“I’ll do” is not “I’ll do you.”

Relative to some of the conversation that’s come up around yesterday’s post, If no one’s being hurt, God’s okay with your sexuality:

Saying that God doesn’t condemn any two consenting adults who love each other in whatever way they might is not at all the same as encouraging or condoning casual sex. Conflating those two is a complete failure of logic.

And there’s no such thing as casual sex—just like there’s no such thing as casual skydiving or casual bullfighting. If you’re in a little, you’re in all the way (um … so to speak). Nobody’s ever had a casual orgasm. And no one lets anyone touch their naked body and isn’t … intensely aware of what’s happening.

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About John Shore

John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here), and executive editor of the Unfundamentalist Christians group blog.  (In total John's two blogs receive some 250,000 views per month.) John is also co-founder of The NALT Christians Project, which was written about by TIME,  The Washington Post, and others. His website is JohnShore.com. John is a pastor ordained by The Progressive Christian Alliance. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. And don't forget to sign up for his mucho awesome monthly newsletter.

  • http://www.facebook.com/eugene.beil Eugene Beil via Facebook

    are you suggesting that God has “decriminalized” it? i.e. He is not promoting the behavior but not sending folks straight to hell (do not pass go, do not collect $200)

    • Hannah Grace

      I’d think that God would promote a loving, giving relationship, even one less than orthodox, far more willingly than a life of loneliness or selfishness.

      I also think that a God who was ok with alcohol, which can be so dangerous, would also surely be ok with marijuana, which isn’t dangerous at all (though constant use can cause memory problems- much less destructive than the cirrhosis and DTs of alcoholism), but that’s just me. Since you brought drugs up and all. If I was thinking of something God would ban, drug-wise, it would be tobacco- it doesn’t help you bond with your friends like weed or alcohol, but it kills you like they don’t! Haha why don’t they preach sermons on that.

      • LSS

        I personally despise smoking (because the second hand smoke bothers me but also because i know it’s harder to quit than nearly anything and because i had one relative that died from emphesema from it and a friend’s husband may die because his cancer in a totally other part of the body won’t get into remission if he doesn’t quit smoking and he won’t, all the reasons i’m sure like your reasons…) but i am pretty sure lots of people bond over cigarette smoking. I’ve read several stories about such things. How people tell people things they otherwise wouldn’t because they bond during smoking breaks, etc. How a coffee with a friend is just not the same as the same with a side of nicotene, etc.

        • LSS

          Of course weed is better because people don’t tend to use it all the time. which i think if you are going to be addicted to something, that’s the way to go. If i could manage to consume sugar or sweets only a few times a month, i’d be good to go.

      • Diana A.

        “If I was thinking of something God would ban, drug-wise, it would be tobacco- it doesn’t help you bond with your friends like weed or alcohol, but it kills you like they don’t! Haha why don’t they preach sermons on that.”

        They used to back in the day. Also against alcohol. I think a lot of that changed after Prohibition failed. Prohibition is the big example of what happens when we try to legislate morality. Unfortunately, we didn’t learn from it, which is why we’re still trying to legislate morality.

        A book I like on this subject is “Ain’t Nobody’s Business if You Do” by Peter McWilliams. I believe the book can be read for free on-line, or purchased. It’s funny as well as informative.

  • http://www.facebook.com/JohnShoreFans John Shore via Facebook

    ?? Lost me.

  • Dave Dornbush via Facebook

    I’m not sure either, but God never ‘criminalized’ it, men did in God’s name. Big difference.

  • http://www.facebook.com/eugene.beil Eugene Beil via Facebook

    I was referring to “not condemning two consenting adults” as it could certainly be read as relating to pre-marital or extra-marital relations. Although, I understand that your focus is actually (most likely) same-sex relations/marriage.

  • http://www.facebook.com/eugene.beil Eugene Beil via Facebook

    was also a slight comparison to “decriminalizing” of some drug offenses. making them more like traffic tickets.

