Chapter 3: It Starts Quite Young

This is post four in a twelve-part series reviewing and critiquing Dan Boone's book, Human Sexuality. Read more: Intro / Chapter 1 / Chapter 2

This was my favorite chapter of the whole book. Unfortunately, it’s also the shortest. Boone demonstrates how our understanding of sexuality is closely linked to our understanding of the body. “You cannot achieve healthy human sexuality,” he says, “without a biblical theology of the human body” (42). He goes on to explain how important it is to start engendering a healthy understanding of the body at a young age, that we give children confidence in their embodied nature because “when we are uncertain we revert to moralism and ‘because the Bible says so’ rather than making a compelling case for God’s creation of these majestic bodies of ours” (43).

This is the Dan Boone I’ve been waiting to hear from.

He talks about the body as “a marvelous creation of God,” and how important it is to consider that God dwelled among us as a human body. He talks about making this foundational in our talks with children in order to help them respect their own bodies and therefore the bodies of others. All of this could have opened up a conversation of the holiness of transgender and nonbinary bodies, and the empowering of children—especially girls—to speak up about and resist abuse. It could have been a great place to talk about consent and self-posession. The text itself does not go that far, but these conversations could easily flow out of it.

What doesn’t naturally flow out of it, however, is that which Liuan Huska asserts does in the closing quote. She says that “When we teach young people to be at home in their bodies and to view them with wonder and appreciation, an ethic of sexual abstinence before marriage follows” (45). This is patently untrue. Research shows that comprehensive sexual education (which includes a healthy understanding of the body and how it works) results in less risky sexual activity and fewer negative sexual health outcomes.[1] While this may indeed include abstinence before marriage, it certainly is not exclusively that. It is also absolutely possible—and indeed, common—that people with a healthy understanding of their body will engage in sex outside of marriage. And they will do so carefully, responsibly, and without harmful results.

[1] "Comprehensive Sex Education: Research and Results," Advocates for Youth, 2009.
For a humorous, but very informative, take on the importance of sex ed, you might want to watch this recent segment of "Last Week Tonight with John Oliver."