Your work constantly impresses me.
As a foster parent, I have discovered that there is a large group of brethren that dislike the nitty-gritty situations that come with helping people who are still of the world. It is sort of the "How can you eat with tax collectors and sinners" perspective. We have introduced some pretty unruly children in to our congregation, and have discovered that anything less than the expected behavior is very unwelcome and makes people "who know how to go to church" very uncomfortable.
The subjects you tackle on the web site, and the sheer volume of correspondence you seem to have exchanged with some very confused individuals, startled me at first, but it soon became apparent that you recognized that you go where the battle is -- and one can expect it to get ugly in the trenches.
About 14 years ago, you led a class on Song of Solomon that at the time was one of the most painful experiences of my life. I wasn't alone. I can specifically remember a number of other boys who thought it was the most awkward, painful, and even ill-advised situation, considering the intended audience. For many of us, that class was the first time any of us had heard an adult address the concept of sexual attraction out loud. The idea that the concept could be addressed in a healthy way, and that an adult could support a healthy outlet was totally foreign. In fact, I think some of my embarrassment was more for you than for myself. "Doesn't he know that this subject matter isn't discussed in nice circles?"
I have learned that my impression is actually correct -- sex isn't discussed in a pro-active, positive way among Christians teachers and families, so far as I have seen. It should be, however, and to this day, you are the only one to come close do doing it -- so I came to appreciate the class and your effort, though it took me at least ten years. While such issues do come up when something goes wrong, the issues are emphasized in hushed, bristly tones, as though something odd is going on. I still have not encountered a situation where the approach was like yours: "Let's start from a healthy square one because we can and should."
I suppose I digress, but I bring that class up to say that your work, as is evident on the web site, makes it clear your lack of fear (what I saw as a lack of shame!) to do the right thing definitely makes a difference -- even though it has made some, like myself who had a lot of growing to do, uncomfortable for a while.
I realize I am only able to speak from my own perspective, but I feel like I have seen enough to be fairly confident when I say that the approach of brethren has been a traditional one -- not a scriptural or helpful one. This is not a blanket condemnation; indeed, there are plenty of older Christians willing to discuss the issues with a broken but healing younger Christian, if you know where to look. (Though I fear some do not know where to look!) When it comes to our pre-teens, though, parents need to be able to head off all the poisonous information with an assertive, accurate, sensitive discussion about sex as a good thing, and not only do I think it is not happening, I don't know how to do so myself. So here I am, another generation, about to make some mistakes in my approach here because of a Victorian-Era misconception about the evil of sex. Have you written a curriculum yet?
I really appreciate your note -- even letting me know how badly I shocked you with my open approach. It wasn't due to a lack of shame or embarrassment, or even fear, on my part when I taught that class, but rather a driving realization that problems existed that weren't being addressed because people believe "bad things don't happen to good families." You would not have known then, but I was well out of my comfort-zone teaching those things.
I grew up in a strong Christian family. There were numerous things as an adult that I wished I had been taught about when I was growing up. I got through it, but sometimes I think it was more from my ignorance, luck, and God's intervention.
When I was asked to teach a class to counter the sex education curriculum taught in public schools, a side aim was to put down all the things that I wished someone told me when I was younger, so I would not have struggled as much.
Over the years, the nervousness has faded. I'm more confident that I can explain sensitive issues in a clear and understandable way due to the web site.
Yes, actually the curriculum started about 30 years ago (time sure flies!), and I continually expand it.
For pre-teens and teenagers:
These lessons were originally written for a Christian family running a home for unwed mothers. They wanted short lessons based on making good moral decisions that didn't come across directly as Bible lessons, but where the Bible could be brought up during the discussion. Thus, each lesson has a story, a set of starter discussion questions and a list of verses related in some way to the topic at hand.
The following were written for young people who have reached puberty through the teenage years:
There are two associated web sites for these books, which the links take you to, because they generate a large number of questions by themselves. The web sites get questions from a world-wide audience (many non-Christians) with people from pre-puberty all the way up into their early twenties, so some of the material in the questions and answers section will likely hit on topics you may not be ready to discuss with your children. However, if your child brings up a question that you have no idea how to discuss from a biblical perspective, it probably is in there.
I find that older teens start to question their faith and so I have a book that deals with understanding the nature of God:
It doesn't touch on sexual themes, but it is important. I've also done this as a meeting series for audiences of all ages.
Books that are good for teenagers thinking about dating age up through adults:
The first is the one you remember as I used the first few lessons to talk about dating. However, I've also used this as a meeting series for groups of all ages. While the Proverbs material is long, it has been very popular with older teenagers through adults.
For people about to get married or even just married:
For what it is worth, I am available to teach these topics for any size group.