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June 10, 2004

Comments

Joe

"I am interested in reducing the frequency of what I would call "unwanted sexual contact" that falls below the threshold of legal rape."

noble indeed. however, when i read your header, it refers to yourself as an Anabatist. is it safe for me to assume they do not believe in premarital sex?

the reason i choose marriage as a basis for sex is because, in this country, it is usually consensual. there is not much excuse for not knowing what one is getting into.

so would it not be best to counsel your students in the hazards of premarital sex, and by doing so--teaching them self-responsibility. that both male and female need to realize situations which can lead to trouble and thereby avoid them. that both male and female can be raped, and if it does happen, one or the other will know beyond a doubt that it was rape, it was not consensual, and it was not their fault!

it appears to me your teachings lack this. if a person cannot take full responsibility or accountability of their actions then perceived fault/blame will rest in that individual regardless of their innocence. shifting or balancing blame, pointing the finger does no good.

that rape can happen in marriage, i will not argue. if marriage is not where the bar is set, at which point one can engage in sex, then i won't argue with your point. not to say the way you perceive the problem is correct either; but, you do create as mess of victimhood and false responsibility which is easily resolved by not engaging in premarital sex.

"Saying that men don't like to hear this (look at the gender break-down in the comments section!) is an understatement." i'll ignore the stereotype if you pardon my rudeness in the previous reply.

i hope were not talking apples and oranges

Lynn Gazis-Sax

I don't know about Hugo, but I see different layers to sexual morality. Say you drop the idea that premarital sex is bad, as most of secular society has (along with, probably, most of Hugo's students), what are you left with? As Camassia said in a comment on the earlier post, a lot of people then talk as if you could reduce sexual morality to what is legal, "consenting adults." But that's a pretty thin, weak sort of sexual morality, even in secular terms.

What is consent, really? Is it enough, morally, for the pair to both consent, regardless of how willing the consent is, what the power relations are, how exploitive the relationship may be? And what about other moral values, that you might apply to, say, what you do with money, or how you treat your friends, or other areas of life? Shouldn't those apply to sex, too? So you get values such as honesty, taking responsibility for the consequences of your actions, trying not to be hurtful to others. And, it is really obvious that a whole lot of perfectly legal, consenting adults type sex is very much at odds with these values.

So, could a lot of these problems be avoided if people actually accept a traditional Christian standard and wait till marriage? And if they then recognize and avoid situations that may lead them not to live up to that goal? Well, yes. Generally, if people are married, they can presume some willingness to have sex with each other (and know each other well enough to be able to tell when that isn't the case), have shown some willingness to stand by each other during pregnancy, won't give each other venereal diseases if they're actually confining sex to marriage, etc. It doesn't answer all questions of sex and morality because people can still mistreat each other in marriage, or mislead each other during courtship, or wonder about how far they get to go before marriage (and maybe hurt each other a lot during those "not going all the way" relationships). But it answers some. I do think, if we are ever seriously going to go back to a culture where more people wait till marriage, we'll have to follow Frederica Matthews-Greene's advice and also be a culture that encourages young marriage; people who wait decades to marry aren't, realistically, also going to wait decades to have sex. But that's a question for another day.

Mainly, what I want to say is, if Hugo does believe, as Anabaptists traditionally have, that premarital sex is wrong, then it's reasonable to say so, but that, at the same time, in a world where most people do have premarital sex, some kinds of premarital sex are particularly hurtful, exploitive, or reckless. And trying to raise people's awareness about what's exploitive in the current secular culture about sex strikes me as a good thing. So, I don't think conversation about sexual morality should just begin and end with marriage; it should also get into just what is going on in those relationships.

Hugo

Your final paragraph, Lynn, puts it perfectly -- thank you!

If sex is like horseshoes, marital sex is "throwing a ringer". But obviously, one can miss the ideal and still be either closer or further from the post than someone else. Loving, committed, nurturing, non-exploitative non-marital sex is surely more pleasing to God than exploitative, uncommitted, dishonest sex. Acknowledging that IN NO WAY waters down good biblical teaching about marriage, it seemly recognizes the complexity of the situation.

