Come as you are, as you were, as you wanted to be

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On nice weekends my husband and I take the kids and walk around downtown visiting local shops, getting ice-cream, and generally enjoying getting out of the house. The children love to visit bookstores (they’re more likely to get a new book than a new toy), and we’re quite fortunate, our town has two.

The other weekend while perusing the bookstores my husband slipped Come as You Are: The Surprising New Science that Will Transform Your Sex Life into the pile with the explanation of “It looks like something you might find interesting.” I rolled my eyes a bit, the bright pink cover was slightly off-putting, but he generally has good taste in books so it came home with us and was added to the pile of books on my nightstand, next to my partially ready Steiner and Dennett.

A few days went by, and curiosity got the better of me (and Steiner got a bit esoteric and Dennett got dense), so I climbed over my mental barrier (it has sex in the title!) and decided to give it a try. Three, maybe four, days later, I was done and I felt like a huge weight had been lifted.

This is probably one of the best books I’ve read all year, and if you’ve been following along on the blog, I’ve been doing a fair bit of reading. Using the example of a garden and a sleep hedgehog (as well as some other fabulous anlogies), Emily Nagoski guides the reader through anatomy, biology, physiology, chemistry, etc. in a way that is accessible to the average person.

I think it helped that I didn’t take it too seriously, it is about sex after all, and I happen to feel sex should be fun (and consensual and enjoyable), and reading about it should be fun too. I found it to be unintentionally hilarious, overly-obvious at times, and all-around enjoyable, your results may vary.

After I finished it, I handed it to my husband to read, he asked what I’d learned from it:

me: I learned we all have different gardens, some are arid and grow aloe vera, others need more water and grow tomatoes! Different gardens need different care, and I get to decide what I want to plant. Also, don’t upset sleepy hedgehogs.

him: But you don’t water your garden, that’s why I spent a lot of money to put it on a drip system, so you don’t kill all the plants.

me: Exactly.

I really like the garden analogy, quite a few years ago, my garden was choked with weeds: weeds from the media, weeds from “morality” (thanks Christian Science and deep south “morals”), weeds from awkward/traumatizing medical moments (thanks again CS!) I’m still in the process of uprooting weeds, and I’m sure some will attempt to grow back, but I’m going to be mindful and patient with myself, and remember that garden’s just don’t grow overnight, and sometimes gophers come eat them, or there’s a nasty frost.

I wish this book had been available sooner, like 10+ years ago, before I got engaged (or even earlier), but I don’t think I would’ve been as open to reading it during my Principia years (sex is distracting and unnecessary!), and giving it to my high-school aged self would not have ended well either (southern morality, sex is icky!).

My perspective has changed (sex -in the proper context- is fun!), and in the years since leaving Prin (and Christian Science) I started pulling these figurative weeds a few years back (I’ll spare you the details), but it would’ve been helpful to have this books a reference point for the process. Yes, I am being vague, this blog is not about sex, it’s about other things! So yes, if you want to read a fun, nonjudgmental book about sex, based on science and biology (yay science!) I highly recommend  Come as You Are

Weeds in the Garden (thanks Christian Science!)


Equality at Prin, Vague Repression for All!

This is a follow up on  If anyone would like to share an extended piece about their thoughts about, or experiences with Principia’s policies (beyond a brief comment), please be in touch! I welcome guest posts!

The TL;DR version Gays can now openly attend Principia, and the Administration has shifted their focus to combat the very vague threat of sensuality. What does that mean? Equal opportunity oppression for all!

Screen Shot 2014-11-18 at 6.07.52 PMGood news for the dozens (maybe hundreds) of Christian Scientists and Principia alumni, the Principia Board of Trustees has FINALLY decided that

All students, faculty, and staff shall be perceived, welcomed, loved, and supported as spiritual ideas. They are expected to honor the community standards of moral and spiritual purity in relationships.

In terms of practices at Principia regarding admissions, community standards for living in the Principia community, and employment at Principia, we are directing the administration to establish consistent rules and regulations for students, faculty, and staff, regardless of sexual orientation. (emphasis mine)

So people who are gay can attend Principia. Alumni donors who were holding out because of draconian, repressive policies about homosexuality can now freely give with a somewhat clear conscious (the policies are still repressive and draconian, but now they theoretically apply to everyone more equally). Some people feel this is too little, too late, and that the Trustees should apologize for their past discriminatory actions, but as that seems unlikely to happen.

