What should a ‘Schools Charter’ for RSHE contain?

From September 2020, primary schools will be required to teach age-appropriate Health Education as well as Relationships Education, and secondary schools will be required to teach Relationships Education and Sex Education. Together these can be referred to as Relationships, Sex and Health Education (RSHE). At one level, this idea is hard to argue with; after all, we live in a complex world, where young people are exposed more and more to issues around sex and relationships at earlier and earlier ages, thanks to the general sexualisation of culture. And these issues are as complex and confusing as they have ever been. But it is also contentious and fraught with danger, since the dominance of ‘identity politics’ means that any discussion in this area will be contested, and groups with special interests in the LGBTQ+ lobby will be ready and willing to press the case for particular views to be taught.

In this context, what might the Church of England (or any Christian group or denomination) want to say? Last week the Church of England Education department published Principles and a Charter for the teaching of RSHE in schools. Although the primary concern was in relation to Church of England schools, the Charter was potentially offered to all schools. As with all statements in this area, it received criticism from both sides of the debate.

LGBT+ campaigners were scathing in their evaluation of the proposals from the 485-year-old institution. “It’s a classic bit of Church of England fudge,” said Canon Jeremy Pemberton, who was stripped of his church duties following his 2014 marriage to his long-term male partner.

“They are desperate to be seen as right on and good and lovely, but they’re not really, are they?” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation, citing the institution’s ban on same-sex weddings in CofE churches. “You can’t really have your cake and eat it, and that’s what they want to do,” Pemberton added.

Not all campaigners were as dismissive as Pemberton:

Veteran LGBT+ campaigner Peter Tatchell said the latest advice from the CofE was “better and more inclusive than anything previously advocated by the Church of England”.

By contrast, Will Jones, writing in Christian Today, saw the Charter as articulating a complete loss of confidence in the Church’s teaching on sex, marriage and relationships:

Overall this is a deeply disappointing document. While containing some valuable principles about respect and engaging with parents, it fails to grasp the opportunities offered by our education system and the new RSE regulations to set out a distinctive Christian vision of what relationships and sex education might look like.

In a time when there is more confusion than ever about romantic relationships and what it means to be male and female, the Church of England yet again misses the chance to offer support to Christians trying faithfully to hold out a biblical vision to a culture that so often doesn’t want to know.

Martin Davie also offers criticism, and on several points agrees with Will Jones, particularly on what they both see as misinterpretation of what the Equality Act requires of education in this area:

It is true that that schools are covered by the Equality Act. Part 6 Chapter 1 of the Equality Act lays down in detail how the act applies to schools. However, it also specifically states that ‘Nothing in this Chapter applies to anything done in connection with the content of the curriculum.’  This means that the Equality Act does not determine what should be in the RSHE curriculum. This argument is thus simply a red herring.

Some of these points are well made, but I cannot help thinking that Davie is assuming that Church schools are closed environments where the goal is simply the making of Christian disciples, without recognising that the foundation of Church of England schools (with its historic assumption, often from many years ago, of a context of Christendom) is quite different from that of Catholic faith schools, where there is a clearer commitment to teach the Catholic faith. That, perhaps, is the root of our problem here.

As far as I understand it, the goal of the Charter was to make a first, clear public statement that the Equality Act means that faith perspectives must be treated with respect and given space: there is no hierarchy of protected characteristics, so faith perspectives cannot be ‘trumped’ by a concern for the protected characteristics of any other group. And it is aiming to do that in a context where Christians involved in education have, so far, lacked either the awareness that this was the case, or the confidence to know how to respond to it. But at this point, we need to ask a question. Contentious issues related to sexuality and its place in schools has been around for many years—so why is it that Christians have lacked confidence, information and resources? What has the Church of England been doing all this time, when other groups have been very busy producing resources that push a particular line? And how can we have been so far behind the curve on this issue that we can even think to have endorsed some of these resources, without critical evaluation, until some questions were asked and the endorsements were withdrawn?

And both Principles (apparently directed at Church schools) and the Charter (more widely aimed) raised a series of questions for me.

1. If the Charter can be used by anyone, then will we now see a Charter specifically for Church schools? If not, does the Church of England believe that there is no difference in the approach to RSHE between the two? If so, what are Church schools actually doing?

2. The Principles begin with two biblical texts:

So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them. (Genesis 1:27, NRSV)

I have come in order that you might have life—life in all its fullness. (John 10:10, GNB)

But both have been either truncated (to remove mention of ‘male and female’) or ripped out of context to detach the promise of life from the call to discipleship. Is that the best we can do in our use of Scripture?

3. The Principles document refers to the Pastoral Advisory Group guidelines for ‘good disagreement’ in debates about sexuality. But that is within the context of the Church, and specifically relate to the current disagreement on whether we should consider changing the Church’s teaching. Is this really the context that we have in Church schools?

4. The ‘suggested prayer’ for a first meeting asks for wisdom and the ability to listen to one another and work for the ‘common good’. But it makes no reference to the idea that God might have a vision for sex and relationships which has been communicated in Scripture and Christian tradition. Should that not feature in Church schools’ discussion? Where is the Bible?

5. The Charter begins by mentioning ‘partnership with parents and carers’ in deciding what happens in schools. But there is no mention anywhere of the role of parents and carers in instruction and modelling of good relationships in the home. Do we now believe that these fundamental values should be delegated to schools, and the family has no role in teaching in this area?

6. The fifth point of the Charter raises the most questions:

  1. That RSHE will promote healthy resilient relationships set in the context of character and virtue development. It will reflect the vision and associated values of the school, promote reverence for the gift of human sexuality and encourage relationships that are hopeful and aspirational. Based on the school’s values it will seek to develop character within a moral framework based on virtues such as honesty, integrity, self-control, courage, humility, kindness, forgiveness, generosity and a sense of justice but does not seek to teach only one moral position.

There is no doubt that advocating forms of relationship on their own, detached from questions of character and virtue, offers a sterile and legalistic approach to relational ethics. But is it really the case that Christian ethics can be reduced to virtue ethics, with no reference to the forms those relationships take?

7. Is ‘human sexuality’ a gift in this unqualified sense? And if so, does that apply to all ‘sexualities’? And is all of life to be sexualised? Where is there a recognition that modern culture seeks to sexualise every aspect of life, and where is the call to protect children from this?

