I have thought and thought about this and I guess I need to say something.
Sen. Larry Craig, Christian evangelical leader Ted Haggard, and Mark Foley are among the most recent conservatives to get caught in various stages with their pants down. Every time this happens the news media goes nuts, the LGBTQ community gets pounded by the religious zealots, as well as getting their own righteous fur up, and nobody bothers to speak about the real issue.
The real issue is sex. We have taken the most beautiful, wonderful, deeply personal emotional and physical experience given to us by our Creator to share with people we love in the deepest ways and made it a “weapon of mass destruction.”
I suspect by the time I am done writing this I will get blasted from all sides. Folks, our society and the way we handle the subject of sex made for the situations these people and others find themselves in. Before you flame me, remember, I am not saying they made right or good choices but our fear and our lack of comfort with sex set it up. Sex is like a fire it can provide warmth, light and life or it can be an inferno that destroys us.
Something as simple as bringing up “masturbation” can cause uproar that goes beyond logic. Remember when we had a Surgeon General fired.
“America’s chief doctor resigned last week after saying that masturbation could be an appropriate subject to teach schoolchildren. Surgeon General Jocelyn Elders was asked to go by President Bill Clinton after she angered conservatives by discussing the possibility of encouraging masturbation to prevent sexually transmitted diseases. Her remarks were made at an AIDS meeting held by the United Nations in New York.” (http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/309/6969/1604?ck=nck)
My land if we can’t be honest and forthright about masturbation how can we have an honest, open and beneficial conversation around sex in its fullest forms. Because people are afraid of sex it becomes a “weapon of mass destruction” that has ruined more lives then has been killed because of the Presidents fear of WMD’s in Iraq. I believe with all my heart the religious zealots are the authors of this fear, probably dating back to Augustine. (That is another blog for another day)
How did they handle the Senator? How about this:
“Peter LaBarbera, executive director of Americans for Truth, says one homosexual group actually publishes a book that advises men how to avert criminal charges when engaging in public lewdness.
“It seems that the homosexual movement is complicit in a lot of this behavior because they’re not just telling homosexuals to stop,” he says. “When you have a major legal organization like Lambda Legal actually publishing a book to help these so-called ‘cruisers,’ which are men cruising for secret sex on the side like this — when you have organizations like that enabling it, it seems that they are also complicit in this sort of behavior.”
He says that he has never met anyone who hangs around public restrooms “peeking through the cracks of stalls. We all know this is perverted, deviant, homosexual behavior.” LaBarbera says Craig needs to resign immediately due to his “perverted, deviant” homosexual behavior.
According to LaBarbera, anonymous sexual encounters in public are a common practice among many in the homosexual community, noting decades after the AIDS crisis, homosexual activity is on the rise in public bathhouse”.
Well let’s kill two birds with one stone…destroy a man’s life and blame the whole thing on homosexuals.
Let’s be honest here…yes, gay men cruise restrooms and there is a whole set of signals that go on to connect with people. With that said based on the description of the police officer and Senator Craig’s reaction, the Senator probably did get “caught with his hand in the cookie jar”, so to speak. However, it is nothing like the media makes it out to be and it seems to me the police officer had a bias attitude as well. However, I digress…
Yes, gay men have been known to go to quiet parts of parks in search of a sexual partner. Yes, gay men have utilized the Internet to seek out and meet sexual partners. Yes, gay men have placed ads in various media sources looking for sex. Yes, gay men have a whole set of signals and signs to indicate interest in a particular person. We have gotten so refined that we even have a “hanky code”. Yes, there are “gay bathhouses” that are used for the purposes of having sex. Yes, there are bars in the community that are known as “pick-up” bars. Finally but not least yes, there are all forms of “gay prostitution” which include, massage therapists, escorts and streetwalkers. No, the gay community has not practice smart or safe sex.
I am not condoning any of this, just simply stating facts.
Here are some more facts to consider.
Yes, late at night if you watch TV there are ads for phone lines by which heterosexual folks can hook up for “conversations”. Uh huh. Yes, there is more then one outdoor movie drive in that has been the starting point for a family. Yes, in Atlanta alone there are more “massage parlors” then one can count. Yes, you can pull into a state park and find cars parked in pairs off by themselves and the windows are steamed up and the car is a “rockin”. Go to any park and you will find couples in various stages of undress and inter-twined in such a way to cause one to say: “Get a room”! Yes, heterosexual people have used the Internet to seek out and meet sexual partners. Yes, heterosexual persons have placed ads in various media sources looking for sex. Yes, heterosexuals have a whole set of signals and signs to indicate interest in a particular person. Yes, there are bars in the community that are known as “pick-up” bars. Finally but not least yes, there are all forms of “prostitution” which include, massage therapists, escorts and streetwalkers. No, the heterosexual community has not practice smart or safe sex.
So what is my point here? Is it not obvious? People like sex and will do just about anything to get it. What is defined, as “porn” is a multi-billion dollar industry. For that kind of money a lot of some bodies must be buying it. Also, don’t be fooled, the religious zealots are watching it too, but just so they can tell you how bad it is. Uh Huh! The American Family association folks seem to have seen a lot more porn then I have…well maybe not.
Does it not strike anyone strange that we can go to the movies or watch on TV any number of people being raped, beat up, cut up, shot, chopped up and blown up and we give out awards on national TV for how good these shows are? Yet, let there be a little too much skin or people gay or straight making love and it is called pornography? People making love are bad and killing people is good. There is something wrong with this picture.
We need to wake up and start talking about sex honestly, openly and as something God has given us as a way to share our deepest most intimate emotions and maybe the afore mention lists will start to fade.
Talking about sex from a point of a celebration of who we are as opposed to using it as a weapon by which we can send people to hell might make a difference in the afore mentioned lists as well.
Talking about sex from a positive point of view is difficult to be sure, simply because over generations it has been used as a point of power and control over people. Yet, the call to live a life, which includes sex as a God given part of it, requires tackling some hard questions.
What does it mean to have sexual integrity? What does it mean to be sexually moral? What does it mean to be sexually ethical? What does it mean to take sexual responsibility?
These are the questions that need to be asked, discussed and explored. They can’t be asked at the group level. I suppose to do that we will first have to get past the idea that says sex is primarily for procreation and restricted to people of opposite genders.
We need to get to the point where we see this as about our relationship with our God and how we relate to each other. We have to be willing to talk about what sex really feels like to us when we participate and use this gift. Maybe seeing our sexuality as a gift would be a good start.
I think this is where churches, both gay and mainstream, make the mistake. They act as if sex is something dark and foreboding, rather then a gift from God that when shared wisely can change the world.
I hope we wake up soon, as it is already too late for Sen. Larry Craig, Christian evangelical leader Ted Haggard, Mark Foley and hundreds of thousands of others who have been destroyed by our inability to see sex as something to be celebrated rather then feared. There are whole generations yet to be born counting on us.
Founding and Senior Pastor of Gentle Spirit Christian Church, Rev. Paul M. Turner grew up in suburban Chicago and was ordained by the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches in 1989. He and his husband Bill have lived in metro Atlanta since 1994. He is the editor of the Seeds of Hope blog whose posts from 1999-2005 are at http://whosoever.org/seeds/ -- and which now resides at http://gentlespirit.org/topics/blog/seeds-of-hope/.