A Few Guidelines for Teenagers Regarding Sex
I’ve written a good bit making it clear that I believe parents and other adults should view recreational teen sex as normal and should take the position that it can be healthy for the participants. However, I say "can be", because there are pitfalls that can be deadly serious. As sex-positive parents and adults it is imperative that we do not abandon our expected mentoring role in the area of sexuality. So, I am offering these guidelines for teens (but most of it applies to adults as well). Since I am obligated to say my blog isn’t targeting underage people, I put this out as a professional for parents and other adults to pass on. However, the truth is that everything I write is with the awareness that teenagers, even very young teenagers, are searching the web for truth about sexuality. This site is exactly the kind of place they should be looking. Nothing, and I mean nothing here is bad for teens and, if I could, I would have a million teenagers reading it. Certainly, better this site than 99% of what teens will find on the web as they look for help in negotiating their lives. So here goes Dr. T’s “rules” for teens regarding sex. 1st Your Body is Yours! No one has a right to use it sexually but you. You may share it with whom you wish, but remember, it remains yours. The inverse is also true, your friend’s body is his/hers, and you do not have a right, no matter what your relationship, to use their body. That friend has his/her right to share that body with you, but it is never yours to use as you wish. 2nd Be Legal I may not always agree with the laws of sexual consent, but they are enforced. In most of the US, it is a crime to have sex when you are under 16. For parents, in many places, it can be interpreted as child abuse to allow your child that is under 16 to have sex with your consent. You (your child) may be ready to have sex before your localities age of consent, but the cost of such behavior outweighs any benefit. When our daughter first told us that she was sexually active at 15, we explained the law in our state to her. We asked her to promise she would not do it again until her 16th birthday. We let her know we did not condemn her for underage sex, but we were legally bound in this issue and we didn’t have the money to fly her and her boyfriend to France to have sex. If your boyfriend/girlfriend is under 18 remember the “Two Year Rule”; in most states sex between minors (over the age of consent) is legal as long as the older partner is no more than two years older than the younger. And finally, beware of sending nude photos (unless you’re on a public nude beach) until you are 18. Some states have worked out the decriminalization of this, but I would not take the chance. We had to take our daughter’s web-cam for chatting topless, again not because we believed it wrong, but because of fear of the law. Parents should do their homework to know their local laws before they think their child needs to know. 3rd Be Safe I have long advocated the “2 Methods Rule” to teenagers I’ve counseled; a condom, plus a second method such as the pill. No birth control method is 100% fool proof, and teens can be fools. Nearly all contraceptive failure is due to user error. Ask your teen to talk candidly to adults they know and ask if all their pregnancies were fully planned. In most cases they will find that the adults have had unplanned “surprises”. My wife and I had two in our first 8 years of marriage. How many teens want to have an unintended pregnancy every four years? Not many I would guess. A commitment to the two-methods rule will bring that chance down to an acceptable level of risk. Of course, by using a condom and another method, the chance of STD’s are also brought down to acceptable levels. Teens need to be told, sex is an adult activity and adult responsibly goes with it. 4th Be Respectful Be respectful of yourself and of your partner. For years I have given this one piece of advice. Before you have sex, ask yourself will I be proud of what I’ve done tomorrow and a year from now? If you can say yes, then do it. If you cannot say yes, then stop. I tell guys this but also say they should ask themselves “From what I know of this girl I am with, will she regret doing this tomorrow?” If the answer is yes, then hold up till she’s ready. Beyond that, sex is not something to do to keep a score or to prove your manhood/womanhood. It is immoral to fuck a person under false pretense. No, you don’t have to have some deep relationship; sometimes Paula and I have sex with friends just for fun. That’s OK. But, don’t fuck to get a relationship, or because the other person thinks you’re promising a relationship. That’s not OK. Don’t fuck because you feel expected to, or to keep a guy’s/girl’s attention. That’s not OK. Having sex is something you do because it makes you and your partner feel good physically and emotionally. If it doesn’t do this for you both, then don’t do it. Yes this is a pretty short list of rules, but long lists are rarely followed, and these rules are for the benefit of everyone. I Know I have a few supporters out there and if you have ever linked anything those in your circle of influence, I would ask you to forward this short list so that together we can help todays teenagers.
A Few Thoughts On Our Open Marriage
The concept of an open marriage was first popularized in the United States during the 1970’s. In 1972 a book by that name was published and had an impact during the “Women’s Liberation” movement. That book primarily focused on a socially open marriage were the partners were free to have their own friendships outside of the marriage. At that time, that in itself was a radical idea. The extension of that concept to sex was only obliquely addressed in the book. However, in the public mind and usage open marriage meant that there was an agreement within the marriage that the partners could not only have friendships outside of their marriage, but they were free to have sex with those friends if they chose. While for most American couples, social openness has over the past four decades become just an accepted part of the modern marriage; sexual openness has never gain widespread acceptance, even in very liberal circles. Why this is, will be the subject of a future essay. What is interesting to me is how little most people, even sexually liberal people, understand how open marriages actually work. So, I thought I’d pen a few thoughts about our marriage which has been “open for over twenty-five years now. It was in 1996, when my wife and I agreed to have a sexually open marriage. We didn’t make this decision because either of us was in an affair or had just had one. In fact we’d both been monogamous since we'd met each other, over a decade before. It wasn’t that we were board or were dying to go out and have a fling. It was a cool rational decision to reject the concept that lifelong marriage, which we intended to have, meant we must forever give up the possibility of other sexual partners. This decision seemed natural to us in part because we had never had a socially closed relationship. Even before we were married neither of us saw a need to own the others social life. In our case, we explicitly extended that social freedom to include sexual encounters because Paula had the courage to tell me that she wanted more sex than I was able to provide at that time. In retrospect that honesty and willingness to address issues head on was foundational to the success of our marriage, not just open marriage, but our marriage in general. Further she openly told me that she was very strongly sexually attracted to other people. She was clear she was very much sexually attracted to me, but rather she simply knew she had desires to have sex with a good many people who crossed her path. Not to have love affairs, but to fuck. She was not focusing on one person in particular, but she just had a general desire to expand her sexual horizons. She was not going to cheat on me, but she knew she was somewhat frustrated in our sex life and was interested in having other sexual relationships. Our decision was simply giving her liberty to act on those interest if she so desired. It may be that our two and a half decades of success in having a sexually open marriage has a great deal to do with the dispassion of the initial decision. Inevitably decisions like that made under the pressure of sexual or emotional desire by one of the partners will create a state of both internal and external coercion. Coercion in marriage will always reap negative consequences in time. So, getting ahead of that was important. Many a failed attempt at maintaining a positive long term open marriage will trace the root cause of the failure to the fact the initial agreement to open marriage was made under the coercive power of lust or love for a third party. Not only was that not true in our case; but as a couple we were in the midst of reexamining the core moral values of the Fundamentalist Christian way of life we had been taught by our spiritual leaders. As I was then a full-time minister, and thus one of those leaders, I took it upon myself to compare the validity of the sexual rules of fundamentalist to the actual words of Jesus. In the end we could find no moral reason to forbid mutually consensual extra-marital sexual activity than we could find for many of the long list of “thou shalt not’s” we had been taught. Thus our transition to open marriage was simply an agreement. We agreed that should the circumstances arise where she had the desire and opportunity to have sex with someone else, it would not be a violation of the mutual promises on which our marriage was dependent. At the time I did not even ask for the same permission because I simply couldn’t imagine having the time, energy or desire to have any more sex than I was having at home. While it was purely theoretical at that point, it laid out a foundation. And, significantly, it did not lead her to act on that agreement for several years. From the very beginning, we viewed open marriage not as the act of having sex with outsiders, but the permission to do so. Perhaps that is one of the keys to our success. Since then we have been sexually active with quite a few other people. Over the years my wife has had sex with well over one hundred men and women, while I have been with less than half as many as she has. Both of us have had one-off sex with people we hardly knew and ongoing sexual relationships with friends. Additionally she has had several serious love affairs. There have been times when she’d have sex with other people several times a week, and others where neither of us had sex with anyone outside our marriage for a year or more. For instance in the mists of the Covid pandemic we have completely suspended seeing other people. There have been times when we were actively going to several swinger events in a month and other times that we didn’t go to one in several years. We have been to parties where she or I had sex with a number of people in a night, but far more where we did not “hook up” with anyone. However, what has underpinned all this is that literally at any time or with anyone we met we could have sex…if we chose to. That option is there 24/7/365, even if neither of us choose to take it. Our pattern of activity is not uncommon in the open marriage community. Couples will be active for a while, then inactive, then active again. In part this is simply due to what I call “real life” crowding out recreational time. Over the time we have had an open marriage we raised our kids who had school events or had demanding extracurricular schedules or got sick, or had personal crises that took our full attention. Those things often impeded our ability to go out with new potential bed mates. When her father became sick and eventually passed away, we were monogamous for 18 months. But, after that we bounced back and had the most active sexual period of our marriage. And now our kids are grown, our grand-son and Paula’s ninety-three year old mother get the time that once went to our kids. All that to say this; an open marriage is not so much about the frequency of fucking other people as it is the fact that fucking other people is always an option. Not just a tolerable option, but one that we both know the other will positively support and will be happy we had a moment (or a few hours, or a whole afternoon/night) of sexual bliss. So, when we meet new people and they ask about what we have done over the years, it can sound like we constantly jump from one bed to the next. Yet, that perception is not correct. In actual fact; the spaces in between wild times are longer than the wild times themselves. After all, even if we counted up and found Paula has had sex with a hundred different men and fifty women, that would still be only a few new partners per year. So no, open marriage is not about constant sex, but it is about constant love, trust and support. All in all, open marriage has worked for us. If I were to guess it will only be old age and infirmity that will permanently close our marriage to others. And that too is just a part of life. A final note: the photos on this post are of my wonderful wife Paula and a man she had met only hours before. She decided not only did she want to have sex with this guy she just met, but she wanted me to take photos of her doing it. She called me and asked if I would be willing to take pictures of her having sex with this hot guy. That ability to share special moments is part of the reward of not claiming ownership. While that time she obviously told me she was going to have sex, she is under no obligation to do so. Many times over the years she has had sex and not told me. Sometimes, months or years later she will tell me “Oh, I had sex in hotel once,” but to this day there are sexual liaisons that I have never heard about, and likely never will. Of course I have no idea how many, but that is her privilege.