8. Is the position of the Church of England that we do not ‘seek to teach only one moral position’? If not, how do we address the task of articulating a distinct perspective within a pluralistic culture? If this document was aiming to give Christian parents and teachers confidence, why was it not expressed at ‘We seek to teach the Church’s position alongside other views held within our society’?

I am quite aware that this Charter and the Principles are at the beginning of a process of offering resources—but because of these questions, I am not convinced that, in their current form, they are starting in the right place or heading in the right direction.

What, then, is needed for the next stage of the process, of developing more detailed resources? I would suggest three things:

1. A statement that offers more explicit encouragement for Christian parents and teachers to expound the Church of England’s teaching about relationships, sex and marriage. If Christians involved in this need to be given more confidence, who better than the Education department itself to express and encourage this?

2. Resources from the Church and from other agencies which will assist in this process. Ironically, the new book produced by the non-religious group Transgender Trend, about the importance of our bodies, might be a good place to start.

3. Resources for parents to help them address the issues of relationships, health and sex in the context of the home and connected with what is happening in schools. Just as effective Christian discipleship must happen in the home as well as in church, surely this cluster of very personal issues must also be addressed in the home, and not just delegated to the school environment.

I really look forward to seeing these developments and resources coming from the Education department—working in positive partnership with other agencies.

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98 thoughts on “What should a ‘Schools Charter’ for RSHE contain?”

  1. When sex education began in earnest c1967, it took 2 remarkable and indefensible moves-
    (1) It scarcely mentioned marriage, which was the context inhabited by the overwhelming majority;
    (2) It assumed that young children will be promiscuous. The considerable majority at that time were not being – but these things become self-fulfilling.

    There is no large international community, whether Christian or Muslim or Hindu or Jew etc, that fails to inhabit a space extremely distant from the new regulations. That is why the schools need to be held to account – what are the different/relative importances you give to the state and to the family?

    Proud ancient cultures where marriage is ubiquitous are to be mutilated in one generation if these philosophical presuppositions are normalised.
    And look at how many of them (those related to transgender etc) contain a fair proportion of widely acknowledged nonsense.

    What happened when sex education came in?

    The following quintupled quickly: teen abortions, first intercourse under 16, UK births outside wedlock.

    Under 16s at ”family planning” clinics (a misnomer) increased 10fold till the Morning After Pill made stats imprecise. First intercourse under 16 increases 6fold the chances of an individual having 2+ sexual partners in a given subsequent year. STIs doubled in the 1990s alone, and more among teenagers.

    So let’s have more (social engineering to increase the pool of potential sexual partners; sorry, I meant) sex education then.

    • I think it would be hard to argue that sex education was the *cause* of social change. Wouldn’t it be more convincing to say that both were effects of wide changes in outlook?

      And the danger with your argument is the converse: less education is better and would avoid these issues. I am not sure that is either convincing or wise.

      • Yes – I certainly need to be more precise about what the big picture is.

        What do people need to know about sex?

        (1) It is remarkable how much can be learned in half an hour.

        (2) It is also remarkable how many things can safely be left till marriage. Not everything can, by any means.

        If there is a choice between state education and parental/family education, the former is going to be secular. And – worse – be embedded in a secular outlook more broadly with wide ramifications. Therefore it is clear which is much better – in fact the other is to be avoided because secularism is manifestly so bad. What I always wonder is how many hundreds of percentage points secularism needs to be worse by, in how many areas, before people raise the white flag and admit how wrong they obviously are. Realistically, people could not call it better than, or even as good as, a Christian approach if it were even 2% worse in 2 areas.

        The secularist approach will do what it always does – it has never been known to fail. Fracturing precious families unnecessarily – families that would never have fractured in a Christian-majority culture (with extended family and church context), and never did for generations beforehand – and therefore causing heartache among the grandparents who have to watch it unfolding (and people pretending it is just as good as the former regime) and often getting no grandkids themselves. Producing massive statistical worsening in different directions within a short time.

        The idea is not to give no information. We should share as much information as we like, with due regard for age and for modesty which is in danger of being shunned as lovely children are forced to ‘grow up’ (but spot any actual signs of truly-adult maturity?) too early. But it is lethal to put that information in the hands of secularists of all people (or of a system that assumes secularism as default), much as one would not put childcare in the hands of Herod or BPAS.

        As for ‘relationships’ the term is conveniently being left vague, which is no help to anyone. There does not exist the ‘relationship’ save for marriage which is typically stable – I believe I am right in saying that. Speaking of relationships rather than of marriage (and in my 13yearold’s school the children are mostly Indian and their parents have been married for millennia – until now, when the historically unaware and all-too-often shallow want to spoil all that heritage) could lead people to think that relationships-as-opposed-to-marriage is what is being spoken about. But once the first relationship that is uncommitted by nature breaks (as things uncommitted by nature will 90% of the time do), that sets a trend that is hard to break. One could (should) tell the children that. The majority of stats (including many very startling ones) are being screened out because they don’t fit the ideology and preferred lifestyle. Children are the victims.

        That is before we get onto the really major (glossed-over) things like what abortion is, transgender, statistics about homosexuality and so on.

        I got good factual information about the facts of life from my parents in the shape of 3 books when aged 8. I think that provided the books’ ideology is good, then that serves people well. Schools are for the 3 Rs etc., for information not indoctrination. There are ideologues clamouring to get into the doors – they know the importance of capturing the next generation. So does every marketer. So does Screwtape. Or those are some of my thoughts.

        • On ’cause’, we live in a world where all attendant circumstances are potentially relevant, so a straight A-causes-B is rarely going to be a pattern that we find. I discuss this in What Are They Teaching The Children? p261. When in debate with secularists, I find they repeatedly fall back on ‘correlation is not causation’, at great human cost. Correlation is the first thing one looks for when seeking out causation, but that does not mean A causes B. The root cause is probably the authorities refusing to follow and normalise and promote (quite the reverse) the path that demonstrably produces so much better results.

    • Hiya Christopher, just a little comment on interpreting social science data, I think you’ll find that although there’s a correlation between the dates of the events you mention there is no causal link been proved.

      It’s highly unlikely that the tiny element of introducing sex education from the late 60s onwards was anything more than a bit of foam on the top of the huge wave of permissiveness that had it’s roots much much further back. If anything introducing formal sex education may have acted as a breakwater to limit slightly the damaging errosion effects of that wave.

      • But I already denied that this was a case of ’cause’ (above).

