Christianity and Sex

Christianity has a terrible attitude to sex. It is insidious, harmful and dangerous.

We like to point fingers at the idiocy of the Vatican, for example, in condemning the use of condoms (or insisting on official-celibacy for their priests*). Or the lunacy of denying teenagers good sex-education in favor of some faux-moral ‘abstinence only’ program. Or the hideous bigotry and hate-mongering of anti-homosexual rhetoric which, these days is politically driven by religious organizations.

But these aren’t the extremes I’m concerned about. It is the modest, background-noise, quotidian anti-sex bias that is present in as many liberal churches (in my experience) as in conservative churches.

Ask most liberal Christians their opinion of sex and they’ll tell you that it is great, wonderful, gift from God. And so on. But in my life I’ve only ever found one or two Christians who are genuinely sex-positive.

This is the legacy of the early church, of course. They struggled with supporting family life and encouraging asceticism. They left a long-standing shadow in the church over whether sex is good, in and of itself. The church has decided it isn’t. Sex is fine if it is caged, if it is managed, if it is unsurprising, if it doesn’t swell up to captivate and enrich and illuminate those who practice it. Passionate desire should be directed only at God.

Churches don’t talk much about sex. When they do they talk about it pruriently. With nods and winks. I’ve never heard anyone in church mention any sex organ by name, even by their anatomic names. I’ve heard plenty of euphemism though.  I’ve never heard a youth group talk about sex that encouraged masturbation, even though it is known to be healthy and inversely correlated to STD and teen pregnancy. I’ve heard plenty of ‘touching yourself makes the baby Jesus cry’ crap though. At a church weekend away I told a pretty tame Viagra joke one evening and I got a reputation as someone with a ‘dirty’ sense of humor.

It is depressing. Some friends of friends set up an online sex-shop aimed at their fellow Christians. Their venture: whollylove has received some pretty serious and vicious rhetorical attack from Christian leaders, even in their very liberal church tradition. When they set up the site, I forwarded the link to various Christian friends – the responses were 100% embarrassed changes of subject. This week I came across an ‘agony aunt’ message: here, that shows the same kind of self-righteous disregard for real people and real experiences (read that response, and consider the subtext of the original question – “sex is something in my relationship that Christianity hasn’t screwed up yet, is that okay” – of course the answer is no).

Has the joy of sex really been beaten and condemned out of Christianity? I mean, the kind of joy that is really transformative? Do most liberal Christians really think they are free in their sexuality? Are there vital sex-lives hidden under a veneer of pretension, or have people really bought the line that losing yourself in physical ecstasy is a spiritual danger?

I think there is a problem, and I think it is harming countless marriages and stunting healthy psycho-sexual development in millions of young people.

Is it just me?

* My experience is that the actual attitude of the Catholic church hierarchy to sexual relationships in the clergy is far more complex.

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15 Comments

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15 responses to “Christianity and Sex

  1. Funny. Just after reading your post, I noticed that the pastor of the church I attend, had this to say:
    “Divorce can make a lot of sense – if you don’t believe in heaven. Once heaven becomes part of the equation, the cost of divorce – God’s wrath and anger, jeopardizing the future with a selfish attitude – becomes much too high. – Gary Thomas in his book Sacred Marriage”
    Now I would agree there is plenty that is horrible about divorce, but I see the consequences as all earthly and usually it is not the divorce that is horrible, but the revenge. I don’t know the full context of this quote, but usually when I hear Christians talk about divorce, it usually is related to sex. Sex is bad unless you are married and then I guess its okay as long as you don’t have too much fun.

    What I find interesting, is that most of the texts in the Bible that discuss the topic, make the most sense, when interpreted in the context that women are property. For example, sex with a virgin, requires that the man reimburse her father because she is now damaged goods. So I think some of the damaging attitudes were quite strong even before Augustine.

  2. Ian

    Thanks, and welcome to the blog!

    I agree with you.

