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Of Sexual Morality

Updated: Oct 3, 2023



Back in the 1990’s I held the position of Principal in the largest Christian High School in our region. As such I was in a position to impact the lives of a good many young people at a critical age. Paula and I had a number of venues where we could provide direct assistance to our students in ways that we knew full well the conservative members of the school board would not approve.

Initially, the students had been wary of us since we were seen by many of them as oppressors; more interested in punishing them, than helping. To be fair, that had been the role of my predecessor The school’s Headmaster (to whom I answered) and most of the School Board members saw things the same way. Paula and I saw things differently. Though this was before we had begun to have sex outside our marriage; we had already come to believe that the focus on keeping sex in a tight box (inside marriage only) was not only unnecessary, but actively harmful to Christian growth and values. In our study of the scriptures, with a focus on the teachings of Jesus rather than the Hebrew law; we had concluded that God gave humans sexuality to increase joy and to help facilitate love. We had not yet really formulated a clear system of morality; though that was in the works.


By my second year as Principal, I was seeing several students every day to deal with issues they could not share with their parents or their own church leaders. I had let it be known, that while the school had rules that I was hired to enforce; nothing said in a counseling session was subject to those rules. In effect, when they were talking to me or to Paula in confidence, we were not school officials.


Paula and I were trusted by the teenagers with all sorts of sexual issues in their lives. Not surprisingly we realized that despite all the pretense to the contrary, the teens in our school were no less likely to be sexually active than the general population. What was actually surprising, was that several of the teens knew for a fact one of their parents (usually their mother) was having sex outside marriage even while preaching the traditional line about sex. In most cases, but not all, the parents did not know that their children were aware of their sexual indiscretions. It particularly annoyed the teens (and me) how in a couple of cases, that the teens had by simple use of math, calculated that they had been conceived well before their parents had married; yet their parents told their kids they’d not had sex till their wedding night. Such lies totally undermined their parent’s credibility.


It was into this milieu of distrust for adults, that Paula and I found a rewarding ministry. And…incase you are wondering, yes, the world I present in Final Freedom, was very much informed by my professional work with teenagers.


One particular day, I had a girl in my office in tears. She was a high school junior and it seems during a trip (some sort of family vacation to a resort) she had cheated on her boyfriend by slipping away from her parents (several times) to have sex with a hot guy she'd met. Once she had come home, she became very distraught that she had cheated on her boyfriend whom she loved very much. In her despair, she was convinced she was now the worst person in the world and must break-up with him and she would never find love again. You know that special despair that only a teen in their first love can have, well that was it.


Though, as I said before, this was before I had fully embarked on the open marriage lifestyle, I had already become rather a heretic (though my Christian ministry employers did not know that). While my elderly bosses did not know I'd jumped ship, the teens to whom I ministered knew full well I was a different kind of Christian. As such, this young woman was not embarrassed to let me know that while she and her boyfriend were sexually active, she did not have a moral problem with that… and by extension, she did not seem to think I would either. Rather it was the cheating that made her cry with remorse. My response was to quote Jesus from the Gospel according to Mark, chapter 7:14-15

And when he had called all the people unto him, he said unto them, Hearken unto me every one of you, and understand: There is nothing from without a man, that entering into him can defile him: but the things which come out of him, those are they that defile the man.

I then paraphrased it and said “It is not who has been in your body, but rather what’s in your heart that makes you good or bad.” I told her emphatically that she was not a bad person. She had found herself in an unusual environment far from home. When she felt a connection with that guy, she had sex with him for mutual comfort; she was not rejecting her boyfriend. Her feelings of pain and guilt clearly showed she had a good heart. My point was that nothing she did on that trip had actually harmed anyone, not even her boyfriend; but what she did now could hurt both him and her. Misplaced feelings of guilt and self-loathing would surely do more to harm her relationship with her boyfriend than having sex while on vacation. I pointed out she had been close to a thousand miles from her home, so it was not likely to be an ongoing thing that might make her have to make a choice.


She agreed. I ended by pointing out there was no reason she was morally obligated to bring pain to her boyfriend by telling him; though, she knew him best and knew what would work for them.

