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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Sexual Ethics and Politics » Healthy, Holy, Sexuality

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Author Topic: Healthy, Holy, Sexuality
CoatRack
Scarleteen Volunteer
Member # 50455

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Admittedly this is more aimed at people who do subscribe to a specific religion, though all are obviously welcome to answer the questions.

How does your religion deal with sex? Is sexuality discouraged or encouraged? Does your religion have problems with sex out of marriage? How about homosexuality?

If your religion has a stance on sexuality that is separate from your view how do you deal with that?

Is there anything about your religion's stance on sex/sexuality that you would change, were you given the option?

I also think it would be super cool if people could link to some official view from their religion on sex or sexuality!

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Hey folks, my name is Andrew and I was a mod here for awhile a couple years ago. I'll be here for a couple weeks while Heather is out and the site is even more short-staffed than usual

Posts: 441 | From: Boston, MA | Registered: Dec 2010  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
CoatRack
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I am a Unitarian Universalist and our views on sexuality are very in-line with my ideals. We run a program called Our Whole Lives (OWL) that was co-written with the United Church of Christ. It discusses sexuality in an open, affirming, and sex-positive way at all ages (there's a kindergarten/first grade one, one for late elementary school, middle school, high school, and adults).

In middle school it is the full church year in your religious education class (think Sunday School) and you discuss all aspects of sexuality, from appropriate contraceptive use, LGBTQ relationships, good communication and relationship dynamics, etc. You have the ability to really see and touch and experience and practice various aspects of sexuality in an open, encouraging, mixed-gender environment. I think it's fantastic. I came into UUism after high school so I never got to experience OWL as a youth (which I am really disappointed about!) but I have got to participate in some parts of the training and read the entire middle and high school curriculum.

UUism is also really open in terms of LGBTQ people and they offer a program that many other denominations are embracing called Welcoming Congregations that talks about bringing LGBTQ people into all aspects of spiritual life at the church, including marriage ceremonies and ministerial ordination.

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Hey folks, my name is Andrew and I was a mod here for awhile a couple years ago. I'll be here for a couple weeks while Heather is out and the site is even more short-staffed than usual

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OWL Dan
Activist
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Hi Andy,

I, too, am a UU and I am an OWL Facilitator; hence the OWL Dan. [Smile]

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Dan

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CoatRack
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Adding to the diversity of this thread exponentially!

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Hey folks, my name is Andrew and I was a mod here for awhile a couple years ago. I'll be here for a couple weeks while Heather is out and the site is even more short-staffed than usual

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Heather
Executive Director & Founder
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While it's not a religion so much as a spiritual practice, as an American Zen Buddhist, we have very few "official" stances on anything, in large part because we see all of us as each other's own potential teachers and all of us as constant learners. We don't consider there's one Buddha, but that everyone is the Buddha, which can sometimes be tricky to explain to folks whose traditions involve a god or gods.

On the whole, the deal with sex and sexuality is treated the same way as the deal with everything else: it's something we want to aim to do with awareness, mindfulness and good intentions, and make efforts to be sure we're always doing in a way which does not involve harming ourselves or others.

We have a precept -- precepts aren't rules or commandments, they're principles: if and when we err, we err, and then we need to work and aim to not err again -- which asks us not to engage in sexual misconduct. For the most part, that means engaging in sex in ways outside what I just described. All of that, perhaps obviously, includes things like only engaging in sex where there is real consent and no one is being exploited or abused; it means not engaging in sex where there is violence, manipulation or deception.

As with everything else, we also just always want to try to keep a balance in how much a part sexuality and sex plays in our lives and try and engage in it in a balanced way. Another biggie that comes into play here that runs through all of Buddhism is doing what we can to avoid causing suffering, ours or those of others: if sex is making us or someone else suffer, that's something we want to avoid or repair. If it's bringing everyone mindful happiness, it's generally good news.

We don't all share the exact same philosophies or interpretations of exactly what is and isn't sexual misconduct or our aim of good sexual conduct outside some big basics, but that's okay, because there's room for diversity, and also room for what feels most right for one person versus another. (Which is great, since we know the same is true with the diversity of human sexuality and relationships.)

For instance, Thich Nhat Hanh, one of the Zen teachers and writers I've always been most influenced by, says this around the third precept that's addresses sexuality and love: "Aware of the suffering caused by sexual misconduct, I vow to cultivate my responsibility and learn ways to protect the safety and integrity of individuals, couples, families and society. I am determined not to engage in sexual relations without love and long-term commitment. To preserve the happiness of myself and others, I am determined to respect my commitments and the commitments of others. I will do everything in my power to protect children from sexual abuse and to protect families from being broken by sexual misconduct."

I'm totally get on board with what he said, but I may, for instance, feel or see love differently than someone else, or interpret or enact "commitment" differently, and that's okay.

Marriage is a non-issue, as it's considered something secular for those who want to do it, and it doesn't really come into play with the treatment of sexuality. If people are treating each other with love and kindness in sex is the big deal: whether they're married or not isn't considered relevant.

There's also acceptance for all orientations and any one orientation isn't privileged, though now and then, due to cultural biases or personal biases, rather than Buddhism itself, you can read some Buddhist history or run into Buddhists who are not accepting of all orientations.

Through the history of Buddhism, there have been some conflicts around reproductive justice, but a lot of that had to do with other Buddhist traditions than Zen, and the fact that women's role in Buddhism has changed an awful lot in recent times. I'd like to see more resolution around this, however, this seems to be one of those things where it's going to take a lot of discussion and thought -- Buddhists don't tend to feel we can rush getting to an enlightened place, and do nothing in a hurry -- and that's been happening, so, big yay. There's also always room around this, like anything else, for diversity and for people having different life experiences and paths.

That said, on the whole sexuality in this spiritual belief system has always been a good fit for me, and while I don't see the need for any big changes, I appreciate that the tradition I spiritually practice in always makes room for changing and evolving thought, so it's not like if change needed to happen, it couldn't or wouldn't. [Smile]

[ 02-04-2011, 07:27 PM: Message edited by: Heather ]

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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