A New Definition of Casual Sex
A Few years ago my wife and I both came to the conclusion that we are not real fans of having casual sex by the conventional definition, i.e., sex with persons with whom we have no ongoing relationship. Now, that’s not saying we haven’t done that once or twice in the past year, because we have. But, those times were “just one of those things”. The point is, we don’t go looking for that kind of sexual encounter. I’m sure part of that is that we are both over 50 and neither of us have that burning imperative, when we go to a swing club or party, that we must have sex with someone new. And it’s not that we think such casual sex is wrong or as some put it empty. It’s just not for us. On the other hand we certainly don’t believe that sex should be reserved for relationships that are deeply committed either. I am quite sure the myth of the specialness of sex is an outgrowth of property based monogamy (with women being the property). It became codified into nearly every religion that has a professional clergy as a way to maintain social stability and thus the clergy’s social position. Even though this myth is still perpetuated via the modern secular clergy, psychologist/psychiatrists, it does not derive from real science but from the desire to justify what they already believe by using unjustified cause-effect statements. The position that my wife and I are comfortable taking is the proposition (that I’ve made before) that sex is a normal and positive part of adult social relationships. In other words, sex is for friends. In our post tribal world, most of us have precious few people to whom we can go to when we have a joy to share or need comforting in our sorrow. I don’t mean the new “Facebook” meaning of friendship, but a real relationship of trust and caring. A friend is the person that you don’t need to put on for and don’t expect them to put on for you. Perhaps the best definition of friendship for me is that person for whom I don’t have to clean the house if they come over. Friendship is all about shared experiences and mutual support. As humans one of the best ways to do both is through physical touch, skin touching skin. Sexual touch is the most complete version of touch, which makes it a natural activity for friends. Sexual sharing is all about skin on skin touching. It is just full body, genital included, skin on skin touching. One may counter that sex is mostly about erotic passion and release. I would disagree. Perhaps my age is showing again, but the most important thing about sex is not the erotic passion and release of orgasm. The most important thing about sex, it is skin on skin touching. If orgasm is all someone wants, masturbation is a more sure way to gain orgasm than any other, but no one can get the deep pleasure and sense of serenity that full body skin on skin contact provides via masturbation. When I’ve taught about sexuality, I use the analogy that a full sexual experience is like a symphony. It has multiple parts including an opening (often with surprises), and a slow building section that can be either sensuous or relaxed, a rhythmic center, a climax then a quiet reflective post climatic refrain. Sure it is possible to listen to the climactic three minutes of the Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture over and over, but by doing that you rob the music of its real power. Or perhaps more accessible to some readers, if you just saw the last scene of the Les Misérables, it would have nice music but it wouldn’t bring forth tears because there was not the preceding build up. However, it would be hard to imagine anyone attending to the whole musical where that last song that does not get a tear welling up. With that background, I contend that sexual interaction is, or should be, a normal and positive part of adult friendships. With this in mind I offer the following definition of “Casual Sex” Casual Sex: (1) informal sexual interaction of a caring, but casual, nature between persons who have an ongoing mutually supportive relationship (philia), but are not romantically involved (amore); (2) mutually pleasurable sex between friends where the relationship is defined by something other than romantic or sexual attraction.
A Sexual Orientation Paradigm
One of the reasons I began blogging was to clarify and organize my thoughts on topics. I am trying to lay out a systematic approach to the discussing the topic of sexual orientation. Based on my years or research and experience here is what I’m thinking. Yes this is a direct challenge to Queer Theory. Perhaps it might help you in thinking through this. Part I - Truisms Humans are born with an emotional need for belonging, affection and validation. Humans are socialized to how to get their emotional needs met. Until puberty humans do not develop a biological urge to have sex, though children are socialized to act in ways that mimic an internal sex drive. By the time humans are aware of their sexual urges, they have already been socialized on how to express them and how to get them met. The socialization process is vastly complex, too complex to systemize. Genetically carried traits significantly impact the how the socialization impacts emotional and sexual desire. Humans can get their emotional and sexual needs met from the same person (or type of person) or from deferent people (or types of people) Part II - Implications Prior to the onset of puberty, children do not have sexual needs; thus they do not have sexual preferences. What is often interpreted as early sexual orientation is the development of gender based patterns in meeting emotional needs. When people say “Sexual Preferences” it usually is meant to mean several components of emotional attraction as well as sexual attraction; however, and there is reason to suggest all the different types of attraction will line up with one person, one gender or one group. Emotional/Sexual attractions nearly always change over the life cycle and are impacted by very many things, including but not limited to: societal expectations, availability, life events, values changes and social status. Efforts to shape, limit or encourage other peoples sexual/emotional attractions is a futile and often harmful project. Part III- In Regard to Straight & LBGTQA et al. No one is born heterosexual or homosexual because adult sexuality comes with puberty. The complex nature of childhood gender role development defies an ability to attribute causes. The concept of mono-sexual homosexual (i.e. gay & lesbian) is a socio political construct that is very modern in origin. The rise of self-identity based on sexual interests as a common behavior has no precedent in human history and is a result of the decline of traditional ways of identity making (religion, class, family, profession, etc.). Sexual identity should be seen to be more about identity and community than it is actually about sexual desires. Most people will find themselves emotionally and or sexual attracted to both males and females over their adult life course, nearly half will act on that desire at least once. Homoerotic imagery is a key element in mainstream commercial porn to feed and fill the gap between homosexual desires and behaviors. Social history shows that absent social prohibitions to the contrary, most people will act on sexual attraction to both sexes There is a growing rise in the acceptance of people who do not identify as part of the queer community to occasionally engage in homoerotic behavior. The reason the gay/lesbian leadership attack the bisexual identity is that the very existence of bisexuals undermines their claim to be fundamentally “different” based on their perceived unique homosexual urges. The proposition that western society could return to the normalizing of bisexual behavior as it was in the Hellenic world undermines Queer Theory which acts like a quasi-religion. Hence the L/G leadership insists that humans must be mono-sexual
A Short Critique of Critical Race Theory
I honestly never thought this topic would ever hit the mainstream, but it has. What surprises me most is that those who are talking about critical race theory in the popular press and in the political sphere ... on both sides... don't seem to have a clue what they are talking about. A few weeks ago one of my left of center friends challenged my claim that critical race theory (CRT) is a dangerous and anti-liberal ideology. It seems that a great many people simply just assume that since CRT exposes systematic and structural racism and it is opposed by the right wing, it must be good. That is simply not the case. Just because someone talks about a disease does not mean they have the cure. Snake oil salesmen have been doing this forever. CRT at its core offers the same false and oppressively vison for society as do fundamentalist religions. It is just the same snake oil with a different label. SO... for those of you who actually want to know what does the term Critical Race Theory mean, I offer this short critique I wrote a few years ago. A Short Critique of Critical Race Theory I spent over a decade deeply immersed in the fundamentalist Christian community. I have both a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree from flagship institutions in two different wings of the movement. As such I know what fundamentalist religion is. I’ve seen it up close. Despite their claims to the contrary, fundamentalist religion is founded on the utilitarian concept of “the greater good”. Such religions believe they have the inside track on ultimate truth; and, that the “here and now” control they seek to inflict on others, is justified by some greater long term good. Their practitioners are convinced that all people must yield to their vision of reality in order for society to reach a higher level of existence, justice and happiness. Religion rejects the scientific method because their beliefs trump what appears to be measurable fact. They see the world as an illusion hiding the underlying supernatural truths that lie beneath. Finally, fundamentalist religion, specifically fundamentalist religious institutions, are self-serving. When push comes to shove, religious institutions (like all institutions) act in their own self-interest rather than the interests they publicly espouse. The political leftists in the US and in Europe have pilloried religion since the enlightenment; however, in the past half century, the “new-left” has embraced an all-encompassing religion of their own. Their religion is non-theistic, but it has all the hallmarks of fundamentalist religion. The name of that religion is Critical Theory. And in this short paper I lay out why I am concerned their religion aims to supplant democratic liberalism with a totalitarian quasi-theocracy. However; addressing critical theory is