Of course, at that age she was sure she'd love him like that to the day she died. Though she was too young to know it, teen romances come and go. The chances that relationship would last even to the end of the semester was slim regardless of whether she’d had sex with someone else or not; regardless of if she told him what she had done or not. I did not expressly tell her not to tell him; but I hinted at, the reality that if she confessed to him what she had done, it would likely be all over school in days. I knew full well that if that happened, she would never lose the reputation as a cheating slut. Would such a label be fair? Of course not, but I knew teens, especially Christian teens.

As it turned out she did not tell him. And….by the next semester she had a new “love of her life.”

This brings up the question of how does one define the morals of sex in the modern world?

I will assume if you are on my web-site, you are beyond the belief that all sex outside of marriage is wrong. You know that I advocate that sex is inherently good and positive. So, does that mean that all things sexual must be good and moral? To this I say no!


There are indeed rights and wrongs. Though I take an unconventional view on sexual morality, there still are moral absolutes.


Why?


How is that consistent with freedom?


As John Locke observed, there must be moral limits on personal freedom to prevent one man’s freedom to become another man’s burden. Thus, to intentionally harm someone for your own pleasure is inherently wrong. To harm someone, even unintentionally, due to negligence or disregard is also wrong. To limit the freedom of another to enhance your own freedom or power is wrong. In all of this one must consider the fact that emotional harm can be as serious a violation as physical harm.


In the case above, had the girl tried to absolve her feeling of guilt by telling the boy she would have caused him great pain and quite possibly harmed his ability to trust in the future. Worse yet she would have harmed her own future by creating a self-filling policy that she is sexually dishonest. The sin was not that of sex, the sin was she'd led the boy to believe she would not have sex with other people. So, buy having to deal with her guilt, she owned the consequences of her sin rather than shoved it off on others. This was the moral and Christian thing to do.


So what is moral sex? Well, it certainly doesn’t have to do with your marital status, or what the gender of your partner is or what orifice is used for pleasure. Contrarily, it has everything to do with mutual respect, consent and the welfare of both your partner(s) and yourself.

For my model of morality, I look to Jesus as my guide. He taught that active compassionate regard (love) is the fulfillment of the law and the core of all true religion. So sexual morality is wrapped up in love for the well-being of your sexual partners and the other people in your life.

Get all the joy from your body that you can; but, do no harm.





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Ananda
Ananda
Jun 25, 2022

With the events in the USA about women's rights it seems as if women are denying their own sexuality. It also seems as if men don't want women to be sexual and that they don't want women to have a say about their own bodies. This breaks my heart. The worst for me is that the man who impregnated the woman who wants an abortion has no accountability for the pregnancy. This is patriarchy at its worst. It is "wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am" all over again.

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sugarlessroark
sugarlessroark
Jun 25, 2022
Replying to

My own tendency is to deny my sexuality. It's a struggle, even for a cis-gendered, heteronormative guy. I want women to be sexual, but I imagine that it is more of a struggle for you than for me.

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Ananda
Ananda
Jun 24, 2022

Your council to the young lady was correct, in my opinion, as the author of this statement would support: "Christian moral discernment depends on four sources-Scripture, tradition, reason, and experience-and recognizing the priority of experience aids the success of such discernment in community." (Sexuality and the Sacred: Sources for Theological Reflection) When experience tells you, for you to condemn the young woman for her action would be a huge mistake, then you guide her with love. In my experience, when interpreting Scripture, tradition, reason and experience through the lense of love, you cannot go wrong. The message of Jesus was the Kingdom of Heaven: "“The Kingdom of Heaven is within you” (that is, here) and “at hand” (that is, now).…

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sugarlessroark
sugarlessroark
Jun 22, 2022

This stirred up something in me that doesn't have much, if anything, to do with sex. Locke's notion that harming somebody else for your own benefit is wrong rang a bell. I've been listening to Heather Cox Richardson's American Paradox on YouTube. It's a series on American History, tracking the tension between the God-given equality proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution's emphasis on property rights. This played out in the struggle over slavery, and has persisted. It seems as though some people don't want to extend "equality" (to blacks, hispanics, women, queers, undercapitalized folks) because this will lose them their own "equality."


Sort of sorry to digress.

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Replying to

people very much feel that extending rights freedoms etc somehow weakens their own freedoms. It's these people that I think "unconditional love means nothing to them." It's like a parent telling their kids "Love isn't a sugar bowl. I love you and you siblings completely, I won't run out"

There are many for whom the love sugar bowl does run out

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