Monday, February 8, 2010


Now that I have your attention... Let's start with this: what is sex for?

I think it's fair to observe that we livie in a culture that tells us that sexual expression and fulfillment are necessary condition of both personal identity and of a full and complete life: I cannot be fully and truly who am I without the freedom to express my sexuality in whatever ways seem best to me (as long as there is no harm or coercion involved). Whether we want to talk about marriage, hook-up culture, friends-with-privileges, affirmation of and support for GLBTTQQ (gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, queer, questioning) neighbors, pornography, masturbation, and wherever else we might want to go, issues (and questions) around sexuality are at the core of the conversation. So: what is sex for? The amazing pleasure it can bring to me and my partner, or partners? As the ultimate expression of love and commitment--or are love and commitment no longer a necessary part of our various sexual equations? Is my sexuality a purely private matter, or does what I do in my bedroom (or wherever!) have any impact on my neighbors? And what do I do when I'm so horny I just can't stand it?


susannah said...

Hello everyone! I'll admit that I'm more than a little nervous to respond to such a charged topic, but what the hell, here goes!

My opinion is that sex is first and foremost a means of communication. It's physical nature, then, is the medium, which does not in any way diminish what it is. I'm making a point of specifically stating that because I think this is one of the ways our hook-up culture, as Brian put it, has changed our perception of sex. As though it is somehow such a basic human expression that everyone needs and desires, that it is simply a given, an expectation.

But I would put forward that sex is the most profound means of communication. What is the biggest problem in any relationship? Communication. What does sex allow us to do? I think it allows us to communicate thoughts and emotions that we literally cannot communicate, with as much meaning, verbally or otherwise. I think that in the ideal situation, sex communicates: "I love you unconditionally, and I'm not going anywhere". Not a whole lot to say in terms of the number of words, but what it MEANS is endless: "I will still love you if... I won't leave even if..." You can insert situations in which modern culture would say one or both partners is justified in leaving the relationship.

These are deep fears experienced by people entering a relationship, and even though two deeply committed people may say they 'know' their partner loves them and won't leave them, it's nice to hear it. Sex provides an endlessly creative way of saying the same thing. If all we could is verbally say to each other "I love you", it would lose its meaning over time. I think that sex is not just a way of expressing love, but is actually the purest way of MEANING it. I'm reminded of a movie called "Away From Her", in which the wife develops Alzheimer's and the couple makes the difficult decision of moving her into an assisted living home. After her husband gets her settled into her private room, she asks him to make love to her and then leave. There is something incredibly poignant about this request that I think would be lost on much of modern society.

So, what's the problem with how our society approaches sex? Well, if my definition of what sex communicates is true, then people are 'saying' things they don't mean. In fact, they're making the most meaningful statements in regard to the human condition with a complete disconnection. I know people from all walks of life who will make the statement, "sex complicates things". Well, why should it complicate things if it is simply a pleasurable physical act with no intrinsic meaning? That would be like saying, "well whatever you do, don't eat dinner together, because THAT will complicate things!" Hmmm... there must be something more.

Joseph Holbrook said...

awesome thoughts Sussannah! I wholeheartedly agree with you. And welcome! I am going to see your parents this weekend (but mums the word, your dad does not blog anyway!)

guys: I managed to get some bright young minds in here (and feminine). Don't get preachy and "F" it up. These young people are shy nocturnal creatures .... listen first and respond thoughtfully on a level playing field
(just joking around Susannah and Maggie--thats part of the fun of this blog).

Brian Emmet said...

Thanks, Susannah--great to hear from you, and a great opening comment. Question: are you saying that sex has an exlusivity inherent to it (i.e,we can only communicate what sex is designed to communicate with our husband/wife) or that sex has a restrictiveness about it (i.e., we should restrict/reserve sexual communication for only our most important, committed relationships, along the lines of friends-with-privileges)?

John said...

I like to look at sex in terms of how I would communicate my thoughts about it to my children if I ever have some. (Yet another reason for sex) The way that I see it, sex is an important step for every human being and should be shared with someone special.Obviously I think it would be an amazing thing to have sex for the first time with the person that you are going to spend the rest of your life with, but that it's becoming an increasingly rare situation. On top of that, I think that sometimes the idea that sex is OK after marriage simply prompts adolescents to think of marriage as a means to an end. Also, it's becoming increasingly accepted that adults shouldn't get married until closer to their thirties and when you do the math that's a full fifteen years from the time men and women are capable and desirous of sex. No wonder marriages aren't working,either they're happening to soon because of misinformation and a desire for sex, or they're happening very late after both parties are already experienced and not as easily bonded to each other.

Regardless of all that I believe I would tell my children that sex can be a great thing but that it's important to care deeply about someone and be committed to them before having sex, because sex is one of many different layers of glue designed to keep two people together.

On a side note, I wonder what some of you older guys think about oral sex.

Joseph Holbrook said...

oral sex? i don't think much at all about it these days ...

by-the-way, this is john h. formerly known as johnthemusician johnthecreativewriter....

susannah said...

Well, that is THE question, isn't it?

I think that we don't have a choice as to what sex communicates. So, a marital relationship is the best circumstance to be able to back up statements of unconditional love and commitment. Biblically speaking, I find it hard to see why extramarital sex would be sinful if it doesn't communicate anything at all i.e. I think that sex always communicates the same thing. I guess it is sinful because people are deceiving each other (whether intentionally or not) into thinking that they are in a loving, committed relationship when there is actually no basis or potential for that inherent in the relationship.

So, I think of sex as restrictive, in the sense that it should be reserved for a relationship that carries in it the ability to back up the claims being made. However, I find it difficult to reconcile divorce rates (especially considering they are the same or higher within the church) with the benefit of sex being reserved for marriage simply on principle. Meaning, the high rate of divorce does not support the idea that people are better able to back up what is communicated through sex because they are married (even in a Christian marriage). I feel that a lot of people in my generation are so disillusioned with divorce, that they have come to the conclusion that it's better to break that promise outside of marriage rather than within it. Perhaps that is an entirely separate topic.

I'm definitely thinking out loud here, and going out on a bit of a limb. I'm sure there are some holes in my theology. Feel free to dissect away...

John said...

Well Joe the main thing I had been thinking about as far as oral sex goes is that it seems to be a bit unnatural or at least unintended in the original design of human beings.

As far as marriage go, it's hardly even a consideration for most people today. Most people are interested in having sex and think vaguely that they might get married some day. The question remains then is marriage viable for the majority of couples in today's culture? I believe that statistically speaking couples who live together without being married have something like a 1 or 2 in 10 chance of staying together.

I also would agree with Susannah too that sex communicates a message of commitment and love, but I would also say that there are people who make it clear that they're interested in nothing more than sex and seem to be able to do so without a guilty conscience, so maybe it's all about our expectations about sex and what it entails as well as our cultural view on what kind of sex is "right."

Brian Emmet said...

There's a lot going on already in this conversation... this may be one of those trains that, if you don't hop on pretty quick, you'll really have to run just to catch hold of the caboose, so let us hear from you! Sussanah and Jon have made some great points and asked some important questions--anyone else want to weight in, either on what's on the table already, or to add to the confusion [winkwink]?

AMH2042Fall09 said...
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Amanda said...

This is a topic that I freely admit being largely confused and torn about. I have been through various stages of "sex thought" in my life and have discussed these issues with friends numerous times over the years as we have all entered these different stages of thought and experience. I will apologize upfront for the rambling nature of what follows.

Sometimes I feel that there is far too much emphasis placed on physicality--whether too casual an emphasis or too much reverence for chastity and restraint--at least too many people are too quick, and possibly too eager, to criticize. If what matters deep down is the nature of our soul, whether we have lived good lives (living for others and not selfishly for our own wants and desires), does the way we treat our physical body matter in the same way? Since our physical body is the vessel for our soul, then yes, we should have a certain reverence and appreciation for our physical bodies. But I don't feel that the way we treat our bodies (within reason--meaning not abusing our bodies and having no care for them whatsoever) should overshadow the treatment of our soul. If I remain chaste all my life, that does not necessarily mean that I have lived a "good" life. If I have slept around, that does not necessarily mean that I have lived a "bad" life. There are degrees to which these issues must be examined and taken into consideration.

I think there is a stark difference between throwing your body away and sharing it (your "self") with someone. I completely agree with Susannah's comments that sex is a form of communication. Therefore, if you do have good communication with someone and feel close and comfortable with them, is it wrong to share this next level of communication with them? And does marriage always have to be the avenue through which we step to this next level?

Granted, there are plenty of times when we learn that such comfortability is 'misplaced,' but our initial reasoning was sound and based on what we thought was 'truth.' So are we judged based on the final outcome or on our initial reasoning? Is there a difference if the reasoning was, in essence, flawed, however much the decision may have been made "in good faith?" Again, does marriage make any difference either in these cases? We can be just as easily fooled in marriage as in a relationship. What then is to be our judgment?

As in all cases, I truly believe that repentance/penitence allows for forgiveness should we transgress any of these lines. That is not to say, of course, that we should be allowed to do as we please so long as we repent afterwards. In many ways, I feel that we can only know the best way to be if we are allowed to make mistakes along the way. If, a few times, we give our love and ourselves away to freely, we then understand the emptiness in doing so and appreciate more the times that we share things with people truly deserving of our attentions and that return the trust and responsibility due one another in the relationship.

Travis said...

If sex is the ultimate expression of love and commitment, a lot of people are expressing that ultimate love and commitment to a lot of different people. From my perspective, this means people are losing more and more of their heart with each sexual experience, no matter what it is.