    I think the ownership of women is definitely a factor in the old-testament laws on marriage and sex. They make almost no sense at all from a modern perspective. You have to think about marriage as a form of property ownership.

    The new-testament is a little more nuanced (to be fair, the OT may be too, I’ve just never studied the question there in as much depth). There are communities in the NT tradition where women seemed to play quite vital roles in the church. By and large these appear to be communities in which celibacy was preferred. On the other hand there are communities where women were treated very much as subordinates belonging to their husband, and these seemed to be the communities that were more pro-marriage. Control over women’s bodies is pretty universal, then.

    Sex is bad unless you are married and then I guess its okay as long as you don’t have too much fun

    I think that’s about right. I know many who would dispute this, however, and say that you can have as much fun as you like in marriage. But I don’t think they mean it. If your idea of fun is being bi, enjoying exhibitionism, S&M, or porn, for example, then that’s probably sinful. If it is making lots of noise and ‘breaking the bed’ (a phrase I’ve heard more than once to signify a healthy sex life), well okay, as long as it is missionary. It has to be unsurprising and conventional. Managed and controllable.

  3. “We do not need to sanctify an entirely natural act by having simultaneous spiritual thoughts about God [while] in our spouse’s arms. Bouncing buttocks, phallic thrusts, heaving bodies, sighs and moans and giggles are all part of the God-given natural order of things.” C. J. Mahaney, from his book, Sex, Romance, and the Glory of God: What Every Christian Husband Needs To Know

    Though the my recollection of the majority of the book is of typical complementarian theology; if something is wrong in the marriage, men are at fault because they are in charge, and women just need to make sure they are submitting to their husband.

  4. sex, money, and power… three things humanity and thus the church is steeped in but yet never wants to talk about. that is one of the big callings of my ministry. i am still fighting my catholic upbringing which was abstinence only, wait til marriage.. both of which i did (to a degree, depends on what the definition of “is” is.) that being said, i think there are some pluses and some definite minuses to the sex talk. Catholic Ethicists have some great reasons for moderation in sexual practices and most of which i applaud. the foundational assumption is that you will be ontologically changed during the sexual union, you will always be a part of that person and vice versa. i think that is true. i hear my buddies always recount their past conquests and still carry a little flame for their ex’s. if you don’t want that in your future spouse then don’t do it until you meet him or her. sounds reasonable. plus sex is a multiplier in relationships as well. it makes things a lot more messy and complicated during break-ups and such. i think there is value in moderation and abstinence. however, what abstinence looks like is an entirely different subject.

    so the “free love” movement i’m against… the total abstinence idea i am against. i’m willing to work out an ethical middle road… let’s think about how that would look. okay, maybe wrong choice of wording here… but where are the boundaries? what can ppl handle and what can’t they?

  5. Ian

    Thanks Luke. I value your opinion. But I do think it illustrates the baggage that the anti-sex message of Christianity loads its young people.

    “the foundational assumption is that you will be ontologically changed during the sexual union, you will always be a part of that person and vice versa”

    Precisely the problem. By preaching ontological change, the sex act becomes a legitimate point of control in the church. Certain types of people are allowed, people in other ontological categories are not. This is just bigotry, by any name.

    Associating sin with ontological change is one of the most powerful ways for any religion to form in- and out-groups, and therefore to exert control. It should be rejected.

    Someone who has had intercourse with 100 people is no more or less or different a human being than someone who is a virgin, or someone who’s has sex with 100 people without having intercourse.

    “i hear my buddies always recount their past conquests and still carry a little flame for their ex’s”

    I have flames for my ex’s and crushes, right back to age 11. But that isn’t anything to do with sex. The first time I fell in love was more significant than the first time I had sex, and I feel more fondly towards my first love that to my first sexual partner. I think that is healthy. Any important relationship in my life I carry forward. My wife understands I am formed by my past experiences. Of romantic love, of friendships, of family. What configurations my body entered is a rather geometrical sideshow. Unless, by guilt, negative connotation or undue focus, it is made otherwise.