  • http://www.facebook.com/marci.abraham Marci Abraham via Facebook

    ^As well they should be. Some of them.

  • Drew

    Heh heh. Casual bullfighting. Excellent.

  • Allen

    Of course there’s such a thing as casual sex. You know, as opposed to formal?

    • http://rindle.blogspot.com Lyn

      The hubby and I almost always have casual sex, ’cause formal sex is so much work!

    • Brena

      His tux gets wrinkled.

      • Diana A.

        Ya’ know!

    • LSS

      I’ll have to remember to ask dh to use more slang words next time.

  • http://supercrayons64.blogspot.com Blake

    I don’t always fight bulls, but when I do…

  • Brena

    I am not sure God ever criminalized LOVE. So, I do not think it makes sense to ask if John thinks love was decriminalized. If you are having loveless or, worse, hate-filled sex then that is an issue; but the issue is not about who you love. Falling in love with each other was never a crime against God. (Or, when you say “god” then you do not refer to the God I know.) Why is it so easy to speak for God when we are excluding and hating and demeaning others, but then we think no one can speak for God in terms of love and acceptance and a desire for us to be good at being ourselves?

  • Hannah Grace

    Casual sex totally exists. Just like if you skydive every day, you’re eventually gonna get casual about that, too. Maybe it’s fine, then, to fool around with whoever because it’s fun, or to have orgies or multiple partners, but if that’s what you think, then make the point. If not, don’t say sex in any way is always fine.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      Yikes. Make sense much?

      • Ashley C

        I feel like I just read a round of “who’s on first”.

      • Hannah Grace

        I mean, saying casual sex doesn’t exist and God is fine with whatever is fine. But I’m asking if you really think that. I have beloved friends who pick up multiple people at clubs to take home, or sleep with a new person every day, and I’m just asking what you think about that. I’m not conservative or trying to say anything’s wrong, just asking you to spell out what you think…sorry if you thought my first comment wasn’t clear enough.

        • LSS

          I thought the point being made was that sex implies a commitment (you are kind of trusting the person with your life in many situations) and is kind of a big deal and that to think that sex can be done casually is to make a mistake?

          • Hannah Grace

            Maybe- been hearing that at every church I’ve ever been to.

            I guess then the “all sex leads to marriage and is a commitment” argument is being made, which is one thing, but on the other hand John Shore supported polyamory etc. in another blog, so I was just asking for a coherent statement because I’m getting confused. Nothing wrong with a healthy, non-jealous, respectful, supportive polyamory, but I was wondering what Christians might say.

          • Ashley C

            Well, point in fact, polyamory is being in a relationship with multiple people. It’s not casual by definition, so it’s really not equatable with ‘casual’ sex.

          • Gary

            Thank you.

          • LSS

            No, i don’t think this is anywhere near the same point being made in churches all over. But i wish John Shore would correct my attempts to explain because i never know if i’ve quite understood the article or not, otherwise.

    • Hannah Grace

      For example, do you think the sex industry is exloitative and destructive? Why? What if people enjoy working in it? Just asking, because the way you talk about stuff seems really vague sometimes, as if people aren’t allowed to have an opinion. I agree that people can’t force their opinions on others, like people who are against gay marriage try to do, but does that mean that you can’t have any opinions on what might be unhealthy or exploitative?

      • LSS

        Doing something as a business is kind of the opposite of casual, no? Also in a lot of sexual work, that is not consensual, as people are forced into it or forced to stay in it, if i understand correctly… So that would be different…

        Sorry, your questions were not directed at me but i am just trying to contribute to the discussion.

