. Most of the book contains warnings against sexual promiscuity and the evil stemming from sexual sin. While these are important concerns, there is very little about the beauty of sex in the context of marriage.
Also, students are not equipped to really guard against the sin they are constantly warned about since there is no discussion of the act itself, masturbation, or how to rightly conduct a premarital romantic relationship. The author takes for granted they will know what not to do, although he never gives a real indication of what that might be. Not that high school kids need graphic accounts of sexual conduct and misconduct, but they will doubtless be curious and it seems like a better idea to just give them a frank presentation rather than hedging and keeping the forbidden activity in complete darkness.
Some particular problems we have with the text are itemized below:
- Pages viii-xi: In the preface, the author says the best, and really the only sex education a child needs is in the Bible. He encourages parents and teachers to let kids read the Bible with a dictionary handy to look up terms they don't understand. This presents two problems. First, this completely takes responsibility from the shoulders of the parent and places it squarely on the shoulders of the child to educate themselves on the nature of human sexuality. And second, there is really no recourse for patching holes or correcting mistakes in such self-education since it is apparently to be a private and not a cooperative effort.
- Page 11-12: In this section the author makes an interesting suggestion—that part of a young person's sex education might include observing the mating practices of animals. He says, "Soon after God made man and woman, He put them in the garden with the instruction to ‘be fruitful and multiply.' If Adam and Eve had any doubt at all about how reproduction was to come to pass, remember they already had the animals (for examples) bringing forth [sic]. They needed no other sex education!" To compare relational, rational humans to instinctive beasts is both weird and offensive. Not only that, but if Adam and Eve tried to mate the same way many animals do they would have encountered serious problems.
- Page 17: The author presents a romanticized and sentimental portrait of Isaac's wife Rebekah. His conclusions are based on tenuous arguments at best: "Rebekah was also spiritually minded, for when she saw that the man worshiped the Lord and that he was in the will of the Lord, she ‘ran and told them of her mother's house these things.'" The passage he quotes is Genesis 24:28, and he doesn't change the words or anything like that, but in the context of the whole passage it can be understood that Rebekah simply recounted to her housemates the whole story of her meeting with Abraham's servant. Furthermore, she wasn't all that pious all the time since she was later willing to use deception to insure Jacob's blessing.
- Page 22: The author's literal response to the question "Where do babies come from?" is "God." While this might work in Sunday school, such a cop-out in a high school sex education course is embarrassing and no more than equivocation.
- Pages 41-44: "When Moses brought the Ten Commandments down from the Mount, he found the people of Israel shouting and making a great noise. There was music, but to the man of God, it did not sound like good music (Exod. 32:18, 19). Coming into the camp, Moses saw everyone dancing around an idolatrous golden calf they had made. This dancing around the golden calf was a symbol of their giving themselves to another god other than the true God. The music was wild and noisy, and as they danced—they were naked!" First of all, does he really mean that the golden calf itself was idolatrous? Grammatical issues aside, however, this is a rather disturbing passage. The author adds details to the story, such as the fact that "they were naked!"—a claim unfounded on the Scriptural account. Later, the author makes this claim: "Intoxication and dancing usually go hand in hand." And again: "Dancing is worldly; it is sensual, suggestive, and arouses beastly appetites. It is almost always associated with drinking (often drugs) and a profane and corrupt atmosphere where the music is wild and Satanic." (Does the author mean people drink drugs?) Once more: "It is impossible to separate sex and the dance; to a greater or lesser degree they go together." Maybe he hasn't been to a waltz or good old fashioned square dance, or maybe his idea of sexuality and Satanic music is just much broader than ours.
- Page 52: "It hurts your Christian testimony to have photos of movie or rock stars on your walls." Does the author mean to imply that such photos are always of a sexual nature? And if not, then isn't his statement just a matter of opinion?
