Skip to comments.Minister works at combining sex and religion
Posted on 03/12/2009 3:51:36 PM PDT by SJackson
Debra Haffner delights in the reactions she gets when strangers ask her what she does for a living.
"I'm a minister and a sexologist," she says.
They blink their eyes and try to reconcile what seems to them to be two opposing forces. Religion in the U.S., after all, seems to have quite a reputation for trying to stifle the joy of sex. So how could she joyfully live in these two worlds of church and sexuality?
"Our sexuality and our spirituality are intimately connected," Haffner told a crowd at the First Unitarian Society in Madison earlier this month. At their best, after all, they share what Haffner called "a common moral vision" -- how to love each other and how to treat each other with respect.
Haffner is a Unitarian Universalist minister who in her previous career was head of SIECUS -- the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the U.S. Now she is the director of the Religious Institute on Sexual Morality, Justice and Healing.
As she reminded people at the annual Wartmann Lecture on sexuality, many people in American society carry with them a lot of negative messages from the religions of their childhood -- messages about gender roles, their bodies and the role of sexual pleasure in life. These messages have been amplified by the prominent place of the religious right in the political realm.
Her message is a very different one: "Sexuality is a blessing from God to be celebrated with joy." She strives to encourage religious congregations to help their members celebrate their sexuality while including all: male and female, gay, straight, bisexual, transgendered.
Haffner's personal story helps illuminate her approach to these issues. She grew up in a secular Jewish family with little exposure to the Bible. When she decided to pursue ministry as a career in the mid 1990s and took Scripture classes, she really was reading the Bible for the first time and she was reading it with the eyes of someone whose professional work was all about sex education.
What she found, she said, was a wealth of stories about man and woman being created at the same time and told to go have sex -- "be fruitful and multiply," was the phrase in Genesis. Even in the second creation story in Genesis, where man and woman are created separately, there is a sense that they were there for companionship to one another, for pleasure.
She talked about the erotic poetry in the biblical book of the Song of Songs, the wide variety of loving relationships in the Bible, and her realization that in the New Testament, Jesus was all about welcoming the people who had been marginalized for their sexual activity -- a woman at a dinner who washed his feet with her hair, a woman at a well who had had many lovers, a woman caught in the act of adultery.
"Both the Hebrew and the Christian Bibles have great messages," Haffner noted. "Sexuality is creative, good, our bodies are wonderful things, there are many forms of blessed relationships."
Which is not to say everything goes.
"Our sexuality must be exercised wisely so it is not in service of pain and exploitation," she cautioned. But that has to do with the nature of relationships, not with particular sexual acts. "The sin is never sex," she said, "but sexual exploitation."
So even as Haffner celebrates the joy of sexuality that she believes is a core message of the Bible, she also works against those who would use sex as a weapon. The Religious Institute has a new program called the Congo Sabbath Initiative aimed at the use of rape as a weapon in the wars that are occurring in Congo.
She wants religious settings to do a better job teaching about sexuality and to make sure that they are places where children are safe from sexual exploitation. She wants congregations that have prided themselves on their openness to all people, whatever their sexual orientation, to renew their efforts to make all feel welcome. And she continues to advocate for marriage rights for gay and lesbian couples.
After all, as Haffner put it, "our sexuality in all its stunning diversity is part of God's creation."
But I have an idea, it likely revolves around the unmentioned concept of husband and wife, yes once upon a time wives, and her inclusion of gay, straight, bisexual, transgendered in her revisionist Biblical version of joyous sex. She clearly doesn't recognize, not should she, she's not Jewish though she arrogates herself to speak specifically from the Hebrew Bible, that the sexual impulse, like many things from hunger to jealousy to greed, stem from our weaker (actual evil) impulses as well as the good, and must be controlled. It's not only about what brings short term joy. Ask any gerbil.
My dogs thank her for not including them in her list of "biblically approved" partners, and warn anyone thinking otherwise to stay away, else they'll be missing parts.
Should have added, as far as I’m concerned, she can have joyous sex with anyone or ones she likes, as long as they’re of age, pontificating that that’s mainstream Jewish or Christian (I’ll speak for Christians here, I know what they think of Unitarians) thought is dishonest.
Universalist Unitarian is not Christian IMO
Christians love the joy of sex... within the bounds of marriage
How can she be a minister. Unitarians are not Christians therefore she cannot be a minister.
See post 2, beat you to it!
When will the Catholic & LDS bashing STOP???
Photographic evidence is certainly needed to determine Haffner’s expertise.
at the link, though irrelevant.
Like E.G. Marshall in a wig.
Irrelevant? I don’t think so. Maybe a little rhino.
If she was ravishing, she'd still be wrong.
The church for people who don't believe in God.
Be careful! You piss off the Unitarian Universalists and they’ll come over and burn a question mark on your front lawn!
That's exactly what we as Catholics believe as well.