So, do you eventually just lose all feeling of connection, affection, and love because of this? Does sex eventually become sex for sex's sake?

I'm still processing all of this, so find the holes in my statements and questions and expose them. I'm loving being back in this conversation.

Robert said...

A lot going on here...and obviously a subject of more than ordinary interest. When we speak of "sex" are we are talking about a moment of intense pleasure or something larger involving attraction, shared affection, cherishing, touch, embracing, surrender, experience of union, etc? Me thinks this will not be boring or short.

steve H said...

If as Susannah says, " commuicates: 'I love you unconditionally...' " (and I agree with her statement), then it is important to understand what is meant by love.

Those who know anything about the Greek language in which the New Testament was written, there were four Greek words that could all be translated "love" in English--words with very different meanings. The point is that the word "love" can mean little ("I love french fries.") or a lot ("I love [whoever] with all I am and all I have.")

The challenge of the love to which Jesus calls us is that is other-centered and self-sacrificing. If sex is indeed should communicate that sort of love, then that challenges most of the present day perspective and practice of sexuality.

susannah said...

I think we are rapidly approaching the question of what is marriage...

Perhaps the point is that marriage is the best framework for sex to communicate what it is meant to communicate (love and commitment) with the greatest possibility and responsibility for those promises to be upheld. I think it is a bit of a cop-out (and I'm speaking to myself here) to say that because marriages fail, even as often as they do, they are losing their validity. That's like saying the game of baseball itself is a less valid sport because of all the steroid use that has come to the surface. Biblically speaking, there was never some system laid out for us humans, where if we followed steps A, B, and C everything would turn out perfectly. I'm wondering if maybe part of the problem is that we're expecting the fact that two people are married to just sort of fill in all the gaps in a relationship, as if marriage is a magical fairy that fixes problems. Quite the contrary, since it involves two bumbling humans.

What I think I'm getting at here, is the question of is sex always right within marriage? Are there times when it may be carelessly approached, and is that any less wrong because two people are married?

I feel like I'm moving toward the edge of the map; beyond here, there be dragons... Well I say, bring on the dragons!

susannah said...

I think we are rapidly approaching the question of what is marriage...

Perhaps the point is that marriage is the best framework for sex to communicate what it is meant to communicate (love and commitment) with the greatest possibility and responsibility for those promises to be upheld. I think it is a bit of a cop-out (and I'm speaking to myself here) to say that because marriages fail, even as often as they do, they are losing their validity. That's like saying the game of baseball itself is a less valid sport because of all the steroid use that has come to the surface. Biblically speaking, there was never some system laid out for us humans, where if we followed steps A, B, and C everything would turn out perfectly. I'm wondering if maybe part of the problem is that we're expecting the fact that two people are married to just sort of fill in all the gaps in a relationship, as if marriage is a magical fairy that fixes problems. Quite the contrary, since it involves two bumbling humans.

What I think I'm getting at here, is the question of is sex always right within marriage? Are there times when it may be carelessly approached, and is that any less wrong because two people are married?

I feel like I'm moving toward the edge of the map; beyond here, there be dragons... Well I say, bring on the dragons!

Joseph Holbrook said...

I appreciate Susannah helping to kick off this discussion and John H. and Amanda and Travis’s responses. By-the-way, where the heck is Patrick? This topic was his idea. I also appreciate the thoughtful and open-ended responses and questions of my fellow pastors. In this kind of discussion it is good for those of us from an older generation to have responses that open up the conversation rather than shutting it down. I’m still thinking about Susannah, Amanda and John’s well articulated points and questions.

I do want to say that over the last couple of years, I have learned a lot from my younger friends. Cultural views of sexuality have drastically changed for the worse but also in some ways for the better. One of the better ways is a greater level of honesty and frankness. The younger adults are simply not as uncomfortable talking about sexual issues as my own generation.

Here is a problem in my view, especially among traditional Christians. Those of us who have logged more time in church settings over the years, often think we already know the answers about sex, sometimes even before we hear the questions. However, many us spiritual leaders have learned how to accommodate a duality in our own experience. On one level (cognitive) we know and can teach what we think is right and wrong. But on another experiential level, we struggle with our own sexual pain and dysfunction. But we learn to stay quiet about it.

Many of my younger friends don’t do that. They live in a sort of earthy realism that puts it right out there with no fences or apologies. A friend of mine has a ministry called “no pat answers” and this is an appropriate phrase for what a Christian response can and must be to this generation. (one guy in our Tuesday god-party, whenever the conversation gets too intense or too spiritual for his preference will yell out “PENIS!” out of nowhere…)

I think God is more comfortable with the earthy realism than the platonic duality. Deep sexual pain and shockingly gross sexual dysfunction (sin?) is spread throughout the scriptures with little or no apology. Debbie and I just happened to read this morning in John 8 about the woman caught in adultery (obviously the man was not caught, or he booked!). When Jesus encouraged the "one without sin" to cast the first stone, they quickly started leaving … the oldest and most experienced first. smart. That would make a great ironic cartoon or short movie.

I thought about Romans 2:22You who say not to commit adultery, do you commit adultery [are you unchaste in action or in thought]? I think Jimmy Carter had it right.

So I say to my young single friends: we are on a level playing field with you. Some of us have an idea of what it takes to sustain a life-time love relationship, and maybe we can help you if you so desire. But we, who are older and married, have no idea what it is like to be single for 10 or 12 years in the present culture. We do not cast stones or condemn, and we also at times struggle with our own personal failures and screwed up sexual thoughts and habits. We all (young and old, married and single, straight and gay, believing and unbelieving and somewhere in the middle) want and need love and intimacy, and my own conviction is that the intense craving for intimacy is designed to lead us ultimately to the greatest lover of all—the one who created and loves our souls.

Joseph Holbrook said...

Oops! Sorry Susannah … Posted over top of you without reading your comments. Rather than extend this email, I will wait a while and differ to others to respond to your questions about sex and marriage.

John said...

In a worldly viewpoint the only sex going on inside a marriage is going on outside the marriage. Just kidding, but there is some truth to that. I think that in some ways sex does communicate a certain message, but there's also many other layers of communication that are probably much more important than the sexual and it's possible that if a couple isn't having sex within marriage or is having sexual conflict, then it could simply indicate a lack of communication.

John M. said...

Hey everyone, I just now caught up with the new post -- had still been checking for new comments on the old one! It's great to hear some new voices. Hopefully there will be others. Nothing to say, yet, I have to get caught up with the current comments first. B/t/w, I'm the "old" John who, has known the "other" John since he was born! You'll distinguish me from him because I have gray hair! oops, er, because I have an "M." after my name.

Brian Emmet said...

Here's another way to think about some of these questions, specifically concerning, well, you know, sex, as in sexual intercourse: what will you teach your children? Susannah, Amanda, Travis, John...? "Sexual intimacy is best expressed in marriage, but we live in a broken world, marriages often don't work out, so..." Or something else? My question is sincere, not hostile and not a "trap". I'm interested in how you're thinking about this.

John said...

Well that's easy, if I have a daughter I'll just tell her she's going to be a nun. =OP

Amanda said...

I apparently cannot come with responses that are less than 3 pages long. I apologize for this. Blame my English Lit teachers :-P But this is an issue that I have and am struggling with like I mentioned before and am having to define as my babysitting kids, the girls I've coached over the years, etc, are growing up and asking these questions.

For me, after the journey that I have had, first and foremost I would teach my children about the importance of knowing themselves before they make such important decisions. Not an easy task or lesson for sure. It's taken me 27 years to even scratch the surface. But I don't feel like we have to know ourselves completely to make these decisions. We do have to have a pretty good idea though of what we want and where we're ultimately headed.

Many of these experiences help us to know ourselves--at least for me, a very naive, insecure girl once upon a time, I needed to be knocked down and beat up (figuratively) a few times (and once literally in an emotional way). Only then did I learn how to recognize and react to certain situations. I also learned just what sort of stuff I was really made of. A certain level of independence and being comfortable in one's skin is important.

Engaging in these activities was sort of my way of claiming my independence. Of proving that I was in control of my life for a change. Not living up to others' expectations, not being pigeonholed into a stereotype. That was more frustrating and unsatisfying for me than the "intimate failures" I may have had. (Such a horrible life I had, I know--read as dripping with sarcasm). Sex was just this "thing" out there that had such an intense meaning on one hand, but on the other, meant absolutely nothing--was it love in marriage? Or was it just animal fulfilling of desires? How are you to know?

Teaching my children about choice and options, the infinite number of paths available to them is very important.

I also think it's very important to keep an open mind and middle road with children. I was certainly loved and supported growing up, had everything I needed and many of the things I wanted. I wasn't spoiled, but I was not underprivileged by any means. But when it came to alcohol, drugs, sex, there was such a disconnect. If there was conversation, it was of a teetotaler, "it's all evil" nature and I was extremely sheltered. Maybe it was just me, but this wasn't conducive to helping me understand any of these things and/or why I should adamantly abstain from them. Even in high school, these things weren't really discussed. I knew that my dad left his home because his stepfather was an abusive alcoholic, but that's all I knew. I didn't have examples or discussions about how these things could be integrated into life without being abused. When it came to sex, my parents gave me a set of books about puberty from the 1970s that I had to be "mature" about reading because they were for "grown-ups." And that was my sex talk. All of it. Ever.

Amanda said...