        Secondly, if the idea is that we are looking for things to be ‘proved’ that is impossible isnce there are always potentially millions of possible causes or combinations of causes. As I mentioned, all attendant circumstances need to be assessed for possible relevance and causative power. That makes statistically assessing causation quite impossible.

        However, a good rule of thumb is:
        -if the correlation is both strong and constant,
        and in addition the overlap of subject matter is strong (as is the case with permissive education and permissive practice)
        -and in addition the rule is observed that whatever is presented as being the norm (in media and education) will accordingly be practised as though it were the norm (self-fulfilling prophecy)…
        then we have the elements of a good causative argument, as in this case.

        I already mentioned that sex education cannot be seen as the root cause of the permissive society. I could say that that cause was Roy Jenkins (in the UK anyway), but the seeds were sown in cultural changes from c1955, which reached a critical mass c1963 and peaked in 1968-9 though the fallout and the bedding in of the new norms made the data even worse in the 1970s. To repeat: the best candidate for root cause (and it is interesting that different people make different things central – whether liberalism for Marsh, secularisation for John Robinson and Cal[l]um Brown, feminism for James Dobson) – is in my view the failure of the authorities who have the power of legislation to obey the evidence that was before their very eyes of which path (the Christian one) produces massively better results. This is still the state of denial they inhabit in the face of incredibly strong statistical evidence in so very many directions. To paraphrase a Joni Mitchell song from that era: they didn’t know what they had till it was gone.

        I disagree with you in one way quite strongly about sex education as will be seen above. They could have been truthful about what percentage of people were married – a very high percentage. In fact they sidelined and did not mention marriage. How do you interpret that? I see it as deliberate and ideological. Is there any way of denying that? Secondly they did the same with regard to the inevitable promiscuity of young people – something which was not actually the case at that particular time for very high percentages. Again, deliberate and ideological. But then what could have been their motives for such misrepresentations? I think I know (because the options are limited in this scenario), and it doesn’t look good for them.

        • Hi Christopher
          Thank you for your forthright rebuttal of the SRE and PSHE. You are right – we are allowing ideology to be pushed onto our children. The C of E have let down every child in their schools by buckling to the progressive agenda.
          In the final summer term parents of final year primary school children were telling me about childrens comments when they came home from the local C of E school. One child had stated “I like boys and girls, so I think I must be bi sexual.” Love for your friend is being conflated to erotic love at a young age before they have even reached puberty and the “in love” stage.
          My grandson has started at a local Academy (non church). He is 11 years old and we only gave him a book about his body changing and biological facts in the summer. Last week all the intake had a day spent on abusive and coercive relationships. He has not even had a girlfriend yet. The content was totally age inappropriate. Under “sexual” it listed prostitution, forced, fgm, pornography …..
          He was fortunately able to discuss this with his mother because he was confused, but how many children were able to do that.
          He is a loving, sensitive boy who would not think of hurting a girl and is shy. This stuff is destroying innocence.

          • On the bisexual thing, it has apparently shot up to 20%, something like a 7fold to 10fold increase, within 5-8 years – purely because of the way that educators frame things in terms of whom people find attractive.

            Well – most people find their friends attractive, and most people have more same-gender friends than other gender.

            The mental health problems down the line will not be pretty. I wish wish wish that right thinking people who ‘get it’ had the leverage to affect things here.

        • Christopher
          Forgot to say that the stated aim on Educate and Celebrate’ s website is to “smash heteronormativity”. And the C of E consider them appropriate for church schools!

          • Yes, I saw that.

            Appeasement is bad and weak enough, but the lack of forethought for what will then inevitably follow down the line because resistance has not taken place at this point. What it always reminds me of is the way that an incredible percentage of schoolchildren would just ‘agree’ either with the bully or with the majority (normally this was the majority only because of the strong influence of one or two strong minded individuals) or with both, out of weakness.

  2. I briefly watched a news item (Channel 4 news?) about some Jewish schools where apparently some teachers were advising parents how they could and should opt out of the new programme, particularly in relation to gay relationships.

    I wonder if Christian teachers, whether employed in church schools or not, can opt out of teaching certain aspects if they personally disagree with them?

  3. @Ian Paul,

    Imagine if there were ‘Dairy Milk Chocolate’ classes that every school child was forced to go through, throughout his schooling. The consumption of Dairy Milk Chocolate would go up, of course it would. The decline in piano lessons has lead to a decline in piano-playing, not a rise in the playing pianos badly. The rise is sex educations leads not to a decline in bad sex, but an increase all round.

    Sex Education was invented by the Soviets for the deliberate purpose of punishing its serfs and destroying their children and their faith. That is what it was intended to do. That is what it appears to do. That is what one would expect it do. Should we not, therefore, take the view that it is what it does do?

    You take it as unwise and unconvincing that sex education could make it worse. But imagine a man who has opposite values to you. He wants to impose his values on children. Should he succeed then he is making things worse. What does he need to do? Sex education. If the imposing of values needs to be done by the impersonal authorities rather the loving parents, then this must be because either the parents are very ignorant or that the values trying to be imposed are damaging to the children being used as pawns. The constant attempts to make it harder for wise and loving parents to keep them from the school’s values, if proof in itself that those imposing the sex education must know that what they are doing to these children could not be entertained by those that love them.

    Arsenic, state sex education, and water are all tools for those that use them. Not wholly good or bad. Even in the case of water if it is being imposed on the wise, you might be being waterboarded or possibly drown. Even too much water, or chocolate, let alone too much state ‘relationship’ education.

    • It is true that in the wake of Birmingham (No Outsiders) parents are in official documents being treated as second class citizens. This is chilling, and as you say the comparison that springs to mind is with the Soviets.

      There is an excellent video on Youtube that goes through in details the ‘texts’ like And Tango Makes Three and My Princess Boy, and interprets them as a child would naturally interpret them.

      When Victoria Derbyshire’s programme showed the leaflet that I and others had been ”guilty” of giving out, it was shocked (without actually doing any research…) that the allegation was made that children will be encouraged to self pleasure. This of course only set people scurrying to find whether this was true or not. 2 programmes in current use in primary schools were found where it was indeed true.

        • The problem is obvious. It forces 100% of parents to have relative strangers (who obviously do not know their child nearly so intimately as they themselves do) impart to their children quite personal matters that very many parents would not dream of having strangers impart to their children – why should they not be allowed any choice in this matter of all matters? I speak of strangers advisedly (we all know about Stranger Danger, which is all the more insidious when it has the official stamp of approval), because

          (1) several schools outsource these lessons to visiting bodies rather than having on-site staff members deliver them;
          (2) those bodies are often of little academic credibility being more concerned with lobbying (which has what to do with accurate education?) e.g. Stonewall, Educate and Celebrate, Mermaids.

