Sadly, another NFL player is in the headlines, facing charges of rape. The NFL, after a series of inappropriate and criminal behaviors on the part of some of its star athletes, has taken a bold and decisive stand toward ending domestic violence and sexual assault. This is a courageous move and the NFL needs to be applauded for bringing to the light those shadows of our culture that have been largely ignored and cast aside.
PSAs and promotions such as the “Speechless” campaign are powerful in their ability to bring attention to this national epidemic, and they need to be supplemented with realistic training for men who so often find themselves in the midst of conflicting cultural messages. Sexuality itself is a difficult conversation for us to have in our culture.
The No More Campaign is groundbreaking in its insistence that domestic violence and sexual assault are inexcusable, and that to stay silent about such actions is to contribute to the problem. But it is not enough.
While the NFL is sending a clear message about what not to do, there needs to be follow up conversation that recognizes what men and women should do when it comes to healthy decisions about relationships and sexual activity. We need to provide the information and tools for people to make wise decisions about being sexual in the today’s culture.
Conversation is the beginning, but without providing clear direction, actions are unlikely to significantly change. Men and women must be empowered to make wise decisions regarding their own sexual choices. Empowerment begins by having the right information and the right skill set to use that information. It means celebrating sex while treating it with moral integrity: Sextegrity.
It is a confusing terrain to maneuver in. One minute our culture is seeking to exploit sex, demean it and turn it into a sport. The next minute our society is trying to repress it, even vilify it. How do we find our own way through the confusing and contradictory messages of our time? Negotiating our sex lives can be incredibly difficult. In our encounters with desire, we might entrust ourselves to someone who is not careful with our bodies or our spirits. Bad sexual experience is so wounding, so difficult to recover from.
Hence, it is long overdue that we develop and live by a sexual ethic. Crafting a sexual ethic requires us to bring intentionality and discernment to our sexual decisions. We cannot create a sexual ethic in the heat of the moment. We need to take time to reflect on how we will be sexual beings in this world. We need to create a sexual ethic that takes seriously the desires, needs and pains of our bodies.
Defining a sexual ethic is the purpose of Sacred Sex: Replacing the Marriage Ethic with a Sexual Ethic. This creates a platform for starting the conversation and then moving from conversation to making healthy sexual decisions. The book and information on workshops is available at http://www.thesexminister.com