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the facts of life & the culture of death

By Diogenes (articles ) | Feb 26, 2008

"Papa loved Mama, so they got married and had babies." Thus does my earnest four-year-old summarize the mysteries of marital love. For scientific purposes that statement is terribly incomplete. For philosophical purposes, it hits the bull's eye.

With those words Phil Lawler began a Wall Street Journal op-ed in March of 1996. His child's perspective stands in instructive contrast to an article in today's New York Times titled, "Talking With Children About Sex and AIDS: At What Age to Start?" The answer suggested in the lede is "How about, oh, 4?" The reporter tells us this is the subject of a new educational video: "I saw it last month," he writes, "at a Gay Men's Health Crisis screening for AIDS counselors." -- i.e., in an environment where dispassionate scientific objectivity is of prime importance and politics never contaminates the search for truth. Get this:

In [the video], two incredibly sweet and precocious sisters -- Vineeta and Sevilla Hennessey, ages 6 and 4 -- accompany their parents, the filmmakers, to the 2006 International AIDS Conference in Toronto. They interview top AIDS experts, gay activists, condom distributors, a sex toy saleswoman, a cross-dresser playing Queen Elizabeth II and an Indian transgender hijra in a sari.

The startling aspect is that, as one childish question leads to the next, they ask things like: "How does AIDS get into your body?" and "How come they want to have sex with each other?"

Take a step back to consider what's going on here. When the "facts of life" (the euphemism is more than a euphemism) are communicated to a child, it's not simply an exchange of information that takes place. The child learns some biology, true, but he's also taught how to respond to the mystery emotionally, morally, and spiritually by his teacher's attitude to it. I call it a mystery because the child's grasp of the biological facts will anticipate his experience of the libido for which those facts are pertinent. When the child's teacher is his own parent, and that parent has a positive experience of love, marriage, and family, the child is going to learn that sex is a good thing -- at once momentous, precious, interlocked with love, potentially comic, and oriented toward new healthy human life. Even the awkward adolescent years, in which the child hears about some ways in which sexual desire can go wrong, will not usually change the positive and pleasurable anticipation of sexual love he learned in the bosom of his family.

Now flip back to the New York Times and Gay Men's Health Crisis push for the advancement of sex-ed:

At one point, Vineeta draws for the camera a picture of two people in bed. "These are condoms," she explains of the bowl beside them, "that you put in the boy's penis, so they don't get AIDS with a woman or with a man. A man can do it with a man if you like it."

So what associations is this child going to attach to human sexuality when she turns eleven, twelve, thirteen, and beyond? She has come to learn "the facts of life" in a context of disease, death, anarchic carnal appetite, latex appliances, and an all-embracing moral nihilism. Her understanding of AIDS is naturally juvenile now, but we can expect her instruction to be supplemented with the details of chlamydia, herpes, gonorrhea, HPV, syphilis, along with non-judgmental coaching in the sexual antics by which these infections are transmitted. Pregnancy, abortion, and sterilization (both temporary and final) will be introduced to her in one and the same lesson, as aspects of a particularly unpleasant problem, under the common rubric of risk-avoidance. What are the chances, by the time this young woman is of marriageable age, that the words sex, love, babies, joy will be elements of a single privileged personal experience?

If the question was ever in doubt, it should be no longer: the great majority of sex-ed enthusiasts and AIDS educators are sexual misfits themselves, and their fervid interest in getting into the classroom with children -- other people's children -- stems not from a desire to protect those children from harm but from the need to vindicate their own sexual choices. Normal persons have an innate sense of the dignity of human sexuality that makes them reticent to broach the subject with children, and especially with the children of strangers. Normal persons believe human sexuality is governed by moral norms, even if they differ on where the lines are drawn. But the folks coaching little Vineeta in the use of condoms are using her health as a pretext. They know perfectly well they're more likely give to her nightmares than to protect her from an unanticipated danger. They see her six-year-old's innocence, as they see all innocence, as a rebuke to their depravity. Hating that innocence, which must pain them whenever they encounter it, they want to extinguish it as soon and as thoroughly as possible. That's why they want into the first grade classroom.

C.S. Lewis once remarked, "Normal sexuality, far from being a given, is achieved by a long and delicate process of suggestion and adjustment which proves too difficult for some individuals and, at times, for whole societies." In our society, today, there are many who want to increase rather than diminish the difficulties, with a view to eliminating normal sexuality as a recognizable good. They seek to bring this about primarily by shifting the educational prerogative away from parents into the hands of the state -- and thus, more and more, into their own hands. Call this a battle in a culture war, however, and you'll find yourself accused of spreading alarm and despondency.

Now where was that video screened again?

photo credit: New York Times

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Show 8 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: - Feb. 27, 2008 9:46 AM ET USA

    Could we not set up a legally binding covenant/contract agreement for Catholics that unambiguously names and defines the nature of our Sacrament? Such would be parallel to but ignore the statutes of the State, much like a pre-marital agreement or the provisions of a private contract. Seems to me, Catholic Marriage today is so ambiguous about its purpose and obligations that the first and best witnesses against the bond in an annulment proceeding could easily be the priest and witnesses to it.

  • Posted by: - Feb. 26, 2008 9:34 PM ET USA

    I hope none of you readers subscribe to the New York Times. My wife and I don't!

  • Posted by: - Feb. 26, 2008 8:24 PM ET USA

    "They see her six-year-old's innocence, as they see all innocence, as a rebuke to their depravity. Hating that innocence, which must pain them whenever they encounter it, they want to extinguish it as soon and as thoroughly as possible." These may be the saddest lines I have ever read.

  • Posted by: - Feb. 26, 2008 12:58 PM ET USA

    This (streaming) video is available to watch online at http://www.eztakes.com/store/streaming/watch.jsp?pid=0530001. Send the kids out of the room before you tune in.

  • Posted by: - Feb. 26, 2008 12:08 PM ET USA

    Wow, again. I've been waiting for someone to put "And Tango Makes Three" in a Big Picture context. I cannot stop thinking about what the country will be like when all the children have had their innocence systematically stripped from them at age 4, rather than at age 11. All you really have to do is look at what we have right now and multiply it. I'm predicting school shootings in kindergarten. By the kindergarteners.

  • Posted by: - Feb. 26, 2008 10:37 AM ET USA

    Child abuse.

  • Posted by: - Feb. 26, 2008 8:43 AM ET USA

    With this good news, am I to rest assured that those agencies that allow or promote homosexual couples to adopt will raise the children in a safe and nurturing environment?

  • Posted by: - Feb. 26, 2008 8:31 AM ET USA

    Brilliant Di! That paragraph about "all-embracing moral nihilism" completely captures the pandemic of social & sexual nihilism that our society and in particularly our youth has willingly embraced or has been told to embrace if you don't want to be ostracized. A chief cause of this pandemic is "peer" orientation which places a spiritually lethal reliance on a child learning their values & "attaching" to his peers vice traditional role models like parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles.

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