not a simple matter because Critical Theory is not a theory of society, or a wholly homogenous school of thinkers or a method. Critical theory, rather, is a tradition of social thought that, in part at least, takes its cue from its opposition to the wrongs and ills of modern society’s on the one hand, and the forms of theorizing that simply go along with or seek to legitimize those society on the other hand”. (Bernstein, 1995, p. 11). The term critical theory was coined by Max Horkeimer in a 1947 article which was primarily an attack on what he believed to be the misplaced belief in the scientific method, and in specific, he attacked the Cartesian dichotomy of separating the object and the observer (Bernstein, 1995; Thomassen, 2010). Additionally, as a member of the Frankfort School, Horkeimer combined this constructivist view of reality with Marxian conceptions of economics, materialism and class domination. Horkeimer said “the [critical] theory never aims simply at an increase in knowledge as such. Its goal is man’s emancipation from slavery” (Thomassen, 2010, p. 20) . The essential difference, between traditional Marxism and critical theory however, is not just that the proletariat is replaced by other groups; but, that identity formation of the new sorts of groups does not require direct action (i.e. revolution), rather, the new group identity requires action in the political arena. (Bernstein, 1995,p. 20). Other German philosophers, chief among them Jürgen Habermas built on the foundation laid by Horkeimer to continue to develop the critical theory. One particular challenge to the Marxist in Western Europe in the 1950’s was the need to update Marx’s vision of the inevitability of a proletariat uprising, which by that time was clearly not going to happen. The predicted collapse of capitalism just didn’t and wasn’t going to happen in a world of growing affluence for the working class. How were they going to tell a bunch of factory workers who lived in nice homes, had cars and TV’s that they were oppressed? One approach was to say their wealth and leisure oppressed them. Habermas wrote how wealth and consumerism has led to what he called alienated leisure, and even a welfare state, like France, can be a dehumanizing force as it exercises control over the individual (Edgar, 2005). That approach didn’t get very much attention. A more productive line of thought lay in finding new reasons people were oppressed. The success of critical theory lies in its focus on unmasking hidden structures and meanings that lead to oppression of social groups using the traditional political theory of Marx blended with the psychoanalytic theory of Freud (Thomassen, 2010). Habermas, extended and clarified, adding to Marx, the psychoanalytic ideas of Freud to reenergize discredited Marxism. In this he changed Freud’s efforts to uncover repressed feeling of a single person, to encompass society as a whole. Habermas, sought to put whole nations “on the couch” to understand how society is driven by meanings that are hidden from every day view (Thomassen, 2010). Importantly, only the analyst (i.e. the critical theorist) can divine these hidden oppressions or alleviate them.. Thus, critical theorists seek to find new groups who are oppressed, tell them they are so and offer themselves as the solution to their oppression. So, why do we suddenly have a hundred different groups claiming to be oppressed minorities? Because the critical theorist is on a religious mission to find as many groups as possible, and convince them they are oppressed. Thus, modern critical theory has many faces and focuses but all look so very much like religion. Two core beliefs have defined the philosophy (quasi-religion) from the outset: a rejection of scientific proof, in favor or a belief system (i.e. faith) and the duty to seek to uncover hidden oppression (i.e. sin). Because of this, the critical theorist has a life-long evangelical mission to tell those who do not know they are oppressed that they are indeed slaves and that the gospel of critical theory will set them free (preaching and evangelism) (Carspecken, 1996). For illustration I will, based on classical liberalism, specifically address my concerns based on two very popular incarnations of critical theory: critical race theory and critical feminist theory. The first precept of critical race theory is “Critical race theory recognizes that racism is endemic to American life”. (Dixson & Rousseau, 2005, p. 9). This is not presented as a possibility, but as an indisputable fact. As constructivist, critical race theorists legitimize such unequivocal “fact” statements founded on their constructed reality based on finding hidden agendas visible only to critical theorist (McKnight & Chandler, 2012). This core belief justifies critical race theorist, Gloria Ladson-Billing, to use her position as President of the American Educational Research Association (AERA), to proclaim that there is not just an achievement gap, but an education debt owed by European-Americans to be paid to African and Latino Americas (Ladson-Billings, 2006b). In her address to the AERA, she makes a case that race and race alone drives educational achievement. All other factors are functionally irrelevant. The justice, or even factual truth, of suggesting, as she does, that African-American children cannot succeed because “racism is normal not aberrant in American society.” (Ladson-Billings, 2006a) is simply not considered in her address. Thus, in her vision of critical theory of justice the white population, including the children in schools today, owe what she specifies as economic, sociopolitical and moral debt to every child of color, no matter their particular circumstances (Ladson-Billings, 2006) . Schouten (2012) strenuously objects to the whole notion that there is a moral debt owed for education as suggested by Ladson-Billings. Rather she counters with a classically liberal answer that there is a moral obligation to those who are disadvantaged. She acknowledges that the disproportionate number of low performing African-Americans is certainly rooted in historical bias, and that disproportionate resources are required to remedy the statistical inequity. However, the assistance should not be geared to groups based on past injustices, but to individuals based on current need. She wrote, “They therefore have a claim to be benefited, as they are themselves victims of an injustice; the injustice of being badly off.”(Schouten, 2012). There is a significant case to be made that poverty, not race is the driving factor in the difference between races in school success; however, this runs counter to the critical race theory commitment to treat “race as a defining principle rather than a variable within research” (Leonardo, 2012, p. 430). When income is addressed by critical race theory, it is often in the context of Bourdieu’s Marxian tradition rather than income. Nowhere is CRT’s relationship with class analysis more clear than its uptake of Bourdieu’s (1977a) concept of cultural capital. It is one of the most frequently used and critiqued class-oriented concept in the CRT literature on education. There are several species of the appropriation. First, in an endorsement of Bourdieu’s concept, cultural capital is used to explain school biases against more or less essential(ist) cultures of color, their family value systems and priorities. Consistent with Bourdieu’s ideas about class stratification but applied to race, CRT scholars indict the White standards of learning in schools, from the English forms that are recognized to the behaviors that are punished or rewarded and the historical contributions that are valorized or omitted. (Leonardo, 2012, p.438) I find it significant that in the current US Department Of Education figures, African-American’s comprise the exact same percentage in the U.S. undergraduate colleges and universities (15%) as they do in K-12 and nearly the same rate for graduate education (14%) (Aud, Hussar, Kena, & Roth, 2012). The data indicate a more complicated situation with Latino students in the 2011 DOE report (Aud et al., 2011) notes that the dropout rate for immigrant Latino’s is over three times that of native born Latino’s and further notes that Asian immigrants also have the same disproportionate dropout rate, despite the overall success of Asian students in US schools. This would indicate that the issue may well be surrounding the process of immigration rather than race. Even still the Hispanic college undergraduate population is 14% of the total. I’m sure you have not heard that African-Americas are no longer underrepresented minorities in colleges and universities. Why? Because the criticalists control the academic press and to them this is bad news, not good news. I have presented this line of argumentation about critical race theory to highlight the underlying problem with the use of all types of critical theory. They give themselves, carte blanch to assigning negative motives to others and when one says “I’m not a racist” they just respond with their belief system, “Your denial is proof you are a racist.” This is very similar to a Baptist telling someone “You’re a sinner going to Hell”, when the accused says they don’t believe in Hell, the Baptist says “Ah, your denial is proof you’re going to Hell.” See how this is basically religious in nature. This approach leads to a huge body of “research” that shows little but the prior beliefs of the researchers. Typical for the articles I read for this project was a peer reviewed article on how young African-American college men worked out race in predominantly white colleges (Wilkins, 2012) . Throughout, the researcher made motive claims with no evident connection to the subject’s statements. When her subjects made statements that did not conform to the tenants of critical race theory, the author again assigned negative motive. Thus successful behaviors by the subjects were negatively labeled and the author condemned her subjects as being oppressors themselves. The conclusion is brazen in its condemnation of the subjects refusal of specific agendas the authors believes are required based on race; “But more, by dismissing both black women and, often, black organizations, as immoderate spaces, black men abandon their collective responsibility to fight racial inequality, focusing instead on individual strategies of mobility and leaving the work of fighting racism up to women.” (Wilkins, 2012, p. 57). My readings in preparation for this project indicate that this type of approach is not an anomaly, but common practice. This is not to suggest that the profound achievement gap is not important, nor does it suggest that there are not differences in life circumstance for children that are highly correlated with race. What this