. . . 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?