It seems unlikely Principia cares what I think — I’m no longer a Christian Scientist and I was never a major financial donor (I paid off my loans and was done contributing), but here are my thoughts on this mess.

Principia, you’re not serving the cause of anything but yourself. You are using Christian Science to oppress, repress, manipulate and thoroughly wreck hundreds of students lives. Christian Science does not need your help with this, it does a perfectly good job of that on it’s own, if anything you take the warped aspects of the religion to new and terrifying levels. I provide now a few excerpts from the Trustee-provided Question and Answer page:

  • Principia continually encourages the members of the community to turn to our Pastor, the Bible and Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, for a deeper and more spiritual understanding of all aspects of life, including love, identity, and relationships.

Those are the last books you should be turning to for relationship advice. The teachings of Science and Health are detrimental to healthy relationships, both with one’s self, and others. The idea that that turning to the material body for pleasure only results in pain, and that sex should be reserved for procreation only (and only when you’re married, if you really must), really fucks up people’s ideas about what should and shouldn’t be happening in a relationship. Instead of offering positive messages about sex and teaching about consent, anything remotely sexual (or “sensual” as Principia prefers to call it) is shamed, shunned, vilified, and Must Be Avoided.

  • What is Principia doing to address sensuality?
    Principia remains dedicated to removing the intrusion and distraction of sensuality within our community.

So we’ve moved from discriminating against homosexuality to “addressing” sensuality. Apparently it is a distracting intrusion. Just so we’re all clear on what the problem is, I’ve included a screen shot of what Google has defined sensuality as, it is worth noting sensuality was most popularly used in the early 1800s, my how far Prin has come.

Webster’s lists Sensuality’s antonyms as “abstinence, asceticism, sobriety, temperance.” I’d say this is a bit heavy and open vague interpretation by the Thought Police.

What is wrong with sensuality? It distracts from one’s relationship with God, reminding them that they’re mortal, and that opens them to the Christian Science Trinity of Doom: Sin, Disease and Death.

  • We will continue to focus on spirituality and true self-worth while maintaining our commitment to engage the community on issues such as pornography and sexual relations outside of marriage. We invite your support to lift thought to a higher view of God’s man.

True self-worth” oh please. I knew many women (myself included) longing to feel “content” because we were lacking a boyfriend. We would read, and re-read the Chapter on Marriage, which has “wonderful thoughts” on how you must be “whole” before you enter into a relationship. How do you become whole? By aligning your thoughts more closely with God and immersing yourself in the Books. This becomes a self-perpetuating cycle, because you’re clearly never going to be whole enough, and you feel ashamed that you’re failing at it. You’re never going to ascend, you’re never going to align your thought closely enough with God, you will eventually fall prey to malicious animal magnetism, and the unholy trinity of doom. Christian Science is lousy at true self-worth.

If you choose to watch porn, please make sure it is ethically sourced (and if you’re in a relationship, don’t lie to your partner about it. If you don’t like porn, don’t watch it). Sexual relations out side of marriage? What does that matter to Principia? As an adult of legal consenting age, who I choose to have sex with, and when I chose to have sex with them is NONE OF THEIR BUSINESS.

Many of the problems with sex and relationships comes from a lack of open communication between partners, and to some extent, community support. Creating a culture where sex is shamed, feared, to even be discussed is unhealthy and damaging. The Defeating Dragons blog has many, many excellent posts about this, the Prin Trustees could learn a lot from it.

  • How does this directive affect public displays of affection?
    Every Principian is subject to Principia Policy 22’s requirement for good social conduct. Specific standards will be developed by the administration in order to provide consistent rules and regulations.

I looked up Policy 22 on page 236 of Education at Principia, on p. 236 it states

All activities taking place on the campus or within the school or college community, whether they occur as part of the organized work or as extracurricular phases of the school or college life, shall be permitted to exist only to the extent they are consistent with the purpose and policies of The Principia.