      • Michael

        Hannah, you are asking some valid questions, but I think you are conflating several different things that should really be unpacked. First, you and John are using different definitions of “casual sex” — you mean that sex can be casual if it is done without serious intent or commitment, or that it can be unexceptional if overdone. He means that sex is never casual because it always requires significant time and energy. Even the most meaningless anonymous hook-up requires some amount of work, and produces some amount of pleasure, beyond what you would get by staying home and masturbating in front of the television. Using John’s definition, no, there is no such thing as “casual skydiving” – if I went skydiving every day, it might become blase, I might even become bored with it, but I would never ever become “casual” with it to the point that I didn’t check my parachute, or make sure I jumped over a field and not a lake.

        Also, I don’t think that anyone here is saying “God is fine with whatever.” God wants every one of us to experience LOVE, and I don’t think that God cares at all what form or combination of body parts that love comes with. So to your question about polyamory — if everyone in the group is loved and healthy, then God would bless that relationship. But if one person in the group is dominant to the point that others have to surrender their free will, as the husband usually does in old-fashioned polygamy, then that is not healthy and the person who is abusing the others is committing sin.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

          Michael: you’re hired.

          • Diana A.

            Like this!

        • Michael

          I’ll go further, and say that I don’t think that God wants us to be screwing around outside of a loving relationship. BUT, that doesn’t mean that I think causal sex (by your definition) is a sin. I don’t think that God wants me to go out and get wasted at a bar, or to eat a gallon of ice cream for dinner — those are self-destructive behaviors that could have serious consequences. Sex outside of a loving relationship is also. Even if you don’t catch HIV after a one-night stand, or kill someone driving drunk, these behaviors could become pathological, ruining your life and harming everyone who cares about you.

          But, for most people, it’s just a night of fun with no consequences besides the hangover, the extra inch on your belly, or the walk of shame in the morning. God’s not going to send anyone to Hell for that! It is a sad fact that some Christians have taken the fact that God wants us to have healthy, happy lives, and extrapolated the idea that God hates any activity that is not (in their minds) pure and wholesome. And it is even sadder that some so-called Christians have used this idea to gain power over other, by wielding guilt, shame and fear of damnation over those who have become convinced that pleasure is sinful.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

            Please submit your 1099 form to me as soon as possible.

          • Diana A.

            Loving this!

          • Hannah Grace

            Cool, thanks for going out of your way to explain that. I get nervous because I’ve had a really hard time being accepted at church (lesbian) and I get uncomfortable because a lot of Christians who maybe say they’re ok with gay people actually think it’s a sin, and they’re just not saying so to avoid hurt feelings. That’s not acceptance. I know John is cool with gays, I just mean that I get this creepy feeling at the back of my neck when anyone religious says vague, accepting-sounding things, because I don’t trust it until it’s spelled out. I really appreciate that you did.

            I agree with a lot of what you say. I’ve really struggled with whether I think I am healthy/with how to argue on my own behalf to other Christians. I’ve struggled with what I think about loved ones who are involved in sex work. I’ve struggled with what I think about loved ones who are into polyamory, or who sleep around because they love sleeping around, or who conversely sleep around because they’re insecure. What do you say if someone asks your opinion? It’s so scary trying to figure out such a complex world.

            I feel like John thought I was attacking him…haha questions are just questions, right?

          • LSS

            Maybe we don’t HAVE to decide about what we think about our friends sexual behaviours. Maybe just love the sinner (not in the usual sense, but in the all are sinners and all should be forgiven sense) and *don’t think about* the sin (or non-sin, as it may be) because really we can just leave that between them and God maybe?

            I know i have some very various friends in terms of their sexual proclivities and lack thereof. The furthest i go is to tell asexual friends “don’t freak out if you find out you like some stuff 10yrs from now that freaks you out now” because i used to think i was asexual but i was just a late bloomer. VERY late. But other than that, as a former prude i think it’s better to just live and let live and be a friend to the PERSON.

