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From the mouths of babes

So a few months back, I mentioned that I was joining something called OWL, a church-based sexuality class. (I love being Unitarian and being able to say things like that.)

Another couple, Shari and Jeff, have been reading a book called “It’s Perfectly Normal” with their son London, age 11. The book is all about sex, sexuality, growing up, etc. I haven’t read it yet, but they told us it’s an awesome book.

Last week, our class topic was Sexual Diversity, and Shari told us about London’s reactions when they had been reading this book and had gotten to the section on gays and lesbians.

“I don’t understand,” he said, when they got to the part about gays being discriminated against. “I mean, they don’t go out and do it in public, do they?”

“No, honey, they don’t,” Shari assured him.

“Well, then why does it matter what they do at home? Why does anybody else even care?”

Wow. Just… wow. There are plenty of adults who have got a lot to learn from this kid.

Reminds me of a church service a year or two ago, when our minister was away and a member of the congregation led the service and gave the sermon. This was someone who had taught in the R.E. (religious education — basically Sunday school) program, relating the experience of what they called “the lesson from Hell”, a.k.a. the lesson about Hell.

Much of the Unitarian R.E. program involves teaching the kids about other religions, so they’ll have some idea of what’s going on when they get out into the world. This particular lesson involved trying to teach a bunch of Unitarian born-and-bred kids about the Christian idea of Hell — a lesson the teachers always dreaded.

But they took a deep breath, went into the class, and explained all about Heaven and Hell. And they got nothing but blank stares in return.

Afterward, the teachers discussed it. “The kids don’t understand this Hell thing,” they said. “We need to explain it again, because they’ll need to understand it. It’ll be all around them their entire lives.” So they attacked the topic again the next Sunday. And got more blank stares.

Finally, one of the kids raised their hand and said, “I don’t understand. If God loves everyone, why would he send anyone to Hell?”

And the teachers exchanged looks of delight. The kids did understand.

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