    “plus sex is a multiplier in relationships as well. it makes things a lot more messy and complicated during break-ups and such.”

    I don’t understand how. Again, unless you overload it with so much shame that the parties feel bad for having had sex and not followed it through to marriage. That is exactly why there is a problem.

    By not thinking carefully about relationships for their own sake, but focusing on sex, we lose the ability to distinguish between really healthy and destructive patterns of behavior. Here are three cases:

    1. A wife has a much greater libido than her husband. They discuss it, and agree that the wife can have sex with a male friend.

    2. A husband gets bored with his wife, and so carries on an a secret affair with a work colleague.

    3. A wife finds she can’t talk to her husband any more, so spends as much time as possible at a (non-romantic) girlfriend’s house.

    Rank these three relationships (all three of which are genuine circumstances of folks I know) in terms of wholesomeness…

    Most Christians I guess would say: 2 is worst (affair), then 1 (extra-marital sex), then after a big gap 3 (its a shame, but not unusual).

    I’d say 2 is worst (secrets), then 3 (unhealthy), and then a big gap, because 1 is fine.

    “but where are the boundaries? what can ppl handle and what can’t they?”

    The answer is simple. They can handle whatever they can handle. The church shouldn’t have the moral right to answer those questions on behalf of people.

  6. whoa! talk about taking my words and mixing in your own assumptions! jeez oh pete! i’ll take the blame though, as i didn’t fully explain myself.

    “By preaching ontological change, the sex act becomes a legitimate point of control in the church… Associating sin with ontological change …”

    i didn’t ever say that it was a sin to have sex outside of marriage. what i did say is that my assumption is that you can’t have sex with someone and be the same afterwards. the relationship is changed and the two people have been changed and odds are, there is a wider change in the community that knows and supports these two people. i never made a judgment on whether this was right or wrong, that was your associative leap.

    it’s not about control, although it has become that in many circles. for me it’s about boundaries and considerations. if ppl think they can have sex without consequences, that is patently false. every action has a equal and opposite reaction and with sex and the network of human relationships, sex is a multiplier and therefore the reactions aren’t always equal. take my buddy who had a one-night stand while drunk, it was his first encounter, it wasn’t very good, she spread it around campus about how lame he was and it turns out he contracted crabs from her. now we thought this was funny of course, but he felt awful. he could have spread around the word about her, but didn’t. he kept his head about him and didn’t bend to the force of retaliation. can’t say i would do the same. many others haven’t, and women usually get the bad rap in these cases. we didn’t shame him, we tried to support him and help him see the humor in it. he did and he still jokes about it with us when we get back together. he’s thankful for his community to help him take the high road and not retaliate back. he’s a good guy, stinks that this girl missed what a gem he is.

    now, it’s not about guilt, but it is about honor and shame. how can we live together, honoring one another and not shaming one another? this doesn’t mean anything goes. sex is serious stuff. so is love. i don’t have flames from my ex’s because i recognize that those relationships weren’t love, but they indeed taught me about what love is and what love is not. i learned from them and i value them and still love them. but they pale in comparison to my wife.

    what it boils down to for me is having respect for others and respect for one’s self. in my view, Christian sexual ethics boils down to prohibitions against excess and exploitation while maintaining another’s humanity. to see someone just as a hot-body misses the bigger person. this would outlaw things like human trafficking, child slavery, and rape. mysogyny and homophobia would also fall under this rubric. the question of pornography is up in the air, i’m thinking it would look a lot different than the “man hammers woman” stuff that is mostly circulating around the net.

    now for your cases:

    1. A wife has a much greater libido than her husband. They discuss it, and agree that the wife can have sex with a male friend.
    —communication is key here. it’s about what the relationship can handle. often though, even through the best communication, jealousy gets the best of us. Kinsey though he could do the same after discussing it with his wife and carrying out sex in the name of science. he wasn’t immune to jealousy either, but the key is that they discussed it and kept in conversation and relationship no matter how painful. he wound up being faithful to her because of her feelings.

