The Sex Post

I’ve been hesitant to dive into this particular subject. I want to keep my blog at its PG rating. Yet just about every day someone finds their way to my blog searching for “hermaphrodite sex“, so this post shouldn’t change things, I guess.

I’ve posted on homosexuality before (more than once), most recently in conjunction with discussions around the biblioblogosphere (see e.g. Metacatholic and Lingamish – the latter, ironically enough, sounds like it could be the Sanskrit for “sorta phallic shaped”. There are some interesting posts relevant to this subject at Scot McKnight’s blog Jesus Creed. There are of course many blogs that touch on the subject one way or the other). But it seems that there is no way to adequately discuss same-sex relationships from a Christian perspective, without talking about sex in general, and more specifically, asking the following question:
What makes sex good or bad?

No, I don’t mean what makes it great or terrible as far as mutual enjoyment is concerned, but what makes it licit or illicit, positive or negative, praiseworthy or the target of condemnation.

It seems clear that simply quoting Bible verses will not answer this question. There is much in the Bible that reflects views of sex (and what is sexy, for that matter) that are no longer current today. The Bible only condemns using a slave girl for a man’s sexual satisfaction if she is promised to another man, and doesn’t treat it the same as if this were a free individual. How would one apply that today?! Nor is the practice of concubinage condemned. Indeed, this might be one of those places where, if those rebelling against conservative Christian sexual mores were to really dig into the Bible, they could use it to good effect!

But as any Christian theologian who is not a fundamentalist will acknowledge, simply quoting Bible verses will not settle this matter (or any matter, for that matter). One must take into account what we know about our evolutionary history. If we had evolved from swans, there would quite possibly have little or nothing about sex in our various world Scriptures. But we didn’t, and that provides us with a particular legacy and a particular framework to work within. One must take into account changes in the age at which people tend to reach puberty and changes in the age at which people tend to marry. One must discuss matters of psychology. One must address the imbalance in the ways sexually active males and females are viewed both in ancient texts and in modern cultures. One must ask how much of the Bible’s teachings, and our own cultural heritage, had to do with preventing pregnancy out of wedlock and the shame that accompanied it, rather than anything intrinsically to do with sex per se.

What, if we take this approach, could we expect society as a whole to agree on in terms of basic principles? I doubt that most people want a complete free-for-all. Few would consider the existence of a minimum legal age inappropriate. And I suspect that even in our libertine age many people would prefer it if their life partner were not comparing their performance to that of others they’ve been with. But there is a need both to define a bare minimum within which consenting adults can do what they personally deem right, and to define a Christian position that holds values like love and fidelity as the standard to which Christians seek to hold themselves.

There are all sorts of angles and issues (“positions” didn’t seem like the right word). But ultimately we need to revisit the question of what makes any particular sex act right or wrong, good or evil. Unless we have some such principles in place, we are unlikely to make much progress discussing the specifics of same-sex sex.

What do you think? Please do share your unique perspectives and experiences – anonymously if necessary. But do also join in the discussion with your own usual online identity, since this is an issue that is ultimately about interpersonal relations: both matters of sex, marriage, love, and reproduction, but also the interpersonal interactions necessary to hammer out guidelines and debate issues as a democratic society.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07395422809298131385 Levi

    Not to be Sammy Spam or anything, but I’ve posted on this recently. It is rather long, but hopefully informative to some. The first section of the discussion shows (as you’ve stated) that our use of the same specific 5 or 6 verses to speak against homosexuality has been unsuccessful. After this section, I believe the Corporate Reflection and Corporate Response sections I included to be a somewhat different approach which focuses on the the corporate reading and discussion of these passages as a step in the right direction, while the proclamation of the goodness of marriage as witnessed to in the Scriptures to provide perhaps our best apologetic on the subject.Anyhoo, here’s the link if anyone care to view(Homosexuality and Texts That Divide)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02561146722461747647 James F. McGrath

    Not Sammy Spam, just Levi Leave-a-comment. :) You are welcome to share links to your own blog. I do the same when I come across something that relates to an earlier post of mine!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12617299120618867829 Angie Van De Merwe

