I returned from leading a study tour of the Holy Land to learn about an alarming controversy over a high school reading assignment. “Nineteen Minutes” by Jodi Picoult is a fictional story about a school shooting. The book is part of the freshman English curriculum for many high schools. It is generating headlines for a section that is so sexually graphic I will neither print it nor link to it here.
One New Hampshire father read the section and asked local newspapers to print it. They refused, stating that its pornographic nature made it unsuitable for publication. He also spoke out at a school board meeting against the book. Because his comments exceeded two minutes, he was arrested and handcuffed.
I was made aware of “Nineteen Minutes” by friends here in Dallas whose students are required to read it. They are also alarmed about “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” a book which describes various sex acts in explicit detail. After reading their concerns, I discovered that other explicit books are also required by many school districts around the country.
Among them is “The Bluest Eye” by Toni Morrison and “Dreaming in Cuban” by Cristina García—I found passages in both that are extremely pornographic and violent. And I learned that Chicago’s public schools now set aside 30 minutes a month in kindergarten classes for sex-education classes, including instruction about same-sex relationships.
How is this escalating focus on explicit sex education working for us?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, two-thirds of teens and young adults in the U.S. have had sexual intercourse. The teenage birth rate is higher in America than any other nation. One out of four teenage girls in America has a sexually transmitted disease. Our nation clearly needs a moral and spiritual awakening before it’s too late.
I urge you to do three things today. First, see if your school district requires sexually explicit literature. If it does, express your concerns to your local superintendent and other officials. Second, be encouraged: your voice can make a difference. After a group at Harvard University planned a Satanic “Black Mass” this week, the outcry was so strong that the club backed down. A few standing for truth can influence the many. Third, pray hard. God promises that “he will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry. As soon as he hears it, he answers you” (Isaiah 30:19).
Phillips Brooks: “Pray the largest prayers. You cannot think a prayer so large that God, in answering it, will not wish you had made it larger. Pray not for crutches but for wings!” How large are your prayers for moral and spiritual renewal?