I discuss extra-marital sex with my other self
An imaginary conversation between two sides of my self. The voices can be distinguished by the differing indentation.
The Bible seems to have a clear ideal of sex and marriage being the same thing; to have sex with someone is to be joined to someone.
Women are property; sex is an act of possession, according to the culture which gave us those laws.
Well, maybe later on, but early Genesis doesn't seem to have that assumption, and it still indicates that this joining happens, and is for life.
Okay. But is this a spiritual thing, or is it still about the survival of a tribe? Is it because some “magical joining” happens, or is it because it worked best in the setting of this particular group of humans?
I've always thought of it as spiritual. Why shouldn't it be?
Observation of the world around me would suggest that it is, yes, an important thing, but I'm not convinced that the evidence points to it being a magical, spiritual thing.
In the Bible, adultery is punishable by death. Surely sex has to be something pretty significant for that to be necessary?
In the Bible, adultery is an act of dishonouring someone else's possession. Note the difference between adultery and unmarried sex. In addition, the Mosaic laws were established over a nomadic tribe, living and travelling in the desert for an extended period of time. Such severe penalties for adultery were probably important to the survival of the tribe. This does not necessarily hold today, especially in urban settings.
So, you think these laws are pretty utilitarian, then?
Sure; why wouldn't they be? We're happy to say that about the laws around seafood, for instance, or mixing (or not) different fabrics. Should we treat sex any differently?
Adultery is in the commandments, though, not just the general law.
So is honouring the sabbath, and we're happy to take that as a general principle rather than an incontrovertible law, right? Anyway, I'd hold that the commandments aren't different, just emphasised more. Like “guys, these are the really serious ones.” Hence the death penalty.
Maybe. Still, sex seems a big deal, and I'd like to only ever have sex with one person. It just seems, you know, right.
Okay, that's a fair call; a little fairy-tale idealistic, all Prince Charming and Snow White, but appealing even so. But then, what about people who re-marry after being widowed? Are they then wrong? Because that sort of love seems equally right to me.
Okay, let's move on. Have you thought about how your tribe, your family, your friends will respond?
Yes. This gives me pause, but I can't pause forever. And I must act according to my conscience. Like any such decision, of course, all the potential consequences will need to be weighed, measured, and judged.
Still, it seems to me sexuality is a pretty large part of being human, and expressing our humanness seems like a moral imperative to me. Saint Irenaeus said “the glory of God is a person fully alive.”
Well, I'd say sex is more a part of being animal than human. The human in us can regulate it, control it. It's the animal that just wants to act on it.
Okay, let me reword that. It seems to be part of being a complete person.
So are many things. We're never going to be fully complete, though, that's just not what being human is about.
Okay, but this is a pretty big gap to leave, isn't it? Especially if it's unnecessary to leave it. Surely we should still be trying for completion, for ‘full life?’
Yeah, but you're not planning to leave the gap forever. Surely you can wait until you're married. Best of both worlds, right?
Well, maybe, but I'm feeling like the gap needs to be closed now, like I'm not yet adult, like there's some rite of passage I haven't gone through, and as a result I'm still just a big child. I feel like it's an unnatural gap.
And banking on some unknown future that may or may not come to pass seems pretty thin. It's a pretty big thing to play the ‘what if’ game with.
In both directions, I'd say. You only get to say ‘yes’ once, but ‘no’ can happen as many times as you like. Anyway, your desire for sex is just your hormones.
And? Are we not biological creatures, made of flesh and blood? You're not a gnostic, are you, or a spirit/matter dualist? Because I'm not; I think the physical, the body, the flesh is important.
I do get what you're saying; our flesh shouldn't entirely drive us, or dictate our actions. But it should still be listened to. To ignore our flesh completely is an act of abuse every bit as bad as giving into it completely. How can you judge between a mindless body and a bodiless mind? Neither is human.
And isn't having sex outside the laws of your tribe just giving in to your body?
It could be, sure. But it could also be that my mind and my body need to find some compromise, and that external factors need to be considered with this in mind. What's more important? The laws of my tribe, or the drives and messages and impulses left to me by thousands of generations of my predecessors?