Updated 6/6/2016: READ The COGIC Response To This Issue HERE
Yes, you read the headline correctly. The Church Of God In Christ, otherwise known as "COGIC", the largest organized Pentecostal/Holiness church in the United States primarily led by Black ministers and leaders, was at least until recently, offering through the National Youth Department, comprehensive sex education in what was called the "Young Men Of Valor Training Manual" (with a creepy cover to the right).
Since many individuals don't know the difference between or how to identify various sex education programs, please allow me to define what is meant by a comprehensive sex education program. Advocates For Youth.org defines a comprehensive sex education program in the following manner:
"Comprehensive Sex Education teaches about abstinence as the best method for avoiding STDs and unintended pregnancy, but also teaches about condoms and contraception to reduce the risk of unintended pregnancy and of infection with STDs, including HIV. It also teaches interpersonal and communication skills and helps young people explore their own values, goals, and options."
Careful attention to the part about helping young people "explore their own values, goals, and options." is the defining feature of the sexual health information that was placed into the Young Men Of Valor manual. Providing comprehensive sexual education seems to be EXACTLY what this program was designed to do at least in the sexual health section.
To be clear, COGIC has since removed the manual and produced a statement dated May 24th, 2016 as follows:
However, according to additional REPORTS from Dr. Earl Carter, who seems to have first examined this issue, COGIC has since distanced itself from the publication with all leaders claiming that they did not know what was being printed and delivered to our youth through the International Youth Department Manual.
"If you do decide to have sex, you should: Use condoms 100% of the time. You need to make sure that you use a new latex condom (or dental dam) correctly every time you have oral, anal or vaginal sex. If you're allergic to latex, use a polyurethane male or female condom"~ COGIC International Youth Dept. Young Men Of Valor Training Manual Pg. 69 (yes-page 69 see below)Dr. Earl Carter, who has an outstanding call to our church to reform and reject the leadership Of Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake for various reasons which I will not elucidate here, recently revealed the COGIC youth department's teaching manual, in which young men were taught how to have sex rather than how to avoid sex and sexual activity, or even examine sexual consideration in light of scripture. In fact the booklet even suggests making provisions for sexual acts normally associated with homosexual behavior.
Not To Beat A Dead Horse...'Cause This Horse Ain't Dead!
Though the manual has been pulled and a statement issued from the church regarding it, this is a huge issue and one worthy of great ongoing concern. Why? In part because as a church we trust our leaders...ALL of our leaders, to guard and watch out for the best interest of our youth, especially in the auxiliaries they serve.
As a Supt. in this church, I feel that if we cannot trust Departmental leaders and their committees and teams to review, approve and stand by material distributed to millions of children and members in the church, those same department heads should be immediately removed from position and replaced by individuals who take their duties with more diligence.
The Information Has Already Done Much Damage:
Pulling the information after the fact does not change the fact that the information that has already been distributed, has done its damage. In fact, from the review that I have seen of the pages of the manual, not only did the manual teach young adults how to make sexual decisions, but made no reference to the biblical teaching that sex without marriage is sin. In fact there was no reference to any biblical mandates or consideration for the integrity of the word of God in the life of the believer. It was a secular writing, from a secular point of view based on secular information, and human moral values. At a glance, one could see that the information contained within this guide was not biblically centered.
At one point the authors of the manual assume that the young men that they are training are involved in same sex relationships among other relationships.
"If you are sexually active, you also need to think about:
- Gender of your sexual partner
- Kind of relationship you have with them
- Type of contraception and sexually transmitted infection (STI) prevention methods you use".
COGIC International Youth Dept. Young Men Of Valor Training Manual Pg. 67- 68
In addition, since it didn't take anything more than Dr. Carter making this known on his video, how in the world did subscribers both to the publication and to the Youth Department, who were aware of this MESS, think that this book was valuable or of a resource to our youth or consistent in any manner with teaching our young men encouraging them to be strong and courageous in this world? This is what makes the revelation of the material so shocking and the response of our church so lack-luster and wholly inadequate.
For the record, VALOR is defined as the following:
"boldness or determination in facing great danger, especially in battle;heroic courage; bravery:" Dictionary.com
"strength of mind or spirit that enables a person to encounter danger with firmness : personal bravery" Merriam-Webster.com
"Courage and boldness, as in battle; bravery. boldness or determination in facing danger." The Free Dictionary.com
This manual, designed to teach children in a Pentecostal/holiness church, was teaching anything but valor. It taught children how to conform to the world rather than to conform to Christ.
How did this material get by screening? Was the material even screened at all? Were our leaders so enamored with their job duties, recognition, fame, conferences and the "department program" that what they were actually teaching our youth was of no consideration? Is there commonly no vetting of material by the Presiding Bishop's office? What of General Board officials? Have they no duty to review church programs and materials to make sure there is harmony with church and biblical values in materials distributed? With all of this surrounding material given to our young men, what in the world may be in the Young Women Of Excellence material? Does it also contain challenging and ungodly suggestions? The church and the leaders of the church have a greater duty to the members of this church than what they are showing and have shown in this matter? A statement of apology from these department leaders is in order as well.
Now, was this not the same basis for the chastisement of Dr. Earl Carter from the beginning? Remember, his Convocation message was released, but when criticism started to occur, the leadership, the Presiding Bishop's Office in particular, vocally and forcefully condemned Carter's message and terminology, even making a video which was released from West Angeles on the issue.
"This charismatic department will design, develop, and implement programs and ministry opportunities that meet the spiritual needs of the youth of our church. Rallies, workshops, and pertinent seminars will be tools used to effectively teach our youth how to apply the Word of God in their lives."
That objective was clearly missed by the acceptance of such a manual. Secondly, focus on our YPWW Pledge:
"We pledge our unselfish devotion and loyalty to the principles and doctrine of our COGIC faith to be representatives of holiness in our everyday life; and to let our lives be the mirror that reflects the image of Christ."
Missed on BOTH accounts!
We have a list of persons associated with this department and at least 4 involved in the "Education" section of the department. I would like to hear from them, how this material got by them or what they were told was contained within the material.
I would also like to hear from the Presiding Bishop, Charles E Blake, assuring the church that information pertaining to SEXUAL HEALTH that was placed in this manual, was wholly inconsistent with church teaching and that the church further REPUDIATES such teaching as was in the manual under the guise of "sexual health". In other words, I would like to see our leadership approach this matter with the same vigor and intensity as the matter of Dr. Earl Carter was addressed.
As of now, we do not know how many young people were given this information with the blessing of adults who either did not know what was in the manual, or who did know and were ready, eager and willing to teach kids about sex! The manual was on sale for $30.00. How many manuals were sold and how much in profits were already received and delivered? believe this church, the Grand Ole Church Of God In Christ, has a greater moral duty to ALL of its members and especially to our youth and families. I believe we should expect and demand better from this church.