In assigning this subject it was correctly assumed that there should be premarital instruction. It should not be neglected, and it indicates a very sad situation when the question has to be asked: By whom should pre-marital instruction be given? For primarily it suggests that it is being neglected, and there seems to be some doubt as to who should do it. From that point of view it is too bad that we have to discuss it.
Various answers are given to this question. Some answer: the parents, of course. Others figure that it is easier if strangers will do it and hence suggest that the school or church shall give this instruction. Others say it is unnecessary.
That the instruction of the child is the responsibility and obligation of its parents is a precept which every Christian should immediately know. Reformed people have insisted on this, all the way through, as is plain from the fact that parents have built and maintained their own schools to teach their children according to their convictions.
This principle is based on Scripture. The text from Proverbs 22:6 comes to our mind. “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.” In Israel the fathers were to make known to their children the works of God, Deut. 4:9, 6:7. and 31:13. The Lord visited the house of Eli with judgments, “because his sons made themselves vile, and he restrained them not.”
Certainly, when parents are duty bound to instruct their children in the laws of the Lord, does it not follow that they shall instruct their children concerning the sex-relationship? For does not the Lord give commandment concerning the body and the service of the body? Consider that, surpassed only by the desire to preserve himself, the sex instinct is the most powerful in man. The marriage relationship is perhaps the greatest relationship upon the earth, amongst men. For through it family-life comes into existence, and the family-life is the heart of society. The rearing and training of children is the highest and most responsible calling ever given. That young people should be instructed in this is not only highly desirable therefore, but it is highly necessary.
The idea of instructing young people with a view to the marriage relationship has, among many conservative people, seemed immodest and indecent. If this type of people ever had any desire to instruct their children in the sex-relationships, they were simply lacking in courage to do so.
The reason for this attitude in the past has undoubtedly been caused by a misunderstanding of the marriage relationship, together with the corruption of marriage by sin. There has been a shame attached to the sex-relationship, which became evident immediately after the fall, when our parents, having sinned, were aware of their nakedness and became ashamed. Our clothing today remains the symbol of our shame, for we fell by sin and became naked before God.
However, though the sex-relationship in Paradise was perfect and honorable since God had made man male and female, also after the fall the marriage relation has been sanctified. The promise of Redemption should be fulfilled through the marriage relationship. The women among Israel were blessed in bringing forth children. Paul tells us that marriage is honorable. In fact, it is not good that man should be alone. So God has spoken. Furthermore, he has commanded man to multiply and fill the earth and that is only possible by the marriage relationship. Since God made the two sexes it is perfectly normal for young men and women to desire to be married.
One of the most important subjects is the question: How shall parents deal with their children in educating them in regard to the seventh commandment. Must parents also instruct their children in regard to the manner of birth, the significance of sexual life, and concerning danger on this steep path? Interesting questions. Why, because people might doubt whether parents have to warn their children against dangers? Oh, no, such a view would never be upheld in society. Yet people find it unfitting that parents should speak to their children and instruct them about such “intimate” things. People find it unheard of and irresponsible when the veil is removed from such secrecies. People fear realism.
Understand, of course, that tender subject should be treated also with utmost tenderness. He who treats the subject indecently with his children makes a big mistake. On the other hand, those who withhold from their children the important information about their sexual lives have departed from the proper path. Children must be instructed in these things, and not be left to grope about picking up half-truths and distorted facts, or be left to gather venomous ideas from corrupted playmates, vile literature, obscene pictures, and vulgar novels. It is certain that children are going to learn about these things and is it not a great deal better that they should receive their first knowledge from their parents whom they love and trust rather than to be left to find out from some older boy or girl whose mind has already been defiled by a wrong conception of sexual matters
If left to remain ignorant, the child will go to older boys and girls for information and come to look upon his admission into this world as an act of sin on the part of the parents of which they are ashamed. It is by all means important for our lives that in the days of our youth we do not remain ignorant of the wonderful “mechanics” of our own bodies, with which we were endowed by the Creator. He has made man and woman, He has thus made the sexual organs, and these organs must be used aright to the glory of God, and not to fulfill our lusts and carnal desires.
What reason is there that the sexual impulses should be treated with such secrecy? Why should they be treated as something low and beastly? The sex instinct is sacred, for it is ordained by God for the propagation of the human race. If there is anything evil about the subject, the evil is in our minds.
Concerning the question of the origin of life, just imagine, if possible, the many lies parents will be compelled to account for at the judgment-bar of God! Instead of telling the beautiful story of life and thus gaining their children’s confidence forever, parents turn them away with an absolute lie.
We read in Matt. 12:36, “But I say unto you that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.” Are parents keeping this text in mind when they tell their children the stork-myth or the cabbage-head myth
The question of sex is not unclean, shameful, or sinful. When properly understood, what could be more noble or purer than the sexual instinct? The sexual instincts are divine commands of God and are made sinful when turned into lusts, that is, unlawful desires.
Paul made this plain in his letter to Titus, “Unto the pure all things are pure; but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled.” (1:15).
While it is a fact well known to all that the majority of parents find it difficult to talk to their children about sexual matters, yet that in no way lessens their responsibility. As we have seen, it is first of all the responsibility of the parents to give pre-marital instruction. It is a God-given duty. However, we all know that it is often neglected by them. If this is the case, the Church and our Christian schools are called to admonish and instruct their youth in the truths of God’s Word and in the way of life.