Contrary to what Christian fundamentalists may say, sex is not inherently a moral (or immoral) act.
Although sex is sometimes referred to as “doing the nasty,” it is not. The central act of procreation is, in fact, a natural, even sublime physical deed that is morally neutral in and of itself, as it is for dogs and cats (domesticated or otherwise), for example. It’s supposed “nastiness” is purely a religious construct. Morality only enters the equation when how the act is accomplished leads to unnecessary physical or psychic damage that a mindful being knows it is inflicting. But the consensual doing of it is simply what the vast majority of us were put on this earth to do, like breathing.
No blood, no foul, so to speak.
Likewise, the only time breathing might possibly become a moral issue is when someone tries to stop you from doing it, or you them.
I’m thinking about these things today not because I’m obsessed with sex and breathing but because of an article by a Christian evangelical blogger I read that seemed to misunderstand the reality of sex altogether.
‘The Bible says ..’
It is the same cluelessness I’ve run into over the years every time I read something by a Christian trying to explain, in scriptural terms, why completely normal human behavior is somehow sinful and should be avoided like the plague, or that apparently nonexistent things are actually existent. Sex is often a popular topic in these kinds of pointless discussions, but this same willful irrationality is also employed to explain such things as why Catholics (a.k.a. “mackerel snappers”) used to be required to eat meat on Fridays, or how exactly the anointing of infants’ heads with water bestows a shot at immortality. All you had to say, apparently, was “the Bible says …,” and, voila, the need to substantiate anything unverifiable, unapparent or unrealistic vanished.
The article that nudged me into this frame of mind — “The Problem with Evangelical Vows of Celibacy” — sounds reasonable enough, because it reasonably identifies “vows of celibacy” as a “problem.”
But this is where the evangelical irrationality comes in. The blogger, Gene Veith, who writes Cranach: The Blog of Veith on the Patheos Evangelical Channel, repeats a rather quaint assumption espoused by Lutheran writer Matthew Cochrane.
‘The gift of celibacy’
Cochrane proposes that,
“There is certainly a gift of celibacy, one greatly to be prized. And Christians do need to refrain from sex before marriage. And they should cultivate the self-discipline that enables them to do so. But the Biblical solution for sexual desire is not celibacy but marriage.” (See 1 Corinthians 7.)
And the sooner the better, he argues, before the lust hardwired into youthful brains and bodies, and grievously frustrated by celibacy, inevitably breaks free of its heavenly constraints.
So, in a nutshell, Cochrane believes suppressing natural sexual impulse and expression is, of course, not the problem. The problem is not providing lustful youth with a spiritually legal outlet soon enough, and holy matrimony is apparently the Bible’s only permissible channel for such wantonness.
What’s annoying about this is that Veith wrestles with Cochrane’s long-ago invalidated reasoning as though it still requires some respect and fealty today, as Christians constantly do trying to meld the invented proclamations of scripture with actualities in the real world. As if it all makes sense.
The problem with sex
Both Cochrane and Veith are only indirectly sensible to the real problem, noting that some 80 percent of unmarried evangelicals fall off the bandwagon of celibacy even after taking fulsome vows, along with a fair number of sex-tormented priests and monks and (heaven forbid) nuns taking a tumble as well.But this does not mean to Cochrane and Veith that celibacy is an unnatural suppression of normal sexual desire and behavior — and that the suppression is the core problem. No, they insist the key issue is that evangelical faith “combines a vow of celibacy with the delay of marriage.”
Here’s a taste of Cochrane’s thinking in an article he wrote this month for The Federalist, titled “Yes, Evangelical ‘Abstinence Culture’ Is A Bust, But The Answer Isn’t A Sexual Free-For-All.”
DNA never lies
To which I say, what’s wrong with a sexual free-for-all among young singles — evangelical or not — as long as it’s consensual? They’re all doing it anyway for the most part, so there’s something to be said for consensus. Plus, our DNA never lies to us, as books often do.
I mean, you don’t see dogs and cats racked with guilt and self-denial in their spontaneous couplings that nature wholesomely divines, do you? Likewise, why must young humans with their bodies locked and loaded for sex so excruciatingly deny themselves just because they happen to have enormous brains and can read books and listen to “theologians” encouraging such ill-advised self-abuse.
From my vantage, it appears to be very bad advice to rush into marriage just for the soulful safety of biblically sanctioned sex, as Cochrane counsels.
But, I would certainly urge protection nonetheless. Unwanted pregnancy would appear to pose far more risk to a real life than wanted sex to an afterlife.
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