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what scares us so about sex?

what scares us so about sex?

A little over a year ago a friend sent me a link to the following blog post:

Single, Saved, and Sexin’: The Gospel of Gettin’ Your Freak On

This very well-written piece left me with a desire for a biblical exegesis on the issue because I knew that the saints who continue to cling to conservative sexual theology would be armed with chapter-and-verse quotes from the Bible to counter her very real and truthful perspective – despite her salvific testimony. She explains in later comments that she didn’t use Christian scripture in her post because she “ultimately decided that I didn’t want to misrepresent scripture, or attempt as I said in the original post, to force a loophole where none exists. Furthermore, the levels of engagement with scripture in much of the commentary illustrate the ways in which scripture can absolutely be taken out of context to support one’s point of view.”

Sharing with a colleague last week my own work on sexuality and spirituality, I received the same request for more scripture to support this liberative sexual ethic for women [people] of faith. The difference between my colleague and those who commented on the blog is that my colleague is open to reconfiguring a faith-based sexual ethic. The blog commenters are closed to that possibility, seeking to prove that the blog’s author is “deceived and losing her salvation.” They are “saddened” by her post and desperately want “to pray for her.”

While I include scripture in my work, it doesn’t rest on it. Just as we progressives and liberals may state that conservatives take scripture out of context, they levy the same charge. So engaging our sacred texts alone becomes a futile quest for truth. Hence my continued love affair with the Wesleyan Quadrilateral. To make good ethical decisions we must engage scripture, tradition, reason, and experience.

Our single, saved, and sexin’ sistah continues in her later comment, “I think we can have a conversation about the relationship of sexuality to spirituality, and how we as Black women and women in general negotiate those conversations when we live [in] a context very different from the Bible. And I think we have to be honest about the fact that our experiences matter, and that they tell us something about how to engage the world. I think it is dangerous to keep telling Black women to deny the reality of their loneliness, aloneness, and sexual desire based on the fear that they will displease God. When we engage in rhetoric like that, our religious despotism and zealotry has become a tool of control and domination rather than a source of liberation. In fact, many of the posts above strike me as being nothing short of Pharisaic in their zeal.

Finally, I think we have to have sexual ethics that allow us to live and thrive in the moment in which we find ourselves, and I


What scares us so about sex?

take issue with anyone using religious jargon to silence women into submission (which has been done for centuries, especially to black women) around their sexuality. So I’m especially thankful for the sisters in this post, who have the courage to ask tough questions and imagine other possibilities for themselves, without the fear of an angry wrathful God nipping at their heels.”

Reading the impassioned pleas from the conservative commenters left me with the question:

“What scares us so about sex?”

I hear straight-up fear in their written voices. It’s the same fear I see in the eyes of folks with whom I engage in person. “So you’re for people doing whatever, whenever, however?” “No,” is my answer, insisting that there must be at least one option between nothing and everything. What freaks us out so? What keeps us from pulling sex out of disappointing and hurtful equations to see that it was the lack of birth control that created the unplanned pregnancies – the lack of safer sex practices that exposed us to diseases – the void of meaningful conversation that prevented the intimacy that we sought? Blaming all the bad stuff on sex is way too easy.

Another bad thing, as the author states, could be a loss of favor with G~d, a loss of communion, a loss of salvation which translates into condemnation and a post-life-sentence in hell. In this almost frenzied and obsessed pursuit of holiness and righteousness we miss the very thing that we seek. Grasping tightly to the letter of the law leaves us without true communion, missing the spirit of the law. For Christians, this behavior is heretical.

Reconsidering Christian Discipleship and the Text

“Then Yeshua [Jesus] told his disciples, ‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life?'” (Matthew 16:24-26 NRSV) {Reconfiguration – If we want to follow Yeshua, allow ourselves to let go of all that we think will save us, be real about our issues and believe the unconditional loving and liberating access to our Creator that Yeshua provides. The more we seek to benefit in the way of guaranteeing health, prosperity, and eternal salvation from adherence to more than 600 laws and the label of “good Christian,” the more we sacrifice the actual benefits of G~d-intimacy, like a slow leak. We may very well achieve the label of “good Christian” as the world and Church define it today, but lose an abundant life with G~d.}

“A lawyer asked him a question to test him. ‘Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?’ He said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your G~d with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.'” (Matthew 22:35-40 NRSV) {Reconfiguration – List all the laws you like and debate which one is the biggest one to obey, like abstinence and celibacy in singleness, but it all boils down to loving G~d with your whole self and loving others as well as you do yourself [assuming that we self-love well]. The most important law to follow is not specific or prescriptive or detailed and that’s where we find true love, the kind that leads to liberation and full abundance of life, the kind that overflows to others.}

contemplative fear

Let's reconfigure our discipleship and our sacred text.