    2. A husband gets bored with his wife, and so carries on an a secret affair with a work colleague.
    –no communication here, relationship massively damaged, trust betrayed.

    3. A wife finds she can’t talk to her husband any more, so spends as much time as possible at a (non-romantic) girlfriend’s house.
    –no communication here, relationship neglected by both parties.

    “The church shouldn’t have the moral right to answer those questions on behalf of people.”

    so who does? society, culture? ethicists? philosophers? scientists? every group needs to know the boundaries. in every culture there are standards placed that people are expected to live by. now love is notoriously hard to contain and it doesn’t follow the rules of gender, law, or practice. it looks different for each person in a relationship. but if each person goes together and says “here is the standards to live by” and it happens to be done in a church setting, then yes, in that instance, the church has the power to say what is right and wrong because it is the people who say so. the church is not some institution or some moral king on a throne, but it means community. and thus, that is what is should be.

  7. Ian

    @Luke

    I didn’t mention marriage in the context of ontology either. You assumed my assumption 🙂

    Things change no matter what you do, that’s a long way from saying there is an ontological change (i.e. a change in the fundamental nature of a being).

    had a one-night stand while drunk, it was his first encounter, it wasn’t very good, she spread it around campus about how lame he was and it turns out he contracted crabs from her

    She sounds a vile person.

    Are you suggesting in your last paragraph that the ‘rules’ a church proposes are decided upon by its members? That seems theologically and practically naive to me. A church proposes rules that it thinks God wants, and its sense of God is the mean of what its members have been told about God.

    Christian sexual ethics boils down to prohibitions against excess and exploitation while maintaining another’s humanity

    Nope, don’t buy that at all. As far as I can see Christianity (as actually practiced, not as some imaginary Utopian religion of one) does a very good job of stifling the expression of human sexuality with its prohibitions, low-grade disapproval, and systematic tabooing. The fact that so many church members have been taught to think of anything more would be excess is the entire problem.

  8. haha! good catch!

    “Things change no matter what you do, that’s a long way from saying there is an ontological change (i.e. a change in the fundamental nature of a being).”

    absolutely! some out there would like to suggest that people don’t change, not really, you are born with some sort of compass or are conditioned to believe one way (depending on your psychological position of Jungian or Behaviorist) and can’t alter it. i think that’s rubbish. everything is in flux. but to say we have no say in our changing is equally crappy. we have a say in the matter and we can become who we want to be, more or less. it’s about casting the vision and maintaining the boundaries in that position.

    “Are you suggesting in your last paragraph that the ‘rules’ a church proposes are decided upon by its members?”

    yes. there are things that are in our culture that were no where in the bible. there are things in the bible that were in the culture that are in no way shape or form divine. one read through exodus and you’ll see case law, not divine law. as an atheist, this shouldn’t be that shocking to you.

    “She sounds a vile person.”

    she was. but the point being is that my buddy had a community which supported him and helped him remember his boundaries and regain his honor after being shamed, and shamed quite publicly. he didn’t retaliate, didn’t sink to her level. took it as a learning experience and didn’t do it again. he found his limit of what he could bear.

    “A church proposes rules that it thinks God wants, and its sense of God is the mean of what its members have been told about God.”

    which church? the catholic one? those with a particular heirarchy, but not in the Congregationalist model, not one bit. nor is it in forms of anabaptist thought or quaker polity. we search the scriptures to discern what God wants, yes; but the rule is built for the community not just the individual. ethical boundaries and standards are set just like they were for my friend. we try something, it ends badly, we give advice to others warning them not to try it. that’s how morals are set in communities. when we seem to reach a state where morals lead to communal harmony, we smack ourselves on the head and state “wow! we’ve known this all along!” we think that these particular morals have been in place since the “foundation of the world” and thus God-ordained. whether they are or not is beside the point.

