“Sex Education:” The Netflix Show That Is Replacing Your Role in Sexual Education

Parents, I’m writing this for you. In case you are unaware, Netflix is now teaching your children about sex through a series that highlights casual hook-ups, abortion, and exploitation as the norm. And that isn’t all; within the past month, Planned Parenthood has released two new resources, mobile app “Roo” that answers student’s questions about sex, and a series of YouTube Videos for children of ages 4-9 years old, answering questions about gender identity and fluidity, when they should have sex, and why they should avoid going to pregnancy centers (which are actually the safest place for vulnerable teens to go!) if they face an unplanned pregnancy.

I’ve had conversations with parents where they tell me that they don’t want to start teaching their children about this stuff “too early.” They fear that they might do more harm than good when bringing up sensitive topics that may be more mature than their children are ready for.

I always leave those conversations with a saddened heart, not really sure what to do other than pray for a heart change to happen. Because primary biblical authority has been given to parents on teaching their students about sex and relationship education, I have a hard time pushing and digging deeper. But sometimes, deep in my soul, I’m instructed to go out of my comfort zone and push. Because I know the truth, and I know my heart is for teenagers to grow up with a Gospel-centered environment, in which they can wrestle with questions pertaining to their sexuality. The last thing I want is for a child to feel isolated – like they can’t turn to their parents because the conversation hasn’t been brought up before or because their youth leader hasn’t talked to them about what the Bible says about sex and relationships. So they feel like the only option they have is to turn to the internet – which will most likely point them toward Planned Parenthood.

To be honest, most of the time, I need to push, and I don’t. I need to push because children’s lives are at stake. As a parent, you should push on these topics, regularly, from an early age, because your children’s lives depend on it. You may say… “Sammie, sexuality is not the same as their lives.” But the truth is, how we express ourselves sexually is VERY much linked to the condition of our hearts. I know this well – and I think you know it well, too. Sexuality is so freely discussed and accessible in our culture today that it has in essence become our children’s identities. Who they decide that they are in middle school – between the ages of 10-12 – will determine decisions they make, the people they are willing to be in relationship with, and what they believe that they are worth. In the Bible, we aren’t just told to avoid sexual immorality – we are told to flee from it. It is harmful, it is hurtful, and it is powerful. Sexuality has power – and when it is used in its original context, that power sustains, nurtures, and heals marriages. But when it’s abused and used exploitatively, it alters, changes, and destroys the people who fall victim to it.

Our children’s lives ARE at stake.

The recently released “Sex Education” series trending on Netflix is making headlines on every media outlet for the story-line and production of the show. Now, let me say, that for a teenager, this show will lock them in – it intertwines all the themes that they want to hear about into a drama ABOUT teenagers, so it makes it really easy for them to relate to it. It’s a binge-worthy and entertaining show.

Nevertheless, this show is filled with cultural lies, and if there is one thing that this reminds me of it is that, as parents or anyone who is shepherding teenagers, we need to stay in the loop with what is being pushed on our kids by the media.

Here’s a sneak peek of the plot and some of the story lines…

Maeve (played by Emma Mackey) decides that having an abortion would be best for her, and the writers of the show formed it to “point towards exactly where the portrayal of abortion on TV should head next.” In episode two of the show, Maeve realizes she is pregnant after secretly hooking up with sports star Jackson Marchetti. Mackey says that her character is “very pragmatic like that, which I really like. There wasn’t like a whole ‘what do I do [about this baby]?’ She just gets on with it because she has to. She can’t look after a baby (emphasis added).”

The first red flag this raises is that Mackey is admitting that the abortion she is enthusiastically affirming in her character’s life is ACTUALLY a baby – not “pregnancy tissue” like abortion clinics refer to on their websites. If it’s a baby, then the show is affirming murder. Not only that, but they are willingly and actively demeaning personhood. They’re affirming murder to the youth of our culture, the ones who are going to eventually be making the laws and running our country.