Maybe I got the wrong policy, or maybe the Trustees just pulled something out of Ed at Prin. It is worth noting Policy 22 is also cited on an old admissions check-list stating

A student may be considered for suspension for any behavior deemed “loose social conduct”(Policy 22 of Purpose and Policies of The Principia, pp. 227–236, in Education at The Principia). A pattern of disregard for lesser school rules could also result in disciplinary suspension.

Policy 22 is nice and vague. It can be read just about any way the Office of Student Life, or the Board of Trustees wants. It can apply to just about every situation, and I’m fairly sure I wasn’t even aware of what the policy was until I looked it up, which leaves me wondering if the average Principia student has any idea of what they’ve really signed up for — my guess is probably not.

  • We expect all public actions to be considerate of others. The expectation of pure, genuine, and respectful displays of affection will apply equally to all community members. (emphasis mine)

What exactly qualifies as “pure, genuine, and respectful displays of affection”? Who decides? At the college, they are adults of legal consenting age, who cares if they choose to hold hands or kiss in the Concourse? What business is it of anyone’s other than their own? Really, at the end of the day, WHO CARES!?

Clearly someone at Principia cares, someone narrow minded and puritanical, someone who wants to police thoughts to make sure they’re pure and their motives are right. After all, it only takes a little bit of malicious animal magnetism (as unreal as it may be) to ruin everything. All it takes is a single thought out of line with God and everything is ruined. Error will simply overwhelm and they’ll fall victim to the Christian Science Trinity of Doom: Sin, Disease and Death.

And now I have a few questions for the Trustees, and I’m sure I’ll have more when they release more Q&A sheets:

  • Why does Principia feel the need to concern itself with the personal lives of students? — I understand there are legal issues with underage boarders at the Upper School, so some involvement is necessary (I have other problems with this), but at the College?
  • Why does Principia feel the need to know a student’s sexual orientation?
  • How is someone’s sexual orientation determined?
  • Why does any of this matter to the Principia? Why are they so hung up on sex?
  • What is Principia afraid of?

Principia has decided to stop discriminating against homosexuals, and while they should be applauded for that, I strongly suspect they will arbitrarily enforce these policies, causing heartache and misery for dozens of students.

I have heard the argument that people choose to attend Principia. They choose to pay upwards of  $37k a year for their educations. No one has to remain at Principia, there are many, many other colleges out there, most of which have more progressive policies. On one hand, Principia’s policies are draconian and oppressive, on the other, you can choose not to attend.

  • This argument is lovely, but it ignores naive high school students who really do think they can abide by the Principia Code of Conduct (or think it won’t actually be as restrictive as it is). People also attend Principia because their parents/grandparents/relatives went, because it is the only Christian Science college in the world, and to some people (see naive high schooler comment) that makes a difference.
  • No one has to remain at Principia, is a similarly lovely argument, during my time there we were on a quarter system (that was later changed over to semesters after I left), most schools are on the semester system, so transferring credits was a nightmare. I know several people who spent far longer than 4-6 years in college because they needed to make up extra credits that never transferred properly from Prin. I also know people who never got their transcripts properly forwarded to their new colleges/universities which made transferring credits rather difficult. Prin also refused to release the transcripts of at least one person because they were “behind” on their student debt — being enrolled as a student elsewhere would’ve enabled them to put off payment of loans.

It may be too late for those of us who did attend and were hurt by those policies, and I hope that Principia continues to strive to do better, because let’s face it, they have a long way to go.

At the college they may “all be adults” but they’re also “adults” who have chosen to live by a highly regulated set of “moral” guidelines — and they can be “requested” to leave if they fail to abide by them. The vague, open-ended nature of the Questions and Answers leaves me wondering if instead of granting homosexual students rights, instead they are going to simply oppress all students further.

Congratulations Prin, you’ve joined the 21st century and are allowing homosexuals the right to be just as oppressed as everyone else at Prin. Now can you alter your fundamentally flawed stance on medicine? Or would that not serve the Cause?

Some thoughts on “Why I Am Not A Christian Scientist” by Rev. Evans

Some highlights from and thoughts on “Why I Am Not A Christian Scientist” By Rev. William Evans, D. D. Director Bible Course, The Moody Bible Institute of Chicago. Full text available from, full link below.

