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Rethinking Sex-Education: The Wisdom of Religion . . . Without the Crazy

Religion has resisted a sensible, workable curriculum for sexual education. We are rethinking an approach that no longer works.

Photo of Ginger Poole
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Opportunity Areas – Select those that apply

  • mHealth

What specific problem(s) are you trying to address? (300 character limit)

Religion -- in particular conservative Christianity -- has long been adversarial to sensible sex education. Using religion’s own language, we’re trying to enlist religious parents, teachers, and church leaders in a project of rethinking an approach to sex education that no longer works.

What are some of your unanswered questions about the problem(s) you are working to address? (500 character limit)

How will religion address the “15-year problem?” Over centuries religion accumulated a rich body of ancient wisdom about healthy sexual relationships. That wisdom was reduced to a simple, easily-transmitted rule -- no sex until marriage. For much of history, the rule worked. The time from sexual maturity to marriage was less than five years. But for socioeconomic reasons that will not change, it is now 15 years. The rule doesn't work. How can we frame religion’s wisdom in ways that work?

Who are your end users? (1000 character limit)

Parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, church leaders, community leaders. Traditional religious people realizing that our religion’s sex-ed curriculum isn’t working. Religious people searching for new religious norms. Non-religious people realizing that our society’s sex-ed curriculum, as heavily influenced by marketers (sex-sells) as it is, isn’t working either. A society looking for wisdom that works. Most don’t even realize our struggle with sex-education is rooted in our struggle with worldview transition. Our end users are people looking for a framework that accesses ancient sexaul wisdom, but also works our new information-technology world.

Explain your idea. (500 character limit)

This is a challenging time for adults to talk about sex to young people. Our society has abandoned the sexual norms that were founded on an old worldview. We’ve not yet formed new norms. Using podcast, book, web, youtube, and workbook, this project engages families in reshaping sexual norms. Drawing from science, history, the wisdom of religion, and how religion got “crazy,” the project provides families and communities a framework to help them hammer out new norms that promote healthy sexualit

What is your value proposition? (500 character limit)

This idea began with an off-beat minister spending 30 years processing people’s sexual pain as a firsthand observer as sexual norms stopped working. Seeking to mitigate the pain, he ransacked religion, history, and the social sciences to frame a construct for this moment in history--to help us discern a better way. Religion is both baby and bathwash. Most only see the harm religion causes. But if society abandons religious people, our efforts to create socially agreed-upon norm will be thwarted

What's different about your idea compared to current solutions? (500 character limit)

Four of society’s five core institutions are hamstrung rethinking sex-ed. Government and education by religious lobbyists, family by economically limited bandwidth, and religion by irrelevance. Only business has a free hand shaping sexual ideas and norms.But business is not interested in healthy human sexuality only sales. Our idea is that instead of alienating religious folk, we bring them along. We frame a way forward that honors both religion’s wisdom, and the change history now demands.

What are the key reasons why end users would turn to your organization over another?

  • Newness: Satisfying a new set of needs

What would success look like for your end users? (500 character limit)

Religious parents and communities would feel permission within their tradition, to rethink “no sex until marriage,” and to build their own context-specific, ancient-wisdom-informed curriculum. Nonreligious parents and communities would be informed by religion’s ancient wisdom (“without the crazy”). Young people would have access to confident, wise, workable input from their adults. Society would experience less sexual pain. Pair-bonds would be more resilient, giving children great

How would you measure the impact your idea has on your end user(s) ? How will you measure the success of your program? (500 character limit)

Random sample self report surveys of adult volunteers before and after seminars. Survey after youtube. Monitoring and categorizing comments on the social network site along with metrics for use. Book sales, web traffic.

What strategies will/are you testing to acquire end users? (300 character limit)

Facebook ads. Google adwords. Word-of-mouth - podcast. Book/Workbook Community groups

Key partnerships - Who will you partner with to make your idea work? (500 character limit)

Strategic partnerships with denominations that have international relationships.

What is your organization’s name? (150 character limit)

Doug Hammack (minister) North Raleigh Community Church (local community) Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (denomination)

Tell us more about you: (750 character limit)

Doug Hammack is an off-beat minister fully committed to the historical reformation necessary for organized Christianity to survive the profound worldview shift that history has imposed on all of us. ( NRCC is a local church organized around the passionate commitment. In fact, this project began for our own parents and young people. We only began looking beyond our own community when folks began telling their friends and families, and created great response. (

Organizational Characteristics

  • Locally/community-led organization

Where will your idea be implemented? (200 character limit)

Internationally- the website/app Podcast Through the book (soon to be published through amazon) In a workbook On YouTube. Through the network of denominations supporting the project.

What do you need to get started? (500 character limit)

Finances for the recommendations that come out of design day for either book, website, social network, video production, and/or mobile app.

What is the current scale of your proposed innovation?

  • Community - one or a few communities within one country

Experience in Implementation Country(ies)

  • Yes, for more than one year.

Expertise in Sector

  • I've worked in a sector related to my idea for more than a year.

Organization Location (200 character limit)

Raleigh, NC - USA

What is your organizational status?

  • We are a registered non-profit, charity, NGO, or community-based organization.

What is the maturity of your innovation?

  • Existing Prototype or Pilot: I have tested a part of my solution with users and am iterating.



Join the conversation:

Photo of Ashley Tillman

Hi Ginger Poole Thanks for the post! Any chance you could find an image to go along with it? Images help grab attention and tell a story. You should be able to use the Edit Contribution button on the top of your post and follow the instructions to add images from there. Looking forward to seeing more of your inspiring insights on OpenIDEO.

Don't forget to have your Idea finalized, answer all the questions and published by November 5, 2017 at 5pm PST!

Ps Sami ! thanks for sharing your perspective on the platform, would love to learn more on your thoughts around what might help with implementing on such an important topic!

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