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Shades of Sexual Ethics and Amnesia

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I converted to Christianity in October 1984 while deliberately leaving a life of psychotic delusions, hallucinations, memory lose, substance abuse, and sexual promiscuity. My sexual ethics quickly changed to a conservative view. Recently, I reconsidered a moderate view of sexuality.

I ended up with a remarkable recovery from psychotic breakdowns and addictions that leaves me grateful to God. Part of my conversion included a strong commitment for no sexual relations apart from a marital covenant. That meant no sex with a partner unless that partner was my wife, regardless if I would ever marry. I also did not limit the definition of sex to coitus while sex includes any eroticism between partners that involves the manipulation of genitals such as lap dances, mutual masturbation, dry humps, digital sex, oral sex, use of sex toys with a partner, and anal coitus. For nearly three decades, I believed and taught that this sexual ethic was a moral imperative. I likewise rejected the validity of technical virginity that specifies one is a chaste virgin if he or she avoids coitus before marriage despite premarital involvement with non-coital sexual relations such as lap dances, mutual masturbation, dry humps, digital sex, and oral sex.

Perhaps the most awkward fact of my teen sexuality in the late 1970s and early 1980s was my partial amnesia. I recall various before and after scenes with memory loss of during scenes. At some level, the partial memory loss sounds ridiculous while I have no clear explanation for it. As a teen I always desired and sometimes sought sexual encounters, so I lacked psychological motive to forget those details. Or did I previously suffer trauma from a scandal when I relished flirtation from hot women who called me jailbait? I cannot remember. In any case, I recall different concepts of sexual ethics.

One repetitive memory involved the question, "Swallow or spit?" In these cases, an attractive female offered me fellatio while deferentially tendering the option of swallowing or spitting the resultant ejaculation. I suspect that most of the females typically advocated equal rights while in the respective incidences they focused on popularity and attention. The deference, however, involved two options that were high risk for STDs and no low-risk options. Nevertheless, one hygienically savvy female shared the news of her engagement while proposing that protected dry humps and protected oral sex with me was okay during her engagement and pending marriage.

I eventually found popularity at various New Jersey strip bars. Some dancers gave me free drinks and some bar owners consulted my opinion during dancer auditions. I recall a thing for a particular married dancer. Her husband was okay with me when I tipped her, but other times he fumed at me. I also recall him at his conversion van in the parking lot collecting money from a line of men and handing out condoms to them when they took turns with his wife. I as well met subcultural Christian strippers / lap dancers who saved coitus only for marriage.

In early August 1983, a couple months before I turned twenty, I ended up in a psychiatric hospital with a diagnosis of substance abuse and psychotic delusions with audio and visual hallucinations. I also fretted to my psychiatrist about my supposed virginity. The hospital released me after a month. But in early September 1984, I again ended up in psychiatric hospitalization with the same symptoms and the same hang-ups about virginity. This second time around the psychiatric block, I eventually turned to Christ and found remarkable healing from addictions and recurring psychotic delusions. Six months after my conversion, my psychiatrist said: "You need no more therapy or medication. Your faith has healed you."

During my first year of Christianity, I diligently considered competing views of Christianity. In regards to sexual ethics, the official view of all the churches and denominations that I investigated taught strictly against sexual relations, coital and non-coital, apart from marriage. Typical support for this conservative sexual ethic focuses on Matthew 5:28 that says lustful looks at a women is adultery in the heart. I also talked to subcultural Christians who approved of and participated in non-coital sexual relations apart from marriage. They said they did not lust for coitus apart from marriage. I recall reflecting on past insane jealousy for various women and the likeliness of feeling insecure while developing a significant other relationship in that Christian subculture. No damned way would I marry a woman who would lap dance on other men, or even merely kiss another man for the entertainment industry. Alternatively, I felt safe and satisfied with conservative sexual ethics while enjoying a close relationship with God.

I recently considered that I unjustly judged Christians who hold onto their technical chastity apart from marriage, which means that they avoid vaginal and anal coitus except for a marital covenant. My Christian relationship with God continues to develop while I believe that Matthew 5:28 warns against lusting for illicit sex. I no longer believe that the Bible categorically forbids non-coital sex apart from marriage. Christian individuals and couples may opt for conservative sexual ethics for themselves, which is my situation, but that is for each single adult and each married couple to decide.

I end this brief opinion piece with an outline of three important qualifications that deserve their own essay: First, age of consent laws contain age-specific prohibitions against coitus and non-coital sex that are enforced by threats of criminal punishment. Second, corporations possess legal rights to restrict amorous encounters among employees that involve a conflict of interest. Third, moral revisions of a marital covenant such as a change from conservative sexual practices are never a unilateral decision but a mutual decision between both spouses.

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James Goetz is a philosopher, theologian, and member of the National Coalition of Independent Scholars. His published conjectures include the universal wormhole, semiclassical theism, semiclassical Christianity, Relative-Social Trinitarianism, (more...)

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