    “Nope, don’t buy that at all…”

    okay, then there must be some empirical evidence you’re basing this on. it can’t be subjective experience or hearsay of which the conversation has been centered around. thus there must be some Christian ethicists you’ve read on the subject… like Guroian, Harrision, Farley, or Smedes. so thus reading them you must have a response to their ethical arguments. just as you, after reading my exegetical paper on 1 Cor. 6:9-11, must have rational reason aside from “The church as i see it…” and can counter any claim made on the subject and argument i base on excess and exploitation. no? i see… easier to deal with stereotypes than actually do the research. i know, i am guilty of it as often as you are. it’s a common sin.

    now i agree that the problem stems from how many “church members have been taught to think of anything more would be excess is the entire problem” is pretty close to correct. but how and why aren’t dealt with at all. Puritan history would be a good place to start studying to see the impact here… just as it would be to study why men don’t talk as much supposedly and are uncomfortable with their feelings (Greek and German stoicism anyone?!).

    my point being that if you haven’t read anything aside from your semi-evangelical/Catholic understanding you’ve displayed thus far, then your view is at worst worthless and at best skewed on the subject.

  9. Ian

    absolutely! some out there would like to suggest that people don’t change, not really

    Then, in the spirit of berating people to read scholarship on the subject, I respectfully suggest that you are using ‘ontological’ in an idiomatic way.

    If you want to argue that all change is ontological, fine. Not how I’d use the term, but I’ll concede the point. If all change in ontological, then sex produces ontological change.

    But I would contest that churches do teach that sex produces ontological change, in the philosophical sense of ‘ontology’. That there is a difference between the status of a human being who has had intercourse from those who have not. That the ‘joining’ of man and woman is not a description of relative geometry, but of fundamental conceptual change.

    “Are you suggesting in your last paragraph that the ‘rules’ a church proposes are decided upon by its members?”

    yes. there are things that are in our culture that were no where in the bible

    Non sequitir. I didn’t mention the bible, and I think it is irrelevant.

    I meant that no church I know sits down and gets its members to decide on what they think is right and wrong. Certainly not anabaptists. It is always dressed up in language such as ‘seeking the will of God’ or ‘interpreting God’s will in our culture’.

    Trying to seek the will of God acts as inertia on moral change within the church, because it is tantamount to asking what people were taught about God’s will when they were learning their Christian morality. Harrison makes exactly this point in Our Right to Choose, iirc.

    “Nope, don’t buy that at all…”

    okay, then there must be some empirical evidence you’re basing this on.

    Try any national or international study on sexual health or womens’ health that looked at religious correlates.

    just as you, after reading my exegetical paper on 1 Cor. 6:9-11, must have rational reason aside from “The church as i see it…”

    I did read the blogthread (was the entire paper somewhere – I missed it if so, apologies if my view on it is skewed).

    But again, I fail to see how a biblical exegesis has any relevance? It struck me you were trying to argue against the prevailing interpretation of a biblical passage. Which always suggests to me a motivation based on the underlying assumption that the church has a responsibility to draw (at least in part) its morality from the bible (why else do exegesis to answer questions of morality?). I reject the moral authority of the bible, so I am only concerned with its historical and cultural use in justifying immorality, not it what its moral requirements supposedly ‘really’ mean.

    We can talk, by all means, about the Pauline category of porneia, if you like. It is a cool topic, and I’m sure we’ll have mostly the same historiographical influences, and may even agree on conclusions. But the conclusion matters not a jot to me for the actual moral position of the church, which is only to be found in its actions. And, barring some very tiny groups, the actual moral position of the church is against sex-positivity.

    Vigen Guroian, okay so what are you saying here? – you don’t accept his moral conclusions either, so are you name-dropping to scare me? I find his conclusions pretty repulsive. He is clearly evidence, from what I can see, that you start with a conservative attitude towards sex and then seek to justify it. Not impressed.

    Margret Farley: argues against attitudes towards sex prevalent in Christian churches. Do you think she is saying that Christianity has served to support the humanity of its adherents by its attitudes towards sex? If not, then is your comment:

    Christian sexual ethics boils down to prohibitions against excess and exploitation while maintaining another’s humanity

    aspirational, rather than historical, when it comes to the theological ethics of Farley?

