As the school year begins to wind down for many families and educators, there may be distant thoughts of the next school year. For California home school groups which rely on charter schools, next year brings a mandated addition to their curriculum: sexual education.

Home schoolers, like our family, have had the luxury of autonomy from legislation for much of what we do and teach. But the deck has slowly been stacking over the past few years against California families who don’t want state-mandated sexual education in their home.

In 2015, Assembly Bill 329 (also called the “Healthy Youth Act”) modified previous law on sexual education. It updated mandatory sex-ed to have more emphasis on homosexuality and transgenderism. Some specific mandates include:

  • (Instructing) healthy attitudes concerning adolescent growth and development, body image, gender, sexual orientation, relationships, marriage, and family
  • Instruction and materials shall affirmatively recognize that people have different sexual orientations and, when discussing or providing examples of relationships and couples, shall be inclusive of same-sex relationships
  • Instruction and materials shall teach pupils about gender, gender expression, gender identity, and explore the harm of negative gender stereotypes
  • Instruction and materials may not teach or promote religious doctrine

Last year, AB 2601 extended the implementation of AB 329 to Charter schools; and by extension, many homeschool families enrolled in charter schools. This is a significant change because AB 329 mandates instruction on homosexuality and transgenderism that cannot be opted out of.

Repeat; the homosexuality and transgenderism “lessons” cannot be opted out of by parents.

This week, a Health Education Framework is being discussed that will make specific recommendations for educators to implement the Healthy Youth Act. Informed Parents of California (IPOC) expresses disgust at the perversion of the “framework” that includes recommendations for kindergarteners to view genitals and intercourse and be taught that they can be a boy or a girl.

David Washburn of Ed Source tries to calm the fears of many by saying that the Health Education Framework is not a curriculum:

A framework recommends instructional materials and provides resources to educators, while a curriculum outlines specific lessons and materials to be used when teaching a subject

But it should be clear that curriculums are collections of “instructional material” that the framework will recommend; and there is no reason for a “framework” unless it is used to make more specific how a school should teach sexual matters.

Clearly, there are forces at work that desperately desire to push modern sexual norms on every single young person.

Time to Dissent?

It seems that the avenues for families to escape the state-required indoctrination program are slowly closing. This should surprise no one. California, being arguably the most progressive state in the US, is going to seek “progress” for its constituents, whether they like it or not.

The question I have for Christians who desire faithfulness for themselves and their children is this:

When is it time to dissent?

By that I mean, when is it time to outright say, “no”. When is it time to reject, not only the culture’s norms, but government’s mandates. When is it time to follow our religious convictions and face whatever consequences will follow.

There are many like Rod Dreher, Damon Linker, and Ryszard Legutko that believe we are in a “soft totalitarian” state; a condition of our culture (government, media, academia, commerce) that is against Christianity and desires its annihilation. If this is true, how much do we acquiesce practices against our faith before we simply say “no more”. What is the tipping point for becoming a dissident? The way in which California has closed in on Christian families through education makes me think that the time is close at hand.

In the communist environments of yesterday (Russian, Czech, Mexico) and today (China) there are Christians who are forced to dissent from various anti-religious laws and statutes. They have payed big prices, but the thinking was that they had reached a breaking point. They had been pushed one inch too far. The regime had crossed the line. They needed to resist imposed anti-religious laws for the sake of their communities of faith. The risk of “going along” with the program was much too high. And the personal price of resistance was worth the reward.

Is this slow but heavy handed imposition of sexual education on our children that breaking point? Remember, a parent cannot opt-out of the homosexuality and transgenderism portions of the state’s sex ed program. Are we really supposed to just sit back and let our state government subvert the teachings of our faith? Are we supposed to have no reaction to a program that discredits our church and our family to our children? Look at one of the “framework’s” recommended book’s lesson on the morality of a particular sexual act:

In other words, “the highest Catholic officials backed by thousands of years of Church teachings hold that this sexual act is a sin, but you can find a woke priest who will tell you its okay”. What diabolical schemes!

What about Religious Freedom in the United States?

