Teaching children God's perfect design for marriage

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Relationship and sex education in schools has been a topic of concern for parents in recent years. Criticism has been aimed particularly at the delivery of the subject and children's exposure to inappropriate content.

Christian charity Lovewise seeks to aid parents, youth groups and schools by providing resources on marriage, sex and relationships from a Christian perspective.

Julie Maxwell, Deputy Director of Lovewise, opened the organisation's recent conference recalling her disbelief at what her children, now in their 20s, were taught at school: "I was shocked by the graphic nature of the material. Even more disturbing was the lack of teaching on marriage."

She continued: "The overarching message of what they were being taught was sex was something that grown-ups do when they love each other and so long as everyone was consenting, that's all fine."

Maxwell said she had attempted to challenge what was being taught but to no avail, and decided to take her children out of sex education lessons. Other children, she said, were also taken out.

"I started looking for alternatives at which point I found Lovewise," she said.

The right to withdraw children from sex education currently remains in place in primary and secondary schools in England while relationship education is mandatory.

Professor Stuart Burgess, of the University of Bristol, led a talk on following God's perfect design for marriage in which he said it was "incredibly well designed".

"What happens before marriage has huge consequences and that is the focus of Lovewise," he said.

"Abstinence before marriage is far safer, and abstinence is far more likely to lead to romantic fulfilment."

He continued: "I have heard of Christians saying it is too difficult to abstain and there is no point in trying. It is a ridiculous objection because all of God's commands are really difficult. It is hard not to steal, it is hard to keep the Lord's day but it does not mean we just give up."

He added, "There are more warnings on sexual immorality than there are on any other topic in the Bible."

Professor Burgess went on to share that the Bible outlines "promises to support marriage", stating "he who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favour from the Lord" and that marriage is "healthy for society".

He continued: "If we go back 100 years people would only court if they were interested in marriage, but today people court for fun. The purpose of courtship was to investigate marriage.

"Even in the Church today we are starting to see young people having relationships for fun not because they are necessarily interested in marriage."

He added, "I very much think that Lovewise has a vital ministry not just to Christians in the church but also to society."