          • And of course only one perspective will be commended. What are the chances of this being the parents’ own perspective? Even the parents who agree may not agree with the (often extremely early) age at which it is slated to be imparted. As mentioned, this does seem obvious.

          • The outsourcing is surely to ensure that the education is delivered by reputable and informed bodies rather than by ill prepared teachers.
            But my question was actually about ‘self pleasuring’. Are you suggesting that children should be taught that this is wrong?

          • The outsourcing is surely to ensure that the education is delivered by reputable and informed bodies rather than by ill prepared teachers

            Surely better ill-prepared teachers than ideologically biased campaigning organisations trying to push their side of a contentious issue?

            Would you invite the local Communist party in to teach economics?

          • S
            No. I would rather have well-informed experts teaching age-appropriate RHSE than poorly-informed ideologues.

          • I would rather have well-informed experts teaching age-appropriate RHSE than poorly-informed ideologues.

            Ah, so you’d rule out Mermaids, then, as they are ideologues?

        • What an extraordinary case of putting words into my mouth, Penelope.

          You will see first that I did not say that…

          …and second that I did not say anything close to it.

          In debate, one can judge the most careful, most truthful participants by the way they stick to what has actually been said.

          It is creepy to have outsider strangers imposing their particular ideology (which, if it is based in the sexual revolution, has a very bad track record and compares dismally statistically) on a variety of children some modest and some well-brought-up.

          Who would not prefer a society where we could do away with the imposed brashness and have topics that are off bounds in school because of their sensitivity and personal nature?

          The degree to which parents are actually being informed is at times low too.

          Have you seen the official govt advice given to schools re Birmingham ? – it is almost a case of : who are these people called parents and what exactly is the importance of their connection to the children we teach?

          • The allegation was that children would be taught to ‘self pleasure’ is the phrase of yours I was referring to.

          • You keep failing to see the point. This is the 3rd time now.

            The topic is not the topic you say it is. The topic is as follows:

            ‘not being given the chance to have any other option than for said highly personal content to be delivered to our precious children by probably youthful and ‘progressive’ strangers representing a lobby group, giving one particular very culture-bound and historically rather extreme pespective, without being aware of counter-perspectives’.

            Do you think that other options than this should be allowed, or is the totalitarian approach better?

          • No, Christopher, you are failing to answer my question about ‘self pleasuring’, with ridiculous obfuscation about ‘young’ ‘strangers’ coming into schools. Which I think reveals your ideology.
            Doctors, nurses, guiding/scouting leaders, priests, actors, sports people…visiting schools may all be young and strangers. Like RHSE educators they will all have been DBS checked.

          • I will happily answer your question, though your question postdated your continuing failure to answer mine! Also the tabloidesque slant of your question, together with the pushing of the discussion in one predictable direction, is alas what we have come to expect from liberals, and does them no credit. But in forums like this such tendencies are thankfully laid bare for all to notice.

            There are many things that are neither intrinsically good nor intrinsically bad – it all depends on context. Sex is a classic example. That is why if anyone uses the word ‘anti-sex’ they are revealing themselves to be a 2nd rate thinker, because ‘sex’ is far too various morally to be lumped all together indiscriminately.

            None of which is anything to do with the issue of strangers giving out one particular perspective to children they neither know nor (because they do not know them) care for, showing no modesty and no regard for the modest in bringing into the public space what does not belong there and further enforcing one particular perspective (that such matters are *not* private and *not* restricted to family), which is not that normally found among the wise nor among those who inhabit the largest international cultures.

          • Thank you Christopher. I agree that context is important. I don’t, however, think modesty should preclude children learning about relationships and sex and health education. I think it is especially important to teach them to be aware of predators both IRL and on the internet.
            But it was you, not I who brought up the tabloidesque phrase!

          • First, I did not bring up a trivial ‘phrase’ but rather a highly important *issue*.

            Second, we are talking not about ‘relationships and sex education’ but about the content of that education.

            Third, the nettle about whether the state, which has been captured by a certain minority and intellectually indefensible ideology, should be the educators – that nettle has not been grasped.

            Misunderstandings continue at the rate of one per para. Why is it that it is always liberals that this wholesale failure of understanding takes place with? This is a pattern I have been observing for decades. It seems to me that liberals rely on repeated slogans and clichés for thought (never straying far from the precise culture and time where by pure chance they happen to be), whereas for their opponents thought consists in articulating observation and analysis of realities.

  4. If the C of E acts as though they are essentially in agreement with the secularist approach (as with
    Educate and Celebrate

    then there is no hope – people are fishing to see how strong or weak their principles and convictions are. And they cannot believe it when their cod science or selective science or lack of science is actually taken seriously. Which is exactly what is wrong with the diplomatic and reconciliation approach – it does not discriminate for quality.

    I wish we had a Lewis who could put in story form a clear picture of what is actually going on in this weak capitulation. Or even a good graphic artist. 🙂

    • I have no idea who Educate and Celebrate are.
      Stonewall and Mermaids are both excellent organisations supported by many Christians. Like me.

      • I think this comment does rather beg the question what you think a Christian is. As you are aware, you are stirring things up when you signify that being a Christian is compatible with approval of such organisations. We have been here before, but if one takes Scripture seriously, it isn’t be easy to defuse I Cor 6:9 (inter alia). It’s your soul that is at stake, so on your head be it. Paul goes on to say, ‘You were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.’ Is that your experience? II Pet 2:19-20 also seems relevant.

  5. Ian, I thought your critique was excellent. I hope it is widely read and causes the apostate C of E leadership to ask the same questions.

    Christian Concern has put out a video that concerned parents will find informative:

    I note the use of the word ‘secular’ in the comments. Surely as Christians we should be avoiding this euphemism and the implicit passive pacifism that goes with it. What we are dealing with is a godless, anti-God ideology, and the correct term is surely ‘atheistic’ or, in some contexts, ‘demonic’.

    • ‘Secular’ is clearly different from ‘secularist’. Secular is the here and now that is all under God’s umbrella and is a good thing. ‘Secularist’ is the idea that the immediately apparent here and now is all that there is, and is an insupportable and harmful thing.

