Thursday Reflection: That Delicate Subject

I was at a meeting this morning with several other religious folk, and we talked about sex. Given recent happenings in churches with clergy who sexually abuse children, one might say we were on thin ice. “People who live in glass houses …” True enough.

Ours is a sex-crazed world. Decades ago I was an undergraduate student at a good music school. I was practicing the piano six to ten hours every day. One evening a friend of mine burst into my presence with news for me. Someone had said that my piano playing would vastly improve if I had sex. That’s not quite how they put it; but you get the point.

I was going to take that up with Ms. K., my piano teacher, but then thought better of it. I thought about discussing it with my girl friend; but we were sufficiently far enough away from each other that she couldn’t have done much about it anyway. I remember thinking: Sex! Really? Can I quit this six hours of practice every day and just have sex and poof … I’m another Rubenstein?

Some clarification: our conversation earlier this morning had to do with concerns over sex-trafficking. People selling other people – powerful people selling vulnerable people to have sex with people willing to pay. Is it happening in our community?

I don’t know what is more worrying and wearying to me – our obsession regarding people who love each other, want to commit to each other and share all of their life together, or our ignorance and indifference with regard to systems that abuse people and the presence of situations in which innocence is sold for profit.

Last Sunday we had a conversation in our church regarding how we might live in community together amidst a variety of deeply held convictions about homosexuality. After reading Nicholas Kristoff’s piece in yesterday’s NY Times (When Emily Was Sold for Sex) … as I follow #EverydaySexism on Twitter … and given our meeting earlier today … perhaps the conversation we needed to have was how sex is constantly used to exploit people – especially but not exclusively women – and what are we going to do about it?

I remember a Men’s Breakfast in a church I served. We had been talking about violence against women. The pancakes were good; the maple syrup was real; the bacon was crispy. Out of the blue one of the men said: If we are honest about it, probably everyone of us has sexually abused our wife at one time or another. First, absolute silence. And stillness. Inside each man one could almost hear the “Yes.” I’ve never forgotten that moment. It was a moment of profound truth, laced with sadness, but also seasoned with the hope that we would be better.

Anyway … I was at a meeting this morning, and we talked about sex.

Mark Demers

Want to talk about sex, politics, spirituality? So do I. I grew up in a religious home in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Our country was reeling from assassinations and the devastation of the Viet Nam War. Looking for something beautiful, I got a degree in music, married the love of my life and had children. Looking for God, I then went to seminary. Looking for something that might transform the world, I became a local church pastor. Now, I’m always looking for people who want to talk about important things. I cherish conversations with emerging leaders, people who are antsy to try an idea they believe would change the world for the better. I’d would love to hear from you.