Quakers and Sex: A Call to Embrace Sexual Diversity

Su Penn on Quakers and sex: “Quakers are uniquely qualified to transform how we deal with sex and sexuality in our culture .”

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Comment by Flo Fflach on 1st mo. 15, 2015 at 4:36am

Like Jim's comment: "A commitment to a celibate life has many virtues and I think these need to be included in any discussion on sexuality." Because it isn't included.
There can be celibate close relationships - also siblings living together could be seen as a dyadic relationship.

Comment by Laura Scattergood on 1st mo. 14, 2015 at 10:42pm

So, apparently I had it in my head that Woolman never married, but alas, wrong again.  Quakers are so good about letting people figure out their own mistakes!

Comment by Laura Scattergood on 1st mo. 14, 2015 at 3:05pm

Hi Jim, thanks for commenting.  I was thinking that perhaps my comments were too strong and was going to take them down.   Then I realized that perhaps the point needed to be somewhat exaggerated against the backdrop to be heard at all.   I have nothing against sex, as G-d apparently invented it, and I have heard that in some cultures marriage isn't as bad as an experience as it most certainly is in our times.   I appreciate your pointing out the reasons that monasticism was not a formal option among early Friends and other new groups that emerged at the time.  Although there have always been monastic sorts among the family-centered groups.  Did John Woolman ever marry?  Maybe he did, don't know.  The Quaker Monastery in the U.S. calls itself a monastery but is ran by a married couple.  The problem with dyads among monastics is that there we have a subgroup with their own agenda, their marriage to each other.  A group of people who have given up particular attachments to others in willingness to put God first in unity with others of the same mind is an entirely different dynamic.  So, the two Quaker influenced groups I know of who use the monastic language are "The Quaker Monastery" and "Amigas del Senor".   Jim, you certainly have had a range of experiences.    Obviously I have been involved in something recognized by the State as marriage, as I have a tribe of descendants, these descendants I am thankful for.  Lately my mind has much been on Martha and the Women's Commonwealth of the 19th century.  Martha, a devout Methodist,  experienced an "Inward Baptism"  and then created a monastic group of women who had escaped brutal men.  Go  Martha!  And no, I don't want to disrupt the sexuality discussion, but I think it does seem appropriate to bring up the option of the single, celibate and NOT LOOKING for a partner journey as part of the discussion.  You are the first person EVER to acknowledge me.  My little joke on Facebook was, "I just can't understand it.  No matter how many  helpful links on celibacy I post, no one ever seems to "Like" them."  The option is scripturally valid, although we can only turn to a few vague references from Christ and some of Paul's commentary.   Thanks Jim, I guess I won't take this post down, since you have seemed to understand and expand on my concern.

Comment by Jim Wilson on 1st mo. 14, 2015 at 11:30am

Laura:

These are very interesting comments thee has made.  It strikes me that the truly radical approach is to argue for the validity of restraint; whether that take the form of limitations on erotic relationships or celibacy and monasticism.  Traditional Quaker Faith and Practice was family centered.  I do not know of any Quaker monasteries until very recently (the last ten years), or even attempts to form a monastic type of Quaker practice.  My feeling about this is that the Quaker tradition emerged in a cultural context that was profoundly hostile to monasticism, the English Reformation, and completely adopted the prevailing anti-monastic views of that time.

I was a Buddist monastic for six years.  Later I was in a committed relationship for over a decade (she passed away).  I have also had extended periods of celibacy in my life that happened naturally outside of my monastic experience.  My experience, therefore, is fairly wide ranging.  A commitment to a celibate life has many virtues and I think these need to be included in any discussion on sexuality.

I would like to see a discussion on the possibility of Quaker monasticism; but I don't really know where to make that happen.  Monasticism is such a fringe idea in our culture that it is difficult to find an opening where one can present it.  Our culture tends to view sexual intimacy, of all kinds, as the ultimate good to which one can aspire and because of this a life that deliberately and consciously puts that aside is looked at as odd in the extreme.  Nevertheless, I think it is a useful discussion to have.