      • I take it you are clarifying your own usage – at one point you refer to a ‘secular outlook’ in a negative way. But I don’t think I can agree with your definition of ‘secularism’. I have never seen anyone referred to as a secularist, as if secularism were an ideology and that individual subscribed to it. As I understand the word, ‘secular’ is in opposition to ‘religious’ and refers to the belief that biblical Christian thinking is ‘religious’ in this restricted (non-real, private) sense and everything else belongs to the non-religious: the two domains should be kept separate, and the Church has no business interfering in what properly belongs to the ‘secular’ (the world). A well-known exponent of this was the Marxist (i.e. atheist) palaeontologist Stephen Gould, who semi-popularised the idea of two ‘magisteria’: religion (irrelevant to the real world) and ‘science’. He was happy for the religious to be religious so long as they did not make any claims to explain reality: that was science’s proper domain.

        This is not the outlook of Scripture, and as Christians we should be resisting it. Christ is Lord of all.

        • I have never seen anyone referred to as a secularist, as if secularism were an ideology and that individual subscribed to it.

          I find that hard to believe; for example,


          refers many times to ‘secularists’.

          However, on the broader point: while technically I think you’re correct that:

          ‘”Secularist” is the idea that the immediately apparent here and now is all that there is,’

          is incorrect use of the term ‘secularist’, and that a better term in that definition would be, for example, ‘materialist’, I also think that defining secularism just as

          the belief that biblical Christian thinking is ‘religious’ in this restricted (non-real, private) sense and everything else belongs to the non-religious: the two domains should be kept separate

          is misleading. ‘Secularism’ is one of those words with a wide and a narrow definition, or, perhaps better in this case, a ‘soft’ and a ‘hard’ form.

          ‘Soft’ secularism is the ‘two magisteria’ idea, that religion and science are both fine in their own way but should be kept separate. Both occupy space in the public sphere but they have different roles and speak to different matters.

          ‘Hard’ secularism on the other hand is the idea that religion should as far as possible be banned from the public sphere; people having private religious views may be tolerated, reluctantly, but the moment they express those views in public they are to be shunned (sometimes exceptions are made for religious views which accord with the prevailing cultural non-religious views, but it’s made clear that this is on sufferance and permission can be withdrawn at any time).

          ‘Hard’ secularists also have as a goal the eventual eradication of all religion by use of the education system to promote anti-religious idea to the young.

          These two forms allow secularists to engage in a ‘bait and switch’ form of argument where if anyone objects to the attempt to stamp out all non-intensely private religion (and eventually, generationally, all religion) they can retreat to the ‘soft’ form and ask, ‘but surely you don’t think that our society should be run by the Church?’

          They can then continue to pursue ‘hard’, eradicationalist policies.

          • >I find that hard to believe.<
            I’m sorry, but I didn’t say that no one uses the term ‘secularist’, only that secularism is not in itself an ideology. It is the outcome of an ideology, with atheism at its root. Thus Gould’s ideology was Marxism/Darwinism, it wasn’t ‘secularism’.

            The BBC piece was evidently written by a person sympathetic to the secularist agenda, and labels ‘strong secularism’ what you would call ‘hard secularism’. Either way, the distinction is illusory, and as you develop your comment, you more or less say so yourself. The suggested distinction between ‘secular’ and ‘secularist’ is likewise illusory.

            The ‘secularist’ strategy is to start with the ‘soft’ form, and once society has accepted that, to turn the screw and campaign for the elimination of Christianity altogether. Germany went through a similar process in the 1930s and 40s, and we should be alive to it. It is the strategy, not least, of the National Secular (sic!) Society, an example being its campaign to get Dr Richard Scott de-registered as a GP because on occasions he would offer to pray with his patients. Thanks to resistance from Christian Concern, the NSS lost that battle (as announced today), but the war will continue.

            Secularism is firmly entrenched in modern Christian theology, as it is in the Church at large, which continues to shrink in confidence, and in numbers. That is why I raised the question in the previous blog as to what the ‘fire’ in some prophecies might refer to. There is a tendency to ‘spiritualise’ the meaning rather than imagine that Peter or John might be speaking about physical phenomena affecting the real world. Those who assent to Gould’s way of thinking believe that Genesis 1-2 should likewise be spiritualised. To my mind this is catastrophic.

            What is refreshing about Ian’s piece is that it raises the possibility that God might have a vision for sex and relationships which has been authoritatively communicated in Scripture. He evidently believes that such a vision does exist and that it applies to all humanity, not just religious people. Here, as on the other battle fronts, we should be actively resisting the secularist/atheistic agenda.

          • I would not be happy if my GP offered to pray with me.
            Nice for Christian Concern to win a case though!

        • Secular:
          This might help with an understanding that “secularism” is a system of beliefs.
          It is somewhat long for a comment section, but is worth a look.
          1 Basing a large, underlying, part of his thinking on the work of Charles Taylor’s, “A Secular Age” Tim Keller writes: that there are at least three ways the word “secular” is used today.
          1.1 Social and political structure, a “secular society “, which separates religion and the state and no religious faith is privileged by the government and most powerful institutions.
          1.2. A “secular person”, a one who does not know if there is a God or any supernatural realm beyond the natural world. Everything has a scientific explanation.
          1.3 A “secular age” where all emphasis is on the saeculum, on the here and now without any concept of the eternal. Meaning in life, guidance, and happiness are understood and sought in present-time economic prosperity, material comfort and emotional fulfillment.
          And: even if you are not a secular person, the secular age can “thin out” (secularise) faith until it is seen as simply one more choice in life- along with job, recreation, hobbies, politics- rather than as the comprehensive framework that determines all life choices

          2 Keller continues by looking into, what secular beliefs in the senses of 1.2 and 1.3 above are based on – and emphasises that secularity is based on underpinning beliefs on which he elaborates.
          2.1 Drawing on Charles Taylor he points out that a “plotline narrative” is a “subtraction story”.
          2.2 Keller: ” People claim that their secular outlook is simply what is left after science and reason subtracted their former belief in the supernatural. Once that superstition was gone, they were able to see things that had been there all along- that Reason Alone can establish the truth. and the “humanistic values” of of equality and freedom.
          However, each of these ideas is a New Belief, a value laden commitment that can not be empirically
          To move from religion to secularism is not so much a loss of faith as a shift into a new set of beliefs and into a community of faith, one that draws the lines between orthodoxy and heresy in different places.
          2. 3 They (secularists) assume that belief is mainly a matter of faith while non belief is mainly based on reason.”

