Mennonite rules on dating

After more than two decades of being married, birthing and adopting children, and annually teaching two college sexuality courses, I have come to the not-terribly-startling conclusion that I’m rather fond of sex.

I delight in talking about sexuality, engaging sexually with my spouse, reading about sexuality, and walking alongside students as they come to grips with their own sexual identities, passions and convictions.

Masturbation is one of the most common sexual experiences across the spectrums of age, culture, partnered and single life situations, and genders.

For many of the young people I come across in various religious settings, the church’s attitude of strict condemnation does more to alienate them from the church’s teaching than it does to deter them from self-gratification.

In more than just biblical ways, our spirituality and sexuality are deeply intertwined. That yearning for connection is expressed not just genitally, but with our whole selves, with intellectual and emotional passion.

Theologically speaking, human sexuality is “most fundamentally the divine invitation to find our destinies not in loneliness but in deep connection,” write James B. We need other people, and are drawn to them, just as we are drawn to God.

When I speak with teenagers and young adults, I often ask where they learned the most about sexuality.

Not surprisingly, churches consistently come in dead last from among various possible sources.

But we ought to release the stranglehold of guilt formerly associated with the practice of self-pleasuring. To love sexuality and live faithfully, we need to keep in mind the “sexuality big picture.” Sexuality is, of course, far more than what we do with our genitalia.

It’s about our full body-selves, about love and connection, attachment and friendship, and relating in its many forms.

My fear is that over the last 30 years most of us in the church have focused too much on homosexuality, distracting ourselves from other pressing sexual realities.

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