Why Sex As Sin Hurts Everyone
November 17, 2012 § Leave a comment
A quick conversation I had recently with a friend from the past has me wanting to write again on a topic I come to often – why I am opposed to religious teachings that posture sex as unethical.
The crux of why this kind of teaching distresses me is that it does not have affirm at its heart an ethic of consent. It instead attempts to add a layer of coercion to what people do sexually.
I see this as problematic along two major lines.
One is that by alienating people from consent, it makes it more likely that they will experience rape. Anything which normalizes coercion and the absence of consent in life and in sex contributes to a rape culture –a culture which supports, hides, and fails to name or resist rape. It also makes it less likely that people will recognize what they have experienced as rape, as the world around them will reflect back false messages of their culpability. Many people feel guilt or shame after nonconsensual sexual experiences, yet do not think of them as rape, imagining their experience makes them less good or whole or holy. This is a terrible thing to do to people.
The second is that by alienating people from consent, it makes it less likely they will seek and have the profound and sacred experience of consensual sex, particularly while being free from outside punishment and fear. This in and of itself is causing harm, working to subtract from people’s lives a source of self-discovery, intimacy, pleasure, and excitement strong enough to be transformative in lasting and dramatic ways. Consensual sex is holy, and it can reaffirm in one’s body and spirit the reality that there is the potential for good in this world and pleasure and joy is possible for them. It reaffirms the will to live and to love, which I see as the hallmark influence of the Divine.
Sex negativity and any discussion of sexual ethics that does not have at its heart an ethic of consent can only serve to make people more vulnerable to abuse and take away from experiences of joy. Evidence of this is all around us, being explained with incongruous and detached rhetoric or just outright ignored. And it is in each of our lives.
I think it is time to rebel.
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