Saw this quote on Fet today:
“Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.”
People always say that if you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything. I’ve *always* stood for something. I was a political science major, and I’m studying public policy. I’m not an activist, but I have opinions and views and values, and I stand by them. I constantly make goals and strive towards achieving them. In part, I define myself by how well I know what I want, how I’m going to get there, and how I can be flexible in ways that allow me to remain open-minded.
For me, it is extraordinarily difficult to not know where I stand on something. Lately, I’ve been feeling that type of uncertainty. In particular, I’m not sure of how my faith and my sexual desires/predilections interact. Because I’m uncertain of that, I don’t know what my limits are when it comes to certain types of relationships or sexual interactions. Casual sex and friends with benefits situations versus monogamous, committed relationships. Part of me understands that I’m learning and exploring (my new mantra), and so it’s ok to not know how I feel. On the other hand, I *hate* not knowing how I feel. I feel like I can’t set goals and pursue them, I can’t be “successful” in the way I define it, without knowing, with certainty, where I stand.
The issue is, how the hell do I figure it out? As the quote above says, and I fully agree, I can’t rely on what society or other people say is right, I can’t rely on blind faith or values. I can pray about it, think about it, talk to a trusted friend… but it’s difficult.
I’m at war in my mind about it. I was raised in the Catholic church until I was 14; long enough to have those values ingrained in my head. My best friend in high school was Mormon, and while I didn’t agree with all of it, I had and continue to have a strong faith. I waver in it sometimes, and I don’t actively attend services (since I have no accurate label for my beliefs), but I have faith. God means something to me.
My parents and sister, however, are very open and ok with casual sexual encounters. The kink community, as a whole, is very, very ok with casual sexual encounters. Some of my friends are very fine with it, others are waiting for/have sex only in serious relationships, others are waiting for marriage. But where do I fit in?
If it is safe, consensual, and pleasurable, will God think of it as wrong? Consensual meaning that both people have the same expectations from the encounter, safe meaning all methods of birth control possible were taken and that previous partners were discussed enough to be careful. Is that a moral-less choice? Or, is it enjoying life fully? Is it taking advantage of something rare – respect and attraction between two people, even if the aren’t ready or searching for some type of lengthy commitment? As long as I’m being picky, and not having sex with everyone just for the hell of it, isn’t it ok, even outside of commitment, in God’s eyes?
Right when I think I’m settled on which “side” I’ll stand for, I talk to someone who convinces me differently, or I think of certain religious condemnations, or I see something in the media, etc.
Which brings me back to Buddha’s words, “But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.”
My reason tells me that if I am ok with it, I agree to it knowing all the details, if I consent and am safe about it, then God will respect my choice. Intimacy is not a bad thing. I know lust is seen as a sin, but if it is in moderation (i.e. not with all and sundry, and not indiscriminately done), then I can’t see it as a damning thing. It’s like with alcohol, or dancing, or all things that are pleasure-based. I think prudence and thought need to go into decisions, and they should be made with honest communication and no alcohol, etc. shading the mind, but if done that way, fine.
I just need to get over the fact that people will damn me or judge me for thinking that way. Much as I try not to let that get to me, I dislike confrontation and I want to please people. It’s the submissive inside me. When standing for something gets hard, I like to have solid proof on my side…and for this type of issue, there isn’t any. That’s why it’s just that much more difficult of a thing to process.
Such is life, though! I continue to live with no regrets. I hope my choices don’t belay me with complications later on, but if they do, I will deal with them as I do with everything else in my life, and it will all still be good.