(The Pope’s) Sex Education
RSHE Deep Dive / Primary / Secondary / Catholic
Writer: Anna Bailey
No, this isn’t the Pope’s exclusive review of the popular Netflix series ‘Sex Education’.
Although in the same way that the Netflix series tries to reclaim the concept of sex education for a 21st Century secular audience, so too did Pope John Paul II revolutionise Church teaching on sex. But before we get to that, let’s go back…What was your sex education like in school?
When we ask teachers to think back about their experiences of sex education in school, we inevitably hear a mixture of horror stories, tales of awkward teenage moments of angst and also occasionally beautiful stories of when and how sex education was led well by parents or teachers.
My own experiences of sex education as a teenager certainly cover the spectrum from bad (bananas on condoms) to beautiful (authentic witnesses of faith, marriage and family). By the time I reached Sixth Form, I knew the basics of Church teaching – no sex before marriage, no abortion – and I had been taught that forgiveness and love was to be offered to all people, no matter what choices they made. I could see the logic of the Church’s teachings, but was still wondering how relevant this seemingly old teaching was in the modern era.
When I got to university everything changed, but perhaps not in the way you might imagine things changing at university! As part of my undergraduate Theology studies, I was introduced to Pope John Paul II’s ‘Theology of the Body’ (TOB) – and my mind was blown! The TOB is the collective term given to the teaching delivered by Pope John Paul II over a series of 129 ‘Wednesday audiences’ between 1979 and 1984.
I began reading around the topic – finding Christopher West’s book ‘Good News About Sex and Marriage’ particularly helpful – and I felt like I wasn’t just learning a new topic in my academic studies; as I read, I knew my heart was changing. Perhaps for the first time, the Church’s teachings on sex and marriage were making sense to me and I knew that God was speaking to my broken heart through the teaching and guiding me on a path of healing.
Over the years, my passion for St John Paul II and his teachings has grown the more I have studied and read and shared this teaching with others, which is why I’m so delighted to be involved in leading three sessions on the ‘Theology of the Body’ for teachers in Spring 2022.
Theology of the Body
An Introduction to the ‘Theology of the Body’ for teachers
Have you been teaching Life to the Full in your primary school or secondary school? Has it sparked your interest in the Church teaching on relationships, marriage and family life? In this three-part webinar (3 x 90-minute sessions), we will go under the bonnet of the teaching which has inspired the Life to the Full programme.
This introduction to the ‘Theology of the Body’ will give:
- An overview of the core principles of TOB
- An exploration of how this applies to real-world situations, including reference to the Life to the Full programme
- An introduction to some of the best thinkers and interpreters of TOB throughout the world
If you know little or nothing about this ground-breaking teaching, our introduction to TOB will provide an inspirational roadmap to not only support you in a professional capacity as a teacher, but also inspire you in your relationships with your partner/spouse, family and friends. Find out more about when the sessions are taking place and how to sign up here.