    I am so pleased that you are opening this one up for discussion. The Church adds to the problems today, because it refuses to either discuss it openly (as if there is something innately shameful about our sexuality), or talk about it only in Bible terms, which ends up being what parents want their kids to believe…Obviously, the body was not looked upon as evil in ancient Greek culture. Look at the many art expressions of the body. They in fact, viewed the body as beautiful (but their definitions about what defines beauty are different from our Western modern culture, but that is so in other cultures as well). The body is part of the created order, and just as any other aspect of creation, “it is good”. The Gnostics changed the view of the material realm, however. And matter was viewed as innately evil.This created a firewall between the sacred and secular view of life. This is not healthy.The body in Victorian culture has influenced the conservative Church’s view today. There was a obsessiveness about defining the difference between male and female and prohibiting the “forbidden”. What was lady-like, or gentlemanly were “manners”, and although I agree that manners are appropriate to cultivate, the obessive hysteria over indencecy is unneeded and unhelpful.I think the boundaries of fidelity, trust, which must define the marriage, is the starting point for “good sex”. As far as defining what is appropriate sex, there again, it is between two parties within the intimacy of marriage, where the Church should feel ashamed to intrude. That does not condone swinging, as this obsures the boundaries around the realtionship nor pornography.Cultural diversity will define appropriateness, as well. In my husband’s home country, there is partial nudity on every beach, is this wrong? In this sense, is there going to be agreement as to what defines Chrsitian sex? We can all agree around the boundaries that define the marriage, but will disagree as to whether this includes or excludes homosexual relations. What about tranvestites? I struggle to go there, but I must be honest to the fact that if they are seeking integrity in their lives, then I affirm that. As far as sex before marriage, the “ideal” is abstenance, but statistics show that this is not what is happening. So, do we just teach abstinence in schools, or do we try to prevent unwanted pregnancy? What are our real goals, the person, or Christian faith in our form of understanding?As far as abortion, I believe that we must take scientific information into our consideration of what constitutes life. I don’t affirm abortion, but know that again it happens, what is the Christian to do to help? Abortions happen because of issues of personal or informational disconnect. I find that the hyperventilation over this issue in Christian circles is over the top, because they don’t hyperventilate as much about gossip. So, what is to be the Christian response?Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are the ideals of our Founding Fathers and I believe should represent Christian values, as well. Some may think that “the pursuit of happiness” is a selfish goal. That is not necessarily so, it depends on how one defines happiness. The definition is open-ended, therefore, the individual can define it for himself, such is the country we live in…and that means that freedom will allow others to make mistakes. Certainly, Christian culture should not affirm tyranny in any form!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12617299120618867829 Angie Van De Merwe

    I must add (i’m sorry but don’t want to be misunderstood in this important area)…Pleasure is not bad. it is when we seek pleasure above all else. There is nothing specifically good about suffering, either.The pursuit of happiness are the values and goals one deems most suitable to him. Conservative Christians believe that the only value one must have is to “love God”…but we can love God by seeking our own goals, within reason…developing our gifts are an aspect of worship…

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03089281236217906531 Scott F

    As far as sex before marriage, the “ideal” is abstenance, but statistics show that this is not what is happening.My limited knowledge of Medieval law makes me think that abstinence was never “what was happening.”

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03089281236217906531 Scott F

    BTW, James – Thanks for removing the mystical Sextagrammaton from the comments screen.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02561146722461747647 James F. McGrath

    The mystical what?!I’ve done some genealogical research, and the parish records, which meticulously indicated one’s legitimacy or otherwise, seem to confirm that this has always been an issue.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12617299120618867829 Angie Van De Merwe

    Islam does not like our culture because we are too free (materialists)…they circumcise their daughters and arrange marriages….some cultures believe that cohabitating together is marriage, others believe if a conception occurs, others believe in “common law” marriage…so is our modern American understanding the right Christian view?Some cultures allow polgyamy….divorce is forbidden and re-marriage is not allowed…adultrresses are stoned…is this supposed to be Christian?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07395422809298131385 Levi

    Thank you for the alternative nickname. It has a pleasant ring to it. :)

  • Winston

    As an aside, has anyone have any info on how things have gone with the encounter of conservative Christian missionaries with polygamous societies. It would be interesting to see how they handle such an issue, since the people being converted would see polygamy as normal and of course seemingly justified by the bible.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13140007604009678479 David Ker

    Winston, I work in an area of Africa that is like that. In the regions of Malawi and Mozambique there are parts of the Christian church that allow polygamy and others that don’t. In the area where I live (Tete province) the translators insisted on the passage in 1 Timothy saying, “Husband of *only* one wife…”

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12617299120618867829 Angie Van De Merwe

    i found it interesting that tonight and last night there were two tribes represented that were being destroyed because of values that Amderican Christians hold to be of value.Both were tribes in South America. One tribe was being destroyed because of development. There’s is a culture that depends on nature for sustenance. These were peace loving tribes and now face extinction.Another tribe was being evangelized and it was destroying their faith which defined their “life”. Anthropologists were out-raged over the destruction of a culture and the inevitibility of a cultural change for these people.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02655220079512746468 Mrs.Linda Taylor

    Impotence or Erectile Dysfunction is a condition in which a man is unable to attain an erect penis that is rigid enough for sexual penetration or sexual satisfaction. Impotence should not be confused with premature ejaculation, loss of libido, or absence of orgasm; in all of these cases, satisfactory erection may be obtained. http://www.levitrabliss.com/

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