Joe

i guess your point has been made clearer.

lynn states "And trying to raise people's awareness about what's exploitive in the current secular culture about sex strikes me as a good thing." which i would agree with; but hugo, and i beg your pardon-- not with feminist blinders on. whatever the antonym of feminism is, and please tell, i would not want my children taught about morality through that ideology or feminism itself! it doesn't seem healthy. you do claim to be a feminist, so maybe i shouldn't have protested against the tone, to be expected, of the Kobe rant.

i would imagine, in God's wisdom and foresight, sex outside of marrige being prohibited, is for good reasons. maybe that should be pondered to a much greater degree. to me, it seems a more sure foundation then this house-built-upon-sand statement, "Loving, committed, nurturing, non-exploitative non-marital sex is surely more pleasing to God than exploitative, uncommitted, dishonest sex". i am sorry hugo, but to me this is the epitomy of a slippery slop arguement. though, it is consistant with the tone of your post, it appears to endorse premarital sex. to teach the pitfalls of sexual relations to students/childern, without the "bar" of sexual relations set at marriage, not only demeans marriage and sexual relations, but leaves an emptiness to your whole arguement, and i might add, is the cause to the complications of the entire issues that revolve around this subject(single parenthood, abortion, rape etc.)

in light that you advertise your faith in anabaptism, i don't see how you could profess sexual relationships any other way. then if your the christian of the 31 flavor type(simply discriptive), then i understand your view.

Lawrence Krubner

Thanks for taking the time to clarify your thoughts - your previous post was as intriguing as most of your posts are, but it was not as well written as your average.

I don't think I found myself at odds with the gist of what you were saying, but I do think I'd put the emphasis quite differently. This passage especially:

"Of course women have some responsibility to overcome their socialization. Adults are not always victims, to some extent they are also volunteers. But the personal stories of countless bright, courageous women make it clear that overcoming that socialization to please and to placate is not easily done. As Andi said so perfectly: 'The hardest thing to do is untrain yourself.'"

It seems clear to me that we each have a moral obligation to untrain ourselves (of habits of thought that grew up in an era when power relations among the genders were less fair than they are today). Every aid to help women discover the strength to speak their own truth and respect it (and demand respect for it from others) seems worthwhile. Likewise, men too must untrain themselves. Self-improvement is a worthy goal for any of us. But self-improvementis a very different program from (the opposite of) suggesting that women's sexual choices can't be trusted because women are too eager to please others. This last is probably not what you meant to suggest or imply in your previous post, though the way your previous post was written it was an implication that could be read into your words.


"In a culture of promiscuity and hook-ups, it is simply impossible for two young people to have the emotional "togetherness", trust, and confidence to have an honest conversation about what they really, really want."

It almost sounds as if you're saying no young people know true love. It's a little hard to tell from the way you've worded it. It's possible you are only refering to those sub-cultures where there is a lot of promiscuity - in those cultures, sure, it is hard for people to find real intimacy. But of course, we wouldn't want to make such an assertion about all young people, that would be too broad. I've seen this among some of my younger friends - they know what real love is.

Lawrence Krubner

"i am sorry hugo, but to me this is the epitomy of a slippery slop arguement. though, it is consistant with the tone of your post, it appears to endorse premarital sex. to teach the pitfalls of sexual relations to students/childern, without the "bar" of sexual relations set at marriage, not only demeans marriage and sexual relations, but leaves an emptiness to your whole arguemen"

I don't doubt that Joe's faith leads him to feel this way sincerely. I haven't much studied the Bible, but I'm told it takes a clear stand against pre-marital sex, so that no true Christian can comfortably come out in favor of pre-marital sex. I imagine that for people of the faith, such as Joe, it must seem very sad that America now has such high levels of pre-marital sex.

