On Monday I went to a free lecture on the Carnegie Mellon University campus called “Sex Positivism” that was put on by the Secular Humanist League and the Atheist, Humanist, Agnostic Group. The speaker was Greta Christiana who is a fairly prolific writer and blogger who often writes about (among other things) atheism, being a humanist (humanism?), and erotica.
I was hoping that Greta would be helpful in my understanding of the atheist lifestyle, help me to understand why atheists believe what they do, and how sexuality aligns to those beliefs. I was hoping that she wouldn’t make a bunch of pot shots at religion, but life isn’t perfect.
Within the first 5 minutes of her lecture she had already the f-word to describe the sexual act, and continued to use juvenile euphemisms to relate to sex. I like words, I like studying them, I like what they connote and denote. I hate when people use the f-word to refer to sex. Greta is obviously a well-educated, highly literate, and respected individual but her choice of language did not demonstrate that.
There was one moment in her talk that caused everyone (including myself) to laugh out loud. She said:
“Conservative Christians say ‘sex is dirty and bad and you should save it for the person you love’”.
Do Conservative Christians really say that? That’s awful. It makes me think of the highly-informative gym teacher in Mean Girls:
Now, I’m not an expert in anything. Also, full disclosure, I am not a parent, nor am I married, and I’ve never had sex. But I have had a wide range of sex education type courses and I also have opinions. So, now that we’ve got that out of the way, I’m going to say some things.
1. Let’s actually talk about sex
Well, here’s a post I wrote about modesty . We need to approach sexuality the same way we approach modesty; with Truth and Love.
Also, we should talk about it. Parents are the first teachers, which is great, but I learned a whole lot about sex from my middle school peers. So perhaps our parents are getting beaten to the punch. That being said, I think many people approach it as a One-And-Done topic in an official setting. But as individuals get older we learn more and more from our peers and it becomes more and more challenging to ask questions and discuss it.
2. Include all the topics
My middle school presented a very biology centric presentation on the birds and the bees (why is it called that? Shouldn’t it be the bees and the flower? or like…the birds and the birds?). It was good because I knew the biology of the human being. But I didn’t understand how religion played a part.
In high school I received snippets of theology but it was mostly from a fear only perspective. If you do x, y, and z you are sinning and then you will go to Hell. I mean, that’s not wrong, but isn’t it better to talk about how much we are loved by our Creator, how intimately He designed us, how He wants us to be with Him in perfect union forever and that the marriage act is a glimpse of that? And that the last thing we want to do is separate ourselves from Him, and do something that might separate someone else from Him as well?
It’s like evangelization, I don’t think people become Catholic (or are open to the idea of Catholicism) when we argue and throw doctrine at them. The relationship (even just the idea of it) with Christ needs to be there.
3. Less fear and guilt
I once went on a retreat for high schoolers and there was a question and answer portion. One of the students anonymously asked about how to handle the fact that her boyfriend wanted to have sex with her. She was uncertain, she knew the “rules”, she was confused. There were two responses. The first involved some fear and guilt; you’re too young, you don’t know about love, you don’t know that he will stay with you, you need to save that for marriage, he’s crazy, you should break up with him.
The second response was (in my opinion) a million times better; that is a really hard struggle, it makes sense that you have a lot of questions about it, it is natural for you to desire to have sex and an intimate relationship with another human being because we were made for an intimate relationship with our Creator. This was followed with a similar proposal that because this intimate union is such an important thing, since it has such immense implications physically and spiritually, it should not be taken lightly and should be something that is done within the context of marriage.
2333 Everyone, man and woman, should acknowledge and accept his sexual identity. Physical, moral, and spiritual difference and complementarity are oriented toward the goods of marriage and the flourishing of family life. The harmony of the couple and of society depends in part on the way in which the complementarity, needs, and mutual support between the sexes are lived out.
2334 “In creating men ‘male and female,’ God gives man and woman an equal personal dignity.”
“Man is a person, man and woman equally so, since both were created in the image and likeness of the personal God.”
2335 Each of the two sexes is an image of the power and tenderness of God, with equal dignity though in a different way. The union of man and woman in marriage is a way of imitating in the flesh the Creator’s generosity and fecundity: “Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh.”All human generations proceed from this union.
There’s my two cents.
In other news, Pope Francis spoke to ten thousand (!!) engaged couples about love and it’s a great read, and an especially great St. Valentine’s Feast Day read.
I love you all. Happy St. Valentine and Sts. Cyril and Methodius day!