          2.4 He moves on to making those secular beliefs more”visible”. He brings them into the open.

          2.5 Conlusions include:
          2.5.1 He shows that
          a) “moral values are always grounded in faith assumptions with a cultural history …
          b) secularism is a “construal” way of interpreting reality…
          c) a new set of beliefs about the universe
          2.5.2 Secular beliefs can not be proven
          2.5.3 they are not self evident to most people
          2.5.4 Problems:
          a)” modern secularist humanistic values are Inconsistent with -even undermined by- its belief in a material-only universe”
          b) “many base their nonbelief on a rigid and simplistic view of reason”
          c)” they will not acknowledge that there are different, contested approaches to rationality and that all of them include the exercise of faith.”
          2.5.5 “We can and should argue about which beliefs account for what we see ans experience in the world .We can and should debate the inner logical consistency of belief systems, asking whether they support or contradict one another .”
          Taken from, “Making Sense of God” (326 pages) by Timothy Keller

  6. If this is correct, it seems that Jo Swinson, needs age appropriate sex education. What age, grade of biology would it be?:

    “Wake up to hear Jo Swinson tell @JustinOnWeb that biological sex – the fact there are male and female humans – does not exist. A person who would be Prime Minister denying science. Unbelievable.

    11:33 pm – 8 Dec 2019”
    From a Janice Turner tweet.

    • Yes – I have often made the point – if you adults have not even got to the stage of realising things that are obvious to a 6 year old, what does that make your IQ?

      • To The Times today:
        Further to the LibDem policy of self-identifying one’s gender: sexual reproduction in almost all higher species, including humans, proceeds via fusion of one small and one large gamete (anisogamy). ‘Sex’ refers to one of the two reproductive roles in this process. Individuals that have developed anatomies for producing either small or large gametes, regardless of their past, present or future functionality, are referred to as ‘males’ and ‘females’ respectively. No anisogamic species produces more than two different gamete types. Thus, there are precisely 2 reproductive roles in anisogamic species. This, there are precisely 2 sexes: sex is binary.’

        All the other variations (over 100 gender identities) are expressed in terms of male and female (and how they relate to these) – how else? So these remain the essential 2 which cannot be changed or added to. The others are not sexes or genders but something less basic.

        The other points have been made before repeatedly:
        -If one is not a male (and therefore does not know how males feel), how does one know that one feels like a male?
        -Feelings are never wrong??
        -Feelings are *more* probative than facts?
        -If one can self-identify gender, why not age, ethnicity, height….?
        -Why cannot one say ‘You may have video evidence that I stole the goods, but I feel inside very strongly that I did not.’?
        -Problems with female sports
        -Problems with prisons
        -Problems with smear tests and males having to attend them
        -Problems with mixed bathrooms
        -Problems with passports – it does not help investigation if a male has a female passport.
        -Problems with legal documents like birth certificates failing to tell the truth.
        -Problems problems problems.

        Do people think that all the other ages and societies that avoid all of these clearly non-ubiquitous and unnecessary problems are better off or worse off?

        • One of the reasons I have just voted LibDem is their robust and sensible trans policy.
          Simplistic assertions about ‘feels’ do not advance the debate.
          Not that it’s a debate. People’s lives and experiences aren’t up for ‘debate’.

          • People’s lives and experiences aren’t up for ‘debate’.

            So remind me who appointed you the arbiter of what is and isn’t up for debate?

          • I would not be happy if my GP offered to pray with me.
            Nice for Christian Concern to win a case though!

          • Conscience S.
            No one’s lives are up for debate. You can’t debate whether a gay or trans person has rights, especially if you are neither gay nor trans.

          • I would be happy if anyone prayed, assuming prayer is a good thing. If it is not a good thing, then that would be another matter.

            Everything is up for debate. As soon as people try (on what authority) to exclude certain topics from the debate, I always suspect that this is because they know they would lose the debate so they are forcibly claiming the right to demand that the debate should not happen. To which the answer is always (a) no, and (b) who are you to demand that?

          • Christopher
            Great. You would be happy. I wouldn’t.
            In reality, you are not at all happy to have your life up for debate. Otherwise why write ‘What are they teaching the children?’

          • We wrote it in order for people to have the tools for a statistically informed debate.

            The main target in my chapters was ideologues – those who claim to have opinions without doing the research first.

            Debate is the quest for the truth, and involves scrutiny of evidence. No entry for ‘opinions’ that lack foundation.

          • Why would it matter if it were conservative or radical or maverick or anything else in the end product?

            This is the one point that (though obvious) will change your thinking one you grasp it.

            Following the evidence may produce accurate answers at any point on the aforesaid spectrum. That is irrelevant.

            All that matters is that the statistical evidence (coupled with science, commonsense and logic) be faithfully followed, so that discrepancies of 500% weigh proportionally more than those of 50% and so on.

            You must surely be able to see the difference between A and B:

            A – we followed the evidence and found at the end of all our searching that the status quo was vindicated (or upset) to degree n%.

            B – We were determined, before we even began, to vindicate (or upset) the status quo.

            A is the procedure of scholars, B of ideologues. The 2 do not (to put it mildly)_ operate on the same level.

            Your association of A with ideologues is the reverse of the truth. A is the approach taken by people who loathe ideology, i.e. honest and truthful people.

            But search me why we would even need to speak of ideology in either an honest context or a half scholarly context. I get incredibly bored by the way the conversation does not progress any further than that – any further than page 1 of the theoretical introduction, in other words.

            If you understand this, you will understand my thinking (or indeed the scholarly process – it is far from being my thinking alone, and is thousands of years old as well as being common sense). So if in doubt, re-read and save a lot of ink being spilt.

          • I think it might save you a lot of grief Christopher, if you admitted that all scholarship is ideological. Science is ideological. There is no neutrality. The research you present in ‘What are they…’ ideas open to interrogation as any research.

          • Have you read all scholarship? No.

            Have you avoided sweeping generalisation, something not usually associated with good thought? No.

            Have you claimed to know millions of people’s motives better than they know them themselves? Yes.

            Is that claim true? No.

          • Well, Christopher the assertion that scholarship and ideology are antipathetic is a bit of a sweeping generalisation isn’t it?

        • Liberals always seem to come back to this same point. They assert it, but provide no evidence. That in itself discourages us from taking it seriously.

          (a) You are not seriously saying that those trained to guard against ideology are equally unsuccessful to those who know nothing apart from going with the fow?