I appreciate that Rev. Evans opens with the well-acknowledged (at least in former-CS circles) fact that

  • The Christian Scientist is forbidden to read books that speak against that cult; he is told he must not argue with any one, even those who are of the closest kinship, if they manifest opposition to the teachings of Christian Science; the doubts that arise in his mind must not be expressed to any one save his teacher; individual thinking and opinion is discouraged; in point of fact, the only books he is encouraged to read are those which are sent out by the Christian Science publishing house in Boston. (p. 4-5, emphasis mine)

Rev. Evans lists several reasons for why he is not a Christian Scientist, several of these are well-worn arguments:

  2. I AM NOT A CHRISTIAN SCIENTIST BECAUSE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE IS NOT CHRISTIAN. — the arguments he uses are interesting, and if you’re concerned about the Christian (or lack of Christian) points in Christian Science, this section is well worth reading.
  3. I AM NOT A CHRISTIAN SCIENTIST BECAUSE OF ITS WRONG ATTITUDE TOWARDS THE BIBLE. — clearly the Rev. Evan’s audience is God-fearing Protestants, I’m sure he’d find my attitude towards the bible “wrong” as well.
  4. I AM NOT A CHRISTIAN SCIENTIST BECAUSE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE IS A FOE TO THE HOME. — this is an argument I have not heard before, and the one I will focus on.

In this fourth example, “Christian Science is a foe to the home” Rev. Evans cites two examples: the first being a family with an invalid sister — in the Loving Christian Family, the brothers help her, but in a Christian Science setting the poor woman is suffering under a false belief and it is her own doing.

  • Let Christian Science enter that home, and it asserts at once that the sister is not sick — she is suffering from a delusion. She is, therefore, to blame, and all these tender ministries of love are changed into the acidities of criticism and rebuke, silent, if not expressed.

Rev. Evans should probably stop here. The blame-the-sick-person trope is played out time and time again in Christian Science communities: nominal worshipers are not welcome, gas-lighting under the guise of “helping them know the truth” is common. There may be lip-service as to the “right use of temporary means” but Ms. Eddy is also clear that these “temporary means” usually bring about more suffering before the patient comes around to realizing that Christian Science is the One True Solution.

The second part of “foe to the home” argument is Rev. Evan’s decidedly 1900s privileged male views on marriage and motherhood. I have rather mixed feelings about this. I am both married and a mother, and I find myself disagreeing with both Rev. Evans and Ms. Eddy’s perspectives on both (although I agree slightly more with Ms. Eddy). Rev. Evans begins on p. 31, and starts by liberally quoting Science and Health, before moving on to Ms. Eddy’s less often read work, Miscellaneous Writings.

Christian Science Virtually Denies the Need and 
Dignity of Marriage and Motherhood. 

"Did God at first create man unaided — that is, Adam, — 
but afterwards require the union of the two sexes in order 
to create the rest of the human family? No!" (S. & //., 
pp. 531, 532, 1909). "Generation does not rest on sexual 
basis at all" according to Christian Science. 

"To abolish marriage at this period and maintain mor- 
ality and generation would put Ingenuity to ludicrous 
shifts; yet this is possible In Science, (meaning, of course, 
Christian Science), although it is today problematic." 

Being totally wrong about where babies come from aside, I’m going to stop Rev. Evans here, and remind him of what Ms. Eddy says in Science and Health, about the formation of mortals, which, to be fair to the good Rev. gets quite convoluted quite quickly. Ms. Eddy is not trying to abolish marriage — at least not yet.

"In Miscellaneous Writings, p. 288, the question is asked, 
'Is marriage nearer right than celibacy?' The answer is 
given, 'Human knowledge inculcates that it is, but Chris- 
tian Science indicates that it is not.' " 

For the curious, the full passage from p. 288-9:

Is marriage nearer right than celibacy?

Human knowledge inculcates that it is, while Science indicates that it is not. But to force the consciousness of scientific being before it is understood is impossible, and believing otherwise would prevent scientific demonstration. To reckon the universal cost and gain, as well as thine own, is right in every state and stage of being. The selfish rôle of a martyr is the shift of a dishonest mind, nothing short of self-seeking; and real suffering would stop the farce.