does suggest is that there is a fatal weakness in the argument for using critical race theory as the core tool to measure educational justice. Critical race theory is closely related to critical feminist theory in philosophy and method with sex being substituted for race when presenting oppression in schools (Hannan, 1995; Okin, 1994); The intersection of race and feminist theory is common such as in the Wilkins article above, yet it shows a willingness to choose interpretations of the subjects statements to prioritize the researchers agenda. It becomes apparent that critical feminist choose ideology over objective statistical measures. It is not that critical theorist do not use statistical data on inequality, but they only condone statistical data as valid when it is convenient to support their beliefs. Despite the fact that long term trends show that females are far more successful than males on nearly every educational measure, critical feminist continue to search for evidence that girls are disadvantaged in education, and to seek programs to promote girls performance (Bianco, Harris, Garrison-Wade, & Leech, 2011; Kafer, 2011; U.S. Department of Education, 2010). Overall the critical feminist response is to downplay the significant achievement gap between males and females that has been growing for over two decades (Froses-Gremain, 2006). Worse yet, in certain segments of the critical feminist community, there is resentment at the idea of addressing the achievement gap that favors females (Mills & Keddie, 2010; Zyngier, 2009). I think, if you made it this far into my rather dense essay, that you can see how critical theory acts just like a religion, based not on facts or evidence, but firmly on a belief system. Marx is Moses, Das Capital is the holy writ, with Freud as a co-prophet, and Habermas as the apostle Paul making the new religion palatable and understandable to the larger world beyond the zealots. Across the land, primary in Colleges and Universities this religion is enforced with an iron hand. Eighteen year old undergrads not only aren’t told the core of this religion, but are crushed and belittled if they resist. As a doctoral student, older than most of the professors expounding on this I had to fight tooth and nail to get a draw. When confronted with the Marxist core of critical theory, several of my professors simply lied and denied the facts while they tried to belittle me as they desperately tried to sell their religion as liberalism to the younger students. But as the greatest philosopher of the late 20th century, John Rawls, pointed critical theory stands in stark contrast to the claims of universal rights based on a common humanity. So next time you hear, something presented as social justice that seems to do quite the opposite, think of this essay. References Aud, S., Hussar, W. :., F., Kena, G., & Roth, E. (2012). The condition of education 2012. ( No. 2012-045). Washington DC: US Dept. of Education Center for Educational Statistics. Bernstein, J. M. (1995). Recovering ethical life: Jürgen habermas and the future of critical theory. New York: Routledge. Bianco, M., Harris, B., Garrison-Wade, D., & Leech, N. (2011). Gifted girls: Gender bias in gifted referrals. Roeper Review, 33(3), 170-181. doi: 10.1080/02783193.2011.580500 Carspecken, P. F. (1996). Critical ethnography in educational research: A theoretical and practical guide. New York: Routledge. Dixson, A., & Rousseau, C. (2005).
And we are still not saved: Critical race
theory in education ten years later. Race Ethnicity and Education, 8(1), 7-27. doi: 10.1080/1361332052000340971 Edgar, A. (2005). The philosophy of habermas. Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press. Froses-Gremain, B. (2006). Educating boys: Tempering rhetoric with research. Mc Glill Journal of Education, 41(2), 145-154. Hannan, D. J. (1995). Gender equity in the american classroom: Where are the women? English Journal, 84(6), 103. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=9510172609&site=ehost-live Kafer, K. (2011). Wasting education dollars: The women's educational equity act. ( No. Backgrounder #1490). Washington, D.C.: Heritage Foundation. Ladson-Billings, G. (2006). From the achievement gap to the education debt: Understanding achievement in U.S. schools. Educational Researcher, 35(7), 3-12. doi: 10.3102/0013189X035007003 Leonardo, Z. (2012). The race for class: Reflections on a critical raceclass theory of education. Educational Studies, 48(5), 427-449. doi: 10.1080/00131946.2012.715831 McKnight, D., & Chandler, P. (2012). The complicated conversation of class and race in social and curricular analysis: An examination of pierre bourdieu's interpretative framework in relation to race. Educational Philosophy and Theory, 44, 74-97. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=eric&AN=EJ962318&site=ehost-live; http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1469-5812.2009.00555.x Mills, M., & Keddie, A. (2010). Gender justice and education: Constructions of boys within discourses of resentment, neo-liberalism and security. Educational Review, 62(4), 407-420. doi: 10.1080/00131911.2010.482202 Okin, S. M. (1994). Gender inequality and cultural differences. Political Theory, 22(1), 5. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=9407053853&site=ehost-live Thomassen, L. (2010). Habermas: A guide for the perplexed. London: Continuum. U.S. Department of Education. (2010). Women's educational equity. Retrieved 9-19, 2012, from http://www2.ed.gov/programs/equity/index.html Wilkins, A. (2012). “Not out to start a revolution”: Race, gender, and emotional restraint among black university men. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, 41(1), 34-65. doi: 10.1177/0891241611433053 Zyngier, D. (2009). Doing it to (for) boys (again): Do we really need more books telling us there is a problem with boys’ underachievement in education? Gender and Education, 21(1), 111-118. doi: 10.1080/09540250802580844
A Threesome: Gateway to a Sexually Open Relationship
I find it interesting that the most common thing Paula and I were asked about when we spent more time with teens and young adults was about the experience of having a threesome. Years ago, not long after I’d left the Christian ministry, a college student who as a teenager had looked to Paula (the minister's wife) for guidance during her high school years came to visit. In her visit she asked Paula straight out if we had ever done a threesome. It was quite a surprising question because we didn’t think she had any reason to suspect we hadn't been monogamous while working with her in our last Christian organization. Still Paula didn’t hedge when presented with the question and said yes we had. The young woman then told Paula that her new husband and she were thinking of having one and asked Paula's advice as to how to go about it. This wasn't the only time this has happened. Some years later we'd taken one of our daughter’s friends (who was fifteen at the time) with our daughter to a local restaurant. The girls were talking away about school and dating and such when the teenager asked us "Have you guys had a threesome?" Now the idea of a fifteen-year-old asking her friend's parents if they had sex with a third partner would have been unthinkable when I was a teen, but the world has changed. Now to be fair, this teen girl had seen the nude photos of Paula we had hanging in the bedroom and at the time we had a very large photo of Paula in a rather see-through chain-mail thong bikini in the main hallway. There was also no way that Michelle hadn't told her friend about her mom going nude at the beach or how her parents rarely shut their bedroom door, even when they had sex. It wasn't like her friend saw us as prudes, but still to ask us in front of our daughter if we'd had a threesome was quite bold. I must admit that I hesitated, but Paula did not and said we had. Now, I will be right up front that I have not seen any current research into how common it is for couples, particularly young couples to have a threesome. A 2004 survey by ABC News said 14%, but we know that casual polls significantly under report sexual behavior that is considered taboo or even unusual. So, it really is hard to give any answer with a even a moderate degree of certainty. However, what I think I can say is that they are significantly more common now than they were even 20 years ago. if I were to guess, I would say that well over 1/3 of couples under forty have had one. When we were first married, to admit publicly that we'd shared our bed with another woman or man would have been shocking enough to result in social ostracism. Today it is merely unusual. Why are threesomes so "in vogue" now? I think it might be that the threesome is a way for a couple to put their toe into the open relationship water, without feeling out of control. Certainly it was a part of our process, in that my wife first became sexually involved with her best friend, then had a threesome by including her friend’s husband and later a threesome by having her friend join us in bed. Threesomes have a lot going for them in the life of a long-term relationship or that of a married couple. It allows the couple to introduce a new sexual element while keeping their sex life unmistakably centered on their relationship. It takes more trust, for instance, for me or my wife to know the other is on a date alone with a man or woman, than it does for a couple to jointly date someone. In poly parlance, this third person is a “secondary”. I think it is a good thing that as of late there has been a good deal of discussion about the ethical treatment of the people who are the playmate of a married couple. In most cases the concern revolves around young single women who are secondary's of older married couples and are treated as expendable living sex toys. However, I am quite sure that putting such limits on the discussion leaves out the majority of "secondary's" who are involved in threesomes. Though the talk is nearly all about a woman sharing the bed with a couple, the reality is in our experience, nearly as many couples share their bed with a man as with a woman. This is not just what we do, but from our many friends who have had threesomes this is also true. For the last decade or so, I can't recall any time we had a threesome with a woman. This brings up the first question about a threesome, what do you (as a couple) want out of the experience. Will it just be sex and no more, or do one of you want to have a "boyfriend/girlfriend." To us the ideal situation is the threesome is with a friend, but some couples want their threesome partner to be a complete stranger, not someone they will run into at social events. Paula also likes secondary’s who are boyfriends, with romance in the mix. The next question