For a time, this worked. I played the role of the good child/girl with few questions. At the risk of being too honest here: I did not drink until I was 20 and living in Austria. The culture was very different and I learned moderation. I did lose my virginity sooner though (at 18). I wanted to dispense with all the hullaboo surrounding it and to finally smash my goodie-two-shoes image that had kept me on the social fringe. I certainly don't want my son or daughter to have that same attitude towards sex--so cavalier and disconnected. But, if, like me, that's the necessary step they need to take to understand, I will be sure to teach them to be safe. I learned that sex was nothing special if it was just the simple act of sex and I abstained for the next 7 and a half years.

Joseph's comment is much appreciated that it is very hard to be single for 10+ years in today's culture. I think it is especially hard for women who's timelines are very different from men's--especially professional women. I feel like if you are responsible about sex, the reasons you are engaging in such activity and communication (I may disagree with Susannah that sex necessarily means "unconditional" love), and everyone understands the consequences and speak as openly as they plan to act, then sex takes on a very different character than black and white "sin."

Of course, I also have problems every once in a while deciding whether I am just rationalizing my physical desires and past. Slightly changing the subject, I am also now thinking how this group might respond to the issue of having children outside of wedlock.

Jeremiah said...

Interesting conversation. Amanda I'm glad someone finally linked sex to creating people. Looking at this subject from a Biblical perspective, there are two different directions which I think are clear and which also converge.

The first is the first command given to both Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over ... This command has often been called the dominion mandate, which makes no sense to me as it makes 5 statements, 3 of which are to, essentially, make babies, A LOT of babies. The last 2 statements involve what to do with the masses. It is interesting that if you then view the Bible through this lens, you find that an enormous amount of it concerns producing GODLY offspring. Obviously, in this context, if multiplication is the goal, sex is just a trigger on the gun. A small, but important part. It is an interesting point that the Ashteroths mentioned throughout the old testament were goddesses of sex, and an important part the worship here child sacrifice. Essentially the divorcing of reproduction from the sexual act. There are strong parallels here to abortion in our society.

The other direction I like to approach sex from is that of "Imago Dei" the idea that Mankind is created in the image of GOD. If you take this to its logical conclusion, that by looking at humans you can learn about GOD, then the question can be asked "Why did GOD create sex to be so pleasurable?" I believe one very good answer to this question is that HE wanted us to know how much HE enjoys creating Life. Again, HE is first mentioned as Creator.

These two lines of thought obviously converge as the realization that the first command to go make babies was coupled with the impartation to humans of a strong desire to do so. God commanded us to do something which HE created to be very fun and pleasurable. This does, in fact, remind one of the comment in 1 John 5 that the "...commands of GOD are not burdensome..."

The question of the necessity of marriage to be the garden that sex is planted in brings us to the reality that GOD created out of the Covenantal Community of the Trinity. The creation of life occurs best within the context of a Covenantal foundation. This thought is somewhat tangential to the current conversation and I will not go further with it except to reference the discussion in Malachi regarding divorce.

So here is my contribution, hopefully it is helpful.

Jeremiah said...

one last thought that occurred to me when I reread my last post.

If the prominent reason by GOD for sex is the creation of new humans. It then explains why there is so much pressure from those who are enemies of GOD to divorce the sexual act from reproduction.

Joseph Holbrook said...

wow... it grew quiet in here ... "and there was silence in heaven for the space of a half an hour" or, in the blog, half a day.

Amanda is a friend of mine and a colleague in the department of history (as well as a god-party regular). I think she knows that I respectfullly agree to disagree with some of her assumptions... but i think that her point of view is representative of a lot of young adults.

She is used to peer criticism and debate from the department (as well as more raucus and brutal yelling in the god-party), so you can feel free to take issue with her point of view or assumptions without freaking her out ... as long as you reciprocate her tone of vulnerability and respect. Right Amanda?

Joseph Holbrook said...

oopes Sorry Jer, we posted at the same time.

I basically agree with you ... however, in conversation with the majority of unchurched or secular young adults, basing the starting point of one's argument on the authority of scriptures or the intent of God in creation (as revealed in the scriptures) is often not very effective because it requires an initial agreement that the scriptures are authoritive or that God's purpose is authoritive. Although I know that Amanda believes in God, I'm not sure that she shares those initial assumptions. I know that about half of our Tuesday night god-party do NOT share that assumption -- si I am forced to take another tack.

I wonder how Ray Ciervo would approach this from a natural law perspective?

John said...

That's an interesting point of view Jeremiah but I do have one problem with it. It would seem to me that if you took that argument to the extreme then sex becomes nothing more than a step in the process of having a child. Although that can be true, sex in and of itself is supposed to be a wonderful experience for both parties. If what you're saying is true then the logical conclusion would be that you should only have sex if you're attempting to have a child. Not only would that mean that a married couple shouldn't have sex until they're ready for children, but it would also mean that sex shouldn't be a part of life after one has children. That just doesn't make sense to me and I think that you're leaving out the aspect of sex that is a metaphor for God's love. Of course it is possible that with the change in time, sex without children has become more important. I can imagine that when humans lived for 900 years and had plenty of room to expand and plenty of food to support themselves that having as many kids as they wanted was just fine, but in today's society having anything over four kids is incredibly difficult.

Anywho, I hope that my argument is concise.

Amanda said...

Right, Joseph. I really don't take any of this as personal insults. I am simply in search of education and understanding (I won't even broach saying "truth") and am happy that there is discussion going on about these issues.

I do certainly believe in God and the Christian faith and the primacy/authority of Biblical teaching, but after a Pentacostal/Southern Baptist upbringing and then entering the world of academia, I wonder if those initial teachings allow for, or even call for, some flexibility.

Please do not take this following statement as blasphemous because I certainly do not mean it as such, but for the sake of conversation and illumination of finer points: the time in which the Bible was written, was different from the time the writings were compiled, was different from the time of Jesus, and is so very different from today. This is not to say that certain teachings/ideas/morals/values/etc are not applicable, because they are still a very large part of the foundation of our society and always will be. However, times do change and should religious teachings/laws change to reflect changes in society and social teachings/laws/circumstances? All within reason of course (which, I know is a whole other discussion). Just a thought that I tend more towards.

susannah said...

I have to second John's thoughts... I fear that too literal an interpretation of sex as chiefly a practical function of procreation overlooks its beauty as an overflow of God's love. After all, looking to the Bible, we are also told that God is love. And I have to hope that God gets more pleasure out of loving me than the limited experience of creating me. We could argue whether my creation is ongoing, but hopefully you get my point. In that sense, creation is the product of love, as opposed to being the product of creation itself. Which, to my thinking makes sex much more about love than about creating. I would even go so far as to say, that today we are overly focused on babies as a product of sexual intercourse. I like to think that God's idea was more like: "Go get to loving each other, and before you know it you'll have even more to love!"

Brian Emmet said...

Hmm, the pot is really bubbling now! Actually, it feels like we've got about four pots bubbling away, plus a growing mess in the kitchen around the stove. I'd like to follow just one idea for a moment, the connection between sex and procreation (also known as "children").

We (our world/culture)currently essentially separate sexual intimacy and procreation: sex exists primarily in its own sphere/realm (the realm of personal identity and fufillment)and then children possibly come into the picture. My question: given the cartloads of research sociological, psychological, economical, etc. that the absolute best environment for children is to be raised by their biological mother and father who are in a stable, loving, permanent (i.e., lifelong) marriage, is it really in the best interests of us all and of our neighbors to continue to separate sex and procreation?

Jeremiah said...

Sorry if I didn't know my audience. Last time I posted it was all preachers. You are correct Joseph, when individuals do not accept the Bible's authority you have to develop the idea of Natural Law first. I suppose that is the point of Brian's last post.

Interestingly I just spent about an hour on the phone with a friend I haven't heard from in about 8 or 9 months. I won't belabor the story, but he isn't a believer and he just had a terrible romantic experience that has really just left him in shards. He is fairly inexperienced in romance, amazingly still a virgen in his mid twenties, and it was a terrible emotional blow to him. The woman he was involved with was a single mother, as experienced as he was inexperienced, and the thing he kept saying was that he just couldn't see how she could just walk away in such a callous way. The experiences I have had with individuals who are sexually promiscuous is that it sears the emotions and causes a crippling to take place which does not allow healthy relationships to develop.
He told me that he had not had sex with this lady, to which I replied that that was obviously a good thing as it would have created an entire, deeper level of pain in his life if he had.

My observation is twenty or thirty minutes of ecstasy is not worth the years of pain! Monogomous sex has been an awesome wonderful part of my life. I can say that I was a virgen on my wedding night. However, even so, when I started dating my wife I regretted every emotion I had ever spent on another female. I regretted that I couldn't give her a heart completely pure.

Regardless of the moral/ethical/biblical issues, sex outside of marriage doesn't work. It creates pain and heartache and agony that is terrible to behold. I have walked with enough people through the emptiness of that to not wish that agony on any other people. Regardless of the emotional wreckage, the physical wreckage can often be worse.

John, I understand what you are saying in regards to the logical conclusion of what I'm saying. I don't think I am 100% there yet, however I lean further that way the more I think about it in light of the scriptures and the rest of the created order. I have a hard time not just dismissing out of hand, everything said about sex in the past century. It is, in fact, such a little part of our history and I have hard time taking seriously thinking based solely on sciences ability to divorce an act from its natural consequences.

Nonetheless, Song of Solomon does in fact provide quite a graphic picture of the sexual aspect of marriage and, quite the opposite of how the rest of the world seems to perceive Christianity, a significant celebration of the sexual act within marriage.

One last thing, just because not divorcing sex from reproduction is a difficult path is not, in my mind much of an argument against it. I think GK Chesterton made the comment "Christianity has not been tried and found wanting. It has been tried and found hard"

Joseph I hope I didn't offend any of your friends. If I did I apologize in advance and if you think I can't be trusted I understand completely and won't be offended in the least, just call me at (859) 781-0784. I'd rather sit out and shut up that offend someone.

