It's late - I'm tired and have a headache - but I wanted to throw together a few thoughts on the issue of sexuality tonight. I apologize for the sloppiness of the post/my thinking. Also, there are issues here that are of a rather sensitive and possibly offensive nature.
The ongoing sexual obsession of our society is disturbing. We see sex everywhere. And it has become who we are and how we think - so that a first grader who kisses a girl is suspended from school for sexual harassment. We do not understand innocence.
"With the loyal you show yourself loyal;
with the blameless you show yourself blameless;
with the pure you show yourself pure;
and with the crooked you show yourself perverse."
And Christians are no exception. We see this evidencing itself in our beliefs about sexuality. And our beliefs, or lack of beliefs, about sex are shaped by the silence of many of our churches on such issues as pornography and abortion, and an even greater silence concerning contraception and masturbation.
Our obsession is evidenced in our marital unfaithfulness and our pastoral sexual abuse.
Our obsession is evidenced in our immodesty and in our coarse humor - the very patterns of our thoughts relentlessly turn toward sex. And we begin to be unable to think of our thinking as possibly dysfunctional.
For example, in conversations about the ever-virginity of Mary, the idea of a man being married and also being chaste is, for some, inconceivable. Understand that I am not arguing here for Mary's perpetual virginity - but to be unable to even see chastity as a possibility is surely, at the very least, lamentable. (Mary's ever-virginity is not exclusive to Catholic and Orthodox traditions. The Reformers also believed in Mary's ever-virginity. So the rejection of Mary's ever-virginity is not simply a Protestant phenomena, at least not at Protestantism's own conception.)
Homosexuality and abortion are big issues in Christianity. Yet even these issues are, in some corners of Christianity, post-issues. I hear people making less of them. So it is no surprise that we do not talk much about more private issues, such as contraception and masturbation.
But it shocks me that 80 years ago, all traditions within Christianity opposed contraception. And tonight, on Nightline, the broadcasters seemed surprised to hear of a Christian group (the Quiverfull Movement) that was against contraception - as if this belief were a new thing, and extreme.
Nowadays, of course, most Christians do not think twice about contraception. That, in itself, is troubling. It is not even so much that Christians use contraception, though I believe contraception is wrong, but that we do not even ask questions about the dangers (the chemical regulation, shortening, or elimination of a woman's period) or morality of contraception - that it has become quite normal for us. Taking a pill or having a vasectomy is just what we do.
Finally, masturbation. I attended an evangelical Protestant college - perhaps fundamentalist, certainly dispensational. In my first year, students were not permitted to see movies. In my third year, as part of a Christian living class I took for my Bible minor, we discussed masturbation. The professor thought it possible to masturbate without sin, without sexual fantasy (or improper sexual fantasy) - that, perhaps even, Jesus masturbated.
Shocking as that may be, my point is this: The lecture was the only time I can recall hearing a discussion about the morality of masturbation. And outside of discussions about lust, I certainly was never taught that masturbation itself was disordered. In fact, we simply did not talk about it.
Ultimately, I suppose, I'm disheartened by our willingness (and even desire) to live broken lives. Our churches cannot afford to be shy about sexuality. Silence breeds acceptance. And impurity is still not the road to holiness.