As an aside, and I do realize that I'm going off on a tangent that is quite unrelated to anything that Joe said, I do wonder why so many conservatives rail against pre-marital sex, yet themselves engage in divorce. Rush Limbaugh, for instance, has just gotten another divorce. In the autumn of 1993 I read through one of Limbaughs books (possibly "The Way Things Ought to Be"). In that book he made a case for teaching abstinence to teenagers. I remember discussing it with the (very liberal) woman I was seeing at the time. Rush argued that there was a sanctity to marriage that liberals were trying to destroy, but my friend, a Quaker, felt that the true sanctity in a relationship came from the love that existed between two people (where it existed). For my liberal friend, the argument that some marriages are exploitive and harmful carried much more weight than it seemingly does for Limbaugh.

I hate to call anyone a hypocrite because I know I am myself guilty of hypocrisy on some issues. Yet still, it is striking how many conservative leaders have come out with loud and seemingly heartfelt defenses of marriage, all the while going through multiple marriages. It is, truly, one of the most striking and remarkable things about the poltical situation in America today.

joe

lawrence:

"in light that you advertise your faith in anabaptism, i don't see how you could profess sexual relationships any other way" which if conserdered with your clip of what i wrote best explains my point.

truthfully, i haven't been to the inside of a church in many years. last time i opened the bible, maybe longer. yes, i was raised in the christian faith. and yes, i too have been a hypocrite. the tone of feminism aside, i sensed from hugo's rant that he indorsed premarital sex or was at least educating people on appropriate sexual relations outside of marriage.

my complaint arose, from what i perceived from hugo's rant, as Kobe being at fault regardless of the legal outcome of his trial. i guess hugo felt this way because men need to take more responsibility with their actions towards women. this seemed to place fault more to one side; i do not agree with this view. what i found more troubling, was the educating. not knowing anything about anabaptism, and with the assumption that they do not believe in premarital sex, i thought there a contradiction in the teaching method.

but let us retire the triteness of admitting hypocracy of ourself. hugo is a man, as he professes and i hope strives to be-- Christ like. i do not see shades of grey in Christ's teachings about sex and when it is appropriate. whether this is a conservative or liberal view, is not my point (@#$! RUSH). Christ's teachings are in a category of their own.

is the method of hugo's teaching Christ like? hugo?

Hugo

It's a dangerous thing to claim that one is "Christlike". It is also dangerous to speak with certainty about which practices are offensive to God, and which ones aren't. Given that many Christians don't agree with Christ's very explicit words on divorce, it's hard to speak with certainty about what sexual ethic all Christians can and do agree on.

Look, I don't want my kids having sex when they are sixteen. But if they are having sex, do I want it to be loving and protected sex? You bet. I'm not going to let the best (chastity until marriage) be the enemy of the good (sex that takes place in a nurturing, loving committed relationship). To me, that is Christ-like.

Col Steve

Lawrence:
You write: "I hate to call anyone a hypocrite because I know I am myself guilty of hypocrisy on some issues. Yet still, it is striking how many conservative leaders have come out with loud and seemingly heartfelt defenses of marriage, all the while going through multiple marriages."

The dictionary defines hypocrisy as "The practice of professing beliefs, feelings, or virtues that one does not hold or possess"...What you are implying is actions always serve as a proxy for beliefs..In many cases, that relationship holds - but not always. Think about generalizing the principle - If I marry multiple times (due to divorce), then I can not hold the belief that marriage is an important institution (or claim the "sanctity of marriage").

As my priest reminded his congregation today, "we are all sinners who fall short of God's grace." Since he is by his own admission a sinner, does that mean my priest is a hypocrite for preaching today about trying not to commit sin?

Or in a secular case, can a cigarette smoker advocate to young people not to smoke even if the person continues to smoke?

I think the important linkage from the definition is a more holistic view of what constitutes "hold." Multiple divorces may be an indicator, but devoid of the factors (adultry, the spouse no longer believes in God (a religious reason for divorce), physical abuse, etc.) and behaviors to uphold the belief ("work" at the marriage, undergo counseling, attempt forgiveness, change one's own behaviors, etc.), it is not necessarily the sole basis for determining hypocrisy.