Brian Emmet said...

Gee, I wish we could find a subject that generated some strong feelings and responses...

Hey, we're operating a free marketplace of ideas here, so everyone is welcome to express opinions, convictions and questions. It's probably just me, but I find that questions, especially those of the honest, nagging, perplexing kind, generate the most fruitful conversations. But whether you've got opinions, convictions, questions or whatever, consider yourself welcome!

Joseph Holbrook said...

no offense at all Jeremiah ... just a friendly observation. Amanda is not offended either ... she is a big girl and can handle some lively discussion.

Joseph Holbrook said...

by-the-way, I agree with you Jeremiah about the searing effect of promiscuity. A number of my friends, especially female, come to me in tears about pain in relationships. Good quote from Chesterton.

Brian Emmet said...

Catching up with some previous comments:

Why is sexual unfaithfulness so scarring? Won't this tendency to be scarred simply go away as the process of sexual liberation has its full effect?

Amanda, great points about how we read/interpret/apply the Bible. Circumstances certainly change, but does human nature change? If we posit for the sake of discussion that the Bible takes an extremely dim view of sex outside of marriage (and please push back if you feel that misrepresents the Bible), then what are the reasons for changing our application of Scripture with respect to sexual issues?

Susannah (and others), if sex is primarily about loving communication within a committed relationship, couldn't sex be part of a variety of committed relationships? Using another metaphor, if sex is a kind of "glue" that helps hold important relationships together, shouldn't sex, at least potentially, be an aspect of all those relationships?

Joseph Holbrook said...

good questions Brian. While people are thining about how to respond, I went looking on my shelf for a book by a campus psychiatrist about medical and psycolohgical effects of risky sexual behaviors on campus. I bought it a couple of years ago and never got around to reading it.

here is a link to an amazon review:


John said...

I definitely think that meaningless sex can be emotionally unhealthy but at the same time it is impossible to expect anyone living in today's culture to actually wait the 10-15 years from puberty till the average age of marriage to have sex. I'm not saying it cannot be done or that it should not be done, but I am saying that in today's sensual and self-serving climate, it's nearly impossible for a young adult to stave off sex for that long. For me personally, the older I get the more I realize that I'm just tired of dealing with being hung up mentally on sex when I could be focusing on other things instead. An argument that I've thought of before is that one should just get sex over with in order to move on with their life. That is understandably sad, especially considering all the wonderful things we've just described sex as, but when you've been dealing with a constant desire to have sex for almost ten years you just want to experience it so that you know what it is and can move on. The hardest part about not having sex is that you don't know what you're missing whether it's better or worse than you expect.

Robert said...

The experience of a physical relationship between a man and woman within the boundaries of marriage is a mystery...binding, pleasurable, deepening, covenant confirming...and memorable. For those, and many other reasons, sexual experience outside the boundaries of marriage is binding in a way that brings regret. Orgasm engages the pleasure centers of the human brain to the extent that what one is looking at in the moment becomes imprinted in memory. From that point, it is a point of association. A significant argument for reserving sexual fulfillment for marriage is that you do not have to deal with those associations and distractions.

Anyone who has entered into a covenant bond with their life long husband or wife is far better off not having to deal with the conflict of association with previous sexual encounters. It is not a matter of is a matter of having to deal with it.

Sue and I have been married for 45 years. We have a wonderful and fulfilling relationship in every way. Any sexual activity prior to our covenant bond in marriage does involve regret that such experiences were not fully reserved for our album of memories.

Getting that message across to a highly sexualized generation without sounding like something that crawled out of the attic is a bit challenging. I am resolved to make the message relevant...

Given that the larger percentage of those we deal with have not lived in the light of that message, we need to be well versed in a message of forgiveness and hope for a fulfilling relationship within marriage bonds.

Robert said...

The experience of a physical relationship between a man and woman within the boundaries of marriage is a mystery...binding, pleasurable, deepening, covenant confirming...and memorable. For those, and many other reasons, sexual experience outside the boundaries of marriage is binding in a way that brings regret. Orgasm engages the pleasure centers of the human brain to the extent that what one is looking at in the moment becomes imprinted in memory. From that point, it is a point of association. A significant argument for reserving sexual fulfillment for marriage is that you do not have to deal with those associations and distractions.

Anyone who has entered into a covenant bond with their life long husband or wife is far better off not having to deal with the conflict of association with previous sexual encounters. It is not a matter of is a matter of having to deal with it.

Sue and I have been married for 45 years. We have a wonderful and fulfilling relationship in every way. Any sexual activity prior to our covenant bond in marriage does involve regret that such experiences were not fully reserved for our album of memories.

Getting that message across to a highly sexualized generation without sounding like something that crawled out of the attic is a bit challenging. I am resolved to make the message relevant...

Given that the larger percentage of those we deal with have not lived in the light of that message, we need to be well versed in a message of forgiveness and hope for a fulfilling relationship within marriage bonds.

John said...

However, you did also say that it has to do with orgasm. If that's the case then in a generation that has come to accept pornography and masturbation as common place and acceptable to a large extent in the same way everyone will always have similar sexual memories that they might regret. Of course you can argue that because masturbation does not involve another person that it's not as relevant or nearly as memorable as sex with another person might be, and I completely agree with that. Still, in the same way you can stretch that boundary to oral sex as well since most people who have practiced oral sex without vaginal intercourse consider themselves to be virgins. In the same way that sex might create regrettable memories so too does any other type of sexual contact or even simply kissing and other such things. It seems to me that when I find the perfect girl for me I'll regret ever having looked at another woman at all, but that's just life, we learn through failure and we regret that we failed.

I guess what I'm getting at here is that I don't think I like the fact that people dissociate "making love" from any other sexual act whether with another person or without. Going all the way in principal seems like just the next step as opposed to a completely different thing that should be held sacred and holy just because it can lead to pregnancy. (I know I'm exaggerating here but bare with me) What I'm saying is that everyone has done something even if they haven't completely lost their virginity, and everyone will have something to regret, so what's one more regret in a life full of them?

I've also been thinking about a part of a book I've been reading recently that was written by my American Literature professor. It's called New York in the Fifties, and in one chapter he spends a lot of time talking about the sexual attitudes of the day. He relays an experience that he had in which him and his girlfriend were both afraid of having sex for the first time and the tension lead to a break up. Several months later his girlfriend returned from Italy and told him that she'd had sex and could "show him the ropes." He says that he was actually relieved simply because he had so little knowledge about sex and was glad that he could share the experience with someone that could make it easier for him. All that is to say that while I think it would be wonderful to only have the experience of sex with the person that you love and are going to spend your life with, I think we should be careful of making it too big of a deal. It's probably true that sex is meant to help two people bond, but luckily for us God made us a pretty resilient folk and we can re-adhere if we messed up the first time, or the second, and so on.

Yeah sorry long post.

Joseph Holbrook said...

The book I mentioned earlier is written by a campus psychiatrist who also happens to be a person of faith. One of the best quotes that she said was that 'We don't have to be defined by our urges.'.

She says that 70% of the students who come to her clinic with serious emotional or medical problems are female ...and that a lot of their problems are related to sexual relations.

Of course theere is a wide continuum of behaviors been risky and foolish promiscuity on the one hand and remaining a virgin for 10 to 15 years until your wedding night on the other hand ... the important thing in this conversation is to realize that sexuality has been designed by God for a purpose, and when we entirely disreqard the owner's operating manual, something is going break down over the long haul.

Most of us DO mess up in life, especially in this area ... hence the good news of Jesus is forgiveness, repair, restoration. He said to the woman caught in adultery in John 8, Neither do I condemn you, just don't sin anymore.

a word to John: from what I see, young adults who are not virgins don't "get over it"... sex becomes an even greater source of confusion and/or distraction after experience rather than less. In other words, if you don't want the fire pit to get out of control, don't throw more logs on it.

Amanda? Susannah? PATRICK?

Jeremiah said...

I don't have much to add to what you guys are saying. Joseph your fire analogy is good and accurate. I'll never forget when I worked at a job going door to door for a window company in college. 5 of us were on our way back and the talk was around sex in the most intense, explicit terms. When I told them I was a virgen it was like dumping ice water on all of them. They couldn't believe that I wasn't lying. How could I not have sex? It was so much fun. etc. etc. One guy finally piped up and said "I know how he can do it! He doen't know what he is missing!"

When I finally did have sex with my wife, when were married, one of my biggest first impressions was how incredibly different it was from what I had seen portrayed in movies etc. Not better or worse, but way different. I felt very lied to. And I did manage to make it from 12 when I first started getting horny to 23 when I finally got married without sex of any sort. I think that was due to two things, 1) GOD's Grace 2) My dad just laid it out for me. He basically just said "Here is how we live. Its different from everyone else, it isn't easy, but its us." Whether we make it 10 or 15 years or 40 has to do with GOD's Grace not our effort. The temptation doesn't go away just because we get regular release (or not) in marriage. 10 or 15 years of abstention is good practice for staying monogomous once married.

John said...

I'm just throwing out a lot of arguments I've heard over the years as well as thoughts that I've had whether right or wrong. I'm gonna wait for a bit to see if anyone else wants to respond.

Brian Emmet said...

John, one set of responses that I have to your points runs like this. First, it may be helpful to differentiate between personal brokenness (we all fall short, screw up, sin) and the formal institutionalisation of that brokenness (cultural norms, laws, etc.). Merely passing a law against adultery does not in itself prevent adultery, but a culture that begins to turn a blind eye towards adultery is in for some significant social costs. People have been having sex of all sorts forever, but when a president of the US says "I did not have sex with that woman" and it then becomes clear that receiving oral sex from her somehow does not equal "having sex", then we can't be all that surprised by subsequent reports of tweens having oral sex on the school bus.