“Yeshua said to her, ‘Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. . . . But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. G~d is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.'” (John 4:21, 23-24 NRSV) {Reconfiguration – The time is over for haggling over details like whose church is the correct one and which worship style is more sacred and whose doctrines/creeds/dogma will best succeed in producing holy Christians. The time is now that those who really love G~d and sincerely seek to hang out with G~d will do so in for-real ways, without any regard to the shoulds and ought-to-bes of contemporary life. These are the life-companions that G~d seeks to hang out with, ones without pretense and anxiety over rightness; these are the kind of folks with whom G~d can have a ball!}

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Yeshua. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Yeshua has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For G~d has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do: by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and to deal with sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, so that the just requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For this reason the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to G~d; it does not submit to G~d’s law – indeed it cannot, and those who are in the flesh cannot please G~d.” (Romans 8:1-8 NRSV) {Reconfiguration – If we follow the simple, liberative, and transforming teachings of Yeshua, we are no longer beholden to follow the 600+ laws that we find in the Hebrew Bible. All of these laws don’t work; rather, Yeshua’s example leads us to the greatest law – loving G~d with our entire selves. This law leads us to another – loving our neighbors as ourselves. With these two laws as exemplified by Yeshua, we need no others. When we insist on the others, we die to the life that is possible and we are without peace as well as being at odds with G~d rather than flowing with G~d on our life-journeys – unable truly to make G~d happy.}

“Who will bring any charge against G~d’s elect? It is G~d who justifies. Who is to condemn? . . . Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? . . . No, . . . For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, or things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of G~d in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:33, 35, 37a, 38-39 NRSV) {Reconfiguration –  Ain’t nobody that can sentence us to hell -that is eternal separation from our Creator – nobody. Neither can any law or reality or non-reality. Ain’t nothin’ or nobody that can do that. Simple. Love extends beyond any obstacle or barrier that we can conceive or beyond what we can conceive. Love is stronger than death, the only inevitable experience we all must face. Soooo, be free!)

It’s not cheap grace; it’s taking G~d at G~d’s word (through scripture, tradition, reason, and experience). Be in relationship with G~d; don’t be scurred. Live! Live! Live! Live like we’ve got a faith and a connection that liberates us from the law and the limits of this world. Live according to what we say we believe – or else what good is it?

(c) 2012 candi dugas, llc

why sexNspirit?

sexNspirit is just one outlet for a huge conversation that desperately needs to happen, first among women and especially heart treeamong women of faith.

This sense of urgency to talk is heightened particularly at this time, given the recent economically privileged, white male dominated, and politically driven incredible rhetoric regarding proposed government regulations of female bodies and sexuality (i.e., contraception, abortion, etc.).

The faith part is important as well. In this Judeo-Christian (Protestant) founded country, despite our constitutionally guaranteed right to the freedom of religion, the reality is that many of our land’s laws and ideals have deep roots in this puritanical, westernized version of Christianity. These roots cause many women of faith either to choose between her faith and her fullness of life or to live in a rather schizoid manner regarding her body and her spirituality. That’s not living in freedom.

My current research reveals that we have more options than these two.  A woman’s life does not have to be so limited. We don’t have to be either the Madonna or the Whore. There’s at least a 3rd option – and probably several more. We can create enough safe space to figure out these options – to reclaim our goodness as sexual and spiritual beings.

If this is the kind of conversation for the women in your network, please email me ( We can discuss ways to create such space in your community.

FYI – please check the “welcome” post for key definitions – sexuality, spirituality, & religion.

sexNspirit – it’s about more than just penetration . . .

(c) 2012 candi dugas, llc

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