I don't know the individual cases you're citing and even deeper the factors the reasons behind the divorces in those cases. You may be right. You may be only partially right. You may be flat wrong. I just don't think you can make a blanket condemnation of hypocrisy.

And not to pile on with Joe..but can we generalize one of Lynn's posts (the final paragraph that Hugo agreed with as well) beyond sexual morality and marriage to peace and non-violence? You may say peace is the ideal and non-violence represents a standard of conduct to help achieve that..but we have to recognize we live in a complex world with evil and conflict until God's kingdom comes to Earth. And because of our nature, many of us will be forced to deal with conflict in some form.

So, Hugo, would you say measured, proprotional, and discriminating violence is more pleasing to God that arbitrary, unrestrained, and indiscriminate violence?

And Lynn, would you agree that the conversation on peace can not just begin and end with non-violence? It also requires one to "get into just what is going on in those relationships" (that result in conflict in various forms)?


Hugo

Yes, Col. Steve, I would say that "just war" is far less offensive to God than indiscriminate violence. Even John Howard Yoder, the arch-pacifist of our modern era, said exactly as much.

joe

hugo, tell me where i can find Christ reasoning like this:

"I'm not going to let the best (chastity until marriage) be the enemy of the good (sex that takes place in a nurturing, loving committed relationship)."

where does Christ justify sexual sin?

Lynn Gazis-Sax

Yes, Col. Steve, I agree with both your points. "Just war" is better than indiscriminate violence, and conversation about peace does need to get into what is going on in conflicts of various forms, not just begin and end with nonviolence.

Lawrence Krubner

"What you are implying is actions always serve as a proxy for beliefs..In many cases, that relationship holds - but not always. "

I think you make your point quite well. Perhaps my complaint is merely stylistic - given that so many conservative leaders have themselves been through divorce, I don't see why they can't be a bit more humble and self-deprecating when attacking those marriage laws they disagree with. In particular, accusations that liberals have helped foster a culture of divorce seem out of place on the tongue of anyone who is themself a divorcee.

Hugo

Joe, where does Christ uphold marriage as the only appropriate locus of sexual expression? It's implied in many places, but it is often vague. Jesus doesn't tell the woman at the well to go and leave the man with whom she is living without benefit of marriage, or to marry him -- he simply says "go and sin no more". There are many things that could plainly mean. Years with the bible have not convinced me that all genital sexuality outside of heterosexual marriage is against the will of our Lord. It hasn't convinced me that it is blessed either; but I am willing to live with uncertainty, trusting that though I may be wrong, I surely am forgiven.

joe

i read the TrackBack and your last comment, i guess i could directly reply, but will sidestep as i am learning from others. Tocqueville tailored:

"It must not be forgotten that the author who wishes to be understood is obliged to push all his ideas to their utmost theoretical consequences, and often to the verge of what is false or impracticable; for if it be necessary sometimes to depart from the rules of logic in action, such is not the case in discourse, and a man finds it almost as difficult to be inconsistent in his language, as to be consistent in his conduct... i have undertaken, not see differently from others, but to look further than others, and whilst they are busied for the morrow only, i have turned my thoughts to the whole future."

God makes his point on sexual relations pretty clear... being Christ-like is not dangerous, to the contrary, we all should strive to be like Christ, we should strive to perfect our lives. your means of teaching fall short of the ends that Christ intended, and assuredly your faith you profess.

a request i beg, please. i have not jumped from faith to faith, i have been either well rooted or uprooted in one faith. from your biography...well you have been doing some "searching". what are your reasons for changing faith? do you interpret scripture to your ideology? do you choose your faith according to your ideology? do you pick and choose what you like best about different faiths? why one congregation over another? what are your motivations for faith? is the bible your sole source? and if so how is you interpretation to be reconciled with others? has God left this to be a free-for-all? this would make a great post to your blog. i promise i will only ask questions, i want to understand!

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