Wednesday, July 30, 2014

A Post about Sex and How We Tend to Deal with It in the LDS Church

I, like nearly all people, am a sexual person, but my view of sex and my view of my own married status channels the expression of my sexuality. I'm fortunate in my situation, being Mormon and marrying my high school sweetheart shortly after my mission (which was perfect for me), since it's much harder for single adult Mormons to have any outlet that is seen by the group as proper. I just don't accept some of the commonly accepted boundaries, meaning I define sexual sin quite differently in some cases than many members do. The point isn't exactly how I define specific things; it's that I define them in the way that makes the most sense to me, based on my own view but not compromising what I see as the spirit of the law in any way. I take responsibility for that view and the results - thus, becoming an "agent unto myself".

In saying that, I uphold the concept and principle of a Law of Chastity - absolutely. I just have my own view of it - one that makes sense to me and works in directing my sexuality and the expression of it.  It is influenced most dramatically by the definition presented in the temple endowment, but it also is influenced by the terrible damage I have seen done by the overly-strict, Victorian definitions I have observed throughout my life. 

Just to clarity a bit:

I believe it's not the sexual feelings in and of themselves that are "bad" or "evil" in any way (with some exceptions, of course). Rather, it's what we do with the feelings that can be bad, evil, good or holy.

I believe it's not technology itself that is bad or evil in any way (with no exceptions). Rather, it's what we do with the technology that can be bad, evil, good or holy. (and we can do lots of things with technology in this day and age to remain close to our loved ones that were unavailable to people only a few decades ago - like texting, voice and video communication, etc.)

I believe it's not sex or sexual activity in and of itself that is bad or evil in any way (with some exceptions, of course). Rather, it's what we do with sex and sexual activity that can be bad, evil, good or holy.

It's determining exactly what is bad, evil, good or holy that is the issue - and I tend to me more . . . expansive . . . in my view of what CAN be good and holy in some cases and situations and less . . . restrictive . . . in my view of what automatically IS bad or evil in all cases and situations.

Just as an example, without getting into any specifics, there are some things I believe one spouse can't do (for whatever reason) within a marriage and other things that that spouse could do but the other spouse can't do. They shouldn't do those things that either of them can't do - again, for whatever reason. However, there also are things one spouse might have no problem doing in a marriage that the other spouse "naturally" or instinctively wouldn't do (perhaps as a result of having been raised in a highly conservative household) - but, after discussing those things, they might come to agree about some of them and not about others. Therefore, what they actually do might change somewhat over the years - not because of any Absolute Truth belief about anything, really, but rather because they both agree that there's nothing bad or evil about those things in and of themselves and for them as a couple.

In a way, what I'm saying is that a couple can embrace part of the "natural (wo)man" feelings they have with regard to sexual activity - in such a way that they can transform those feelings into actions that are fine with both of them but which both of them feel would not be fine outside of marriage - and with which other people might not be fine even in their own marriages - and with which their own parents might not be fine. (I use "might not", because I can't be sure in the case of my own and my wife's parents - and don't want to know, frankly.)

I understand why people tend to take their own temptations and what works for them and extrapolate that to everyone. I understand why leaders tend to take what works for them and create rules that they firmly believe will work for everyone. I also understand that, in many cases, what works for some people and the rules they create actually do work for lots and lots and lots of people. I'm just saying that I personally believe in trying to understand myself and my wife and what works for us.

I believe the concept and principle of the Atonement covers any natural guilt, restraint, "sin", punishment or limitation that might exist without it and frees me to just work on understanding myself (and others) - and progressing and "being" the best "I am" possible for me. It allows me to shed the Victorian attitudes all around me without rushing pell-mell into the hedonistic attitudes all around me - to try to create a proper balance in my life. It allows me to chill out a bit and just focus on me - and not try to force others to see and act exactly like I see and act, even with regard to sexual matters (with some exceptions at the extremes, of course).

Again, I support fully the concept of a Law of Chastity and believe there are certain non-negotiable, universal prohibitions that ought to exist within such a law (such as the creation and dissemination of hard-core pornography, mostly for the abominable abuses and messages that are inherent in its production - an aspect about which I believe we talk far too little in the Church) - but I believe we have built too many hedges about the Law of Chastity and, in some cases, are in danger of losing sight of the pure law itself or altering it so significantly that it ceases to be the powerful force for good that it would be otherwise. 


Alison said...

How we deal with it: Do it as often as possible.

Anonymous said...

My head was hurting after reading your post. Without being specific, it was tough to follow. Here's the bottom line - if you were a Bishop advising a young couple about to be married, what counsel would you give them? Would you decline to give any and point them to a book, or would you draw on your experience as a married person and try to give some counsel? Here is my shot at it:

Take your time with one another. Whatever your experience may have been in the past, even if it was with your intended spouse, there is no reason you shouldn't get familiar with one another. Your wedding night may culminate in intercourse. It might not. But presuming you are healthy and have normal sex drives, one thing will surely lead to another. Chastity is extremely important, but once you're married, you should enjoy your sexuality. It will take some time to figure out what each of you like and dislike. That means you'll experiment and should be open to adventure. As a rule, men tend to be more experimental, and women more conservative, in the bedroom. But we're all different, and as they say, you never know if you like something if you don't at least try it. Sex shouldn't hurt, shouldn't be used to manipulate, shouldn't be by force or coercion. Sex shouldn't involve third party's, meaning you should leave pornography and thoughts of others completely out of the experience. Many women have a hard time telling their husband what feels good. Wife, you should work on being as open and demonstrative to your husband as possible. Husband, you should be respectful of your wife and learn how to interact with her body. Men are fairly straightforward, but there's still a whole lot that involves our body as well as our emotions. All in all, I would repeat - take your time, get comfortable with one another's bodies, and if you still feel like you need some more guidance, there are plenty of good books that will shed some light on sexuality.

That's my brief shot at counseling newlyweds, or really any couple of any age for that matter. It's a complicated and tender subject best figured out by committed partners.

Papa D said...

Sorry, Anon, for the headache - but I LOVE your comment. I wouldn't change or add to it in any way.