Second, I am not saying it's all Clinton's fault, or the media's fault; in fact, what I would say to those of you who are in your 20s and 30s is this: it's our fault. We, the Boomers, owe you guys a huge apology because we have done you, as well as ourselves and all of our neighbors, a huge disservice. Ours was the generation that decided sex needed to be decoupled from anything other than the personal, subjective experience incorrectly termed "love." Given how unclear our own consciences are, it became very difficult for us to say No to the downstream ramifications of our sin and hypocrisy. Because we wanted to have "free love," (by which we meant sex freed from the perceived constraints of marriage),and did, how could we then stand in the way of others who want to have "love" with persons of the same gender,or now with men, now women, or with children. If you think I'm kidding about that last item, you're not paying attention: the argument there will quickly devolve into age-of-consent debates, but the basic idea of "intergenerational intimacy" will quickly be established because we cannot find it in ourselves to say No to any kind of sexual expression, as long as it is non-coercive, consensual, and among adults (and I use "among" instead of "between", because "between" refers to two parties, "among" to more than two). The generations following us Boomers are paying a terrible price for our selfishness, but the answer cannot be to just head further down the same road of shame and sorrow that we mapped out for you.

Travis said...

I'm not sure what I can add to the different discussions going on right now, but I was reading this the other day and I couldn't help but want to share it:

"There's more to sex than mere skin on skin. Sex is as much spiritual mystery as physical fact. As written in Scripture, "the two become one." Since we want to become spiritually one with the Master, we must not pursue the kind of sex that avoids commitment and intimacy, leaving us more lonely than ever--the kind of sex that can never "become one." sexual sin, we violate the sacredness of our own bodies."
(1 Cor. 6:16-18, MSG)

I'm not sure what everyone's take on the Message translation is, but if we consider it to be at least somewhat valid, the language of that quote leads me to think that sex is neutral, not in the sense that it causes nothing or is caused by nothing, but in the sene that it can be used in more than one way. You could say that sex is neutral because the outcome/consequence (either good or bad) is determined by the intent of the people involved and the context it is in.

I feel like that's what everyone has been saying, but it's helping me understand by writing it out and maybe it puts a fresh perspective on all of this.

It seems that people don't consciously reject "commitment and intimacy." (I guess some people could reject it, but I don't know why). But, it seems that there is a perspective on sexual intercourse that is divorced from commitment and intimacy. Why?

I guess my question would be: why would people choose this perspective? And is "true" commitment and intimacy only found in marriage? Because there are some people I know who don't want anything to do with God, but they seem pretty committed to each other. Or maybe they don't reject God, but don't necessarily acknowledge Him. But, still, they are seemingly more committed than lots of Christians I know. How do we explain that?

Thoughts? Criticisms? Ideas?

And...I'm sorry if I haven't necessarily gone down a road that is already being paved.

John said...

Good points and scripture Travis. My only dilema is that I had a sexual experience in which I felt that there was intimacy and commitment. Commitment in the sense that I was commited to being reciprocal with the girl and intimacy in that I genuinely cared about the person although I had no intention of marrying her. The experience was fulfilling, enjoyable, and fun. I will admit completely that I know that it would have been more enjoyable had I been deeply in love and committed to a life with this person, but I also don't feel like the experience was harmful or even sinful in any way. That being said I'm just questioning whether or not a lot of the arguments against premarital sex have to do with fear tactics to prevent pregnancy out of wedlock and lingering Christian/catholic sentiments.

John said...

I guess I'm partially reacting against the overwhelming verdict that you all seem to hold which is that sex should be between a man and a wife. I agree at least that it should be in a committed monogamous relationship, but I'm trying to fight against the apparently prevalent assumption that sex should only be had within the confines of marriage. The reason I'm doing so is that I'm having trouble nailing down any specific biblical passages that specifically go against having premarital sex. The only one that I can think of is when Paul said that if you're struggling with lust then get married. Otherwise the commandments that deal with sex are: Don't covet your neighbor's wife and don't commit adultery.

Even in the scripture that Travis posted earlier, check this out:

"Since we want to become spiritually one with the Master, we must not pursue the kind of sex that avoids commitment and intimacy , leaving us more lonely than ever--the kind of sex that can never "become one." sexual sin, we violate the sacredness of our own bodies."

The wording in this passage indicates that there's another kind of sex that involves commitment and intimacy and yet the passage doesn't say not to have sex outside of marriage.

Not to mention that a couple of Israel's Kings had a bunch of concubines, that God approved of Tamar's actions in seducing her father in law and even made the result of that union the ancestral line of David, and of course we can't forget Abraham who's wife convinced him to have a child with another woman, God of course still made Abraham the father of the faith did he not?

I won't apologize for asking the hard questions here, I know that I don't have the kind of experience and knowledge that a lot of you older guys do so feel free to throw me a few curb balls but I think it's important to really consider whether we're approaching this conversation on assumptions or on fact.

Brian Emmet said...

Good, hard questions--love 'em!

John, be careful that you're not channeling the serpent: "Did God really say...?" I'm partly teasing, but you'd have a difficult challenge building a case for sex outside of marriage from the Bible. Does the Bible recognize all kinds of sexual practices and sins? Absolutely--a quick visit to Leviticus 18 should suffice.

Every time Jesus addresses a sex-related topic, he takes a "conservative" position (but never in a harsh, judgmental way. The Samaritan woman at the well with her 5 or 6, uh, "husbnds"? It's clear that both she and Jesus know exactly what Jesus is getting at there. The "woman taken in adultery"? "Neither do I condemn you; go and leave your sinful life. Again, the moral/ethical component is clear: sex outside of marriage is contrary to God's will.

We have come to the point where we feel, with Eve and the serpent in Genesis 3, that God really is holding out on us, that his design and purpose for us is less than and deficient to what we can design for ourselves. No one pretends that walking in purity in this area is easy, and the challenges do not end when one marries!

The Bible understands human sexuality in terms of procreation and unity. (So far, no one in this conversation has wanted to take up the rather obvious connection between sex and children... why aren't children considered a part of this discussion?)) Sex's unity-function is to help "glue" (and sex is not the only or even best "glue" to hold a couple together) a couple together within the context of marriage. Having sex with another person does create a kind of unity/oneness between those two people, a unity that is designed to be permanent ("as long as you both shall live"). The reason sex outside of marriage is so damaging is that it does in a very real way "unify" two people, who, when they decide the relationship isn't working out as they hoped, simply rip themselves apart. We pretend that it leaves no lasting damage, but we're lying to ourselves.
Every act of faithfulness strengthens the faithfulness of the community; every act of adultery makes the next act of adultery easier, more excusable, more "normal."

So, John (and anyone else who'd like to weigh in), no curve ball, just a high, hard, heater: did God really say that sexual intercourse was designed to help express the unity between a husband and wife, or between any two people who love and are committed to each other?

Joseph Holbrook said...

actually Jeremiah brought it up earlier and Amanda touched on it.

I guess I have to go with Brian on this one. It seems to me that anything less than sex within the Covenant bond of marraige hugely cheapens it and inevitably brings emotional and psychological complications or even damage with it, not just from a biblical point of view, but from an empircal point of view.

I'm deeply sympathetic with all of my friends who are sexually active outside of marriage, but they ALL have tremendous pain in their lives, mostly self-generated.

John said...

So Adam and Eve were married then?

John said...

I'm not trying to find loop holes, I'm trying to define what marriage is. It's definitely not a piece of paper, many 1 night marriages in las Vegas should prove that, at the same time it's obvious that some marriages are great and that's awesome. I had a couple of friends that lived together for five or six years and were having sex the entire time, they finally got married and are just as happy with just as many problems as before. Also there's a big ol' difference between promiscuity which was obviously practiced by the woman at the well and sex with more than one partner. For instance you wouldn't consider a person that gets a divorce and then remarries to be promiscuous and yet that person has had sex with two different people. The woman at the well was obviously having sex for the wrong reasons, thus, sin. Adam and Eve were never legally married obviously because there was no government, but they chose to commit to one another because of love, or commonality, or lack of other potential mates.

Here's something interesting I found on the web...
We must also note that Moses himself took a second wife who was an Ethiopian woman (Numbers 12:1). Moses had already married Zipporah (Exodus 2:21). Aaron and Miriam criticized their brother for taking this second wife, but they were immediately punished by the Lord for their criticism, making it plain that Moses had done no wrong in His sight (Numbers 12:1-15). Of course, it is possible that Moses' first wife had died, but the text gives no indication of this.

Later on people like David continued to have wives and concubines without receiving a single reproach from the Lord! David only received punishment when he added another man's wife (Bathsheba) to this group thereby clearly committing adultery.

Anyways, I'll step back from the discussion for a bit to let other people comment =O)

Brian Emmet said...

OK, who else wants to wade in here? Either on the immediate subject or a related one?

Amanda said...

Wow, miss a day or two and you fall seriously behind on this one :)

A few things. I agree with the idea that far too much emphasis is placed on this "mysterious prize" of sex. It is important to understand the implications and consequences of a sexual relationship, but I don't think it should mean the difference between burning in Hell or not (however, see distinctions to follow).