          • LSS

            Sorry for typo(s)

          • Hannah Grace

            Haha maybe, but if you “hate the sin” it means you already know what is sin, and what isn’t. If my friend asks me about sleeping around, should I say “well, do whatever feels good for you right now” or should I say “be careful, because it’s better in a relationship”…I mean, people ask each other for advice, and I don’t want to steer someone in a direction that will get them hurt just because I want to be accepting. There’s nothing accepting or caring about letting your friends place themselves in dangerous situations. Whether that means you have to say “no, your pimp doesn’t love you, you need out” even if that’s incredibly hard for someone to hear, if they’re in love with him, or “I think maybe you should get some counselling because you go home with people even if you don’t want to, honey” it means you HAVE to be aware of what’s ok.

            Maybe EVERYONE lacks the wisdom to deal with this.

          • Diana A.

            Thanks for telling your story. Knowing what’s going on behind your questions actually helps to put those questions into context.

            “I feel like John thought I was attacking him…haha questions are just questions, right?”

            Hang out on this blog long enough and you’ll discover that John often gets asked questions the way the Pharisees asked Jesus questions–by people who are attempting to catch John out like the Pharisees attempted to catch Jesus out. So, some of us (including John on occasion? Correct me if I’m wrong, John) can be suspicious of other people’s motives for asking the questions. Doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ask, just be prepared for the potential for misunderstanding.

          • Hannah Grace

            Yeah, I understand. And I guess I’m so used to attacking people, because I’m used to be in the minority. I’ve been reluctant to be ok with my poly friends, and struggled about whether that was ok or not. I’ve worried that a relationship that has multiple people in it means some people won’t get their emotional needs met, or ever know what it’s like to be the most precious person in someone else’s life. Then again, why would this be the only way a relationship can be, just because it’s what I most desire? I can’t use my own subjective experience to force norms on others, but at the same time, it seems scary and dangerous to just do whatever, regardless of whether it can really hurt you when you realize, ten years down the line, that maybe you never got loved as much as you needed, and were never someone’s first priority. In the pan article, John expressed acceptance for poly people, and I wanted to know if that’s what he really thinks. I sometimes worry that progressive Christians sometimes say they’re ok with things when they’re really not, and then when they define what they’re ok with formally, it turns out much more narrow than when you casually chat with them. I wanted to know what John actually thought, because his opinion is important to me.

          • Hannah Grace

            Haha though I’d disagree that casual hook ups are always better or more pleasurable than staying home in front of the tv. Seems like a lot of casual hook ups don’t even provide the basic kicks you can give yourself. I’m not sure saying “no sex is casual” helps, as another commenter said so well above. I have to agree with him- dictating norms of sexuality for other people is destructive, but so is dictating no norms, and saying everything is fine. Both are obviously wrong, both can hurt people. How to navigate what is ok, in all its complexity, I guess is part of the mystery of being human…or maybe that’s a lame hippie phrase and really I just need to seek lots of wisdom from everyone around me, and hope they’re giving me good advice. Who knows.

      • http://brickandtimber.wordpress.com/ DR

        Hannah at times, people offer opinions here (bravely) that may go against a collective perspective the majority shares. Those who make that choice are *countered* by a lot of people which is what is happening here, it doesn’t mean that you or anyone else isn’t “allowed” to have an opinion.

        Please please, stop using that phrase “I’m not allowed to have an opinion”. That’s more about your discomfort with being challenged and asking for clarity instead of John or anyone else saying you’re not “allowed”, for goodness sake. Please stop putting those kinds of words in anyone’s mouths. Thanks.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

          Right? Who said anything about anyone “not being allowed to have an opinion”? Wtf does that even mean? Who can stop anyone else from having an opinion?

          • http://brickandtimber.wordpress.com/ DR

            It drives me nuts when this kind of thing is said, I’ll admit it. It’s putting some really gross words in your mouth and those who participate here. I’m tired of having to overcompensate for people who aren’t comfortable standing up for what they already know is the countering view point.

            If we’re going to write something down and select “submit” and it’s not deleted, it’s obvious that it is “allowed”. People disagreeing with it – even piling on or challenging it aggressively – isn’t “disallowing” anyone from actually continuing to maintain and express said opinion.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

            ahhhh … there’s that lovely … DRness. I love it.