All partnerships are formed on agreements to certain compacts: each party voluntarily surrenders independent action to act as a whole and per agreement. This fact should be duly considered when by the marriage contract two are made one, and, according to the divine precept, “they twain shall be one flesh.” Oneness in spirit is Science, compatible with home and heaven. Neither divine justice nor human equity has divorced two minds in one.

I can see where Rev. Evans is drawing his conclusions, but I read this as more of a cautious warning from a thrice-married, twice-widowed woman: be careful what you’re getting yourself into. Evans’ continues:

These statements show where Christian Science stands 
with regard to the question of marriage. It shows that in 
the mind of the Christian Scientist celibacy, or the unmarried 
state, is nearer right than the married state. It is true that 
Christian Science does not openly forbid marriage, but who- 
ever heard of a marriage taking place in a Christian Science 
church, and performed by Christian Science readers or 
ministers? Such facts as these ought to make those of us 
who have the moral welfare of our nation at heart pause 
and think, if not shudder!

I’m sure Rev. Evans has read 1 Corinthians, that’s a requirement to be a Reverend right? Ms. Eddy’s view of marriage and children is not unlike that of Paul, in 1 Corinthians 7: verses 8-9, and again in verses 25-40.

Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do. But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion. (1 Corinthians 7:8-9).

There seems to be a bit of suffer it to be so now in both Ms. Eddy and Paul’s perspective. Both see marriage as distraction from the spiritual path, but if you must be with a woman (or man), and you must have children (although Ms. Eddy seems unclear on where babies come from… Generation does not rest on sexual basis at all), being married is the appropriate way to go about it.

I’m not sure what choosing not to be married has to do with “the moral welfare of our nation” — the unmarried Christian Scientists are choosing a life of celibacy, I see this as no different than monks or nuns opting to devote their lives to God, but instead of being cloistered away in a monastery, these Christian Scientists are going about their day-to-day lives.

The good Rev. Evans then moves on to Ms. Eddy’s perspective on Motherhood. I’m going to start with saying I’m not sure I’d take Ms. Eddy’s advice on marriage (even if she was married three times), where babies come from, or how they come into the world, but I also take issue with the Rev. Evan’s perspective:

Motherhood is not, according to Christian Science, the 
highest badge of womanhood. In Miscellaneous Writings, 
p. 289, we have these words: "Human nature has be- 
stowed on a wife the right to become a mother, but if the 
wife esteems not this a privilege . . . she may win a 
higher." What is that higher? ... to become a wife 
and not a mother? Thus motherhood is to be avoided; it 
is to be put in the category of that which is below a 
woman's highest and noblest function. This is the Chris- 
tian Science idea of the marriage relation. May we be pre- 
served from such a doctrine as this! It reminds us of the 
heresy foretold by the apostle concerning those who are led 
captive by silly women, and who forbid to marry.

-- emphasis mine -

To follow Rev. Evan’s logical interpretation of Ms. Eddy’s work: remaining celibate is the highest honor, but if you must settle, than be married but don’t have children. I think what Rev. Evan’s finds most problematic is Ms. Eddy’s thought that people, including women, have a choice: a woman can choose to become a mother or not.

The larger context of Ms. Eddy’s quote makes this slightly more clear:

Rights that are bargained away must not be retaken by the contractors, except by mutual consent. Human nature has bestowed on a wife the right to become a mother; but if the wife esteems not this privilege, by mutual consent, exalted and increased affections, she may win a higher. Science touches the conjugal question on the basis of a bill of rights. Can the bill of conjugal rights be fairly stated by a magistrate, or by a minister? Mutual interests and affections are the spirit of these rights, and they should be consulted, augmented, and allowed to rise to the spiritual altitude whence they can choose only good.

Mutual consent must be a foreign concept to Rev. Evans. I’m fairly sure Ms. Eddy is not referring to fun-sexy-time when she talks about “exalted and increased affections,” and while “allowed to rise to the spiritual altitude whence they can choose only good” does not mean Neotantra, the emphasis here is mutual, both parties must want it — regardless of what “it” is, and regardless of how much it may differ from what Rev. Evans’ thinks.

