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May 04, 2005


Kristie Vosper

I'm doing research preparing for teaching a seminar for preteens on sex, depression, peer pressure, drugs and alcohol. It is such a stunning process to justify ones heritage...the way that my own convictions on this topic have shaped me. I remember your own words, which I have used to explain my own sexual standards..."I believe sex and my body are sacred. I want only three things inside of me. Jesus, My husband and my children." I believe that your words, inspired by the Spirit in a crucial time...in the year 2000, have been preserving, enlightening and leading.

Interestingly, it seems that this whole principle of viewing our bodies as holy and sacred, starts there. In a culture where we do not see ourselves as beautiful, and are barraged by the contridictions of both feminist and mysoginistic (and all the shades inbetween) it seems that we have to find a way to climb into our skin and value it. If we do not, then the conversation is hard to entertain.

I will start there the girls I get to love and teach at church. I will start at a place where I teach them how beautiful they are...how holy...how wonderous. Then maybe then we will place a little more value on who we are naked before and who we allow to come inside of us.


Darn it, Kristie! Using my own words back at me... I was thinking about that very conversation we had back then, when I made that very case to you. Funny how the Lord uses us, isn't it, and funny how we change!


"Marital sexuality can be just as anxiety-filled and unhappy as a fleeting one-night stand."

Thank you so much for bringing this up and for your honesty. I think you're right about that. I haven't read it, but I've heard that David Matzko McCarthy's book Sex and Love in the Home addresses this. Like Winner, he approaches sexuality from a communal perspective and doesn't support premarital sex, but I think he spends time talking about how the wrong kind of emphasis placed on marital sexuality can be damaging. And he also links marriage to our wider socio-economic situation in the U.S. which I think would be interesting.


Hugo, in general I agree waiting for sex in marriage is the best to give your kids, but that needs to be framed by emphases on the virtues even then in my opinion. Sex in marriage is not a good in and of itself--there are many exploitative marriages.

So how do you reframe the discussion to commitment, fidelity, chastity, growth in faith, hope, and love?

And as a gay man, when I heard those words--marriage only--from more conservative folk growing up in youth group, it became clear there wasn't a place for me within the bounds of such discussion, so I just tuned out and became depressed and felt completely isolated. That's where the rub lies for me, is when it turns so legalistic, that it fails to see the fruits of the Spirit in same-sex relationships that do not have the benefit legally or sacramentally of marriage. I hope you can do better for your kids, one of them might not be heterosexual, you never know...


"The Wesleyan Quadrilateral tells us that Reason, Experience, Scripture and Tradition (REST) all play a part in discerning the right path. Like many progressives, I tend to give undue weight to the second, a modest amount to the first and third, and no credence whatsoever to the fourth."


Thanks for your honesty and thoughtfulness. I rarely hear progressives admit this point, not because they're necessarily lying about things (I seriously doubt they are), but because they don't think of it in those terms. I see a fair amount of confusion of reason with experience among progressives (not to mention a disregard for the context in which Hooker placed reason -- reason was the intellect informed by God's truth, not just the intellect itself). I've talked with progressives who say they put Scripture first, but the more I speak with them, the more it becomes clear (or seems clear to me, at any rate) that they put experience and reason ahead of Scripture.

So a thought and a question for you: If you give "no credence whatsover" to tradition, then you only have RES, not REST. Why do you think so lowly of tradition?

Peace of Christ,


Well, obviously, Chip, I'm troubled by my own dismissiveness of tradition. To be progressive, after all, is to be progressive -- and that implies that few things are timeless. Too often, tradition and progress seem at odds. Like many progressives, I sometimes find comfort in high church ritual. Many a lefty Anglican loves the smells and bells, because we do indeed want the externals of tradition without being bound by its strictures.

As a child of the Enlightenment (difficult but not impossible to reconcile with my evangelicalism), it's hard not to see the past as in some way laboring in darkness...

But my own contradictions find their way to the surface quickly.


It's nice to see an Episcopalian cite the Wesleyan Quadrilateral- one of the factors leading me to stay with the UMC was the importance that experience has in my spiritual life. I'm currently contemplating the same dilemma of chastity that you are, though only for myself. I've thought of reading 1 chapter from Real Sex and one from Dirt, Greed, and Sex a night and deciding which one is right that way.


Hye, I'm a big Countryman fan!


Just to clarify- I haven't read either book before, so both authors would be new to me. In fact, I found out about Real Sex from your blog.


This issue is a bit off the topic from what you've been writing about, but I am curious what your thoughts are on transsexuals. I think most of them claim that they just know they were meant to be the opposite gender. But how does one know? Is it a sin to undertake such a change? How does morality play into this?


Hugo, Reform Jews have saying that "the past has a vote, but not a veto," which I think is a healthy approach to tradition--that there's often a good reason we've always done something this way, and it may be affirming to do something that carries on a tradition, but we don't follow it unthinkingly or let it trump all other considerations.


Oh, Mythago, I like that very much.

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