          • Hannah Grace

            Haha oh, I think you misunderstood what I meant. What I mean is that when progressive Christians are really vague about what they believe, or use imprecise language, it can seem as if they think that have specific or precise opinions is going to alienate people. And when John was using imprecise language, it made me wonder what he actually thought, and so I asked him. I of course think everyone is entitled to their opinion, and I thought that was obvious by the fact that I took a stance. Nor did I ever say anyone was not allowing me to have an opinion, just because they disagreed with me. I can understand how you might be upset, though, if you misunderstood what I intended. Maybe I should try to be more clear.

    • Don Rappe

      There are old skydivers and there are bold skydivers, but, there are no old bold skydivers.

    • Lymis

      I see both sides of this, and agree in part with both sides. And it seems to me that part of this is trying to parse the usual language in ways that people who use the terms don’t actually mean.

      I agree with John that sex with another human being is not a casual or offhand behavior – though I will also acknowledge the reality of what someone once described as “masturbating inside another person” – because certainly, there are plenty of real-world examples of people engaging in sexual activities where the personhood of the other person or people involved isn’t even a consideration (and sadly, this can include sex within a marriage.)

      That the joining of two bodies either includes an opening of who we are and an unavoidable intermingling of ourselves in a way that rarely happens in other human interactions, or else it is a deeply solitary and selfish activity that really belongs in a separate discussion. Actual masturbation is far less selfish, because it doesn’t include using another person while denying their very personhood.

      On the other hand, the fact that sex itself isn’t casual doesn’t mean that it is impossible to have sex, even good sex, and personally, I maintain, morally acceptable sex, within a relationship that itself doesn’t involve deep or permanent commitments. Some people, of course choose to limit sex to such permanent or committed relationships, and that’s a choice they are free to make. And there’s room for discussion about whether that is the ideal, and how easy or hard it is to have that sexual connection outside of such a commitment.

      So, I agree with John’s concept, though since there is a general linguistic consensus about what ‘casual sex” means, I wouldn’t phrase it that way myself.

      But if I were to use this framing of the language, I would say that there certainly are casual relationships that include sex, but that there is no such thing as casual sex. And I would say that what does or doesn’t make it casual isn’t that bumping genitals is A Big Deal as such, but rather that honoring the humanity, holiness, and personhood of the other person is absolutely and always A Big Deal.

  • Tracy Smith via Facebook

    I don’t have a problem with any sort of non-marital sex as long as it’s between two consenting adults who are both on the same page about the nature of what’s happening.

  • Tracy Smith via Facebook

    I don’t have a problem with any sort of non-marital sex as long as it’s between two consenting adults who are both on the same page about the nature of what’s happening.

  • http://www.facebook.com/cindy.dallow Cindy Dallow via Facebook

    Amen!

  • http://www.facebook.com/cindy.dallow Cindy Dallow via Facebook

    Amen!

  • Lois

    I do think there’s such a thing as casual sex. Dictionary.com defines casual as “without definite or serious intention; careless or offhand.” There are plenty of sexual episodes that have no serious intention. Sometimes it may be casual for only one of the people involved, but sometimes it’s both. Does that make it a sin? Well, it’s certainly a misuse of God’s gift, and it has nothing to do with love–just like eating potato chips has nothing to do with nourishment. If a person has enough sex with no commitment, however fleeting, it makes a committed sexual relationship much more difficult to attain and maintain.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      Lois: have you ever, in your life, had a casual orgasm? Say you have, and I’ll know you’re lying.

      • Diana A.

        I don’t know, John. Maybe “casual” is the wrong word for it, but certainly people are capable of having sex for reasons that are less than worthwhile–in order to fit in, in order to keep one’s partner from finding someone else (not that this ever works), in order to “score” (remember those guys up in Oregon who made a contest of how many girls/women they could get to have sex with?), etc.