Reverend William Evans, your male privilege is showing, and while this may not have been a problem in 191.”?, I take issue with it now. What people mutually consent to do within (or without) the bonds of marriage is really none of your business.

However, as this is 191.”?, the Rev. feels entitled to weigh in on another hot-button topic that continues to have charged internet debates today: is motherhood a woman’s highest calling? (click on that embedded link, I dare you).

Ms. Eddy and the dear Rev. clearly diverge on the question is motherhood a woman’s highest calling? Rev. Evans seems to think that motherhood is a woman’s highest calling, while Ms. Eddy seems to feel woman should at least be able to consider an alternativehigher calling — an uninterrupted Relationship with God. Ms. Eddy already feels that sex, alcohol, matter, etc. all distract from this relationship, so clearly children belong on this list as well. I’m fairly certain the Reverend is Protestant, as the Catholic church has no problem with men (and women) devoting their lives to God.

I disagree with Ms. Eddy about what a woman’s highest calling being to have a Relationship with God, and I disagree with Rev. Evan as well. Both are problematic at best.

Rev. Evans does not seem to know when to quit: his arguments against Christian Science stem from a fundamentally flawed notion that his version of Christianity is correct (it isn’t), and he needs to re-read Paul and re-examine his interpretations of Ms. Eddy’s views on marriage. The most solid argument he makes is that of the siblings, as so many of us have seen the blame-the-sufferer trope is played out again and again.

More by Rev. William Evans, D.D., Director, Bible Course, Moody Bible Institute of Chicago

Links of interest & Further Reading

opting out of sex-ed

An article entitled Should Kids Need Parental Consent to Get Sex Education in School? (1) recently appeared in my facebook feed. Apparently the need for parental consent is “to protect the children”

Republican state Sen. Mary Pilcher-Cook sponsored bills S.B. 376 and H.B. 2620 after a constituent came to her in January appalled at a poster hanging in his daughter’s middle school. Titled “How Do People Express Their Sexual Feelings?,” the poster highlighted sexual activities, such as “grinding,” “oral sex,” “kissing,” and “sexual fantasy,” that could put them at risk for contracting an STD.

“We need to protect children from hurtful material in schools,” Pilcher-Cook said last week. “We need to protect the rights of parents to shield and protect their children from harmful material.”

I have mixed feelings about such posters, would I want one on my wall at home? No. But are they “harmful material” to have in a middle school? No. Keeping middle school students in the dark about about their bodies, emotions, relationships, consent, and how they might catch STDs is far more harmful than some poorly-designed poster.

As a child who was “opted out” of sex ed, in an abstinence-only red-state, for religious reasons (thanks Christian Science) I feel very strongly that children should not need to get parental consent, nor should they be allowed to “opt out” regardless of their religion (or lack there of). I went to public school, but I can relate all-too-well with many of the stories shared on Homeschoolers Anonymous and their Let’s Talk About Sex (Ed) Week (2).

My first experiences with “sex ed” was in the fourth and fifth grade when we were shown the “our changing bodies” video where they talked about menstruation in the dullest possible way, and sent us home with little bags packed to the brim with samples to insure we’d be hooked on their products (pads and deodorant) for years to come. My mother pre-screened the content in the School Nurse’s office to make sure it was “appropriate.”

My parents were unhelpful. I got some pretty terrible advice, including “don’t turn your husband down if he wants sex — if he’s not getting enough he’ll cheat, you want to keep him happy” and “you can douche with coke to kill sperm” (do NOT try that at home).

My understanding of basic human anatomy fared poorly as well. From an early age, everything was labeled as “privates” and aside from rinsing “down there” with water from time to time, little else was said. When I first got my period, my mother handed me a package of maxi pads and told me to be sure and “rinse the blood stains with cold water so they won’t set.” Tampons were never really talked about, my mother referred to them as “plugs” and mentioned they were “useful for swimming.” I didn’t try them until I was in college and my period coincided with my PE swim class. It was not a pleasant experience.

The over all experience was not empowering, it was embarrassing. My body was transforming into an icky, sweaty, bloody mess, complete with breasts, hormonal swings, and bras which never seemed to fit right.