    Beverly Harrison now either I’m completely misunderstanding you or you’re really trying to pull one over on me. Her thesis was that the church needs a new grounding of sexual ethics. She said quite explicitly that historical habits of morality institutionalized have functioned as objective restraints against humanity. (Don’t have the reference on the top of my head – Power of Anger, maybe?).

    Smedes. Well there you have got me. I fall before the weight of your reading on the subject. Smedes probably defeats my arguments nicely, and I’d know that if I’d only read more, rather than making it all up on the fly 🙂

    now i agree that the problem stems from how many “church members have been taught to think of anything more would be excess is the entire problem” is pretty close to correct. but how and why aren’t dealt with at all.

    Well, for the purpose of this post I don’t really care why and how. I just wanted to rant that they did! But I’m glad we can end on some note of agreement. I am aware of the broad sweeps of why (although, as a non-Smedes reader, I may be missing the important details), but at some point I think that it is worth being bold about standing up for what I think is right.

    And that, unfortunately, puts me on the opposite side of the debate from the culture prevailing in Christian churches, liberal and otherwise. And that is to the best of my knowledge. There maybe a huge silent majority of churches teaching sex-positive messages and encouraging sexual morality that isn’t based on abandoned moral absolutes. But I’m not naive about what happens in churches, I visit a lot of different churches of all kinds. I’m not seeing it.

    Most churches range from despicable anti-sex messages to the kinds of puritan-guilt based moralities I inferred from your first response.

  10. Ian

    Oh and I forgot I was going to end my comment on this

    if you haven’t read anything aside from your semi-evangelical/Catholic understanding you’ve displayed thus far, then your view is at worst worthless and at best skewed on the subject.

    Miaow! 🙂

    Go on, insult me, big boy.

  11. “I just wanted to rant that they did! But I’m glad we can end on some note of agreement. I am aware of the broad sweeps of why”

    okie… i’m just frustrated that i didn’t know your background on the stuff. you’ve read a lot! fantastic! i didn’t see it anywhere in there. my friends who hold a similar theology as me (aka moderation) seem pretty adjusted in their sexuality and sexual practices, so i was a little miffed at the rant. i do see people who are really screwed up on issues of sex and relationships on a daily basis and i don’t think it stems from religion, perse, as some of these people are also atheists and agnostics. sex and relationships are tough issues period and i think religion, ethics, and science can both be helpful and hurtful in the same swipe.

    hurtful for the guilt and shame; religion on being too rigid, ethics for non-enforcement or skewed ideas like Guroian, and science on not putting up any boundaries (good to note: not science’s job). yet helpful when you have boundaries (ethics) and a community that gracefully supports then and give guidance that is based on science (like homosexuality is NOT a choice). i do indeed start conservative in many aspects of sex and relationship, yet i START there, not end there. i must hear the logic and reason behind it as well as the spiritual reasoning as well.

    i feel that what you were lamenting was okay, yet it skipped along the surface and dealt in stereotypes; missing the board discussion happening in Christian ethics of which you are well up-to-date on. so i apologize for my final paragraph. i get frustrated when many atheists try to get away with cheapshots though they have no working knowledge of any scholarship or traditional practice aside from their own subjective experience. i’d love to talk more about ethical implications and Christian sexual ethics (including which ethicists i admire and which i find are crap) and discuss your claim ” the actual moral position of the church is against sex-positivity.”

    what is sex-positivity exactly? what does this entail? are we talking sexual libertarianism or something else? i think i feel a post of my own coming on sometime in the future… but who knows when i’ll have time to get around to writing on this subject with graduation pending. but my closing two cents are “Christian sexual ethics boils down to prohibitions against excess and exploitation while maintaining another’s humanity” since God is love and thus a sexual ethic of a Christian must be centered in this concept. rules will be established but not as exceptionless absolutes nor guidelines to be dismissed lightly. rather, love’s rules will have weight without absolutism and express the wisdom of the moral community and serve as a check on human finitude and limitation. the community is presumed to be in favor of the rules in my tradition (each tradition with their own ethical understanding; like my own UCC denom.) and the burden of proof would be on the individual who wishes to depart from them.

