Our theme for the month of June is “Sex and the Church.”
Anyone forming an opinion about sexual education should be forced to spend a year teaching ninth grade.
Throughout college, I adhered to a hybrid of second and third wave feminisms. I rarely shaved my body hair, combating SOCIETAL OPPRESSION by spending several years resembling a teen wolf. I intended to someday save the world from priggish silence on the subject of Christian sexuality. MY YOUTH LEADERS HAVE WOUNDED ME FOREVER, I cried, AND I SOMEDAY I WILL TEACH MY STUDENTS THE LIBERATED TRUTH!
When I began teaching, I no longer wanted societal revolution; I only wanted to survive fifth hour.
Here are a few things I learned:
- First-year teachers should shave their legs.
- Before you begin teaching, read page 69 in each and every textbook. Memorize it. Because you will never be able to reference this page again, under any circumstance.
- Eliminate the word “come” from your vocabulary. If you say, “Keaton, could you please come over here,” poor Keaton’s social life is dead as he knows it. Better to practice phrases like “Keaton, why don’t you use some of your limbs to transport yourself over here??”
- When you stand up to realize that you got period blood on a student’s work table, slam your hand down on the table, yell AGH MY FINGER, and leave the room. Like, now.
- When the administration asks you to speak to the freshman girls about sex because you are young and hip (and because they probably don’t know about the period blood thing), tell them HECK NO. You are a fledgling adult who isn’t even MARRIED, for Pete’s sake, and the children think you are asexual.
I am not good at following my own advice.
It is terrifying to talk to adolescents about sexuality and faith.
Because your own experience with sexuality and faith was flawed and broken. Because you’ve had convictions for years that are suddenly on the line. Because you want to get it right. Because you’d rather they DIDN’T have sex, but if they did, you wouldn’t REALLY care, but God forbid they do AND IT’S BECAUSE OF SOMETHING YOU SAID.
Because there is so much you want to say.
You want to tell them what a boner is, so that if they ever come across one in an intimate environment, they know their boyfriend isn’t suddenly suffering from spontaneously protruding intestinal organs. You want to tell them about their own bodies, how the female anatomy works, so that they understand why things can get complicated and confusing. You want to tell them that girls can be horny. You want to tell them that there are way more important things than being sexy, like being kind or smart, but you also want to acknowledge the crazy, addictive rush that comes with being wanted.
You want to tell them that saving sex is good in the way that SAVING THINGS is good, like Christmas music for the season, or your old childhood t-shirts for a quilt. You want to tell them that sex is fun, but it’s just one sort of small part of life. You want to tell them that once you’ve seen someone naked and given him twenty-seven handjobs, it’s more difficult to run into him casually at Meijer without dropping your Starbucks all over the ground. You want to tell them that there are closeted gay people in their class who are pretending SO HARD to be straight, because they don’t know what it will mean if they don’t pretend.
You want to tell them that all the “OMG EMBARRASSING” Cosmo pages are normal sex, because no one knows what the heck they’re doing at first. You want to tell them that we should talk about pornography more, because it’s a real thing that affects people and relationships. You want to tell them to do their best not to have babies until they’ve gained passports and utilities payments and masters degrees.
You want them to know what sex means and to make deliberate choices, instead of stumbling after their Instagram image, or their boyfriend, or their clitoris.
You do have to say all this without using the words “boner,” or “horny,” or “nudes,” or “hand job,” which makes the task more difficult. You also have to acknowledge that some of them probably already have gonorrhea, while some of them don’t even know that sex is more than rolling around naked in some cream-colored sheets.
You try to aim for no more than three angry parent phone calls, so you DO say the word “clitoris,” but only once. You also try to aim for ZERO teen pregnancies as a result of your presentation, so you must determine the best way to say “if you have sex, you’ll be okay,” without their infant frontal lobes screaming “MISS BOERSMA SAYS I CAN GO BONE ZONE.”
So you settle for making ill-placed jokes and saying inappropriate things like “BONE ZONE.” You settle for telling them things that will possibly scar them just a little bit or potentially calibrate them a bit in the wrong direction. You settle for trying and being as honest as you think they can handle.
And you pray. You pray a lot for those beautiful, under-experienced human beings. You pray for a church that is supposed to love them and care about them and know them. You pray to a God that does. You pray that you will be a good, healthy embodiment of the commitment that comes with being the body of Christ.
And you write a blog post that you hope your grandparents will not read.
Lauren (Boersma) Harris (’13) is a spontaneous, idealistic, independent, fierce, over-thinking, damaged, adventurous, ordinary megalomaniac with a healthy sense of self-worth and a high word count. She has been a teacher both indoors and outdoors; she loves improvised comedy, backpacking, and writing, even when it’s required.