To those who would say that the United States will always have a heritage of religious freedom to protect our rights to worship, it is important to see that even the idea of “religious liberty” has transformed since our founders signed the Constitution. “Separation of Church and State” has a modern understanding that essentially means no one can have faith and participate in anything run by the state. With a government whose growing footprint encompasses more and more of life (legal, commercial, educational, medical, etc.), there are not many arenas that a Christian can participate in.

Keep in mind that Communist states have usually “guaranteed” religious freedom. However, one’s religious obligations are only legal when subservient to state obligations. This is the “keep your religion in your churches” brand of “religious liberty” that the United States is slowly adopting. In Silverster Krcmery’s book Breakpoint: A True Account of Brainwashing and the Greater Power of the Gospel, he says that the Communists will espouse religious liberty because citizens are allowed to attend church. To this, he writes about Soviet communism’s religious liberty:

“But Christ did not come into the world only so that people would go to church! ‘I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life’ (John 14:6). To live their faith: that is what religion and the Church are not allowed to do!”

We are slowly being told something similar about our religious liberty: go and worship in your church, but shut your mouth once you leave.

Still, there are some that say that these sex education changes are minor, and that one can still live faithfully, even though their children must endure these trials. The point of this article is to ask a serious question: when is enough, enough? It is obvious that religious freedom and faithful Christianity is dying the death of a thousand cuts. It seems like every day a new law is enacted, a new attitude is born, a new target is identified that will dismember Christianity piece by piece.

In Milton Mayer’s book They Thought They Were Free: the Germans, 1933-1945, he writes about the slow adoption of the grotesque ideology of Nazism that is only possible by slowly taking tiny steps :

Step C is not so much worse than Step B, and, if you did not make a stand at Step B, why should you at Step C? And so on to Step D. And one day, too late, your principles, if you were ever sensible of them, all rush in upon you. The burden of self-deception has grown too heavy, and some minor incident, in my case my little boy, hardly more than a baby, saying ‘Jew swine,’ collapses it all at once, and you see that everything, everything, has changed and changed completely under your nose. The world you live in—your nation, your people—is not the world you were born in at all. The forms are all there, all untouched, all reassuring, the houses, the shops, the jobs, the mealtimes, the visits, the concerts, the cinema, the holidays. But the spirit, which you never noticed because you made the lifelong mistake of identifying it with the forms, is changed.

Let’s make it clear, the state of California wants to shape your child’s thoughts to fit a particular mold. If there is indeed no legal or political way out of these new laws, I think it is time to resist. We no longer have the luxury of telling our children about cruel laws in far-away lands. We are now living in those lands.

Our dissension should look like this: our churches and families should make very clear that the state wants us to believe and act in ways contrary to what God demands. Our children should know that certain laws of our land (not all laws and not all lawmakers) are designed to break our faithfulness. Our families should be steadfast in our beliefs and diligent in identifying indoctrination. I have found with my children that it is not hard for them to see the absurdity of some state policies. We just need to be clear with them and continue to point out our religious liberties are being violated.

Terry Mattingly writes about the family of Vaclav Benda, the great Czech dissident, as a way of motivating the persecuted Church in the West:

It’s crucial to understand that most Czechs, during the Communist era, “didn’t really believe what the state officials were saying. But they were willing to fake it,” [son Filip Benda] said. “The most important question is always the same: Who will take a stand and tell the truth?”

Traditional families now face threats that are harder to identify than those of the Communist era, said Kamila Bendova. Warning children about the secret police is one thing. In a way, it may be harder for today’s parents to convince their children to be truly countercultural in an age of social-media narcissism, gender confusion, online pornography and credit-card materialism.

Someone has to teach children to distinguish between lies and the truth, she said. Parents still need to pray with their children, read to them and show them what it means to live a faithful life. As in the Communist era, they may not be able to count on church leaders to “speak out on dangerous subjects,” she said.

I pray that our families and churches have the courage to face these pressures head-on, that we will not cower – for our children’s sake, and that truth and faithfulness are the fuel within our communities of faith.

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Chris Saenz
Chris Saenz is the founder of Post-Christian Era. He has a Master's Degree in Biblical Studies and more than a decade of church work in teaching, worship, and discipleship across many church settings and denominations. He and his wife and three children live in the Los Angeles area (Covina, CA).