  12. Ian

    There are certainly some Christian writers on sex who cannot be considered part of the problem. But I was trying to attack church attitudes specifically, rather than the rarefied atmosphere of theological scholarship.

    i get frustrated when many atheists try to get away with cheapshots

    Understandable. Questions are complex. Polemic rarely so.

    what is sex-positivity exactly? what does this entail? are we talking sexual libertarianism or something else?

    A bit of that. Like any such blanket term it means different things to different people. But has a nexus around which most users of the term would agree.

    To me it is a recognition that sex is a positive force in human relationships, that it doesn’t deserve its taboo, restricted and reserved position in the western culture we’ve inherited from a legacy of state religion. It recognizes that there is no such thing as heterosexuality, or homosexuality, that there are millions of sexualities. It rejects the idea that sex must be tied to any institution or other feature of a human relationship. It contests the concepts of ‘excess’ that are applied to the action, rather than the people involved.

    In short, sexually anything is permissible. We judge whether something is moral or ethical by its psychological and physical effects, not by the sex act performed.

    I would challenge any pastor who thinks his church is more sexually progressive than the negative picture I’ve painted, to talk about the whollylove ministry in a sermon, show the website on the powerpoint, and encourage their flock to support it. And see if it passes without significant criticism.

    I have never been in a Christian church where I can imagine that happening.

    Yet I’ve sat in tens, maybe hundreds, of sermons where other ministries have been so promoted.

    Again, I may be just unlucky, but I suspect something more significant is at work.

    so i apologize for my final paragraph

    Thank-you for the apology, but I wasn’t looking for one. As long as you can take a robust reply, I’m happy to take it! On the times that I deserve it, it will do me good. Otherwise, I can laugh it off. We’ve interacted for long enough for me to know you’re a good guy, Luke. Pillory away!

    i’d love to talk more about ethical implications and Christian sexual ethics

    That would be a good stretching conversation. It isn’t my area at all (I’m really a NT guy). I’ve read bits, but not really in anywhere near the depth I’d need to write a paper on it, for example. If you want to suggest stuff, please do.

  13. “To me it is a recognition that sex is a positive force in human relationships, that it doesn’t deserve its taboo, restricted and reserved position in the western culture we’ve inherited from a legacy of state religion. ”

    fair enough.. but i think that has to do with meaning. i was taught that abstinence was the best route BECAUSE of how positive the force was and thus it needed the utmost respect. i still hold the part after the because today, not the abstinence thing necessarily.

    in churches i go to (UCC and UUA) there have been some interesting bible studies and sermons about sex. one local pastor talked about how tantric sex is pretty awesome and told ppl where to get resources. as for “In short, sexually anything is permissible.” i don’t believe that unless it is under great restrictions. i will brush up on my reading and get a post on it. it would be good to solidify my opinion and i don’t believe i’ve posted on the subject yet. better get to it! i don’t have much time left for that blog!

  14. Ian

    i was taught that abstinence was the best route BECAUSE of how positive the force was and thus it needed the utmost respect.

    Yes, this is sad. It is a common pattern of repression.

    Women’s equality was resisted on the grounds that ‘equality means difference’ and that one can only truly respect the equality of Women by not allowing them to do Men’s jobs.

    Segregation and slavery very much the same.

    In fact, if you want to oppress someone, the very best way to do it is to convince them it is for their own good.

  15. well, i do believe it was for the good. i didn’t find any oppressive means in it, but i can see how others would use it for such. in fact the priest who taught me this was a Vatican II Jesuit who was pretty open and cool. the next guy was the opposite and did the things you speak about. one came from a place of grace and recognition of the sacredness of everything while the other was about control.

    we get both in church circles, but one happens to get more press than the other.

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