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Hoosier Musings on the Road to Emmaus

Saturday, February 07, 2004

Ethics II - Week 5

Good Sex.

Do I have your attention? Thought so.

Yes, that was not only the focus this week-- sexual ethics-- but also the title of one of the articles we were assigned to read.

Now, the arguments that the author was making in the article were not radical news flashes: that human sexuality is a gift from God; that it has virtue beyond procreation; that the pleasure we take, and give, in lovemaking is not, in and of itself, inherently sinful. The article was a good one-- written by a Roman Catholic theologian, using Natural Law theology to argue her point that the church needs to become more comfortable in it's teaching around the issue, especially as concerns women.

Okay, I can entirely agree with this. But the discussion we had ranged farther afield, and at points I found myself uncomfortable. And, in chatting with a few classmates, I found I was not alone. So, here's some things I wish I'd said, questions I wish I'd asked:

To say that "the church" has fostered guilt about sexuality, is accurate, as far as it goes. Holding celibacy as a higher, holier calling than marriage, for example (a belief still clung to in some circles, if the RC ordination sermon I heard a while back is any indicator) can lead to guilt and discomfort about sexual expression, even within a marital relationship that is blessed by the church. However, does recognizing that needs to change mean that other strictures in this arena are also inappropriate? And which ones, and upon what basis do we decide that?

(ed. note: In Anglican terms, I heard a lot of reason speaking (mostly critically) of tradition, but scripture consideration was notably absent... and this I find bothersome.)

"Exploring your sexuality" is all well and good; but where is mention of prior emotional commitment? The necessity of focus on the other? Is being willing to wait for the appropriate time, place, and person, and not caving in to the passion of the moment, such a bad thing?

"For the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control." And I think that nowhere is that more true than in the intense intimacy of a sexual relationship.


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