      • Hannah Grace

        Haha come on John, lots of men and women have casual orgasms all the time. Say, in the shower. Sometimes you can even have super casual orgasms with friends you happen to be sleeping with/strangers/etc. For many people, that’s totally different from what they have with someone they actually care about or love.

        But not everyone’s a Christian, dude, and to pretend like everyone treats sex like it’s special is deluded. Lots of people do, but lots of people see no reason to, and would feel offended that anyone would think that’s the only way to have a sexual experience.

      • Hannah Grace

        I think if you happen to witness someone else’s because you happen to be at a certain kind of party, maybe that would be classed as casual? Or is that still fine, because there’s no such thing as casual?

  • http://www.butnotyet.com Joel Rieves

    I believe what Bible has to say about sex is more about unequal relationships than it is about sex. More and more, scholars are saying that passages in the Bible referring to sex are really about prostitution, pederasty, sexual slavery and other unsavory activities where one party held all the power. They were not referring to consensual sex between adults. In that case, John is absolutely right: as long as it involves consenting adults and no one is getting hurt (i.e. an equal relationship), God doesn’t care what you do in the bedroom.

    • Mindy

      Hear, hear, Joel. Yes, this. It makes sooo much more sense than God being so overly concerned with what we do with the drives He blessed us with.

    • Gary

      This is exactly right Joel. I believe a proper study of sexuality in the bible leads to this conclusion. When sex is in any way condemned it is because of some type of abuse. But there is no sexual ethic in the bible that even remotely resembles the “one man, one woman for life” banner the church has been screaming at us for centuries. It simply is not there.

  • http://www.barnmaven.com Barnmaven

    I get this. Perhaps there are people who are able to separate feelings from sex, but I for one never have. I have said to my friends more than once, where my [expletive] goes, so my heart. Great sex, in my experience, comes from a happy conflation of love, respect, chemistry and trust. If all of those elements are present, there is nothing whatsoever casual about it.

    If any of those elements are missing? It might be fun, it might be all right, but it isn’t all that it could – or is meant to – be. At least for me. Others may have different experiences, that’s cool. Your mileage may vary.

  • http://www.barnmaven.com Barnmaven

    Interestingly enough, a recent show we watched about a brain study showed measurements of brain activity during different activities. When a woman has an orgasm, her brain function almost entirely shuts down.

    I think that’s the point where we cross the border into the divine.

  • Remy Schrader

    Okay, fine.

    There’s no such thing as casual sex.

    But there are:

    * Random hook-ups

    * Anonymous sexual encounters

    * Friends with benefits

    * etc, etc, etc.

    A whole host of cultural phrases describing the same tacit agreement made between consenting adults: “We agree to give each other what we want sexually, without acknowledging what we need relationally.” Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell for everybody!

    THAT exists.

    I’ve been really chewing on what you’ve written here over the past few days John. Because I agree with you that a sexual relationship should benefit and not harm the people engaged in that relationship. And I acknowledge that my experience of life as a straight, divorced man doesn’t make me an authority on the sexuality of others — I don’t know what it’s like to be gay, transgender, poly, pan, whatever.

    But what really, really troubles me is the idea that “first, do no harm” can serve as an effective barometer of sexual health. I don’t think it’s reliable for that purpose.

    John, you’ve collected and shared the stories of those who have suffered from discrimination based on sexual identity. Both to alleviate the crushing loneliness and victimization of the abused, and to appeal to the compassion of the misguided — the abusers.

    In my life’s journey, I’ve listened to plenty of stories in from people who BELIEVED AT THE TIME their sexual behavior was not harmful, only to discover later it was anything but. You can attend a Sexaholics Anonymous or Sex Addicts Anonymous meeting anywhere across America and hear these tales of crushing realization.

