July 15, 2012: Hot Summer Sex 2

Posted on : Jul 12th, 2012 | By | Category: This Sunday's Service

Rational, caring, thinking people of the world look at the sexual abuse scandal in the Roman Catholic Church and can’t believe this kind of thing could happen. People can believe, and understand, that there can be a few pedophile priests in a fraternity as large as the Roman Catholic priesthood, but when it was discovered that there were legions of pedophile priests, few could believe it.  Even more, with Christianity’s “strict” moral and ethical pronouncements about sexual behavior, the last place in the world you would expect to find this kind of abusive behavior being covered up is within the priestly ranks of the Christian Church.

As this scandal unfolds, it has become increasingly clear that this is not about a singular priest with a problem.  This priestly abuse of children – girls and boys – is a global problem.  That means it is happening in religious orders, communities and dioceses all over the world.  Perhaps what is most amazing is that the church’s hierarchy – bishops, archbishops, cardinals and the pope – has covered up this behavior and in so doing, perpetuated the preponderance of this tragic, abusive behavior.

To be fair, we need to state that Protestant clergy are no better than Catholic.  In 2010 it was revealed that 6-7 Presbyterian clergy serving the children of Presbyterian missionaries in Africa and Asia had been found guilty of sexual and physical abuse of the missionaries own children!  The Presbyterian Outlook reported:  “The report makes it clear that the abuse panel determined that some of the male perpetrators had a pattern of seeking out vulnerable children and sexually abusing them, and that it is possible there may be other victims in other places – including at Presbyterian churches in New York, West Virginia, California and Washington where these men once worked, as well as at Presbyterian-related colleges or camps or other programs for children.”  [Presbyterian Outlook]

When talking about pedophiles, we must always be clear that pedophilia is not about sex.  It is about psychological, spiritual and physical dominance, intimidation and bondage of someone less powerful.  Patriarchal institutions are notorious for fostering these patterns.  The connection to sexuality among pedophiles is that the abuse is sexual.  It is our culture and the Christian Church’s obsession with sex as “sinful, evil and morally wrong” that prevents kids from telling their parents when they have been abused.  Thus, shame and secrecy keep victims of pedophilia sexual abuse from speaking out.

The Christian Church comes out of a patriarchal tradition.  Patriarchy gets its name from the tradition of males (men) being more valued and therefore having power over, women.  But patriarchal power and privilege isn’t solely the power of men over women.  It’s the same dynamic that allowed for slavery, the oppression of gays and lesbians and political systems that favor the rich over the poor.  In the Old Testament “the poor and the powerless” are always “bound together.”  In the US today, is it any surprise that the largest number of families living in poverty are headed by single women?  Or that 22% of children living in the US today live in poverty?  That’s almost 1 in 4 kids in America who live in poverty – as defined by the US government, which means they are really poor!

Jesus was the most egalitarian Rabbi in the history of the world.  He was the first feminist man.  He preached, taught and related to women and men as equals.  He touched and healed women when his patriarchal religious tradition forbade him to do so. He valued children as human beings and of sacred worth.  Jesus even went so far as to say, “for such is the kindom of God,” referring to children.  It is well established that John, “the Beloved Disciple,” was gay and had a super-crush on Jesus.  Were he and Jesus in a relationship?  That we don’t know.  But what we do know is that Jesus sought to bring an end to the patriarchal system which allowed for dominance, restraint and bondage over the less powerful.  He was absolutely clear that such an ordering of society was not “of God!”  In fact, Jesus was so committed to equality that one of the earliest “Baptismal proclamations” was universally egalitarian:  “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.  There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”  [Galatians 3: 27-28]

Unfortunately, the Apostle Paul and his “disciples” corrupted that theology.  In First Peter 2:11 – 3:7, Christians are exhorted to be submissive.  “Wives be submissive to your husbands.  Slaves be submissive to your Masters.”  And it was all downhill from there.  The “submissive” graphic in this email that quotes Pat Robertson is the perfect illustration of what I call Christian S&M:  patriarchy, dominance, restraint and bondage.  It doesn’t take much to connect the dots.  Pat Robertson is racist, sexist and abusive to gay and lesbian people.

But three things happened in the 1960’s to change these attitudes:  the women’s (feminist) movement, the racial justice movement and the gay and lesbian liberation movement.  The culture, our culture, has changed, but sadly, most of the Christian Church has not.  The United Church of Christ is the only Christian Church that I know of that has come out theologically and in practice against patriarchy, dominance, restraint and bondage.   The Unitarians have also, but they do not necessarily define themselves as “Christian.”

This Sunday we’ll talk about what it’s like to be free from patriarchy, dominance, restraint and bondage.   What might a sexual ethic look like that is based on Jesus’ teachings about equality and “oneness?”  What if we followed Jesus’ ethic instead of Paul’s?  Things might be different!



~ This Sunday’s Scriptures ~

1st Peter 2:11 – 3:7

“Wives be submissive to your husbands;

Slaves be submissive to your masters.”

Beloved, I urge you as aliens and exiles to abstain from the desires of the flesh that wage war against the soul. Conduct yourselves honorably among the Gentiles, so that, though they malign you as evildoers, they may see your honorable deeds and glorify God when he comes to judge.

For the sake of Christ, accept the authority of every human institution, whether of the emperor as supreme, or of governors, as sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to praise those who do right. For it is God’s will that by doing right you should silence the ignorance of the foolish. As servants of God, live as free people, yet do not use your freedom as a pretext for evil. Honor everyone. Love the family of believers. Fear God. Honor the emperor.

Slaves, accept the authority of your masters with all deference, not only those who are kind and gentle but also those who are harsh. For it is to your credit if, being aware of God, you endure pain while suffering unjustly. If you endure when you are beaten for doing wrong, where is the credit in that? But if you endure when you do right and suffer for it, you have God’s approval. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you should follow in his steps.

When Christ was abused, he did not return abuse; when he suffered, he did not threaten; but he entrusted himself to the one who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that, free from sins, we might live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. For you were going astray like sheep, but now you have returned to the shepherd and guardian of your souls.

Wives, in the same way, accept the authority of your husbands, so that, even if some of them do not obey the word, they may be won over without a word by their wives’ conduct, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. Do not adorn yourselves outwardly by braiding your hair, and by wearing gold ornaments or fine clothing; rather, let your adornment be the inner self with the lasting beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in God’s sight. It was in this way long ago that the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves by accepting the authority of their husbands. Thus Sarah obeyed Abraham and called him lord. You have become her daughters as long as you do what is good and never let fears alarm you.

Husbands, in the same way, show consideration for your wives in your life together, paying honor to the woman as the weaker sex, since they too are also heirs of the gracious gift of life—so that nothing may hinder your prayers.

Galatians 3: 23-28

There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female;

for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Now before faith came, we were confined under the law, kept under restraint until faith should be revealed.  Therefore the law was our disciplinarian until Christ came, so that we might be justified by faith.  But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a custodian; for in Christ Jesus you are all sons and daughters of God, through faith.  For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.  There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.


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