The most sex and least titillation I've ever read in a book, "The Abstinence Teacher" is hardly worth talking about. And yet...and yet...I keep thinking about it. Why wasn't it interesting? The characters were well modeled, the situations tense enough, the setting realistic. It did meander. It didn't have a coherent theme or moral. That might have been intentional in order to accent moral ambiguity. But that wasn't what kept it from feeling true and important.
Thinking about it, what it lacked is the same thing that the main character's first sex ed class lacked. Heart. Her class, which was factual, scientific, and comparatively rigorous, was replaced with a fear based abstinence program that shared the same deficiency. None of the sex acts described in this book (and there were plenty) involved the individuals thinking only of each other in a loving and kind way. (Save perhaps for those of the gay couple, which were only mentioned, but not actually in a scene.) None of the sexual relationships shown in this book involved people who were respectful and present with their partners.
A sex ed class can tell you the way the human body functions, what diseases it can suffer from, what physical consequences the act of reproduction can have. Using a program like OWL, it can encourage you to respect yourself and others as you make decisions about exploring your sexuality. This is useful information, most necessary. But it's not the end of what I want my children to know.
I want my children to know that sex is a powerful creative act that creates a bond between two people. Sex can change the world, and will change them. I want them to recognize the holy human beings that they share their bodies with and to care about that person in that moment as much as they care about themselves. I want them to recognize their place in the sacred space of the world and how sexuality is a way to connect to that.
There's nothing wrong with consensual adults playing barley break. The spirit revels in play as much as in prayer. What should always be remembered though, is the person one is playing with.
I would give my children a recognition of sex, not solely as reproduction, not just as a perfectly fine bodily function, but as a unique way of connecting two human spirits.