    Humans are brilliant — but we’re also really, really dumb. ESPECIALLY when it comes to sexual desire. Like Barnmaven commented above — sex has ways of literally shutting down parts of our brain. You know, that thing you think and (supposedly) make decisions with?

    And that’s exactly why I believe with all my heart and soul that we need a guide outside of ourselves if we’re ever truly going to serve those we love as family.

    I’m not sharing this as anything prescriptive — I don’t KNOW what God intends for any one individual — but just to add my thread to the beautiful tapestry of healing we are all weaving together.

    Maybe I’m seeing the same thing from a different angle? I don’t know — hopefully we can hash it out.

    ~r

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      This is really nice, Remy. Thanks very much for it.

    • Hannah Grace

      Thanks for this.

      It’s the “guide outside of ourselves” part that gets to me. I don’t have a hotline to God, and neither does anyone else. We’re all just trying to peer through this glass darkly. How do we make the right decisions? It’s so difficult and scary. Sometimes fundamentalism seems so much more safe, but it’s really so much more destructive. It’s such a struggle when everything seems like a social construct, and all the black and white is forever dissolving into shades of grey. Maybe it’s freeing- it certainly feels better than feeling guilty all the time for being yourself. There’s a link I thought you might like, that helped me:

      http://blog.ted.com/2011/02/15/uncertainty-touches-the-best-of-what-is-human-in-us-qa-with-lesley-hazleton/

      swear I’m not spamming :)

      • Ashley C

        Hannah, I think John’s real point in writing this (and John, totally correct me if I’m wrong here) was not to condemn or argue the existence of ‘casual sex’, it was to respond to attacks from the previous piece that indicated he was saying God was cool with random drunken hook ups.

        His previous writing had nothing to do with ‘casual’ sex, but with a serious committed relationship between two people. However, since that relationship doesn’t fit into the neat little box that many are comfortable with, they missed that part and just latched on to ‘God doesn’t care’. So, while he made a statement about casual sex, his views on casual sex don’t seem to be the purpose of writing this. Rather, it seems that once again, we’re focused on a side note and beating it to death.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

          Exactly right, Ashley. Thank you.

        • Hannah Grace

          If John believes in a committed relationship with two people, he shouldn’t have condoned polyamory. If he condones polyamory, then he should say so. I’m confused…

    • Lymis

      ” In my life’s journey, I’ve listened to plenty of stories in from people who BELIEVED AT THE TIME their sexual behavior was not harmful, only to discover later it was anything but.”

      I’m sure you have, because so have I. Some people can delude themselves about the most amazing thing.

      However, the reverse is not automatically true, and you left that undressed, which kind of hints that you think it might be true.

      I’ve known many people in my life who believed at the time that their sexual behavior was not harmful, and found over time that, in fact, it was not. That it led to deep connections with other people, that it contributed to their growth as people and that it helped them develop compassion, perspective, and a zest for life.

      This is a call for helping people make better decisions and for deeper discernment. Not everyone who makes non-standard sexual choices ends up in Sexaholics Anonymous.

      • Ashley C

        For the record, that last part wasn’t meant as attacking anyone. I’m continuing to discuss it as much as any other poster.

    • tiffany

      Well said, Remy!

  • http://audioarchives.blogspot.com spinetingler

    And the married men also soon learn that “I do” is not necessarily “I’ll do you”…

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Paul-Horton/1501264635 Paul Horton via Facebook

    I read a letter in some sex forum, from a woman who would go to music clubs that had sound systems with heavy bass speakers, and claimed that when she sat directly within range of the sound waves, with her legs spread, she would have intense orgasms.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      Wow. Best speakers ever.

      • Diana A.

        (snicker!)

  • John Carson via Facebook

    My experience has been that the folk who are the most hung up about the sexuality of others are also the ones who are the most hung up, and/or the most in denial, about their own.

    Nonabusive, consensual sex between adults is and should be left between themselves and their creator god. Period. It’s none of yours or my damn business!

