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Spiritual Perspective on Promiscuity
Sep 16, 1996

Can you provide a spiritual perspective on gay men's penchant for promiscuity, anonymous sex, experimentation with fetishes, etc.?

Response from Rev. Pieters

This is a question about sexual ethics, an extremely complex issue to tackle. I believe that our sexuality, no matter our sexual orientation, is a gift from God. How we use our sexuality can be creative, consensual, safe, and loving, or it can be destructive, coercive, unsafe, and unloving. If it is creative, consensual, safe, and loving, then it is of God. If it is destructive, coercive, unsafe, or unloving, then it is not of God. I base this ethic on I John 4:16, which states, "God is love. All who live in love live in God, and God in them." There are many gay men (and lesbians and heterosexuals and bisexuals) who have multiple sex partners, who practice anonymous sex, and experiment with fetishes. Is it possible for these expressions of sexuality to be loving and creative? Some people believe that it is, within the context of consensual safe sex between (or among) adults. In the era of HIV, sexual ethics have an added dimension. Having unprotected sex means putting both partners at risk for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. That is a destructive use of sexuality. Therefore in my opinion, a person who has unprotected sex with one person is unethical, while a person who has loving, consensual, and safe sex with multiple partners is acting ethically. This is not the "traditional," old-fashioned Christian view of sexuality. But when we who are gay/lesbian/bisexual come out and affirm our sexual identities, we have questioned one of the historic taboos of the Judeo-Christian tradition, and arrived at a different conclusion. It is not surprising that we then question other taboos, such as multiple sex partners, anonymous sex, or fetishes. Some people arrive at different conclusions about these issues as well. Sexual ethics are deeply complex, and the discussion will go on for many years after we are all gone. Meanwhile, an ethic that works for one person will not work for every other person in the world. Therefore, I am unwilling to make judgments about another person's sexual ethic, unless it directly affects me. Jesus' words to the crowd who are ready to stone the woman caught in adultery echo in my mind: "Let the one who is without sin cast the first stone." (John 8:7)

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