In response to Joseph, in my experience, I don't feel like sex was "an even greater source of confusion and/or distraction after experience rather than less." I think quite the opposite actually (sort of along the lines of some of John's posts). Once sex is out of the way, there isn't the same focus on "what is it? what's the big deal?" You know, and you know what it means to share that part of you with someone and then you can build your boundaries and expectations and decisions based on that. Granted those debates aren't always fully played out, but as long as we keep that in mind, I think people will have a healthy outlook on sex and getting to the point of deciding to have sex with someone.

In response to one of Brian's earlier posts, I strongly believe that adultery is very different from premarital sex. Adultery is extramarital and a conscious breaking of a solemn vow made to another person. Cheating even in a committed, non-marriage relationship is very different than premarital sex. I just felt like that distinction needed to be specifically addressed. And again, to reiterate the idea that promiscuity and casual sex and having sex within a relationship are two very different things as well. This is even highlighted, I believe, in the verse that Travis posted. I agree with Travis that "the outcome/ determined by the intent of the people involved and the context it is in."

This is where I would then remark to Joseph that, I have been hurt more by people than by the intimacy of sex. You can have a ridiculously intimate and intense relationship with someone with or without sex depending on timing and how each person approaches the idea of sex and consummation of the relationship. Just wanted to point out that it isn't necessarily the fact of having had sex within a non-marriage relationship that hurts people--it is the breaking of trust with the other party that hurts. Though, to be fair, this can be complicated by sex, but I still don't believe it is a necessary consequence of sex. As you, Joseph, know very well, the person you has hurt me most deeply in my life was a friend--much more than any relationship I have been in. We were in a serious relationship, living with one another, sharing a very high level of intimacy with one another and no sex was involved whatsoever. Even my most recent "hurtful" relationship stung a bit because I realized the person did not actually want to be with me intimately in any sense and only wanted to lecture me and use me as a mirror of the inconsistencies in his own life. Pointing out any possible flaw that I had rather than focus on the friendship that had brought us to that position in the first place. In my opinion, it wasn't the sex at all that made a difference in that. But, perhaps, it looks different from the outside and to other people, I don't know.

steve H said...

Thanks for the frank, honest conversation

John -- concerning the Bible and premarital sex, there are passages in Exodus and Deuteronomy which make clear that as a matter of justice, if a man seduces a virgin he is to marry her.

Looking back as a 60 year old man having been married for over 38 years now, I can tell you that what I did outside marriage and before marriage with my wife mattered and still does -- whether we're talking about pornography, masturbation, or sexual acitivity with a woman, her or another. I did not technically have intercourse with anyone prior to marriage ("depending on how you define sex"--thanks, Bill Clinton).

However, the things I did do were oriented toward my own pleasure and temporary satisfaction. That established a self-centered pattern that carried over into marriage -- in more than our sexual relationship for that matter. The goal of unselfish, unconditional, other-centered love is much harder to reach than it would have been had I dealt strongly with self-centeredness prior to marriage.

And the desire foe activities that I opened the door to before marriage have not gone away just because my wife and I have entered into a life-long covenant of marriage (which, thankfully, we have). Rather, I continue to have to deal with the temptations to things that fall far short of the reality of relationship (of spirit, soul, and body) that are the fruit of an other-centered covenant relationship of marriage.

Why would I be concerned about the attitudes and behaviors of my children, grandchildren, and of all you younger people? Simply because I know that what we sow we reap. Ideas have consequences and so do choices and behaviors. I want those coming along after me to have an even better life experience than I have known.

John said...

Thanks for backing me up Amanda, also as far as the scripture you quoted Steve, it refers specifically to a man seducing a virgin, which I would agree is sinful. All I'm saying is that if God was so against premarital sex or even sex with multiple people, then why didn't he tell David not to have more than one wife or concubines? Once again I'm not advocating free love or anything like that, I'm just asking if we're taking a Biblically sound viewpoint on sex and what it entails. I would imagine that if God didn't expect us to have sex before marriage then he would've tagged that onto the ten commandments... "Oh, by the way guys, don't have sex unless your married to the person." It seems like with the amount of thought that we put in to it and the importance it apparently has that God would've popped it in there somewhere. Instead we see tons of scriptures that say not to have "the wrong kind" of sex.

Brian Emmet said...

If we want to keep at least part of the discussion focused on what the Bible says and how we interpret and apply it, we need to add Ephesians 5 into the mix. There Paul makes the point that marriage is representative of the relationship between Christ and his people/the church. Paul follows Jesus here in grounding our understanding of human sexuality in Genesis, specifically in the way in which "the two shall become one" in marriage (Matthew 19:1-12, Ephesians 5:28-33). Jesus doesn't "sleep around" and therefore neither should those who seek to follow him. Paul's argument is based on the reality that Christ and the church is prior to human marriage: he doesn't start with us and then reason his way to Jesus and his people; he begins with Christ and grounds human relationships, specifically amrriage, in that larger reality.

Amanda and John, I'd like to hear more from you on this question of the ways in which sexual intercourse somehow "unites" two people ("the two shall become one"), an idea that Paul picks up when he says sleeping with prostitutes is bad because the man who does so "unites" himself with the prostitute (and she with him--1 Corinthians 6:12-20). If sex is "designed" to unite us in this way, doesn't that suggest that sex outside of marriage is going to prove harmful to us? That there's something not finally in our best interests in uniting than disuniting with this person, then with that one, until we feel ready to settle down?

John, to your question about why God didn't make it clearer, I would suggest he did: no adultery. Adultery does not pertain only when two people are married; it is a broader term, focusing on faithfulness, first to God and then within all our other relationships. The "no adultery" commandment encompasses sexual intimacy outside of/apart from marriage. The Bible reports David's concubines, multiple wives, etc., but there's a difference between reporting and approving... and it's pretty clear that in both David and Solomon's cases, their sin did eventually find them out: David with Bathsheba, and Solomon's eventual spiritual adultery flowing from his sexual adultery with all them wives and concubines!

Great discussion--thanks to all and keep it coming!

John said...

Well the only problem I have with that is that the term adultery brings to mind sex with someone that you aren't married to while you're married, but perhaps that's because of current cultural trends. I guess you'd probably have to look at the original Hebrew term that is used in the ten Commandments to know for sure what it was supposed to mean. It just seems to me that biblically speaking Jesus put a lot more emphasis on other aspects of life in his teachings. There seem to be very few times that he deals with the issue of sex, one of which is the time with the woman by the well, but with the importance sex seems to carry today it would've been useful if he'd laid it out clearly for us. "Oh hey guys, I'm not having sex because I'm not getting married, and you guys should probably do the same thing because if you have sex outside of marriage it's bad for you."

Whatever the case, I do believe in sex being a union of two people, no only physically, but emotionally, and possibly even spiritually as well. I can easily see how having sex with a prostitute could be unhealthy on several different levels, but these days I tend to apply that to a different type of person. I think that the important distinction is men and women who have sex for the sake of having sex, and don't care at all about the people they are sleeping with. Obviously connecting sexually with a person like that would be harmful simply because you'd get your emotions hurt. Once it's said and done they'd expect to have nothing to do with you while perhaps your expectations are different.

However, that doesn't address sex out of love for someone, but outside of marriage. For instance say you're sixteen (which most of my high school friends were when they lost there virginity) and you feel like you're in love with someone. You don't have sex right away but you're dating this person for six months or so and realize that you really feel connected to this person, but you also realized there's no chance in hell you're going to marry this person for at least four years. Well suddenly you've got a problem on your hands called blue balls, the natural next step in your relationship might be marriage and sex, but marriage at your age isn't acceptable in society (for good reason I might add) so you both decide that you want to have sex. Of course four years later you might realize you've made a mistake and break it off with that person, but who's to blame here? Can you blame someone who feels like they're in love and wants to take the next step but can't get married and has sex instead? Of course that's a different circumstance then being 20 something and making your choices, but around 16 is when these major decisions are made for the majority of the populace.

I guess what I'm saying here is that I don't know if I think that that theoretical kid made a mistake. Maybe the blame belongs to society for not allowing for young marriage and not preparing children to make those kinds of decisions, or maybe parents who aren't open and honest with their kids and don't tell their kids what they think about sex.

Brian Emmet said...

John, I'd like to respond, but I've been doing a lot of that lately... and Kath and I are heading off for a vacation for a few days, so alas (or hurray!), I'm going to go silent for a bit. Not because I don't continue to be very interested and involved in this discussion, but because I'm not sure what kind of internet access might be available (and whether or not we'll want to spend any time with it!)

I'll check back in next weekend, when we'll be on comment 517 or something like that. Joseph has the helm!

My best to you all!

John M. said...

Whoa! Amanda, I agree. I've been trying to catch up all week. Every time I think I'm ready to post, I refresh the blog and find another dozen posts! Fun and stimulating to understate a bit.

Some random responses:

John, are you really comfortable with your 16 yr old (son or daughter) having sex with their boyfriend/girlfriend?

I have a friend who says, "The human mind rationalizes what the heart [in this case hormones] desires." It seems that a lot of our (mine included) sexual ideas, reasoned from our experiences and desires, fit that pattern.

Fornication – “Voluntary sex between an unmarried man and an unmarried woman; extended in the Bible to adultery.” Source:

“For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery…” -- Jesus.

What is the difference between what the Bible calls “sexual immorality” (older translations, “fornication”) and adultery?

Why is sex so powerful and so pervasive in our thinking?

Why is our sexuality at the very heart of our identity and understanding of who we are?

One last question: Was Jesus celibate, or did he have sex with Mary Magdalene, and the other women who traveled with his company, or, as some have suggested, with the other disciples?

Or was he even still a virgin when he left the carpenter shop at the age of 30? After all, he was fully human...

John said...

