Christian Sexual Ethics and Contemporary Sexuality

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Integration Paper #2
Christian Sexual Ethics and
Contemporary Sexuality

Kristen Butler
03/18/2013
RST-305

We live in a very exploitive, sexually saturated society. With the increasing development of technology and rapid deliverance of the media, sex is almost completely unavoidable. It is in magazines, movies, tabloids, billboards, music lyrics, on television, and all over the internet. Many believe that this sexual revolution has been liberating and is an indication of progress and freedom. The reality is that this cultural obsession with sex is extremely debasing, proving to have detrimental effects on marriage and our youth. This shift in sexual norms has a positive, direct correlation with the increase of delayed marriage, the increase of cohabitation, and the amount of children born out of wedlock and raised in single-parent homes. Research shows that children who are raised in these non-traditional family structures are more likely to fall into unemployment or become criminals. All of these disastrous results lead back to our culture’s change in attitude about sex. These negative effects will continue to proliferate unless society is reminded of the true meaning and sacredness of sex. I have come to believe that it is the responsibility of leaders in the Christian Church to resolve this sexual crisis. Although the church has undeniably progressed [in terms of becoming more liberal] over the decades, Christianity maintains the notion that sexual intercourse is a marital privilege and should therefore be avoided until marriage. The issue, however, is that the church has failed to effectively communicate the importance of this message to its members of today’s increasingly liberal society, especially to those of my generation. Callahan’s Sex Matters: The Riches of the Catholic Sexual Tradition argues that there are still many benefits to the Catholic sexual tradition, however these riches are no longer effectively articulated. There are still some very devout Christian couples who are waiting until marriage for sex, however this number continues to dwindle. Those who do choose to wait are constantly being tempted by the world around them, which may ultimately lead to the abandonment of their values. This ineffective communication of Christian sexual ethics to the Christian community unfortunately causes many to compartmentalize their religion off from their sex lives. This way of thinking causes religious couples to miss out on the total potential of their sexuality. In addition, this failure in communication on behalf of the church has caused sex to become increasingly objectified. Cahill argues in Can We Get Real About Sex that the media is promoting only one of the three main dimensions of sex: physical pleasure. The other two components, intimacy and the possibility of procreation/parenthood, are not portrayed as being nearly as important as one’s opportunity to physically feel good. This narrow-minded understanding of sex is yet another destructive result of our culture’s expectation of instant gratification. Freud understood a normal sex life as one which involved the convergence of affection and sensuality. According to DeGenova and Rice, the issue with casual sex is that it separates love from sex. Although I am not married, I have been at least somewhat sexually active since I was sixteen. I do not regret any of my sexual history or experiences, however I have learned that these three dimensions of sex should be given equal priority in all sexual relationships, married or not. Casual sex lacks emotion and intimacy. It is honestly very unfulfilling and does absolutely no justice to the potential of human sexuality. In addition, one must consciously realize that sexual intercourse (for heterosexual couples) has the ability to lead to pregnancy. Indeed, that is its biological purpose. I am not fond of the idea that every sexual act should have...
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