This week has been a good one for The Progressive Redneck. The last two posts have generated some interesting conversation and Wednesday’s piece about modesty is my most popular post yet (if you haven’t read it, go here and see what all the shouting’s about). At the risk of beating a dead horse, I’m going to round out the week with another article in the same vein as those earlier posts.
Saying that conservative evangelicals are obsessed with matters concerning sexuality is like saying the Titanic bumped into that iceberg, i.e. a bit of an understatement. While plenty of reasons are bandied about for their fixation (control, dodging responsibility, misunderstanding scripture just to name a few), there is one that never seems to come up: smokescreens.
In Luke 20, there is a story about some Sadducees asking Jesus an utterly ridiculous question about Levirate marriage. He answered their query, but was less than happy with them for posing it. Why might that be? Because these learned “men of God” obsessed over the letter of the law, concerning themselves with minutiae instead of getting on with the hard work of loving their neighbor. They purposely refused to see the forest, concentrating on the trees while the people they were supposed to serve were hurting. In other words, they used the law as a smokescreen to avoid dealing with the hard stuff. Which makes the perfect analogy for the evangelical modesty/purity craze.
By now, you know I have a few “issues” with the way some Christians handle the sex question. For me, when it comes to sex, I use the “love my neighbor” rule. In other words, if I love my neighbor, I won’t take sexual advantage of them. If I love my neighbor, I won’t conceive a child I either can’t, or don’t intend to, care for. If I love my neighbor, I won’t cheat on my spouse or significant other. If I love my neighbor, I won’t have sex with anyone until we’re both emotionally ready. If I love my neighbor…, well, I think you get my point.
Is this “love my neighbor” rule an easy one to live by? No, it is not. But, I do believe it is the right way to go. On its face, an etched-in-stone, one-size-fit-all set of rules might seem easier to live by. Well, unless you don’t fall within its narrow parameters; then, it’s beyond hard. And, that points out the problems with such a list: there’s no such thing as “one size fits all” when it comes to human beings and if you’re working with an etched-in-stone legalism, you can’t make allowances for those who fall outside its boundaries. You can only call them “sinners” and punish them accordingly. That, to me, is the polar opposite of loving my neighbor.
Don’t get me wrong, I have no problems with abstinence or dressing modestly…., if that’s your choice. And, if that’s what you choose to do, I will have your back. But, I think it’s time we stopped concerning ourselves what others wear or what goes on in their bedrooms and started concerning ourselves with making this world a better place for everyone, sinner and saint alike.