- Pages 59-60: Here the author recounts the story of Sisera and Deborah. He claims Sisera was a playboy with nothing more than women on his mind. He says this is why he went in to Jael's tent, when in fact the Biblical account (Judges 4:17) makes it clear the reason he went to her was because his king had a truce with Jael's husband. Later, the author says he was known as a ladies' man: "'The mother of Sisera looked out a window, and cried. . .why is his chariot so long in coming? why tarry the wheels of his chariot?' (Judg. 5:28). Her damsels replied in essence, ‘You know how he is. They have made a speedy conquest. Then they take the spoil and divide the prey. They will come home wearing beautiful colors of needlework, you know. And of course, the girls! Sisera will have a ‘damsel or two'' (v. 30). They knew Sisera was a playboy who was loose with the opposite sex." In ancient culture, conquering soldiers took women from the conquered, whether for sport or slaves or wives. All cultures did this. And in the Biblical account, it doesn't single out Sisera, it says all the men will take a damsel or two. Furthermore, the section the author uses to prove his point is found in Judges 5, and is a song about the proceedings sung by Deborah, who would have had no knowledge of what went on back in Sisera's hometown—it was mere poetic license to illustrate his defeat. Such manipulation and misrepresentation of Biblical passages is egregious and stupid.
- Page 70: "People who think they can outsmart God and get by with drinking beer, wine, or whiskey may eventually have liver or brain damage." Not all Christians agree that it is sinful to drink alcoholic beverages, and those who don't may want to be aware of this negative attitude.
- Page 121-122: "What about sex on TV? People must acquire the tobacco habit or cultivate a taste for beer or wine, for these habits do not come naturally. Even violence is not in the makeup of most of us by nature. Yet sex, on the other hand, is a God-given desire and quite naturally most people are awakened in their sexual interests by what they see." Why is sexual sin singled out? Different types of sin appeal more strongly depending on one's personality and natural proclivities. Was Cain not given to a violent disposition, and if he was, is the fact that his murder of Abel was the second sin recorded in the Bible of no importance? This can make those with a violent nature feel especially bad about themselves, but it can also make everyone feel automatically guilty of sexual sin whether they are or not. This attitude seems profoundly unwarranted and theologically wrong. Violence is a part of the nature of fallen man.
- Page 124-126: This chapter basically equates sexual license with alcohol consumption. Such a stance is just plain silly.
- Page 129: "Children, when they are young, automatically believe in God until some infidel teacher, reprobate parent or neighbor begins to put doubts in their young minds." This assumes a lot, and is furthermore entirely indefensible from a Scriptural perspective. The Bible teaches that all people are born with a sin nature that is opposed to God and holiness (Romans 5:12).
- Page 180: "Nowhere in the Bible does God say that the priest should never marry; it was the ‘seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils' that gave such a command that the priest was forbidden to marry (1 Tim. 4:1-3). It is an unnatural and, for many, an unholy command. This is one reason why so many priests have been charged with homosexual vice, even to the seducing of young boys under their charge." There is a lot wrong with this statement, including the implication that married men never engage in homosexuality or pedophilia. Also, no real Scriptural evidence that priestly celibacy is a demonic doctrine is provided, it is simply stated.
For the most part our concerns with this text are similar to those we have with the other A Beka Bible materials for high school students. The author consistently states conjecture or opinion as fact and rarely supports it with relevant (or any) Scripture references. As mentioned above, the attitude is largely negative—exhortations to refrain from sexual sin and the constant implication that sexual sin is the worst kind—while the beauty of God-given sex within marriage is mostly overlooked.
There are other, more positive sex education texts available. The New Learning About Sex Series includes books geared to kids ages three to high school, and is frank without being gratuitous. Similarly, the God's Design for Sex Series by Stanton and Brenna Jones is tactful yet thorough, though it doesn't cover high school. If you want your kids to have a balanced, Biblical and thorough understanding of sex these series are a much better bet than Sex, Love & Romance.
Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he's a husband and father who loves church, good food, and weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here
Did you find this review helpful?