Friday, December 4, 2009

let's talk (some more) about sex, baby!

I have a friend with whom I have frequent conversations about sex. This friend was recently describing folks he knows who are quite sexually promiscuous, and while my friend is not so interested in that sort of a sex life, he suspects God doesn’t really care all that much either. This prompted an email conversation about sexual ethics, and here’s what I wrote (in the all-lower-case type I often use in casual emails):

here's the sum total of my sexual ethics (and, i like to think, god's):

do whatever feels good, but do it with intention and care so as not to harm yourself or others. i'm suspicious of a lot of promiscuous sexual activity such as what you describe, but only because i think often folks are trying to feed themselves in unhealthy ways, without being careful of the emotional/psychological/spiritual lives of themselves and their partners -- but i don't view it as any more of a sin than any sort of mindless and careless consumption.

i also think anonymous sex is pretty problematic, because if you know nothing about your partner, by definition you can't be intentional about not doing them harm. what if this anonymous encounter is actually an act of self-hatred? i'd kinda like to know about that before i get sexually intimate with someone....

lots of folks say their needs are being met by all sorts of unhealthy stuff, so self-reporting that needs are being met is not so persuasive to me. having said that, i'm equally sure that i'm in no position to judge or to know whether someone's needs are actually being met. i'm just suspicious when someone tells me that, say, shopping or mcdonalds is good for their emotional and spiritual lives; likewise i'm a little suspicious of multiple, secret sex partners.

but i think pointing fingers and lecturing, even if you're pretty sure you're right, gets you almost nowhere. and often folks are doing the best they can with the resources they have, and taking care of themselves in the small ways they can -- and a god who loves them (and our god does) understands that. sexual promiscuity is not an unhealthy way that i feed myself, but there are plenty of others, and i'm just really grateful that there is love and salvation and forgiveness and LOVE at the end of the day and the beginning of the next one.

* * *

As they say in my kids’ school, I’m ready for questions and comments.


Anonymous said...

everyone's afraid to touch this one, ms. rose. lol. --mc.

Marta said...

oh, and i'm aleady working on part three, "let's talk (yet more) about sex, baby!" that makes this look tame, lol!

Patrick said...

In a way, I'm lucky that I came out at the beginning of the AIDS epidemic, and in an environment where I, at least, had no clue how to find anonymous or casual sex. My natural timidity and extensive insecurities probably would have kept me from playing a lot anyway, but if I had gotten into one of those scenes, I know my reasons for having sex would not have been healthy ones for me. The validation and reassurance I would have been seeking -assuming they were useful questions to be asking in the first place- would NOT have been well-served in that situation. I do have friends who have spent a fair amount of time cruising, and I'm willing to believe it has served them in mostly healthy ways. Whether or not that is true of all their partners is of course a question I and they can't answer. One voice in my head (the libertarian, I guess) says adults are responsible for themselves. The libertarian thinks of this as akin to offering someone a drink, and trusting that the person will make the decision that is best for him around issues of alcohol. Another voice (not sure what to call this one) believes that's a bit of a cop-out though, especially when it's something as potentially intimate as sex. My live and let live mentality does sometimes fly in the face of my belief that we are responsible for and to one another.
Clearly I'm wrestling too.

Anonymous said...

I'm late in replying but want to tag along on Patrick's comment:

"I do have friends who have spent a fair amount of time cruising, and I'm willing to believe it has served them in mostly healthy ways"

One of the most thought provoking thing I've heard in awhile relates here I think -- the speaker I invited to speak at my gender class last week observed that the old style casual, anonymous/ acquaintance group sex experiences among gay men had a place in defining and celebrating gay male culture and identity -- a sort of cultural identifier and ritual....and that the community lost something of significance culturally when AIDS forced a change.