is: will this other person in your bed be a man or a woman. A related issue is what form of 3 some do you want. Do you want a “V” with the two same sex partners only connected by their sex with the opposite sex partner, or do you want a triangle were the three participants give and/or receive sexual pleasure equally with the other two. In our case both Paula and I are very comfortable giving and receiving sexual pleasure from either men or women, this gives us the maximum flexibility in choices. To us it makes no sense to have a threesome when two of the three partners can’t touch each other sexually……. Well, that’s not entirely true, she does like the two people playing “Tag team” at giving her pleasure. We have also had 3-somes where the woman didn’t want me to be sexual with her, so that was also a “V” arrangement but with Paula as the center of a female-female-male (FFM) three some. Just a note, in our experience it is rare for self-described heterosexual men in a threesome to turn down receiving oral sex from me. In fact it's only happened once. So it is a real question: how open are each of you to giving and/or receiving pleasure from someone of the same sex? It seems to be common to assume women are more open to same sex enjoyment than men. I would suggest that a study of research and sexual history would disprove that. In a married couple’s threesome, the focus is on mutual enjoyment and sharing an erotic high. To share your shared lover fully (male or female) is the natural state. Nearly all “straight” people in a threesome, when offered pleasure from someone of their sex, can fully enjoy it as part of their sharing with their spouse. Many others, particularly those who get their joy out of seeing their spouse pleasured, can fully enjoy giving their spouse’s playmate pleasure no matter what genitals are between their legs. The most shocking thing about my first time in a threesome when a man’s penis filled my mouth was how it was simply no different than going down on a new woman in a threesome. So it should not be assumed that wives are more open to homoerotic behavior than husbands. We have tried all the different variants. We have agreed that, for us, that the ideal situation is a man to share our bed who is open to pleasure from another man, even if he doesn’t call himself bisexual. That is not to say that is best for others, but for us, as a couple in our 50’s, having a pair of penises promises the best satisfaction for her and for us. Additionally, she likes alpha type men who can fuck for hours. This relates to our sexual styles. I tend to be a slow romantic lover, which she likes a lot, but there is a certain unique pleasure that she gets from being fucked hard, fast and long. She tends to like very masculine men and women as lovers for this reason. She has dated several former pro/semi-pro athletes and found they fit the bill nicely. Notice, the point here is what we as a couple need, not what couples in some general sense need. All this to say, if you are considering trying out a threesome, deicide what niche the two of you want this person to play in your relationship and make a point to let that person know what that niche is so they can fill it. Otherwise, what happens is either the hoped for advantage of a threesome never materializes and/or the lover will tend to fill a role already claimed by one of the existing relationship partners. This is very bad as it can undermine the valued extant relationship. In these cases the relationship may well survive, but will be damaged. The open-relationship/open-marriage concept is erroneously blamed for this problem, hence you get counselors and therapist that say non-monogamous relationships are a mistake and can’t last. We believe that many, if not most, relationships would be stronger and happier in a sexually open state; but, from that first threesome, negotiated non-monogamy must be entered into with clear plans and goals. So, if you are currently monogamous, and are interested in trying out a more open arrangement, consider a threesome. Talk it through, and see what needs could be met by a playmate in your bed. Explore your own willingness to put out an effort to see your mate pleased and how committed you are to your relationship/marriage. In almost all newly opened marriages, the siren song of conventional morality makes one or both partners uncomfortable before, during and after the first sexual encounter. We want you to know these feelings are likely coming, and only move forward when both of you are fully ready. When we have been asked about threesomes by those (and other) people, my wife always says yes we have and do have threesomes; but she also gives them a firm warning that unless you are prepared for it, a threesome can do more harm than good.
About family Nudity
I was recently asked if I would post something more about familial nudity and I said I was pretty sure I'd written an essay on the topic. Well I found it. So here it it. Here is the simple fact, while there are loads of opinions and anecdotal stories about family nudity, there is very little real scientific research on the impact of familial nudity on children. Beware anyone who says there is solid empirical evidence one way or another. While one might expect the modern attacks on familial nudity come primarily from the religious right, you would be wrong. The two most influential voices on this subject over the past 150 years have been anything but highly religious. First Sigmund Freud, the father of psychiatry, was obsessed with sexuality and childhood experiences. He was convinced (with not one bit of scientific evidence) that exposure to nudity and/or sexuality was inherently damaging to children, and his legacy on this continues to influence professionals today. The other great influence on child rearing in North America was Dr. Benjamin Spock. In all practical respects the modern American parental education system begins with him, and his views still dominate professional opinions today. Spock was very clear that even young children were disturbed by parental nudity and somehow it made them feel inferior to their parents due to their lack of sexual development. Again, not one bit of proof was offered, but for 60 years his views on this are what you will hear from most child development experts. To this day, we hear "protect the children" as the reason to censor nudity (and sex) on TV and movies. While there is a mountain of evidence to show exposure to violence in media is harmful to children, there is no such corresponding evidence of harm from seeing images of nudity or non-violent sex. Yet, this makes no difference when "child advocates" equally oppose nudity and violence in the media. They use the evidence that show linkage between exposure to sexual violence and damage to children to condemn all human sexuality down to the briefest image of a female nipple. If there was not already the underlying belief that seeing adult nudity and sex harms children, this would be easily seen as an irrational approach. Sadly, that belief in the inherent harm of nudity (and sex) to children is deeply embedded. What real evidence we have about exposure of children to adult nudity comes in two forms. One from anthropology and one from a limited number of studies done primarily with college students. Anthropology tells us that attitudes about familial nudity are 100% socially constructed. In other words, contrary to what Freud, Spock and others declare to be true, human children have no more psychological need to be shielded from seeing adult genitals than do other primates. Young children just don't notice nudity, and older children react to adult nudity based on what they perceive as "normal." Kids do have very negative reactions to things that seem out of place and/or threatening to their security, but they are taught what to expect and not to expect. Knowing what is "normal" and to be expected, is not inborn. In many societies, even today, familial nudity is of no consequence. Interestingly, studies in Scandinavia (where situational family nudity is common) indicate that by middle childhood children have a firm understanding of when nudity is normal and when it is not. There has been some scientific study (but not a lot) done on the long term impact of family nudity in North America. The results not only debunk the notion that kids who grow up in the presence of adult nudity are damaged, but it suggests that young adults raised that way have a better body image than those who do not. To be complete, the same research suggests that such young people were slightly more sexually active as teens than those who did not live in homes with open familial nudity. If you think teenage sex is inherently bad, perhaps this might be an argument against familial nudity; however the study I read suggested that the nudity might not have caused the increased sexual behavior, but the same familial attitudes that did not condemn nudity likely would not condemn teen sex either. In our home that was certainly the case. Parental nudity was not a big deal nor did we pressure our kids to abstain from sex as teenagers. All that being said, the impacts of parental nudity on the psychological health of teens and young adults is so slight that it need not be a factor in how parents raise their children. The real question is what do you want your kids to believe about nudity and/or sex. It is simply a matter of parental values and choice. Contrary to the nudist beliefs, family nudity does not make children better, but neither does it make them worse. This conclusion is also supported by my decades of working with teens and families. Like so many other parenting issues, there is not one right way. But it is important that new parents discuss this as part of their parenting planning. In our case we chose to make nudity normalized in our home. Growing up we did not tell the kids how much or little to wear around the house. Mom and Dad went naked at times, but mostly wore clothes. When the kids were younger we had a home pool, and Mom and Dad only wore swimsuits about half the time. Most of the time the kids wore theirs, but not always. We spent several summers at a beach front hotel where many of the women went topless. The kids did not seem to notice the women (including Mom) wearing only tiny thongs were anything the least bit unusual. Mom and Dad went nude at other more private beaches, and again the kids didn't seem to take any special notice. Those were our choices and our (now grown) kids are very well adjusted. All that to say, familial nudity is not a matter of right or wrong, good or bad, not even good and better; but, rather a matter of values and the personal viewpoint of parents.
Adultery & Fornication: What do those words mean in the New Testament?