The second red flag this raises is that abortion is made out to be much less traumatic than it is in real life. Abortion is not just a medical procedure. If you ask any of the men and women who are part of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign, you will see that abortion is not “no big deal.” It deeply affects not only those who are directly involved but also those indirectly involved. Abortion does not “fix the problem” of pregnancy – it actually causes more emotional, spiritual, physical, and relational ones that a person will carry throughout their entire life. If our kids are seeing a version where abortion is just like deciding whether or not to get their wisdom teeth out, their minds are bound to absorb that information. In the end, we are harming our kids if we aren’t sharing with them the whole story.

On top of the false portrayal of abortion, as I’m sure you could guess from the title, sex is a large part of the series. There’s copious amounts of nudity and depictions of sexual acts – and it is not all heteronormative, partly due to the show’s premise. Otis, the main character, is completely uncomfortable with sex in general and wants no part in it – however, his mother is a sex therapist, and his peers clearly are interested in causal hook-ups, so he can’t avoid it. Despite his discomfort, Otis has got the knowledge thanks to his mother, and his friends have the desire and the cash, so he soon starts an underground sex therapy ring to help couples at school navigate the pitfalls of sexual intimacy.

The show’s creator, Laurie Nunn, set out to portray sex in a humorous, sometimes clinical way, with a focus on the LBGTQ+ community and the “practical” side of sex, to make it seem “less exploitative and more educational in nature.” Nunn benefited from having the show hosted on Netflix, which didn’t put any constraints on how she wanted to portray sex in any given episode. Instead, she chose to focus on things she wished she had known as a teenager. Nunn also defends her portrayal of abortion, saying that other dramas “squeeze every drop of imagined pain and trauma from this relatively easy and safe procedure.” Instead, she treats Maeve’s abortion as wholly unremarkable, just another thing she had to do on her own: “She makes her choice and then does her best to get on with her life,” Nunn says to critics.

Whether it’s a gay character experiencing violence and harassment, a young man suffering with performance anxiety, or a teenage girl going through what is often viewed as a life-changing event, Sex Education feels determined to give younger generations a more casual, inconsequential look at sexual identity and relationships. And the scary part is that it’s working. Though the British series only debuted in January, it quickly became one of Netflix’s most-viewed shows. According to Netflix’s quarterly earning report, which was released on Jan. 17th, “Sex Education” was on track to be viewed by more than 40 million households within the first month of its release.

Let me wrap up by sharing a harsh reality – a reality that I hope will spark you into action.

The harsh reality is that if parents don’t talk to their kids about their identity and how that identity shapes how they interact with the world BEFORE they are in the battle of deciding that for themselves, somebody (or something) else will get to them first.

And to the Church – if we aren’t partnering with parents in continuing these conversations in a way that is glorifying to God and in a safe place where they can wrestle with questions and doubts, we are not being the voice of Truth that we are called to be in their lives.

This is something I will spend my life advocating for, because lives are at stake. I know that talking to your kids about these tough topics is difficult, and I know that having the “sex talk” reduces most of us to our middle-school-selves, all tounge-tied, darty-eyed, and fidgety. The talk is something that we all desperately want to do well, but perhaps we lack confidence in doing, while fearing failure on our part will deliver a debilitating blow to the healthy development of our children.

That’s why Anglicans for Life has developed Abundant Life: You Were Made for More. Parents, we want to partner with you in raising sexually faithful children who grow up to be confident in who they are and carry that confidence into relationships because of the Gospel narrative that they were invited into. We want to help you do this, and I urge you to check out our resources online at www.youweremadeformore.org, if you haven’t already. If you have, pass them along to every parent you know who could benefit.

This is my cry to parents: Please, please, please be aware of and filter what your kids are watching. Open up conversations with them about sexuality and their identity and be with them in the fight for their hearts. They need you, and in case you’ve forgotten, love, sexuality, and romance are not easy things to navigate. Empathize, listen, and understand, and your children will love you for it. I guarantee it.

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