  • Jeff Straka

    I think there is self-centered “erotic sex”, where the focus is primarily self-gratification, and there is self-emptying “kenotic sex”, where the focus is beyond self. It seems to me that the latter would be more in alignment with the trajectory of God. Cynthia Bourgeault has a wonderful book that deals with this idea: The Meaning of Mary Magdalene: Discovering the Woman at the Heart of Christianity.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ashley-Cohea/100000024967834 Ashley Cohea via Facebook

    So true. Uncommitted sex is still not casual.

  • Auri Fox via Facebook

    I can’t believe you even had to explain… Sigh.

  • Sonya Trejo via Facebook

    @Paul, that story is likely not true. But if it is, she probably had a non-casual relationship with with music.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ashley-Cohea/100000024967834 Ashley Cohea via Facebook

    Perhaps you should define what you mean by “casual”, John. Then we could at least move on to a new debate of why your definition of the word is wrong. ;)

  • Barbara Harris via Facebook

    If you were 12 in 1970, 17 in 1975, you really don’t have an adequate context for this whole discussion.

  • http://www.cjsrambling.blogspot.com cjc

    have never commented on here before…

    I grew up steeped in fundamentalism – home-schooled, married young, blah blah blah. Not surprisingly, I’m now divorced and borderline atheist.

    Ditto Hannah Grace, whose comments are smart and well-written.

    • Hannah Grace

      Thanks. That’s really kind of you.

      Man, growing up fundie is tough. Even my parents, who are straight, waited until marriage, and did all the right things, still weren’t good enough for the pious crew. Sometimes anything short of a pretty perfection isn’t enough, which just breaks my heart. Surely Christianity would be a race to see who could be kindest, most lovely, most encouraging to the hurting or the struggling or the just plain normal and human, rather than a race to see who could be the most devout and follow all the careful religious rules?

      I’m pretty young, just started college, and I study Divinity (theology) because I needed out from the religious box I was in. It’s so fascinating learning about theology at a secular school, where there’s massive inquiry, and we read texts by the devout and the atheist side-by-side. There’s a huge diversity of thought that’s incredibly freeing. It shows that God is so much bigger and so much more than the God I grew up with. It’s really helped me. Sometimes I really struggle with doubt, and it feels like I’m insane to be devoting years of my life studying someone who might not even exist (though I admit I do English as a double major to have something to fall back on). But beyond all my doubts, and beyond all the abstractions of religion, I feel like there’s a massive love that’s cradling everything, that reaches all the way down to the core of every person, and can never be lost or undone, no matter how much we struggle or suffer or doubt. It’s this love that inspires me to get through the day, and which sometimes (not always) comes to me when I feel absolutely broken, or then, sometimes, surprisingly, just in the forgotten beauty of the everyday.

      Sorry to hear about your divorce. I hope you’re ok. Sorry about my long comment, too- haha I just wanted to say something nice and now feel slightly awkward. Not trying to push you in any direction regarding how/what you believe.

  • Tammy Watson via Facebook

    …love the “intensely aware” part.

  • http://www.facebook.com/julian.acosta1 Julian Acosta via Facebook

    Not sure the point here…? We are part of the animal kingdom – animals are generally capable of sex – not all animals over think this…

  • http://www.facebook.com/julian.acosta1 Julian Acosta via Facebook

    Right on…get out of my bedroom with your morality!

  • Diana A.

    “Nobody’s ever had a casual orgasm. And no one lets anyone touch their naked body and isn’t … intensely aware of what’s happening.”

    Cool! I like your two new clarifying sentences!

  • Chewa11

    I’ve tried to have casual sex a few times. All were miserable failurest. At the time, it was exciting (except for the lame sex – which was more frequent than I thought it would be). But in retrospect, I was just touch (and intimacy) starved and didn’t realize it. It’s like bingeing on junk food when what you really want is a thick juicy steak. I think people who espouse the virtues of casual sex are probably not in touch with an important part of themselves. Numbed.


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