I think I know where she’s coming from. It’s certainly not biblical, but after becoming a Christian myself, I met more than just a few professing Christians who act as though they’re terrified that someone, somewhere is going to have an orgasm. They aren’t the majority, but they’re loud enough to appear larger than their real numbers.
But, you could get a second opinion from Bill Clinton . . . .
>> Haffner is a Unitarian Universalist minister
I see. Unitarian.
Then it’s SEX (almost rhymes with “secular”) with a capital S-E-X.
and religion with a little r. the smaller, the better (shhhh...)
2 Timothy 4:3
“3For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.”
Yep, that’s the Unitarians in a nutshell.
Q: What do you get when you cross a Jehova's Witness with a Unitarian?
A: Someone who knocks on your door for no apparent reason.
Hmmm. Doubtful about that.
Speaking as a "born again" Christian, I will tell you the number one red flag that went up is that women are NOT to assume the positon as a "preacher," "minister" or whatever they want to call themselves.
The next red flag is that she belongs to the Unitarian church. They are NOT a Christian church, no matter what they call themselves. She also said that she is a "Universalist Minister." That means she buys into the NWO/global church.
Last, but certainly not least, is that she accepts homosexuals, bisexuals, transgeners and their perverted sexual acts, which is TOTALLY against what the Bible teaches.
Obviously, this woman has not read the Bible with any kind of understanding because the Bible could not be more clear about sexual relations being ONLY for married couples. Adultery is also forbidden.
If you'd like to be on or off, please FR mail me.
A little off topic, but probably of interest.
buccaneer81:That's exactly what we as Catholics believe as well.
OneVike: From looking at the hundreds of children at my church, the Christians I know have no problem with sex. Now I will not speak of what sounds might be coming from their procreating.
I was concerned I was the only religious person who enjoys sex.
With my wife.
Who is female.
And a human.
Have to add all the disclaimers for this thread.
I bet THEIR potlucks are a lot of fun! I imagine that all the food smells like patchouli oil.
She can hardly be called a “minister” and be a member of the Unitarian church. Tough enough to call that a Church.
And moreso these are the people most closely aligned with advancing the sex positive agenda (end ALL moral judgements against ALL sexual pairings. ALL pairings).
She must've not read as far as the 10 Commandments and the prohibition on committing adultery or coveting your neighbor's wife.
I wonder which sex positive organization it was that came up with the term "Sex Negativity" to describe Christianity.
Go forth and SIN NO MORE!
This woman who is "preaching" is deceiving the flock and she knows it.
PS the sex positive agenda groups are against abstinence not because it doesn't work but because they find it to be unhealthy, a denial of sexual desires, and they seek to see everyone sexual active at every age.
Don't know why we need the institution of marriage when we are talking about free love and open marriages.
She may not mention your dogs but the question should be put to her all the same.
Reminds me of this thread from yesterday:
Comics guy sets his sights on scholarly translation of the Bible (Freeware Bible Blog February 2, 2009 Jeff Diamant)
Hey, Debbie, let me ask you about a couple of those women.
Why did the woman wash his feet with her hair? Because she was overjoyed that he had forgiven her sin. In other words, if the sin was sexual (the text doesn't say, does it Deb?) it needed to be forgiven and was a very drastic thing. That wouldn't fit very well with your theory about all sex being good with God, would it?
And what did he say to the woman caught in adultery? He said, "Go and sin no more." BTW, if you're counting Jesus' reaction to this woman as some sort of "sex positive" exercise, wouldn't that be implying that Jesus doesn't mind adultery all that much? And do you really think that the message the church was getting out of this passage for the last 2,000 years (before you came along to enlighten us) was "sex is bad?"
Debbie, did you know that almost every time you see the phrase "sexual immorality" in the New Testament the word in the original Greek text is "porneia?" Porneia is a Greek word meaning "sex outside of marriage." That would be heterosexual marriage, BTW. It doesn't mean "sex that involves pain and exploitation." So, if you are promoting sex outside of marriage as something God approves of heartily, are you on Jesus' side of this issue? Should you tell people that you are teaching what He taught?
I’ll say guilty...but definitely better looking than most UU ministers, who generally look like Janeane Garofalo trying to go to a Halloween party as Ben Stein in drag.
Did you hear about the Unitarian who married the Jehovah’s Witness?
Their kids spent all their time knocking on doors all over town, but they had no idea why...
Dang, you beat me to it.
Another one over here. In fact, it keeps getting better...practice makes perfect, after all. ;-)
I had an art teacher who lived on her own street she named Sappho Drive in Jacksonville FL who was also aUnitarian Universalist. She was a little wacky.
Obviously they don't understand that the only real sex negativity in Christianity is when your wife has a headache.
Good thing she didn't bring up the Israelite Zimri and the Moabite Cozbi. He got speared for his dalliance with an idolator.