As Long as It's 'Mutually Pleasurable and Affirming'
Bucking against conservative Christian tradition advising against extra-marital sex, the Rev. Bromleigh McCleneghan, a married mother of three and associate pastor for ministry with families at Union Church of Hinsdale in Illinois, says single Christians can have sex as long as it's "mutually pleasurable and affirming."
Citing 1 Corinthians 6:18-20, many Mainline Protestant and evangelical churches like the Assemblies of God Church, advise against sexual relations among single Christians.
"American Christians sometimes conflate celibacy and chastity, too, which is a problem. Chastity is a virtue, related to temperance — it's about moderating our indulgences and exercising restraint. We're all called to exercise chastity in a variety of ways, though the details will vary given our individual situations," McCleneghan said in an op-ed for The Washington Post.
"In the official teaching of the Catholic Church and some other churches, however, chastity requires restraining oneself from indulging in sexual relationships outside of the bounds (and bonds) of marriage. That is, chastity for singles means celibacy — no sex. … I'd argue that we can be chaste — faithful — in unmarried sexual relationships if we exercise restraint: if we refrain from having sex that isn't mutually pleasurable and affirming, that doesn't respect the autonomy and sacred worth of ourselves and our partners," she explained.
McCleneghan believes it's unfair to ask single Christians who haven't been called to a life of celibacy to refrain from sexual intimacy when both men and women need sex.
"There are those who feel that they are called to seasons of celibacy, or even years of celibacy, and if answering that call is life-giving and purposeful, then they should take it up as a spiritual discipline. But no call can be forced on an unwilling person, especially not if they find themselves single only by virtue of circumstance," she wrote.
"Plenty of women and men love sex, and need it — we need bodily pleasure, remember — and the abundant life for them will involve seeking out relationships of mutual pleasure. Chastity, or just sex, requires that whether we are married or unmarried, our sex lives restrain our egos, restrain our desire for physical pleasure when pursuing it would bring harm to self or other," she added.
What is your thoughts on this development in the church?
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