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 Post subject: Thinking about Sex
PostPosted: Sun Sep 14, 2008 9:47 pm 
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Joined: Tue Feb 14, 2006 8:13 pm
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I thought about calling this thread something more narrow, like "Teenage Pregnancy, STDs and Birth Control," since that was the context of the original discussion, but that's not really what it's about. It's more on views and attitutudes towards human sexuality. So, of course, I invite each of us to give our own views and opinions, as well as discuss some of what shapes societies' views (past and present). This isn't about any particular 'issue', so much as it is about worldview.

Voronwë_the_Faithful wrote:
I'm going to wade into these dangerous waters, and if this goes too much further, maybe split off the discussion into a separate thread about birth control issues.

Maybe perspective is just a bit different than yours, nel. I understand your point that regardin the "basic reality that (many) young people want to and will have sex." But I think that is as much a product of our society as any basic fact of life. The problem with abstinence-only sex education is that in conflicts with so much else that young people are exposed to. I certainly support a comprehensive education program that teaches young people of the dangers of both unwanted pregnancies and STD's and gives them as much information as possible about the different methods of preventing these dangers. But I would really like to see as a component of that an effective method of encouraging young people to understand that they can choose to not have sex until they are truly ready to do so. I'm not sure how that would be done, and would probably require significant changes to society beyond the sex-education programs, but that is what I would like to see. Not just because of the dangers of unwanted pregnancies and STDs, but also because I believe that sex is something quite special that should not be taken lightly. But that truly is a topic for a different discussion.

I really hope that no one would disagree with that statement, but it is always interesting to hear why we see things a certain way. And as Voronwë do you convey that idea to someone else?

I think that silence about human sexuality in the home is a tragedy, because no one really wants to leave sex ed up to the schools. I mean, sure, some basic biology and medicine can be taught in that context, and maybe even social consequences, but teaching kids the meaning of sex? That's like teaching them the meaning of life. I is where life comes from. It's just...the only way to overcome this is to have all those uncomfortable conversations that no one wants to have. No one really wants to think about their parents having sex, after all.

Or is it? Is there a way to talk about human sexuality without it being ridiculously awkward and uncomfortable? After all, what we really want is to share our viewpoints, with examples, yes, but not being explicit. My parents didn't have much problem being frank with me, and my mom did make a point of sharing her wisdom and advice (such as it was). They did keep it mostly to private conversations, though, not over dinner! It was not until I was older that I realized some parents actually did take the stance of "tell them nothing!" And that other parents were very, very open in talking to their kids about the kid's sex life. I have seen a few sit-coms tackle the 'talk to your kids about sex' theme, and the only one that did so in a...useful...way was Malcolm in the Middle. Most other shows, the discussion was about whether or not to wait, or 'make sure you use protection' - no discussion of what was really happening (it's just entertainment, after all). [In Malcolm in the Middle, the mom got Malcolm on a long car drive and said they had to talk, so it started out really awkward, with her kinda haphazardly sharing facts and anecdotes with him, but by the end, he was asking her for some advice on how to sort out the connection between being in love with someone and being attracted to them.]

But even if there are good conversations at home, what about everything else people hear and see? I mean, songs, TV, the internet - there's a lot of stuff out there. How much of it sends a message that sex is something special? It's not all bad, of course, but it's not all good, either. I am not just complaining about porn, but anything that treats sex as cheap entertainment only.

If it is so serious, so core to being human (our sexuality, I mean), then really, it seems important to educate teens in a more, well, 'grown up' view of the topic. Their own experiences in life will shape their views, but I'd think we can give them some pointers on that. Of course...that requires that we know ourselves what we think, but even more than to impart it to someone else. I think that's the hard part.

I happened to spend 4 hours yesterday watching some videos by Christopher West (who is, thankfully, a dynamic speaker) on the Theology of the Body. Christianity, of course, has a central tenet of the Incarnation - God became man, was made flesh. Understanding what it means to have a body, then, is rather important to understanding the gospel. At least as it applies to humans, anyway ;). Belief in the Trinity means that God is love, and that the three divine persons have a relationship with one another. We also are called to loving relationships...and you can see where this is going :). The Theology of the Body is basically the gospel in terms of human sexuality. It's the meaning of life and good news and...well, it's really cool ;). I think I need more smilies for this. :P But anyway, this viewpoint is really neat, and I like it a lot. Mostly because it seems true and good and hopeful - it's too easy to turn such a topic into condemnation, but not if the whole point of the message was redemption in the first place. It's also particularly Catholic, since it was articulated by Pope John Paul II back in the '80s.

I am not a theologian. So, I don't necessarily understand things when they are put into philosophical terms. 'Eschatological Man' sounds scary or gross, not like it might have something to do with going to heaven ;). But anyway, I do think it is important to understand my own thoughts on this in such a context. Not because the Bible is going to tell you everything you ever need to know about sex (though, between Genesis and the Song of Songs, there is a good bit in there...) but because it's important to understand how sexuality - what it means to be male, or be female - shapes what it means to be human. And any hope at getting at the meaning of life is going to have to deal with beginnings and endings - birth and death, the creation of the world and the end of time, God and heaven (okay, so that's transcendent, but I said I wasn't a theologian!)

Not sure if that helped explain anything at all. Explaining this idea is really difficult. But that's why I started this thread :). Because while this is one of the few really well-developed and mature views of human sexuality that I've come across, I doubt it's the only one out there.

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