 

Comment by Laura Scattergood on 1st mo. 14, 2015 at 1:38am

G-d joining people, that's nonsense to me.  Superstition.  Concerning marriage I always say, what do I care if two imaginary entities, recognize each other or not,  that is the state and marriage, two delusional illusional imaginary entities, I don't care whether either of them thinks one another is real. 

If it makes you feel better to think that you were given by God something you need, that's fine. 

Very few are called to let go of this stuff, this being joined to another person stuff.  But yeah I hear you.  When people ask me how I feel about gay marriage,  it doesn't concern me, because, I don't particularly "believe" in marriage at all.  I don't really disbelieve in it,  those who are involved in it, are usually quite colorful in describing their endurance of its various tortures, that's all I really know about it it is apparently usually quite torturous, but for some reason, single people of every orientation are quite keen to enter into it. 

The only Quaker group I know of, last I heard, consisted of two women, who had a vision of monasticism. They were Friends, but found a Methodist path the best way to form a Monastery, that is Amigas del Senor.  So, apparently there are two Quakerly nuns on the earth at last count.

Comment by Forrest Curo on 1st mo. 14, 2015 at 1:12am

If God really joins you to someone, that's a blessing -- and some of us -- I -- really need that!

This is an extremely harsh and loveless culture that leaves many many people very needy, taking a very long time before we're actually able to do anything more than need love. So that's not a matter to dismiss out of hand, especially for somebody else's life.

But why has it suddenly become so urgent that we bless the efforts to love-and-be-loved of people belonging to a rather small minority with odd sexual preferences. That we ought to do so -- That's a no-brainer --

But why has it become urgent in a world of war, of wealth gathered at other people's expense from their poorly-rewarded hard physical labor,  of the imminent, already begun destruction of our planet as a place suitable for human life? -- that we jump on this one, 'All over but the shoutin' bandwagon?

Do we have other matters to think about?

Comment by Laura Scattergood on 1st mo. 13, 2015 at 11:39pm

Something strikes me as odd.  "Quakers are uniquely qualified to transform how we deal with sex and sexuality in our culture." Which culture? Whose culture?    The first thing that might need to happen is to disown this thing, this "our culture" thing.  Most often it seems to me that some thing, perhaps even a benign and noble" something' from mainstream culture  informs what is left of Quaker Culture.   Everywhere I turn I am soaked, assailed, overwhelmed by mainstream culture, and certainly by the messages about the centrality of sex, the importance of marriage and dyadic relationship, even if marriage to the culture  means obtaining  a new license from a state every couple of years reifying a new  dyadic fantasy.  How qualified can Quakers be to transform sex and sexuality in whatever "our culture" means if we are informed by that very  culture and not Christ in our midst.  Perhaps following Christ means turning away from a culture fanatically and rabidly seeking fulfillment in "marrying and giving in marriage."   

Comment by Laura Scattergood on 1st mo. 13, 2015 at 9:05pm

That is a "companion of virtue" better to continue alone, and better of you will be too!

Comment by Laura Scattergood on 1st mo. 13, 2015 at 9:03pm

This I have spoken of before.  I have yet to meet someone who wants to hear it.  Anytime we seek a dyadic relationship we are at risk.   .   . We are at risk of losing many things on a human level, of losing much of ourselves, but even more we are at risk of losing the way of living entirely for G-d.  Marriage of any sort, gender unimportant,  is a permitted thing, not the ideal way.  The monastic, celibate tradition is not often found outside of Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox and teachings found in various Eastern religions. Most of the support I get for solitude; physical and emotional solitude comes from writings I find in Eastern teachings.   I have found one strident blogger, of a mainstream Christian sort, who was brave enough to speak that the rabid seeking of the dyad is simply: idolatry.   

Most of you are in dyadic arrangements or are seeking them.  I don't, I won't persuade you otherwise, as it can't be done.  One who has ears to hear will hear.  And once you have made the commitment, it is too late.

But consider if you are one of those whose eyes are open to the dangers of the dyad.

And so, if you cannot find of virtue, best to continue the journey alone, so I paraphrase.

And better of you are likely to be tool

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