One of our funniest open-marriage memories is from twenty years ago. We were laying in bed with another couple in the afterglow of exhausting sex, when Paula realized it was nearly 3:00 AM. She jumped up and said we had to go, reminding me I was scheduled to preach at a Baptist Church I'd never been to before at 11:00AM. She pointed out that we were an hour from home, and we still had to pick up our kids from the babysitter's; and on top of that we weren't even sure where the church at which I was preaching was located (this was way before GPS). The woman laying next to me initially thought Paula was just being funny. But, it was all very true, I was a minister and I did have to speak at a very conservative church that morning. Over the years Paula and I have been asked over and over how is it that we can claim to be committed Christians and have a sexually open marriage. This question comes both from our monogamous friends as well as couples who have an open-marriage but have a deep feeling of guilt about doing so. When I explain how I do not believe following Jesus requires monogamy, I am often asked if I am just ignoring the parts of the New Testament that oppose sex outside of marriage. Though in my response I point out that I first made a multi-year study of the scriptures before I ultimately settled on the polyamory model; I understand why people might think that I first abandoned monogamy then looked for an excuse. So today I am going to address a frequently misunderstood New Testament word “fornication”. Let us look at this passage from the gospel of Matthew chapter 14 After Jesus called the crowd to Him, He said to them, “Hear and understand. It is not what enters into the mouth that defiles the man, but what proceeds out of the mouth, this defiles the man.” Do you not understand that everything that goes into the mouth passes into the stomach, and is eliminated? But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders. These are the things which defile the man; but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile the man.” The truth Jesus is making is simple; morality is not primarily about our ritual cleanliness but about our motives and how evil motives cause us to do evil things to other humans. Then he lists the sins we can commit against other people: evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness and slanders. Now let us consider two words as relevant to this discussion: adultery and fornications. Adultery did not mean, as some suppose today, all sex outside of marriage; but rather the sin of adultery was limited to a man having sex with the wife of another man or a married woman having sex with a man other than her husband. A married man having sex with an unmarried woman or a prostitute was not considered adultery. Why the inconsistency? Because adultery was seen as the ultimate property crime against the husband. In many ancient cultures (and some modern ones), a married woman had only one purpose: to bear sons to carry on the man’s legacy and inherit his property. Other “womanly” functions such as cooking and clearing and even recreational sex could, and were, carried out by concubines and/or female slaves. The crime of adultery was one of giving away all a man possesses to the offspring of another man. Thus it was usually punishable by death. In a side note, you might have seen how the Saudi government just this recently condemned a woman to death for adultery while only punishing the man with 100 lashes. Or when this week the Sultan of Brunei instituted the death penalty for adultery. We can assume from history that no men of substance will be even charged with this crime unless he is caught screwing the wife of an even more powerful man. And note that the Sultan has repeatedly divorced his wives as they got older so he could marry much younger women. Hmmm? Do you think he waited for his divorce and remarriage to have sex with these women? Not on your life. Yes, I know that sounds like the current president of the USA that is worshiped by the conservative Christians ... but I digress. So to be sure this view of women as property is still alive and well. Adultery was the ultimate form of theft of a man’s legacy. Adultery could never be charged if a man has sex with the wife of a slave since the slave had no property or title to defend. In the model of love and equal justice for all that the teachings of Jesus proposed, there is no room for a man to own his wife as property. Rather she (like all people) owns herself, including her sexuality. I believe the true Christian model is that a man does not buy a wife, but rather they come together freely and choose to become a unit. In this choosing, they are free to adopt the ancient "female" model of sexual exclusivity after marriage; or the equally ancient “male” model that gives sexual freedom after marriage. That is as long as both partners have equal rights and responsibilities under the arrangement. Importantly, this choice is theirs to make, not the community’s, the government's or the religious leaders'. Since we see the word adultery was referring to a property crime, why did Jesus still separate it from the word “fornication?” Fornication is also translated as “illicit sex” or “sexual vice” by other Bible translators. In the Greek the root of this word is Pornos. This word refers specifically to prostitution. The male form is also translated whoremonger, or seller of prostitutes. What one must understand was that in the time it was written prostitution was part of the slave trade. The whoremonger was just as part of their society as the fishmonger who bought and sold fish. The whoremonger however bought women, girls and boys at the slave auction and rented their bodies to men (and some well-to-do women) for sexual use. The prostitutes themselves had not the slightest right to say no, because they were slaves. This is more akin to what we call human trafficking than a woman choosing to have sex for money. Of course in those days the Roman government was the chief supplier of slaves through conquest, thus official policy was to encourage the use of enslaved people for sex. There was also a second type of prostitution that existed in that time and place; that being religious or temple prostitution. Again this was not limited to women, temple prostitutes could be females of all ages or young boys. The Hebrew law (Old Testament) interestingly forbids Hebrew children to be given over to becoming such prostitutes, but does not condemn Hebrew men from participating by hiring them. It is widely accepted that since it was children given over to being temple prostitutes, that they were not at liberty to say no. And the buyers of sex at a pagan temple could not be charged with adultery for visiting a prostitute, though the "joining" with a servant of a false god was problematic to Jews across the Roman Empire. Paul very specifically went into this in I Corinthians 6, just after he states that "all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any," Paul says: Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take away the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? May it never be! Or do you not know that the one who joins himself to a prostitute is one body with her? For He says, “The two shall become one flesh.” But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him. Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body. Here the Apostle Paul tells Christians in the Greek city of Corinth that their bodies are temples of God. This analogy would resonate in a city known throughout the world for its marvelous temples to a multitude of gods. Many of the people to whom Paul is writing here grew up worshiping at those temples. So using that imagery, he tells the Corinthian Christians that they are not to join their bodies to temple prostitutes who serve as conduits to false gods. Rather he says, they should flee the temptation of easy sex with the temple prostitutes. Why; because God has paid the price for our bodies, so we have no business buying the body of a pagan prostitute. He closes with the admonition that we are to use our bodies (i.e. our sexuality) to glorify God. Jesus presented the world a much higher standard of sexual morality than had been practiced before. He introduce the concept of treating all humans as having value and that the moral human would never treat someone in a way they would not want to be treated. And in this passage Paul extends that idea that our sexuality is a key way we show love for all, and thereby glorify God. Certainly to pay a whoremonger to have sex with his slave would not meet that standard. And consider one more thing that makes fornication evil. Sex with a temple prostitute was doubly evil in that the participant was engaging in a sexual sacrifice to a false god. Consider one more thing: In either case, the person who pays the whoremonger or the pagan temple to have sex with the unfree prostitute is in reality forcing that woman or boy to have sex. They have no possibility to refuse. That is the very definition of rape: forcing someone to have sex against their will. Have you ever noticed the word “rape” is never mentioned in lists of sins by Jesus or Paul, even though it has been common throughout history? This is because it is captured in the concept of “unlawful sex” or “fornication”. So, when you come across these lists of sins, do not make the mistake our conservative friends wish you to make and assume they simply refer to all sex outside marriage, but realize it means forced sex or rape. But beyond that, any sexual action that is coerced or pushed on another person is violating Jesus' standard of showing compassionate love. This applies both in and out of marriage. Thus when we look at both the issues of “adultery” and “fornication” we find that the assumption that Jesus was teaching a morality simply based on forbidding sex outside of heterosexual marriage is false. As with the rest of morality, Jesus taught us that the highest rung of righteousness is to act based on love toward those around us and treating all fellow humans with respect and dignity. In this photo, my wonderful wife of over thirty years is fully enjoying God's gift of bodily pleasure with another married couple.
