More Sex Ed Thoughts Plus Two Disreputable Songs

More Sex Ed Thoughts Plus Two Disreputable Songs October 25, 2016

I’m not especially satisfied with that post I did about sex ed, and this email exchange gets at part of the reason.

A reader: This wouldn’t normally clear my “worth emailing about” threshold, but you specifically solicited comments, and I do have a question.

When you discussed pros and cons for the ownership framework, one of the things you liked was the way it helped the student relate to other actors. The examples, though, were people doing things that were pretty obviously bad in anything remotely like a catholic framework (that is, committing assault, pressuring someone into abortion).

In real life, though, a lot of sexual pressures come from a culture of well-meaning fornication (I’m reminded of Leah’s article:

So, my question:

Do you think any of these frameworks put you in a stronger position to discuss where alternative systems of sexual ethics go wrong?
I’m open to the idea that this is a necessarily lower-priority idea to teach, but it seems like something to which I’d want my students to have at least the start of an answer.

Me: Yes, this is a good question. I was so concerned to show that the Catholic sexual ethic is intrinsically linked with our ethic around other relationships that I probably didn’t do enough to suggest the differences between e.g. sex and prayer, or (as Libresco’s post talks about) sex and friendship. But tbh I am not sure how well that post worked overall….

Him: I mean, it depends on where we draw the bar for “worked”, I guess. I’m not sold on the strategy (and mostly don’t remember it), but that post got filed away in my head for the phrase “using eros as the way to open the door for philia”, which is an encapsulation of part of our sexual culture that has really stuck with me.

Which of your frameworks do you think gives you the strongest position to explain why that’s a {bad, suboptimal} way to go about things?

Me: Maybe the “counterculture” one? “We translate all desire for intimacy into sex, whereas actual Christian history & theology suggests a much richer tapestry of human desire”? Also “We lack scripts for forging brotherhood-type friendships, so we borrow the only relationship script we do have, which is sexual liaison”? But overall the problem you’re identifying, I think, is that bc of my gay-Catholic work I’m so concerned w/drawing out the common elements of friendship, prayer & eros (intimacy, intensity, life-sustaining-ness etc) that I don’t work hard enough to draw out the differences.

Him: I think you get my point, and yeah, I’m struck by the tension between apologetics and like, hanging on to what makes the church special.

[me again: So, I think that last point has resonance beyond these specific questions. Anyway, as your reward for gnawing through this fairly theoretical discussion, here is Heart (!!) singing, “My Thing Is My Own” (via BB):

and, relevant to our “Why do people think the DT’s are so scary?” discussion, a sea shanty (via JDZ):

See, this doesn’t sound so bad! Just centipedes and snakes!]

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