Good points John, and I'm glad you are open minded about it. I'm more than willing to admit that that my thinking is often influenced by my desires and actions, and that I rationalize to absolve myself. As far as having a child goes, my desire for my children is to be as open and honest with them without telling them directly not to do something once I feel they are able to make decisions on their own. Do I think a 16 year old is ready to make that choice? Absolutely not, but what I think obviously doesn't matter in a world where they're going to be forced to make those choices anyways. If I'm able have the kind of relationship with my child that I truly desire to have then I believe that they will take time to consider my advice on sex as well as drugs and everything else.

Luckily for me I can tell them that I only had oral sex when I was that age!

The big thing I'm trying to challenge with my continuous barrage of comments is the automatic assumption that sex before marriage is wrong and here's why.

All this time I've been fighting the wrong angle because I don't believe it's wrong, I believe it can be unhealthy. And in my mind there's a huge difference between wrong and unhealthy.

So I'll chillax on the commenting a bit and see what everyone has to say.

steve H said...

Although I have firm convictions on these matters (convictions that I believe are based on the word God has given us in Scripture), I have no desire to be argumentative here.

I am glad John M brought up the matter of fornication which is clearly forbidden in the New Testament. Interestingly enough the Greek word translated fornication is the root word of the English word pornography -- literally, the writing of fornication or sexual immorality -- which in itself is worth taking seriously.

Another thought to consider: we have used the word "sin" in this discussion, although sometimes tentatively. It is notable that the Greek word most often associated translated "sin" literally means "to miss the mark" and as you may know was used in archery when the arrow misses the target. This suggests that there is a mark to hit -- a good or ideal that we should be shooting for. God does not forbid behaviors so much because in and of themselves they are evil. Rather he forbids behaviors that keep us from hitting the mark -- from reaching the best thing possible for us.

One last thing to consider, Brian's point that the one man/one woman united to be one flesh is the first principle according to Genesis and according to Jesus. Although God did not explicitly forbid multiple wives or concubines, the fruit is clear. Almost every time (if not every time) the Bible gives us details about the life in such families, we find that it did not bear good fruit, especially for the children.

God's pattern for marriage is made clear when one of the qualifications for elders in the church is that they be the husbands of only one wife -- and the elders were to be the example that others in the church should follow.

John M. said...

John, it's funny how attitudes toward oral sex have changed. When I was in high school and college, oral sex was looked at as "pushing the envelope", and many were repulsed with the idea; while vaginal intercourse was seen as "normal" and by most, I'm talking premarital here, the preferred option. Oral sex was associated with homosexuality more than heterosexuality, and when performed in a heterosexual encounter was seen as kinda kinky.

Until the last several years, I had never heard any debate about whether oral sex was "real sex" or not. If you're being that intimate physically, and you have an orgasm -- what about that is not "sexual" or "real"? Just askin'!

So, next logical question: Do you want your 16 year old to opt for "just" oral sex?

Also, I don't totally agree with your argument about celibacy being virtually impossible and unrealistic for either 16-year-olds or 20-30 somthings. Difficult, of course. Impossible no.

Sexual chemistry, sensuality, prostitution, seductiveness, sexual attraction, temptation, pornographic art, have always been arond. You, yourself mentioned some of the O.T. mores. Read the Joseph/Potipher's wife story again and think about the pressure Joseph had on him -- but he went to prison rather than go to bed with his boss' wife, even when she repeatedly propositioned him and finally tried to physically co-erce him into the bedroom. Do some research about the culture at Corinth or in Rome during N.T. times. Check out the Kama Stura, or some of the ancient temple carvings in India.

I agree that the internet has proliferated availability of pornography and anything else one might be looking for, but; different package, same stuff.

Please don't hear this as preachy or self-righteous. I've rationalized way to much sexual behavior that I lived to regreat by telling myself, "that's just the way I am", "I have a stronger sex drive than other guys", "If I look at girls on the internet (who in my case are younger than some of my own daughters), I'm not really lusting, I'm just appreciating the beauty of God's creation", "Besides, they want me to look, that's why they posed, right?" "I'll channel the sexual energy created by this fantasy or this image into my relationship with my wife." NOT. Been there. Done that. It doesn't work. To rephrase Steve H, it bears really bad fruit.

John said...

To be honest I totally agree with you John, and I appreciate your honesty and openness about the whole thing. To be honest I feel like I'm mostly just reacting against the automatic assumption that any and all sex before marriage is bad, besides, what kind of conversation would that be anyways? =oP Truth be told I haven't nor do I think I will be able to have intercourse before I'm married, and I do realize the dangers of pursuing any kind of sexual satisfaction because the more one does it the more one represses the feeling of guilt and dirtiness. For good or for bad I simply cannot do what I feel is a crime against love. However, I could easily see myself having sex before marriage if I felt completely and totally committed to a person for the long hall, and totally in love with that person. If made a decision that I would stick to this person like glue then I wouldn't have a problem with sex simply because I'd already be married, obviously though there most likely wouldn't be a need because marriage would hopefully be coming soon after my realization of love for that person.

I suppose as experienced men who know what life is all about you guys simply automatically reply that, "well, it's better this way," and you're probably 100% right, all I'm asking is that we dig up facts to support it. I still think it's strange that not having sex before you're married isn't written out in the bible as clearly as we suppose that it is. John brought up the definition of adultery in the church, but I wonder how much of that is influenced by the church. Seems to me that in the scheme of things sex is definitely not the most important item on the agenda, but understanding it and understanding where we've gotten the idea that it should be in a monogamous relationship is key to confirming the belief within ourselves. Also, I don't really think our generation is dealing with anything new here, but we do have to put it on the table and decide how we feel about it with the support and advice of our experienced forefathers.

steve H said...

Here's something else to consider, John. Is it really God's way to learn, "to decide how we feel," even if it is with advice and counsel. Is it really God's way, to tell our children, you're old enough now -- it's your option.

Check out Genesis 18:19. I have wondered, why did God choose Abraham to be the father of those who believe? The best answer I've found is here: God chose Abraham so that he would command his children to follow God's ways -- and apparently could trust Abraham to do it.

Sure my children can choose to disobey (just like I can), but that's not because I offer them the option as if all that mattered was that they choose. That is the mindset that began to popularized in the 60's -- discover your own values, choose your own code. That's the way of this culture, but it's not the way of God's culture.

[By the way, the gospel is that way too -- according to the New Testament the gospel is a message / an announcement that is to be obeyed, or else. God's not all that open-minded as far as I can see. As one of my friends says, tongue-in-cheek, "God has a problem. He thinks he is God." In other words God is King of the Universe and as King he expects his created things and created people to obey. How un-American, eh?]

John M. said...

Hey John, thanks for your response. I appreciate you expressing the angst of your generation so clearly.

I agree with Brian that our baby boomer generation handed you guys a pile of doo doo when it comes to ethics, morals and values -- especially sexual mores.

The desire to be "faithful" to a partner even if it's outside marriage and may have a serial component, is commendable, and shows more integrity than the "love the one your with", Playboy philosophy of my generation.

Even the idea of maintaining "virginity" by avoiding intercourse, although, imo, is just a variation on "going as far as possible" w/o going "all the way", still shows a desire to draw some kind of "line" to maintain before committing to a permenant partner.

Although I think that those decisions and interpretations are not the best, I appreciate the intent and desire to maintain some semblance of moral integrity.

Regarding "waiting" and being celibate I know at least two couples in your generation who experienced their first kiss by mutual agreement on their wedding day. I know several others who were not involved sexually before marriage. They all decided to draw "the line" way up the slope, rather than seeing how far they could go and still avoid intercourse.

I really respect them. I wish I would have done the same. I was still a "virgin" on my wedding night, but only in a strictly physical sense -- not menatlly -- and certainly not in a totally non-sexual way. The only reason my actions, hormones and lack of self-control didn't push us beyond heavy petting and intimate touching to "all the way", was my fiance/now wife drawing the line.

I regret that, even after 38 years of marriage. I have apologized and asked her forgiveness several times. My indescretions were totally selfish, and objectified her, rather than cherishing and honoring her.

I wish that the marriage vows/covenant would have erased all that, but sadly, I brought it right into our marriage. It has taken most of our marriage for me to even realize my problem, much less begin to deal with it. Finally, I'm doing that, and our marriage is gaining strenght and is more healthy than it has ever been -- by God's grace, not through any virtue on my part!

B/t/w, this may be tmi, but you and several others have mentioned wondering what intercourse is [or would be] like. I have always wondered what oral sex is like... There are always lines that can't be crossed either for moral reasons or out of respect for a partner...

OK A bunch of you were having a stimulating conversation before I started posting. I seem to have shut things down once again. I kind of have a knack for that. John it's been good to talk to you (and Steve H). I'm going to lay back and see if anyone else (hopefully) has more to say.

Joseph Holbrook said...

We have had a good discussion in here. If we all agreed, there would be nothing to discuss. It has provided a great springboard for some face-to-face conversations with me and John and last week, with the guys in the god-party. I know that some of the young people read through the sciptures that they might have been unfamiliar with because Brian and Steve mentioned them. Reminds me of the people in Berea.

Brian is on vacation this week … don’t know if he will be dropping in or posting a new topic. Any suggestion about the next topic? I would love to keep the younger crowd engaged here … even if we don’t totally agree. Susannah, John, Travis, Amanda, PATRICK!? Anything you would like to talk about OTHER than sex? ;-)

Jeremiah said...

John M.,

Thank you for your transparency and openness. It takes a lot of courage to be as honest here as you have been and I want to thank you for that.