An Old Fashioned Morality Sermon (sort of)
I wrote this a few years ago when I was still teaching at Clemson University. That was before anyone could have imagined Donald Trump as president. Even then I would not have believed the Evangelical Christian leadership would embrace a man who explicitly rejects every single teaching of Jesus and replace it with the gospel of "me first." I chose not to update this at all because the passing of time simply makes the words more relevant rather than less. There are rights and wrongs. Morality is not subject to circumstance. Last semester I was presenting a chapter on ethics in corporate/governmental policy and procedures. To illustrate the fallacy of the “ends justifies the means” view of ethics I laid out the rationalization used by the NAZI’s in the holocaust; however I used their formal name The National Socialist Party rather than the acronym NAZI and I just called the Jews “a disproportionately wealthy outside group”. I spelled out how the government confiscated the homes and property of the outside group and rounded them up so as to limit their negative impact on the nation as a whole, there by the government was able to use their wealth to bring the nation out of a debilitating depression. I told my classes that the policies of the National Socialist did indeed bring the country out of depression, and thereby benefited the great majority of the population (which in the 1930’s it did). I was not only shocked that only three of my seventy graduate students knew the National Socialist were the NAZI’s but only a handful were willing to say the policy that led to the holocaust was categorically wrong. Then I followed up with a number of current examples to give my students opportunity to say that certain practices, even directly citing countries that systemically deny women basic rights or allow the use of child labor or even forced labor. The vast majority of my classes responded that they could not say those things were universally wrong, citing cultural differences. How have we come to the point that four classes of graduate students will not even categorically state the UN’s statement of Universal Human Rights is valid? How have we in the US embraced the idea that circumstances and semantics can make almost any action morally acceptable? Do we believe that ethics and morality are, like art, defined by the beholder? After the 300 years of religious wars in Europe, Emanuel Kant considered how people with different beliefs could live together in peace and harmony. He postulated that reason dictates there must be a common and universal standard for right and wrong. His categorical imperative was that we must act in such a way that our actions could be universally adopted. Thus, should we rationalize that an action is OK just because I predict the end would be good we inherently give others justification for doing the same. The problem is I can hope for just about any good outcome and therefor justify any action. Kant made it clear that it is never moral to make people simply means to a good end, but rather our actions involving other people must consider the impact on the people involved, and the hoped for end only second. I am thinking of this because of the ongoing discussion of sexual assault on college campuses and in the military. Of course both places are filled with young adults freed from the constraints of their parents for the first time. In both places young people are, for the first time forced to find and apply their own moral code and in both places we find young people unable to do so. And in both places we find sexual assault epidemic. The issue of sexual assault on campus and on the military base can be used as a proxy for a whole host of moral failures. In looking at this issue we see not only a problem with individuals justifying actions solely by what they get out of it in the primary case, but looking at the larger picture we see leadership responding in ways that are governed by the same “what do I get out of it” mentality. Thus not only does rape happen at an alarming rate, college and military leadership have been shown to be more interested in optics and the good of the organization than the welfare of the victims whom they were obligated to protect. Just this past week there was a disheartening story in the media about one of the schools I have attended. I have a master’s degree from Bob Jones University; it is a conservative Christian school that very loudly proclaims its commitment to universal moral behavior. After a new university president was appointed a few years ago there was an effort started to look into how the school has dealt with issues of sexual abuse and assault over the past 50 years. Many colleges and universities are doing this after the Penn State case. To show the school was serious about the integrity of the study, an outside group was hired to conduct a thorough investigation. For the past 18 months they have conducted over 250 interviews with mostly former students and were preparing a final round of interviews and reports when the new president had to resign due to a serious health issue. Within a week of his departure, the senior administration (absent a new president) stopped the study cold thus sealing all results that could have damaged the reputation of those leaders and the institution. So, despite their claim to a categorical morality, they acted in a way that was entirely utilitarian, i.e. justifying their actions by how it impacts the whole organization regardless of the impact on individual victims of abuse and assault. We as a society have fallen into the trap of building a morality code that disregards the impact of our actions on individuals by focusing on our own desires. Those desires might be power, or prestige, or financial gain, or efficacy or even our deluded dreams of “the greater good”. We have allowed narrow rules to circumvent the principle of valuing each person’s welfare as being as important as our own. What is worse, is that we the leadership generation have glorified self-serving rationalizations to the young people of the world. I am not sure which is worse, those who promote the deluded notion that harmful means that treat people as expendable pawns can be used to achieve a society of justice; or those who promote a political/religious rule book that disregards the direct harm their rules cause. Both groups forget the measure and point of morality is the welfare of our fellow humans here and now. To rationalize harmful actions based on some “eternal spiritual reward” or some distant social utopia you think you can create is a supreme act of conceit. Because no one can see the future and the long term implications of any actions no matter how much we believe we can. All we can do is try our best to see today and what we do today is good for our fellow human beings. If one does this, one cannot be a rapist. If one does this one cannot silence or ignore the victim of sexual assault. If we all did this the world would be a much better place. #magazinecovers #publishing
And they have made themselves gods
Genesis Chapter 3 Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from [a]any tree of the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.’” The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings. This is the ancient Hebrew story of how sin entered into the world. To be sure it is an allegory meant to be told orally as it had been for several thousand years before there was a written Hebrew language. Think of the stories in Genesis like the stained glass windows in medieval churches made to tell the story of Jesus in pictures so that the simple illiterate peasants could understand. The stories of Adam, Noah and Abraham were meant to distill the truths of Hebrew identity into something the bronze age Hebrews could understand. But it is the truths, not the stories themselves that are important to us as Christians. The truth here is about the original temptation. It is so very tempting to people to want to make up for themselves a list of things they want to do and not do to be morally upright. So where do we get such a list? Some “Christian” leaders today act like the Apostle Barnabas and want to turn Christians into quazi-orthodox Jews by cherry picking the parts of the Mosaic law that they like; then they tell others they must follow those specific rules. They have no problem preaching that Christians “must obey God” when what they actually mean is “obey me.” When Barnabas tried that, the heresy was shot down by the other apostles at the Council of Jerusalem in about 50AD. As a group the apostles agreed that the “yoke” of the Jewish law was not for non-Jewish converts to Christianity. Yet the heresy has proven to be all but impossible to kill. The only parts of The Law of Moses that they did agree to pass on to the new Greek churches was for the men to avoid having sex with temple prostitutes and not to serve meat that had been consecrated to the Greek gods. Paul later explained to the Church of Corinth that even these strictures were not based on a need to follow Moses, but out of concern for the feelings of the Hebrew Christians and that the symbolism of a man physically entering a servant of a false god was degrading. Then how do we know right from wrong? For someone who takes the name Christian, that seems on its face to be a really silly question. Like Buddhists are followers of the Buddha, and Confucianist are followers of Confucius, those of us who call ourselves Christians are followers of Jesus. So for those of us who claim to follow Jesus our guide for right and wrong comes from the words of Jesus himself with support & clarification from the surviving writings from the apostles. Why is that so complicated? Even more why is following the teachings of Jesus so very unpopular with “Christian” leaders? Well let’s go back to Eve and the serpent. The first temptation ever recorded in the scriptures was that one can become as God determining what is good and what is bad. You alone, with no guardrails, can claim the power to decree what is ethical and what is not: what is moral and what is immoral. To claim that power is to make yourself answerable to no one, and by extension, you can claim the power over others to tell them what is right and wrong. And that power over others is why religious leaders, so called “Christian” leaders since the late 2nd century have been claiming the right to be God and deciding what is right and wrong for others. The words of Jesus are very open ended. The very fact he said that the whole of the Hebrew law & prophets can be boiled down to loving God and showing that love by showing compassionate care for those around you leaves no room for religious leaders to impose their will on others. Jesus did not set up a hierarchy. He did not dictate reams of rules. No, he just talked about care for the poor and comfort for the dispossessed. The only time Jesus whole heartedly condemned people was when he was criticizing the religious leaders of his time who were intent on making up their own rules. He called them white painted tombs who were trying to hide the fact they were spiritually dead with a coat of shiny white rules for others to obey. Yet, the whole history of “official” Christianity is filled with rules made up by men often with the temporal authority to force others to comply. This is not what Jesus taught at all. For the last few years I have tried over and over again to get my Trump loving friends to see that the ideology Trump preaches is 100% at odds with what Jesus taught. And I simply could not understand why they couldn’t see that and embrace the teachings of Jesus. Then I had an epiphany. Rejecting the teachings of Jesus in favor of a set of rules agreed upon by leaders of the political/religious right isn’t a breakdown of the “Christian” establishment. It IS the evangelical “Christian” establishment. The unwritten “rule book” this cabal of media savvy leaders have created regarding what it takes to be a good “Christian” doesn’t even give a superficial nod to the actual teachings of Jesus. Just like the Pope and the Roman Church, the evangelical leaders have appointed themselves as God to determine good and evil. Why is the opposition to abortion and the efforts to deprive homosexuals of civil rights virtually the sum total of Christian public morality? Why doesn’t it seem to matter that Jesus never once preached either of those things? Because as a whole, the evangelical community has bought into the serpent’s lie that one can be God and make up your own rules for morality. They don’t care how much Jesus or the apostles or the Jewish prophets talked about care for the poor because, despite their public claims, they don’t follow the Bible. They only use the Bible selectively to give themselves cover as they make up their rule book. It is not an accident that the “sins” that the “Christian” right seek to eradicate are wholly made up of things that those leaders don’t want to do even if they could. You would think people would catch on to that. It seems so obvious. The leaders of the “Christian” right only …ONLY… seek to use force to punish things they have no desire to do. The political evangelicals never seek to use force to make people less selfish or to compel everyone to contribute to help the poor. Quite the opposite. They vociferously oppose collective community actions (through taxation) to help the poor. They use the excuse that such gifts should be voluntary, yet they give nothing from the words of Jesus to support that claim either. Once again, right and wrong are not about what Jesus taught, but about what they like. The political evangelicals openly embrace the “Greed is Good” ideologies of Milton Freedman and Ayn Rand. Does it matter to them that Ayn Rand openly called Jesus a fool. Of course not. They, by their actions, are saying the same thing. Do they care that Freedman said his ideology meant that it was wrong to make better off white people pay for the education of poor black kids when he came out against school desegregation? No, they still preach that same belief but they just quietly have dropped the implication of “white only” schools. Now they call it “school choice,” but the ideology and intent is the same. They reject the notion that we have the same obligation to the poor and needy as we do to ourselves. It is abundantly clear that the whole of the political/media/ecumenical conservative Christian movement has bought in to the “you can be as God” determine good and evil lie. They have fully jettisoned any semblance of credibility as followers of the teachings of Jesus. They have bought into their own power to divine right and wrong and they demand others, all others, should have to live by what they decree. Yield to their claim to be the voice of God on earth or suffer the consequences via the power of government. Not just those who have been deceived into thinking they really do speak for God, but to everyone. That is what they mean when they call for America to be a Christian Nation. It is time we stop trying to remind those who are fully in the Trump cult that his values are out of step with the values of Jesus. They don’t care. Trump’s values are inline with the people who determine right and wrong for them. They are not followers of Jesus thus we will never succeed in citing the words of Jesus to them. They must first make the decision to follow the teachings of Jesus. That must come first. Their hearts are the stony ground of which Jesus spoke in Matthew 13. Your words will die until their heart changes to fertile ground. What we should do though, is to warn those who are flirting with the Trump cult and have only partially rejected following Jesus. They need to see the lie of the serpent for what it is and the death to themselves and to the world should they try to be as God and choose for themselves what is good and evil. It is not an easy task, but right is never easy.
