Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Sex and the Single Minister and Single Adult: Redux

My blog here and the related blog on Huffington Post on "Sex and the Single Minister" has gotten a lot of comments, retweeting, digging, and reposting.

Some people were angry that I wasn't just cheering on the ELCA votes, which indeed were historic. I'm delighted that both the Lutherans and the Episcopalians took steps to affirming justice for gay and lesbian persons this summer; both went farther than they have in the past, both stopped short though of marriage equality and a full commitment to recognizing sexual diversity as part of God's blessing to us. So although I applaud steps forward, I view it as part of our ministry to keep speaking out until "victory emerge resplendent." (Isaiah 62:1)

Others wrote me on twitter and email thanking me for voicing their own situations, either as single ministers or single adults. As one twitter wrote, "Shh...we don't talk about sex for singles." It's made me think about writing more on this topic, and I promise I will.

Still, others misinterpreted what I was saying as promoting an "anything goes" ethic of sexuality. I've been accused of this for most of my career, with people ascribing a false hedonism to my beliefs. I generally respond that I think the sexual ethic that the Religious Institute promotes -- an ethic based on personal relationships and social justice, and love, justice, mutuality, commitment, consent, and pleasure -- is much more rigorous than one based on a wedding ring and particular sexual acts. Surely, we all recognize that marriage alone does not assure that sexuality will be expressed with holiness and integrity.

Our sexual ethic accepts no double standards, and applies to all adults, without regard to sex, gender, color, age, bodily condition, marital status or sexual orientation. How that can be translated into "anything goes" is beyond me.

But, please, keep telling us what you think.


Mickbic said...

I resigned from the ministry in November 1983, citing the scripture verse "if a man know not how to rule his own household, how shall he rule the church of God?" My ten year marriage had collapsed.

I have never had a desire to reenter the ministry partly because I felt I would be held to higher standards than someone not in the ministry.

I do not know what is fact and what is fiction in Nathaniel Hawthorne's story THE SCARLET LETTER, but it seems like the single minister's misconduct could be forgiven by most readers. Time would have to pass before he would be considered a man of God again. Ministers are considered standard bearers yet they probably have more opportunity for temptation than most due to the nataure of their profession.

John Shuck said...

I think you have written an excellent article and I commented on it on my blog

What are some books on sexual ethics you would recommend?

Debra W. Haffner said...

Thanks, Rev. John. I'd start with Marie Fortune, Margaret Farley, Marvin Ellison, Mary Hunt, and Carter Heywood!