Let me reply to your comment that the Bible doesn't spell it out. I don't think you have read the Bible very carefully if you think that. Beyond the injunction to marry a virgen you have seduced (which taken to its logical conclusion society wide would preclude fornication) there are numerous verses standing against what you are saying. I say this only because I once thought as you do and really took the time to go through it carefully before I was convinced I was wrong.

Secondly, the research doesn't agree with what you are saying in regards to premarital sex. Sex first raises the divorce rate astronomically.

You are welcome to do what you want with your life, but I am consience and honor bound to at least warn you that, to me, it looks like a cliff.

John M. said...

Thanks Jeremiah.

Did you read John's last post?

John said...

Lol. S'all good, to be honest I've got a nasty rebellious streak somewhere in my ego and I'm still wrestling with God for control of my life, lucky for him he'll never get tired.

Travis said...

Well, the hard thing for me is that I want to go away and prepare a long discourse. But, this conversation moves so fast, I just have to embrace the whole thing and not worry if I say something I'm not sure of. So, these are my thoughts, but not polished and refined ones.

I don't think we should move off the sex topic just yet, by the way. Because although we've raised some interesting, relevant, and pertinent questions, I don't know if we have any significant, practically applicable answers.

Okay. So, I'm not going to have sex until I'm married. There it is. Take it or leave it. If I can wait 21 years, then damnit, I can make it a couple of more. Why, do you ask? First of all, if I give my virginity away, there goes the best wedding present. Second of all, any of my friends that have had sex before being married say that it has caused grief. (I can still hear speakers at Camp of Champions talking about how sex before marriage puts a barb in your heart and taking it out always causes damage.) Third of all, I think that Brian's explanation of the meaning of adultery is right, meaning that it encompasses all extramarital relationships. Although not giving in to the enticements around me five million times a day is hard, it's worth it. It has to be.

One thing that I don't have an answer for is why David had so many concubines. I always thought that was a little weird. It didn't seem like a "man after God's own heart" and a man of many women were the same guy. Maybe some of the more knowledgeable men can help with this. But, understand, I don't doubt David's love for God or God's love for David.

So, it's all about your heart, right? During sex, you can't help but give your heart to someone (in some form or fashion). I mean, heck, we're letting them see and engage parts of our body we're afraid for the world to see. So, why would I want to give a part of my heart away to some girl that I'm not even marrying. In Hebrews 11, it says Moses chose to suffer with the Hebrew people rather than enjoy the "fleeting pleasures of sin" with the Egyptians. So, I guess I'm saying that I would rather suffer by not getting what I want when I want then enjoy the "fleeting pleasure" of sex because I'm holding out for the better thing.

Joseph Holbrook said...

Travis, I commend you on your commitment to wait for marriage. I think in years to come you will be thankful for having made that choice.

Regarding David and his many wives (not to mention Solomon, Jacob, Abraham and the rest of the gang), the fact that they did not conform to God’s ideal standards of sexuality shows us that God is forgiving and that through Christ he understands our weakness. There IS redemption for those who do not choose to keep their virginity for marriage…. In fact, there IS redemption for those who are pretty screwed up in the sexual area: witness Mary Magdalene, the Samaritan woman by the well and the woman caught in adultery.

However, if you are young, and sexually inexperienced, the bar to aim for should be the ideal. The fact is we all sin and fall short of the mark – but if you can appropriate God’s grace to not fall short in that area, it will make your marriage better and life easier.

So, use David as a model of worship, but not as a model of family life. Make sense? The fact that God loved him has to do with his worshiping heart, not his many lovers. It shows us that God can love us and live with our humanity, even when we fall short of the mark.

While you do well to make a wise choice about your own sexual life—one that pleases God and will bear good fruit in your life, that does not mean that other young people reading this blog who have already made a different choice and cannot go back and change it are screwed. God loves them as well and can lead them and guide them into wholeness and happiness and covenantal love in life if they will allow him.

John M. said...

Amen to Joseph's wise and grace-filled words.

steve H said...

In 1 Samuel 14, Jonathan was willing to face impossible odds in battle because he understood something about God: as the NIV puts it, "Nothing can hinder the Lord from saving whether by many or by few."

As I meditated on that some years ago, I understood that God is the "relentless redeemer." There is nothing that he cannot and will not redeem if we bring it to him. And somehow his redemption even makes things better than they might have been because his saving grace has acted upon our failures and any circumstance we are in.

Does that mean we should deliberately fail so that his grace will kick in and make something better? That question is the logical one to ask. The answer is "No way." (See the end of Romans 5 and on into Romans 6.)


Jeremiah said...

John M.

I did read his previous post. Here is what he wrote that I was conscience bound to warn against "....However, I could easily see myself having sex before marriage if I felt completely and totally committed to a person for the long hall, and totally in love with that person...."


This is a very good point and I think the answer illustrates several very important things.

First of all, as has already been pointed out, it demonstrates GOD's great Love and Forgiveness.

Secondly, it points out how devastating sexual pluaralism and sin is. It does not take a very rigorous exegesis of those books (I and II Sam, I and II Kings, and I and II Chron) to trace how the root sexual sins and lack of fathering which we see started in the Priest Eli's family grew steadily through Samuel (his sons were profligate) through David (he was a disaster as a father, to put it mildly) until it bore full ripe fruit in Solomon marrying foreign wives, building altars to foreign gods on "the hill of corruption", splitting the kingdom and ultimately resulting in the exile. This topic alone could consume volumes of discussion. Even though GOD forgives sin, often HE still leaves us to live with the consequences.

Thirdly it demonstrates something I refer to as "progressive revelation" All of the main scriptural doctrines are present in the first 3 chapters of Genesis. However, GOD continued to unfold, sharpen, clarify and enhance the revelation of HIS intentions and word down to this day. One obvious example is the doctrine of the Trinity, which wasn't finally wrangled out until somewhere in the 700-900 range, AD. As Revelation 22 says "Let him who does wrong continue to do wrong; let him who is vile continue to be vile; let him who does right continue to do right; and let him who is holy continue to be holy" The Greek words here tell the full story, but I don't have time here.

There is a continual intensification of Light alongside a continual intensification of Darkness. I personally believe taht a carefull observation of this trend in the world is probably a better clues as to Christ's return than anything else, however, that topic is WAY off course.

John said...

One thing we haven't talked much about is masturbation and it's place in life. I know that it is in fact possible to abstain from masturbation, but I think that a majority of people simply brush it off as inconsequential. The only scripture that I know of that refers to masturbation is the one that says something about not spilling your seed on the wall. Of course that seems to only apply to males, and I'm not sure about the context of that scripture. The reason I bring it up at all is that I think that in some ways masturbation can be even more detrimental than sexual activities with another person. The reason for this is that masturbation is completely selfish and self centered. Of course many people have sex in the same selfish way. Just food for thought.

John M. said...

Jeremiah, got you on why you wrote the post to John.

John, the scripture you sited is often used as a biblical prohibition against masturbation, but God was upset with the guy because he withdrew from actual intercourse, so it doesn't even address the subject of masturbation. It could possibly be used to argue against birth control, but the nuance of the context isn't about that either. It was simply that he was unwilling to fulfill his duty under the law to produce off-spring for his brother, by his brother's wife after his death.

Good point about the potential sefishness of masturbation. I'm not going to comment now. I want to hear what others say.

Joseph Holbrook said...

I posted a good video commentary by Dennis Peacock on the current political gridlock that Steve sent me on my issues blog:

Faith and Reason

Just in case anyone is interested in talking politics instead of sex.

Ruben said...

Hello all! Im sorry I have come in on this at the tail-end, but being that my suggestion on a topic to Joe was partly responsible for the topic, I feel committed to this venture! So here goes what were some of my own thoughts as I read some posts:

1. Is sex the ultimate form of communication? I wouldn't put it quite like this. I look back on my own experiences with sex, and feel that, quite simply, sex was a really great experience. It was fun, and it has filled exactly what I needed. On yet other times, I have had much more meaningful sex, but I have also had the good fortune of being married, and enjoying a great relationship and having really strong communication lines.

2. If me and my wife decide to have kids, I would really push for an "open-minded" "free-love" idea of parenting, while maintaining a careful eye on making sure that my kid(s) don't make a decision that they may regret for the rest of their lives.

3. On the verse that was quoted above: "God commanded us to do something which HE created to be very fun and pleasurable. This does, in fact, remind one of the comment in 1 John 5 that the "...commands of GOD are not burdensome..." - I would kindly ask Jeremiah to speak for himself, as I have myself - at times - been offered WAY more sex than I can handle (joke, lol).

4. I believe our morals should adapt to our present day, and the new technologies that have come with it. Much like, as a rough example that comes to mind, refrigators have eliminated the fear behind eating day's old food has helped us curb food poisoning. I dont know, I see these two as being hand in hand with our views on sex, and how some traditional views may, perhaps, impede us from experiencing incredibly great moments (sometimes outside of marriage?).

5. I think there is a legitimate reason to seperate the act of sex from that of bearing children, because quite simply, a married couple who engages in sex to indulge in their physical desires wont necessarily intend to conceive everytime they engage in intercourse.

6. Sex is very neutral, atleast in my eyes. It appears that way too often, way too much emphasize is placed on the simple act of intercourse where, for example, buddies at the water cooler will chastise a co-worker for making the personal (and, somewhat admirable) decision to abstain, and on the other extreme, a firey preacher command that all members stay 'pure'.

Those were some ideas that came to mind. I do apologize in advance for coming across a little crude (im not very gifted in of sublety).

Joseph Holbrook said...

good points Ruben ... we just started a new discussion on the difference between sexual attraction and lust if you want to jump in. Only two comments so far.