          (b) You are not seriously saying that trained scholars have made no progress whatsover in objectivity since the wishful-thinking days of their childhood?

          (c) When you are saying that it is all ideological, is that not totalitarian?

          (d) Is it not an impossibly sweeping generalisation?

          (e) Why should anyone believe it since it is an unevidenced assertion?

          (f) Among all the people on earth, don’t you think that some guard against ideology better than others?

          (g) What is the percentage limit to which someone can guard against it? Is improvement not always possible in this area? If so , that means there is no upper limit, and it is potentially possible to guard against it completely.

          (h) In my view (g) is wrong – it is *totally* (not merely potentially) possible to guard against it completely. Supposing the question is ‘how many births were there in England and Wales, according to the official stats, in 1964?’. There is only one answer possible. You cannot say – ‘Oh, you are only saying that number because you are a liberal’, or ‘because you are a female’. That would be silly. And that is precisely why I so emphasise statistics. Maximal precision is the best bulwark against the enemy that is ideology.

          How can you disagree on (h)? But then your case is scuppered.

          • Christopher

            a) what training did you receive to guard against ideology? I was taught to recognise ideology, i.e. others hermeneutical lenses and my own.
            b) scholars aim, perhaps, for objectivity; the most successful are usually those who understand that all hermeneutics is subjective.
            c) I don’t see what is totalitarian about competing ideologies; the imposition of one ideology might be totalitarian.
            d) why is it a sweeping generalisation to observe that the world is full of competing ideologies?
            e) there is lots of evidence for competing ideologies: we have just had a general election; groups are feuding over the appointment of Stephen Cottrell as ABY.
            f) yes, of course some do; they are often agnostic.
            g) no idea what the percentage limit is – hermeneutics doesn’t work like that.
            h) again, hermeneutics are about interpretation, not about statistics. But, then, even statistics can be manipulated or mis-read. I am tired of hearing that 48% of the population voted against Brexit when, 48% of the electorate who actually voted, voted to stay in the EU. The hermeneutical questions are why they did so

  7. Thank you Ian for the enormous amounts of work you do to speak coherently on critical issues.

    I haven’t looked at the Charter but I suspect that if I had I would be in absolute agreement with everything you wrote.

    I don’t however know why YOU make some of the points you make. You mention that they put in only the first half of Gen 1:27 and they then create a document whose spirit is consistent with that omission. So for example you mention that in their point 7 they focus only on various character virtues within sexual relationships and not on who should and should not be the participants in sexual activity. But can’t you see why they do? What possible reason does any egalitarian have for saying that a man should not sleep with a man other than “Because the bible says so?” An egalitarian may see differences between men and women but those differences are never articulated in a way that reveals why same sex parents wouldn’t on average parent as well as parents of different sexes – and therefore would reveal why same sex marriage is against any kind of visible intention or motivation of God’s. And egalitarian logic actually has the opposite effect of what it thinks it will achieve in respect of church leadership – if men and women function the same in leadership what possible reason is there for needing both sexes to be active in church life?

    I believe that almost all the time God wants us to see His heart behind His commands and that we must be able to speak heart to heart to win people to God. Whilst I believe that truth is revealed to be truth through inner witness I don’t think that God wants us to win others to his sexual vision simply with “The Bible says so so get used to it”. If for example I find out you like playing U2’s music and I send you a couple of CD’s do you agree that it is important to also find out if you don’t actually like their music – that you only play it because while it’s on your did stops barking at the neighbour’s dog @ ? I think that the commands of God are like that. To obey them in a love relationship with God we need to know His heart.

    Your article asks the question as to what the charter should contain but then you focus on objections to the current draft charter. You don’t present your best vision for sexuality. Any charter, to be respected and therefore used, has to present a picture regarding the sexes and concerning marriage which reveals the HEART of God behind his commands. I di t see how egalitarianism does that, not fit that matter most complementarianism which stops short of actually outlining sex differences and God’s purpose behind those differences.

    • ‘You don’t present your best vision for sexuality.’ So you haven’t read my pair of posts on exactly that question, which are in fact hyperlinked in the article above for just that reason?

      It would really help the conversation if you could engage properly with what I have written, rather than dismantling straw men of your own construction.

      In case you missed it, here are the two parts:



      • I read these articles before today. As you can know if you look at your tweets.

        The information in them is very helpful but it doesn’t enable a believer or non-believer (following a school charter) to effectively answer heart level questions regarding sexuality. It won’t be able, as long as it is based on egalitarian logic, to answer the following question which will be on the lips of any number of teenagers:

        “Why is men having sex with men in Romans 1 shameful? Why does your egalitarian logic Give you to answer other than “because the bible says so” or “because God just decided to make things that way”“?

        Which leads to my second question:

        “Why isn’t egalitarian logic, if it fails to itemise real differences in respect of men and women in respect of parenting, support for same sex parenting and same sex marriage?

        • Hi Philip,

          In your zeal for complementarianism, you may have missed that Ian Paul wrote: “ I don’t believe in sex dimorphism because the Bible teaches it; I believe in it because science observes it. The Bible makes the same observation that science does. This is important in current debate; if it was merely taught in the Bible, then we might be free to accept or reject it. Since it is actually observable fact, it is harder to avoid.”


          Best wishes,


          • In truth, those who fail to observe anything so obvious are few. The Bible observes it only because anyone with half a dollop of commonsense observes it. Ian is right. ‘I don’t believe in sex dimorphism because the Bible teaches it; I believe in it because science observes it.’. It should occasion no surprise that anyone observes things that are reasonably obvious. However, one increasingly finds that the Christians are almost the only ones with their heads screwed on, so although one does not believe things for Christian or biblical reasons (that would be circular – and in any case Christian and biblical teaching is initially formulated not *because* it is Christian or biblical but because it is found to be true and accurate), none the less the Christians are the only ones in one’s camp. A lot of the rest of the (western) world has gone mad, but that is what will inevitably happen if you follow the majority or fashionable when ideologues have control of the airwaves and of public opinion.

          • Hi Paul,

            The discussion I’m seeking to have with Ian concerns whether the Bible reveals anything concerning the functional not biological differences between men and women. And whether egalitarians, who if they argue that men and women are different functionally the differences aren’t of a nature that they should prevent men and women from being considered interchangeable, aren’t in believing this providing support to same sex parenting and same sex marriage.

