Thursday, January 19, 2006

Promiscuity as Sexual Homelessness

If our deepest human needs in life include fellowship, then it deserves our notice. It has a rightful place among our goals in life. A family is the most basic group where we belong, and sexual integrity is necessary to building a lasting family. But to many people, mentioning sexual self-control does not raise visions of people building a life where they always have love and a place to belong, but instead raises visions of Puritans or angry fundamentalists. When the topic comes up, people look for the nearest exit (on this screen, it's at the top of the browser). I'd like to restore sexual integrity as a rightful topic of conversation and as a rightful goal, recognized as a basic part of an upright and fulfilled life. "Upright and fulfilled life"? That's right. If it sounds strange, if it does not sound like what happens around us today, that's true. Just one question: what kind of life do you want?

Is Christian Morality Trustworthy?
Many people are skeptical of Christian morality because it does not square with today's morality of doing whatever we please (if that can be called morality). The cornerstone of Christian morality -- we would say all morality -- is this: "Love the LORD your God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength" closely followed by "Love your neighbor as yourself." The suspicion that morality is angry, mean, and joyless is unfounded.

A stable life cannot be built on desire without discipline. Putting desire above wisdom and putting action before thought is a recipe for trouble. Just as a financial planner would talk about self-discipline with money to deliberately plan for finances to last, so a Christian talks about self-discipline with sexuality to deliberately build a home and family that will last, a love and a trust that will last. People are so much more important in our lives than money that it is only common sense that we should put thought and planning into the matter of how we relate to people.

Sexual Integrity
Opponents of Christian morality don't usually oppose love of God and neighbor, but often try to use it for their own purposes. "See! It says 'love'. So I can sleep around if I want to. It doesn't hurt anybody."

But as the old song goes, "What's love got to do with it?" Promiscuity treats someone as a sex object. There's not much concern for the other person; next week or month -- or tomorrow -- it will be someone else. That's not loving them, it's using them. That approach degrades us as human beings. It makes us into an interchangeable and disposable part of someone else's life. Treating other people as interchangeable dehumanizes both people. There's no recognition that the other person is valuable and always will be. There's no recognition that you yourself are valuable and always will be.

Peoples' long-term happiness and health are tied closely to having a place where we belong. Promiscuity means not having a place to belong. It's sexual homelessness. It leaves you alienated and cynical. It makes you doubt you will ever find a place to call home. It leaves you less able to feel at home, to accept where you are, even if you should find someone you love deeply. It builds a habit of breaking off contact with other people when things become awkward or difficult; it stunts the skills you would need to sustain a lifelong love.

Sexuality is too important to treat casually. Human beings are too valuable to treat as interchangeable and disposable.

A Note on Why I Wrote This

While looking for material for teaching my children about sexuality and family-building, the materials I found were not very satisfying. The materials my parents used (left where I could find) were no better, being "value neutral" by talking about physicality and reproduction but managing not to talk about the human and family aspects. They missed the point. My older child is reaching the age where he will soon become interested in sexuality. His school has presented him materials about unmarried parenthood and its hardships, and about sexually-transmitted diseases and their dangers. It's important to cover that material. But they did make it sound as if there's nothing wrong with promiscuity that a condom can't fix, even if they aren't mentioning condoms at his age. They are addresing big issues but leaving out even bigger ones. There is an unspoken assumption that "faith-based morality" is based on rules or traditions that are groundless; I wanted to open up a conversation on how God's commands are based in the value of the human being and the value of the bond of love. This is my first cut at it.


Sven said...

A well written post, very thoughtful :)

Weekend Fisher said...

Kind of you. And thanks for the link. You must have been one of the people who *didn't* click for the nearest exist. LOL.

Obadiah said...

As a recovering sex addict all I can say is AMEN! I can attest to the wreckage and ruin that a life lived without sexual restraint leads too. But God is great and merciful; all is not lost if we desire to turn around.

Weekend Fisher said...

Hey grumpy. I saw your boogie-boarding pictures. Looks like Galveston not too far from where I am, but SoCal ey? God is good all the time.