Bisexuality and Religion
In considering this topic, I must recognize that in North American and Europe, the religious experience is primarily based in the Christian tradition. If we considered religions world-wide we would also include Islam and the religious tradition of Indian Hinduism which was profoundly affected by the occupations of first Islamic then later Christian conquerors that reshaped what was once a religion that embraced human sexuality to its modern form that represses human sexuality. Thus, the majority of religious people on planet earth share a similar view of sexuality, one that only gives spiritual blessing to heterosexual, monosexuality. As a preface, I must say I reject the proposition that bisexual desire is a minority experience. There is ample evidence to suggest that if we include both human bisexual desire and behavior it would encompass a majority of humans. It is only when one posits that human bisexual desire is human nature, can we understand how bisexuality and religion interact. Thus, the question is one about the flexible bisexual nature of humanity verses an inflexible religious structure that attempts to force human sexuality into a mold of their liking. If we looked at this in a historical manner, we can discuss how spirituality survives when religion condemns even the smallest attempts to discuss the inherent bisexual nature of humans. However, I will assume that this topic was put out referring to bisexuality and spirituality in the context of 21st century North America. I would suggest that the overwhelming impact of spirituality, religion and bisexuality is one of denial. Most spiritually attuned people in the US, are part of some sort of formal Christianity. As such, when same sex romantic or sexual desires surface they are kept in careful check, often attributed to their sinful nature or to temptations by Satan. Thus the idea that they are bisexual is quashed before it ever has a chance to have a name. Worse yet, the pro and anti-homosexual hype lead people who cannot easily quash a persistent desire for intimacy with both men and women to mislabel their desires as gay/lesbian. In such a world, the bisexual nature is seen as an enemy of their spirituality, leading to a lifetime of internal conflict. For some, the answer lies in leaving their religious traditions and either identifying as “spiritual but not religious” or to identify with one of the modern incarnations of ancient religions that embrace sexuality of all forms as spiritual. Indeed, outside of the monotheistic world, most global religions either take no stand on sexual pleasure between two people with the same genitalia, or openly embrace the joys of sexuality without regard if the participates have a penis, a vagina or parts of both. Sadly, the power of the monotheists has been so powerful though, that religions like Hinduism have thoroughly adopted the strictures of invaders who colonized and oppressed them. Thus, most of the free-love religious practices are efforts to resurrect ancient practices that had all but disappeared; yet even in many of these new spiritual practices, the homosexual/heterosexual binary is adopted. While efforts to reframe spirituality outside of the confines of America’s Puritan heritage might be easy or applauded on the West Coast, it is not so easy for those who live in many parts of the US. Such a move brings as much social stigma and cost as coming out as bisexual (which would be substantial). Thus, even when people have the language and will to acknowledge their bisexual nature, it stands in opposition of the normal and generally acceptable way to practice their spirituality. All this leads to the proposition that the combination of spirituality and religion serve as the first line of bisexual erasure, one that takes place inside the mind of people. Then for that minority that identify their bisexual nature it poses often insurmountable problems, best solved by quashing and hiding their bisexual desires. For the rarefied few who embrace their spirituality and bisexuality they either live a double life, or they abandon the security and community they have with the majority religious community. I do not say all this out of anger or pessimism. As a Christian, I recognize that Jesus lived in a sexually repressive enclave of a sexually permissive (but otherwise oppressive) Roman world. Yet he did not choose to complain or pine about the oppressions, rather he promoted a spirituality of the heart. His model and that of the very early Christian church was one of a quiet underground religion that existed to promote inner peace in the mists of many layers of oppression. We as bisexuals can take that model and use it to give solace and self-understanding to those around us. To be spiritual and to be morally right, we do not need the approval of the over culture. We only need to live out an inner spirituality and be open to help those around us. In this way I live out both my bisexuality and my spirituality.
Bisexuals and the LGBTQ “Community"
There seems to be quite an assumption about people who enjoy sexual contact with both men and women. That assumption is that we identify with the political and social queer community. Surprisingly the effort to put all non-monosexuals into a gay/lesbian box is mostly the effort of the gay/lesbian activists, rather than the social conservatives. It is the supposed champions of sexual rights who try to control people via the LGBT label assignment. This effort is not new. For years the gay/lesbian lobby has been putting out lists of famous “gay” people, yet many of the people they list were not gay or lesbian at all, but rather they were not monosexual and so they are given the gay/label. This is particularly dishonest because when the list includes people from the Hellenistic/Roman world like Julius Cesar and Socrates the concept of ones identity being defined by your choice of sexual partners was not part of their culture. The Hellenistic/Roman assumption was that normal people had sex with both males and females. Sexuality wasn’t defined by the genitals of the person with whom you enjoy having sex, rather by the social status of one’s partner. The preference for one set of genitals or the other was no more important than the preference for one hair color or body type. The concept of people being “homosexual” is a very recent phenomenon. Even through most of the Middle Ages, homosexual behavior was considered a behavior, not an identity. Why? Because the Catholic Church came out of Rome, and their prohibition on homosexual behavior came not from the position that there are “gay” men out there that need to be quashed, but that all men will fuck just about anything that moves. That position runs counter to the message the gay/lesbian activist want to present, but it is supported by history and science. When Alfred Kinsey spent a decade with his team doing in-depth interviews with men, he kept revising his estimate at the percentage of men who had sex to the point of orgasm with another man as his team build up their methods of conducting interview to get the most honest answer. He found right off that a majority of men reported that when they were adolescents they’d had sex with other boys; but, only by the end of his research did he conclude that adult male-on-male sex is so common as to not be considered an outlier, but a normal behavior. It is astounding to consider that he made this conclusion at the end of the 1950’s when homosexual sex was a serious crime in most US states, and he was interviewing men as much as 80 years old. So his report that 47% of men interviewed having consensual adult sex with other men to the point of orgasm is actually a snap-shot of the entire time period from the late 1880’s to the late 1950’s. If you take that the way some want to present it that would be evidence that half of the male population in those 60 years had been born homosexual. Of course, that would be a misuse of the data so blatant as to fool no one, and since deception is the point; you rarely hear that figure mentioned. The honest interpretation is that half of men interviewed had, at least once, overcome the social and legal pressure not to do so, and acted on a desire to have sex with another man. I would suggest if the same kind of huge anonymous survey process had been done in the late 1970’s, before the advent of AIDS, that the figure would have been much higher. Anecdotal evidence suggests by the late 70’s in the swinger and other free love communities that male-on-male sex was as common in group settings as female-on-female. The taboo against men who were married or otherwise identified as heterosexual having occasional sex with other men grew as a direct result of the AIDS epidemic in the early 1980’s, not because of some moral objection. What is lost in much of the discussion on bisexuality is that being sexually attracted to someone is not the same thing as having a desire to have a romantic relationship with them. Conversely, having a deep emotional bond with someone does not necessarily mean a sexual attraction. Many men have close bonds with other men, but that does not mean they want to fuck each other. In my case, I have never bonded with other men, my close relationships have always been with women, yet I very much enjoy having sex with men. So, to equate emotional love and sexual attraction is a false premise. This desexualizing gay and lesbian relationships comes as a direct result of LGBT activists who have sought to make the issue of gay marriage more palatable to the general public. I’m not saying they are wrong. In fact, they are quite right that the defining characteristic of gays & lesbians is not that they enjoy sex with people with their set of genitals, but the fact they only have romantic love for people who have the same genitals as do they. Perhaps we should redefine gay & lesbian in purely romantic terms and just assume (like the ancients did) that most people are capable of enjoying sex with both men and women. All this is prologue to an objection to the notion that because I can (and do) enjoy sex with other men on occasion, that I am part of the socio-political LGBT community. Just like the self-appointed leaders of the Christian Right have worked very hard to make the word Christian synonymous with right wing Republican, the self-appointed leaders of the LGBT community have worked to make the word bisexual mean a person buys into their socio-political world view. I know why both groups do this, but it does not make it right. Both my wife and I identify with both the term Christian and the term bisexual. We don’t buy in to either the rightist or leftist world view and we resent anyone who attempts to use our Christian beliefs or our bisexual desires to force us into their group. Sometimes I object to the word bisexual because it is used as to assume the person is part of the socio-political queer community. I am inclined to take the position of lumping all the mono-sexuals into a single group and then tell people “I am not a mono-sexual.” Thus I am not saying I belong to any group, but rather I am rejecting membership in the mono-sexual group. Given the research, I would suggest that there are many people who feel just like I do. I suspect there are far more who are like us, than there are who identify with the LGBT label. As long as non-monosexuals are kept in the LGBT box, we will remain a tiny minority in the public arena. Only by kicking the walls off that box will the fact that bisexuality is, if not the majority, is certainly close to a plurality of people.