There’s a certain comfort in following the rules. We believe rules keep us safe. And to an extent they do. As more people join the conversation about alternative and authentic faith-based approaches to sex and sexuality, one concern continues to rise to the surface. What if we’re just making all of these (alternatives) up to suit our own selfish desires?
We have the same freedom and authority as others who have gone before us to approach the Divine with questions and declarations regarding how we’d like our lives to be. The stories of these others are what we read in our sacred texts. I read somewhere recently, I think on Facebook, that these texts become scripture only once we adopt them as guidelines for our thoughts, beliefs, faith, and choices.
How can we embrace and activate our freedom and authority?
The selfish fabrication/justification question seems to be particularly troublesome regarding sex and sexuality. This question persists even in the presence of acknowledging that there is an inexhaustible list of things we don’t do that were done in ancient eras. There’s a host of beliefs to which we no longer subscribe. And we have indisputable data that following antiquated ideologies doesn’t guarantee happiness and fidelity and salvation and G~d-intimacy any more than doing so in days gone by – well, when we can look at the past without our romanticized, rose-colored glasses.
How many tried-and-true isms have you successfully determined worked better for your ancestors?
Not only do we live in the present, we were designed and made alive to co-create with G~d. Really, it’s not beyond our place as human beings. It’s not sacrilegious, blasphemous, or disrespectful. There are times and seasons to rely heavily on G~d. Then there are times to grow and then times to act on all that we’ve learned. Like our children, if we’ve done our part as parents, they become independent and self-sufficient. This simile works with our relationship with the Divine as adult human beings.
If G~d has done G~d’s part, what keeps us from being spiritual adults?
Rules ought to be called boundaries, a better word that conveys structure, yet allows for flexibility as contexts and circumstances change or shift over time. As they modify, we can reallocate the boundaries to be more or less of what’s needed. Then maybe as we grow we won’t feel so damned guilty for “breaking the rules.” Instead it’ll be more about shifting the boundaries. Isn’t that better?
“Planted in neat, straight lines,
designed to keep divinity in
or the world at bay?
Who can say?
They are thick and intricately tangled,
by God’s officials
who have had long training
in the finer arts of hedging.
. . .
So engrossed are they
in their tending of theological topiary,
they fail to notice
God popping on her walking gear
and slipping out the back garden gate,
heading for the hills,
~Nicola Slee, “Ecclesiastical Hedges,” in Praying Like a Woman
© 2012 candi dugas, llc