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Saturday, March 28, 2009

Sex is bad . . . .

. . . save it for someone you love.

That's pretty much the message I got as a young Roman Catholic kid.

How times have changed - and, haven't.

National Catholic Reporter (NCR Online) has an interview with educator Coco McAftee, entitled, "Tools for teaching healthy sexuality."

It is refreshingly open and honest, which talks about human sexuality as a gift from God and not always about genital sex.

Ms. McAtte says things like,

"I say that our bodies are designed by God, touched by God, created by God, and they are a truly wonderful thing. Every single body part. I go on to say that Jesus came into the world with a body. He didn't come solely as spirit. He came with a body. This is a blessing to us all. Jesus' bodily presence is saying that our bodies are so valuable he took on this form. So my approach to talking to parents and children is to stress, or in some cases, reclaim, the beauty and sacredness of their bodies. That's the starting point."

She is also quoted as saying:

"One story that always struck me was when he was with his disciples and the crowds are pushing upon him and a woman who had been bleeding for years comes to find him. In that culture, any woman bleeding, whether it's hemorrhaging or her normal cycle, was to stay away from people. But Jesus was touched by her. The fact that he would let a supposedly "unclean" woman touch him speaks volumes to me about the fact that Jesus did not regard this as a negative. She was not unclean. All women have suffered from this lie about a woman's body."

Which made me nervous. How long will it take before this woman is silenced like Ruth Kolpack?

If none of the above gets her in trouble with the RC bureaucracy, then surely this will:

"Sexuality, then, is a fundamental part of what makes us human. So spirituality and sexuality are linked intimately. What we need to ponder is the way the whole notion of body and spirit are entwined. Some people even say we're spiritual beings having a human, or bodily, experience."

I'm holding my breath here.

There are some amazing women in the Roman Church, including our own FranIAm who are holding the line against the ever-encroaching insanity of a male-dominated bureaucracy who take their orders from a foreign curia.

Like the RC nuns of my youth before them, they are my s/heroes. Yes, there are some good guys - some who wear black shirts and tab collars, too. I just wish they had the ovaries of some of these women.

At the end of the article, you'll see some 'recommended books to read'. Not surprisingly, the best one - well, at least in my estimation - is the series, "Our Whole Lives."

I use large pieces of it in my Confirmation Class - the stuff on 'date rape' and the messages sent by the clothing we wear is just really great. I can't recommend it highly enough.

The resources are based on the Guidelines for Comprehensive Sexuality Education produced by the National Guidelines Task Force, a group of leading health, education and sexuality professionals assembled by the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States.

For example: This is from their Guidelines for Comprehensive Sexuality Education:

Life Behaviors of a Sexually Healthy Adult

A sexually healthy adult will:

• Appreciate one’s own body.
• Seek further information about reproduction as needed.
• Affirm that human development includes sexual development, which may or may not include reproduction or sexual experience.
• Interact with all genders in respectful and appropriate ways.
• Affirm one’s own sexual orientation and respect the sexual orientations of others.
• Affirm one’s own gender identities and respect the gender identities of others.
• Express love and intimacy in appropriate ways.
• Develop and maintain meaningful relationships.
• Avoid exploitative or manipulative relationships.
• Make informed choices about family options and relationships.
• Exhibit skills that enhance personal relationships.
• Identify and live according to one’s own values.
• Take responsibility for one’s own behavior.
• Practice effective decision-making.
• Develop critical-thinking skills.
• Communicate effectively with family, peers, and romantic partners.
• Enjoy and express one’s sexuality throughout life.
• Express one’s sexuality in ways that are congruent with one’s values.
• Enjoy sexual feelings without necessarily acting on them.

There is also an "Advocacy Manual for Human Sexuality and Justice," which is also co-produced by the United Church of Christ and Unitarian Universalist Association to help provide education that enables young people and their families to obtain accurate information, articulate their values, develop relationship skills, and exercise responsibility in sexual relationships..

Now, if The Episcopal Church could adopt statements and resources like these, I think we might actually be able to move off the dime in terms of our obsession with sexuality as genital expression in general and homosexuality in particular.

Because, truth be told, when you get right down to it, the message we're all getting from many of our mainline churches - catholic and protestant - these days is not so very different from the one I got as a RC child.

Is it any wonder our kids are confused?


Paul said...

Great guidelines. Totally unlike anything I was fed as a youth, of course - more's the pity.

Thanks for putting information like this out there for people. We need to be informed about the good stuff that is available and share it.

Blessings on the sisters who speak the truth in hostile environments!

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

I agree, Paul. I think they are excellent guidelines. I can't imagine what anyone would have against them . . . No, wait. Unfortunately, I do. Groan!

FranIAm said...

I read that too and had a similar reaction - thanks for posting this!

All Saints Church: said...

Not just the kids ... I'm getting comments now from "the opposition" referring to Gay Marriage as "Sodomarriage."

Excuse me?

IMAGINE where we'd be as a church if we'd raised up a generation with this kind of foundational information to dispel the pervasive ignorance that's "out there."

Labor on, my dear. Labor on!

IT said...

being a college professor, I pick up and read the campus newspaper on whatever campus I'm on. I travel a lot.

I read one with an advice column where writer A said, "my boyfriend is much more experienced than I and I think he should be tested for STDs, " and writer B said "my boyfriend wants me to find a girlfriend for a threesome".

The columnist did not respond to either with "Errr, are you sure you want to do this? It's okay to say 'no' ". Instead S/he advised them how to go about it.

i'm old fashioned about sex. I think you shoudl save it for your one and only. You know, it should Mean Something? For some reason, as I am a homosexual, conservatives assume I believe in everything and anything. Trust me, the straight folks are screwing this all up with NO help from this lesbian, who in fact deplores what all those STRAIGHT people are doing all on their own.



The word is sesseseme\\
Kinda like Open Sesame?
Don't go there....

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Actually, IT, I agree with you. I'm a hopeless romantic and I love the idea of "one special person" that you mate with for life. Having said that, I thought - believed with all my heart - at my first sexual encounter - that THIS was IT. (Not you. IT. THE ONE SPECIAL PERSON.) So, being an old fashioned girl, I married him. And, made one of the biggest mistakes of my life. I hurt myself, him and a lot of other people.

I certainly don't like the situations you describe in the college newspapers, but it's not for me to like or dislike. You know?

I'm all for standards, but life is complicated. Love is complicated. So why do we not think that sexuality isn't?

IT said...

I'm not saying they should preach abstinence-only in a college paper, Elizabeth, and I also respect that other people may view sex like scratching an itch and no big deal. I don't but believe that people get to make those decisions for themselves.

But along those lines I'm just wondering why the columnist doesn't offer at least the possibility that maybe having sex isn't always the best choice at a given place and time for every person, you know, even to mention that "you might want to think about that"?


And more broadly wondering how the conservatives will try to blame this on gay marriage too.

Fred Preuss said...

Suppose you don't want to bother with relationships? Suppose your work takes up too much of your time?
And the people you see are so boring and predictable.