The fundamental values in society need to be determined by a permanent sense of right and wrong
Britain’s Telegraph newspaper has reported that the Sex Education Forum (SEF), a group of 50 health and children’s charities, has released the first edition of the online publication Sex Educational Supplement — the Pornography Issue. The supplement is intended to help schools teach sex education, providing teaching resources specifically on the subject of pornography.
Though the publication recognises that pornography is “controversial” it aims not to dissuade or discourage children from exploring pornography but to present the subject as “diverse” and not “all bad”.
Parents, not only Muslim, will be shocked by this news. Muslim households have a zero-tolerance policy on pornography because there is no grey area in Islam on the subject. This attitude was clearly shared in the Telegraph article by Norman Wells, from the Family Education Trust, who said: “The intention [in issuing this supplement] appears to be to steer children and young people away from a belief in moral absolutes and to encourage them to think that there are no rights and wrongs when it comes to sexual expression.” He added: “To give lessons on pornography is to play with fire.”
It was not that long ago that parents were told primary school children, below the age of 11, would be taught sex education including methods of contraception and same-sex sexual relationships. This proposal shocked many parents, and news that pornography could soon be on the syllabus will further horrify families.
Worried about children losing their natural sense of purity and innocence (Hayah), parents try their utmost to protect their children from exposure to sexual images and the like only to find their efforts undone by the latest fad in the government’s ever changing education policies; policies that are liberal in their outlook to relationships, and progressively becoming ever more liberal as the boundaries of right and wrong shift with changing attitudes in society.
The government position is that with an increasing sexualised society, unless children are taught about this material in the controlled environment of a classroom, they will enviably be exposed to it in the uncontrolled environment of the school playground. This scenario has become all too common with mobile phone technology and the widespread availability of pornography via the internet.
This is like the chicken and egg argument – in terms of what came first. However, surely, the fundamental values in society need to be determined by a permanent sense of right and wrong – defining the parameters of the moral compass. This in turn needs to be protected and safeguarded by the state in terms of what is taught in schools, and what appears on TV, general media and billboards. Indeed, the government would be neglecting its duty if it did not stand up for these values.
In today’s society however there is no permanent sense of right and wrong. Although pornography was once illegal, it is no longer the case, with the “adult industry” legally legitimate. Over 18 restrictions, in principle at least, limit the exposure of the industry but not the exploitive and debasing impact on attitudes towards women in society. Restricting while not outright banning the degrading trade, in effect, sends the same message as being suggested by the SEF’s Pornography Issue – that not all pornography is bad.
Children are the first to recognise the contradiction when parents and society says ‘do as I say, not as I do’. Imposing limits on children while condoning the same in society will not work. The solution therefore is not to remove these fundamental red-lines on children but to impose the same limits on society. Society needs permanent limits just as children do.
Muslim parents should be in no doubt; liberalism has a slippery, degenerating effect on people and society. With each generation, society extends the “limits” of freedom expression, and it follows that in order to protect our children and to provide guidance to the wider non-Muslim society around us we must, on the one hand, challenge liberalism with the pure values of Islam, and on the other hand ensure that we reinforce the moral and ethical values that Islam set – not as an optional extra, but as a religious obligation.
Allah (SWT) says: “Oh you who believe! Protect yourselves and your families against a fire (Hell) whose fuel is men and stones…[at-Tahreem:6].