          • I don’t believe that women and men are interchangeable. But I don’t think there are any aspects of ministry which are universally prohibited to one sex.

          • And whether egalitarians, who if they argue that men and women are different functionally the differences aren’t of a nature that they should prevent men and women from being considered interchangeable, aren’t in believing this providing support to same sex parenting and same sex marriage.

            Surely this is a fallacy of a massive excluded middle?

            Obviously there are some ways in which men and women are interchangable: if you need a blood donor, then a man’s blood or a woman’s will do just as well, provided the clotting factors are compatible.

            And equally obviously (to all but the insanely woke) there are ways in which they aren’t: men can’t bear children.

            The difference between all position in this area then is granular, not black-and-white.

            So assuming you’re talking about ‘egalitarianism’ as a distinction to ‘complementarianism’ (it’s not a term that I’ve ever heard in that context, but I can see what it would mean) then claiming that egalitarians believe that ‘men and women [are] considered interchangeable’ is a massive straw man, because no one (again, except the insanely woke) thinks that the fact men and women are interchangable in one area means they must logically be interchangable in all areas.

            It is perfectly logical to think that, say, men and women are interchangable when it comes to holding positions of authority, for example, but not interchangable when it comes to parental roles, and still less interchangable when it comes to sexual union in the image of God.

            So in short: that’s a straw man.

        • Hi S,

          You raise two examples, one which demonstrates biological similarity between men and women and the other a biological difference – but that is not the area in which I raise a question and in which I await a response from Ian.

          I’m interested only in how functional differences affect or not the interchangeability of men and women when it comes to parenting and church leadership. I’m only interested in whether egalitarians can name differences between men and women which are substantial enough to make them a defence against Christianity being support for same sex parenting and same sex marriage and yet not prevent men and women from being considered carbon copies when it comes to family and church leadership.

          • I’m interested only in how functional differences affect or not the interchangeability of men and women when it comes to parenting and church leadership

            And this is exactly my point: why on Earth would you group ‘church leadership’ and ‘parenting’ together like that?

            It seems obvious to me that those are two totally different areas of life, and all the possible positions — the men and women are interchangable in both, that they are not interchangable in both, that they are interchangable in church leadership but not parenting, and that they are interchangable in parenting but not church leadership — are all equally plausible positions to hold.

            If you want to claim that any view on the interchangability of men and women in church leadership necessarily implies a particular position on their interchangability in parenting then I think the onus is first on you to show why you think that, as it’s certainly not obvious (to me anyway) that it would.

          • Hi Philip,
            if I might add another comment in this area, there is a distinction between people can/cannot do, and what people should/should not do.

            Given that women are on average physically weaker than men, it is unlikely that a typical woman would make a good scaffolder. However, if a woman with suitable strength can do the job it would seem silly to say that she should not because she lacks a Y chromosome. However, if the egalitarian says that the numbers of male and female scaffolders should be the same, then that is also silly.

            For sex and procreation, it is clear that men and women have distinct capabilities. It is significantly less clear that men and women have distinct capabilities when it comes to roles, especially leadership roles, within the church.

          • That makes good sense, David. One of the greatest wonders is the way the brain connects everything with everything else through limitless pathways (as a non-scientist I am inarticulate here) and everything about a person therefore impacts somehow on every other aspect of them. Something very central like gender is bound to impact on very many things. What we in fact find is that the physical differences between men and women are obvious and that the emotional / brain / interests differences (on average or typically) are less obvious but still very significant.

        • Hi Ian,

          That’s too bad. Because most of the world say that from a parenting and same sex marriage point of view that men and women are interchangeable. And you didn’t list any male and female differences that can be used to resist their push.

          So it’s back to winning the world to the Christian position by saying only “because the bible says so”.

  8. My biggest problem is with how the debate is framed. If we were serious about children and their wellbeing just telling them what sex is and who it’s for but leaving it to slot into their already fully established frame of reference of power relationships is rearanging deckchairs on the Titanic.

    From what I can tell from those who work amongst the very very young, and I also worked in playgroups for some years, plus research I did for my dissertation, prevention has to be key and our motivational verses need to be not primarily the “don’t do” verses but we need to be mining deeper in the how we should be behaving ideas that are much less “sexy” but are infact the sunlight and water to grow healthy fruit.

    For example the “to one another” verses. Honouring, loving, forgiving, submitting, encouraging to name but a few of the 35, all build the self esteem, confidence and mutual respect required to have healthy sexual relationships, amongst other things, and limit the abuse of power which can at the root of unhealthy attitudes towards sex and the feeling sof powerlessness which can also foster the escape into sexual relief.

    Let alone the fruit character verses in Galations and elsewhere, the love ones the people of Corinth needed as an antidote to their difficulties, the “put clean clothes” advice for the Ephesians and Colossians. Self control and patience are hard to teach in a theoretical sense as they appear abstract and don’t make easy lessons (even sunday school lessons, much more fun to teach the Power Rangers, Lord of the Rings Daniel in the lion’s den magic events stories leaving out that Daniel was hard working and self disciplined and did extremely well at work so was bullied and set up by jealous and racist workmates)

    This isn’t just the odd proof text, it’s the very fundament of our good news.

    In practice it includes things like calling out and reversing the practice of letting more boys than girls answer in class, and letting boys interupt girls in class, (and letting those better dressed and socially powerful and the more good looking according to social conventions all interupt or precede those seen to be lower down the scale) all statistically demonstrated even though most adults would say they’re fair. Sharing, turn taking, delayed gratification can all heavily influence our sexual behaviour later on.

      • may I should say that ‘fundament’ is a word in English, but it does not mean what you think it means

        It means ‘foundation’ which seems to make sense in context.

        Why… whatever did you think it might mean?

          • it can mean one’s ‘foundation’ when sitting on a chair

            Oh yes, it can. But that’s not its only meaning. Just like the word ‘bottom’ which can mean the same thing but has other meanings too.

        • >Just like the word ‘bottom’ which can mean the same thing but has other meanings too.<

          My 2-volume Shorter OED defined the word (as at 1973) as:
          1. Foundation [obsolete].
          2. The lower part of the body, on which one sits; the buttocks; also the anus.

          It is always possible that, sporting another meaning, the word has come back into semi-literate usage through ignorance of what the word means. I have never heard it or read it anywhere myself. Is it part of your vocabulary?

          • 1. Foundation


            Is it part of your vocabulary?

            Absolutely. I knew exactly what was meant when I read the original comment.

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