Elizabeth Scripturient (the delinquent, ecumenical (hermionesviolin) wrote,
Elizabeth Scripturient (the delinquent, ecumenical

[CAUMC] Masturbation [2007-08-30]

While I was in Belfast, I saw Eric's weekly e-mail which included:
Thursday August 23
Small group meets at 7pm in room 15. We'll be looking at what the bible has to say about sex.
I was of course displeased to be missing this (since a contemporary queer Christian sexual ethics is one of my Things), so the next week I was pleased to see:
Thursday August 30 (tonight)
Small group at 7pm in room 15. We'll continue our discussion of sex and the bible.
Distributing the handout, Eric said we'd be continuing our discussion of sex and the Bible, this time focusing on masturbation. "Uncomfortable for most--"
Without missing a beat, I said, "Not if you do it right."
Michelle kinda cheered and I said, "Aren't you glad I'm back?" And she was. The whole evening she was clearly sincerely glad I was back, which was kinda touching.

The handout began with summarizing what the Bible has been argued to say about masturbation (both of which are now generally understood to not be referring to masturbation). It listed the Onan story and that ambiguous word in Corinthians 6:9. Eric also c&p-ed Leviticus 15:16-18, which is about an emission of semen making one unclean, and I blurted out that being unclean isn't necessarily a bad thing like for example touching a dead body makes you unclean but burying the dead is a mitzvah -- I stopped myself before I talked about it in serious depth and apologized and said Amy-Jill Levine at Convo had talked a lot about Christians over-emphasize uncleanliness. I was excited that Mike also chimed in at like the same time as me to say that unclean does not equal sin.

Anyway, the next section talked about adultery and then Jesus' bit about lust=adultery and how that could fit into an ethics on masturbation. The ethics of fantasies is one of my big things, which I am still very much sussing out (one reason why I never finished the post I was working on in response to strikethrough: take 1).

The next pages laid out the Roman Catholic position (e.g., the 1975 declaration on human sexuality) and then offered a variety of excerpts (from various Christian organizations/persons) of "negative thoughts" and "supporting thoughts" on the issue. Even the "positive" statements seemed very sex-negative, which was distressing to me. I also really didn't feel engaged with any of the arguments except the ones around issues of the content of fantasies and/or the possible non-fantasy implications of them -- e.g., Dennis Rupert: "Fantasizing in your mind makes you want to enact your fantasies."

I mentioned that I feel torn on the issue of fantasies because on the one hand I think the kind of thoughts you cultivate is important -- that for example we are called to develop feelings of compassion rather than wallowing in feelings of hate -- but that I also feel like it's important to have fantasy as a safe place to explore stuff you might not necessarily want to act out in real life.

Michelle said that there's a difference between exploring, analyzing why you think something, why you react a certain way to certain things, etc., and just unthinkingly indulging in thoughts. I agreed and didn't point out when I said "explore" I didn't so much mean "analyze" as I did "play with, try out -- possibly 'experiment' would be the best word."

Joanna, who hasn't been attending since before I started attending, came that night, and it turns out she has a background in sex therapy which immediately made me wanna take her out for coffee or something to hear all about that. She was very eloquent and grounded and I hope she's able to attend regularly again.


Michelle praised my use of "fifty-cent words" (which I hadn't even noticed I'd been using -- had actually been feeling like I was fairly inarticulate) particularly "conflate."

Meredith Affirmed my support of Michelle.
Tags: church: caumc: ya group, church: caumc: ya group: #sex (and bible

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