Thursday, December 29, 2005

Some sex talk

You find compadres in the oddest places.

I was innocently reading Relevant Magazine this morning—great mag, ostensibly targeted to 20-something Christians. Found an article about Paul Feig, comedic TV writer/producer of shows such as Arrested Development and Freaks and Geeks. And lo and behold, he grew up a Christian Scientist.

Other than the fact that I was growing up a Christian Scientist at the same time he was (we’re the same age), we probably don’t have that much in common. But that’s enough for me to find some resonance with what he has to say in this interview. Mostly the subject is about his new book, Superstud: Or How I Became a 24-Year-Old Virgin. Which, for those of us familiar with the Christian Science culture of thirty years ago, should make us snort with understanding.

Feig talks wryly about suppression and guilt, and how he hears the voice of God on a regular basis. Superstud apparently is full of God throughout, something that’s made me put it on my reading list pronto.

My memoir on the same subject with the same background would be more like, Supertease: Or How I Used Sex to (Not) Find Love. One thing that I’ve found differentiates me from most Christian Scientists growing up in that era is that I’m remarkably free from guilt. Maybe it’s because I had a mom who thought I could do no wrong—not exactly strengthening from a character point of view, but helpful if you’re busting out at the seams sexually.

So, just for the record here, I’d like to state what I think Science and Health, the definitive statement of Christian Science, has to say about sexuality:

  • Just about nothing.

Aside from this passing reference—“If the propagation of a higher human species is requisite to reach this goal [of advancing mankind or of spiritual unity, depending on how you read it], then its material conditions can only be permitted for the purpose of generating. The foetus must be kept mentally pure and the period of gestation have the sanctity of virginity.”—Science and Health doesn’t cover the subject. And, huh, for the first time, as I read that passage, it’s occurring to me that good solid birth control means you’re not doing the “material conditions” necessary for generating. So in other words, you could read the passage as, only have sex that could result in children for the purpose of having children. Meaning you want the children that result. Which frankly, many of us might agree with.

Anyway, Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer of Christian Science, doesn’t really talk about sex by today’s standards. She doesn’t talk about homosexuality, masturbation, pre-marital exploration, pornography, oral sex, anal sex, kinky sex, or anything else of that nature. I believe that anything the Christian Science church culture overlaid on what’s actually in Science and Health was more a product of the times rather than actual teachings. And we should forgive them, for they didn’t know what they were doing—remember, most of the mores our parents tried to teach us formed before the Kinsey report came out in the late 1940s.

What Mary Baker Eddy does talk about is marriage. Fair enough. She talks about what makes a marriage work, including fidelity, honesty, “mutual approbation” (one of my favorite phrases), shared values and goals, etc. Very practical stuff. And in her other writings she talks about not withholding sex because you feel you’ve advanced beyond it if your partner still needs it. (Not in as frank of terms, of course.)

So for me, since she doesn't cover it explicitly, it comes down to your own spiritual journey and how sex relates to that if at all. It’s not about taking a stand sexually and then forcing our spiritual journey to fit with that. It’s about letting our spiritual journey inform our sexual practices from the basis of understanding and self-awareness.

For example, I am very aware that I myself cannot indulge in rampant sexuality anymore. I tried it, it was physically fun, but it led to a mess. And I still love sex (although am really hoping it’s like riding a bike because it’s been awhile). But I love happiness more. For myself, in my single state, I cannot have both. The one erodes the other until I’m a basket case of insecurities and doubts. So, I’ve sworn off until I’m in a relationship with one guy that is permanent. It’s self-preservation and the love of happiness, not guilt, that have made me come to this conclusion.

And I’m well aware that not everyone would come to the same conclusion about their own sexuality. What I respect is each person’s journey and where it’s leading them. Sometimes our journey takes us through the fire because we have to learn that fire burns. Sometimes the fire, though, is a hearth of warmth and light. Who am I to judge which it is for another?

I’d really like to have a nice long chat with Paul Feig, just to compare notes, but guess I should read his book first. It’s coming from Amazon. More on this when I’ve read it!

And of course… What do you think about all this?

[Read more about Laura's take on Paul Feig's book.]

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6 Comments:

At 2/06/2006 11:51:00 AM, Anonymous Alyssa Bernstein said...

How does this entry not have any comments?? This part is FABULOUS:

"It’s not about taking a stand sexually and then forcing our spiritual journey to fit with that. It’s about letting our spiritual journey inform our sexual practices from the basis of understanding and self-awareness."

Good call. Suddenly, I know what to do to handle my sexuality... I've never heard someone lay it out in a logical way before! As a college student, I'm very grateful. This rings true for other sensual acts as well, I'm thinking - exercizing, eating, working.

Keep up the good work! I just started reading, but I love your blog. V. youthful.

Love,
Alyssa

 
At 2/06/2006 06:57:00 PM, Blogger Laura said...

haha, thanks Alyssa! and welcome to my blog!

some people did write to me directly about this entry, but I also hope people will comment.

:)
Laura

 
At 6/06/2006 06:02:00 PM, Blogger Kate said...

Laura:

I LOVE this blog...can't believe I missed it when it first appeared!!!! It is brilliant and so are you! I love you...

hugs darling!

 
At 7/24/2006 03:32:00 AM, Anonymous Genevieve said...

It's so refreshing to see that another Christian Scientist has the same take on sexuality as I do... especially after a longer-than-necessary period of being frustrated with Mrs. Eddy's lack of mention about it in Science and Health. As a college student I am eternally grateful... keep it up!! <3

 
At 7/03/2017 03:47:00 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

It's not for nothing that Edwin Dakin titled his bio of MB Eddy "Mrs Eddy - The biography of a virginal mind". I'd agree that uptight sexual attitudes among Christian Scientists in the early and mid 20th Century largely reflect uptight attitudes of religious Americans in general. I don't have a clue what official church positions toward sex, gays, porno or whatever, are in the 21st century. However, Christian Science has a neo-platonic view of reality, which regards "the senses" (ie "the physical") as a negation of "reality". The "Scientific Statement of Being" begins "there is no life, truth, intelligence nor substance in Matter". Matter is therefore innately illusory, and the "senses" - which of course are the source of physical pleasure in whatever forms - cannot help us "know the Truth", and indeed keep us from doing so. Now of course, Christian Scientists, despite (like my mother) repeating such biblical adages as "take no thought for what you eat or drink" still enjoy good food, a night out watching a good movie (Doris Day and Rock Hudson - hm) and other earthly delights as long as they don't deviate from the general Christian idea of proper conduct. But mom still said that at some point, we wouldn't need to eat at all, as we continued on our spiritual journey in a "higher plane". I always sensed a real tension in all that. Meanwhile, what's a horny 14 year old boy to do in his spare time?

 
At 7/04/2017 01:32:00 PM, Blogger Laura said...

Love this last comment from "unknown," thanks for posting!

 

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