My sex “education” came from older friends (who were often nearly as sheltered as I was), and the internet. As a bonus, we had the conservative Christian, misogynistic, red-state mindset that reinforced the virgin/whore dichotomy, when you add Christian Science and all the unreality to the mix, it makes for some pretty warped perspectives. It can also lead to some awful relationship decisions. Hindsight, is 20/20, in the moment, it seems perfectly reasonable to victim-blame, slut-shame, and “avoid the appearance of evil” even if it isn’t really evil. The notion that women had sexual desires was laughable. Masturbation was not discussed. People who used sex toys were to be pitied. Sex before marriage? Never. Rape and sexual assault didn’t happen to “good girls.” It was a slut-shaming paradise. (3)

We talked about sex in my Christian Science Sunday School class, where a few of us were brave enough to broach the otherwise taboo topic. The general consensus was as follows:

  • No sex before marriage, sex primarily for procreation (although recreational sex is okay, as long as it is for the “right” reasons – aka keeping the husband happy so he won’t cheat/leave)
  • No using hormonal birth control, but condoms are probably OK
  • Abortion is probably a bad idea, you should pray about it — this was the most grey zone, apparently prayer can end a pregnancy, but it is really up to God. One of the young men at the table asked innocently “why would anyone need one?”

I feel strongly that everyone needs a solid sex-education and they need to get it in a safe, non-judgmental environment. They also need facts, not urban-legends, and scare-tactics. They need to learn it is okay to turn someone down, and that “not saying no” is not the same as an enthusiastic yes! I’m not sure how that is supposed to happen, but I know the few days of co-ed “sex-ed” didn’t work so well when we covered the mandatory STDs in my high school health class.

I agree, we need to protect our children, but I disagree with Republican state Sen. Mary Pilcher-Cook about what that protection entails. Protecting children includes teaching them basic facts about their bodies, demonstrating and modeling healthy relationships, educating them about proper methods of birth control and STI prevention.

The children in question are middle schoolers, ages 11-14, they are old enough to father children or get pregnant and some of them engage in such activities. Protect them by giving them the information they need to prevent abusive and emotionally manipulative relationships, unplanned/unwanted pregnancies, and STDs.

Parents should not be able to opt their children out of sex-ed any more than they should be allowed to opt their children out of learning mathematics. Abstaining from teaching children about the human body and sex does not work. It is a VERY, VERY BAD IDEA (4)

Thankfully, in-spite of parental and governmental bungling, we seem to be living in the golden age of teen sexual responsibility: teen pregnancy is down, and teens are more likely to use condoms than their elders (5).

Further reading & Helpful Sex Ed Resources

End Notes

  3. For some context most of us listened to Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity – I will not be linking to them
  4. Along that same line of reasoning, abstinence-only sex-ed does not work either –

What is The Mother Church’s policy on sexuality and membership?

A regular reader shared the following piece from the February 2014 issue of The Christian Science Journal, the piece is part of The Christian Science Journal’s columns “Your Questions & Answers” (1).

The following is a screen shot from facebook group where the article was copied and pasted in full (2).

TMC policy

I have also uploaded it here as a PDF from the actual site: What is The Mother Church’s policy on sexuality and membership? : The Christian Science Journal

Further reading of interest:

  2. links to the actual article:,

Virgin, Whore, Christian Scientist


Many mainstream Christian religions teach the idea that you should be pure (a virgin) until you are married and then you should be able to preform in the bedroom – after all, if the man cheats it is your fault for not keeping him satisfied. The virgin/whore dichotomy, the Madonna/whore complex, the dutiful housewife raising children by day the sex goddess by night.

Christian Science is big on purity as well: purity of thought, purity of motive, purity of action. Avoid the appearance of evil. Don’t commit adultery – no one wants a muddy glass of water, a chewed piece of gum or a licked cupcake! Abstain from alcohol and drugs, they alter one’s perception and interfere with knowing one’s True Spiritual Identity.

In Christian Science, sensuality is something to be counteracted as well. Sensuality draws your focus on “the unreal and material,” it interferes with your relationship with God, and that in turn leaves you open to more false ideas from mortal mind, error, sickness, sin, disease and death. From a very early age little Christian Scientists are introduced to the idea that there is “no sensation in matter” and every Sunday School closes with the Scientific Statement of Being as found on p. 486 of Science and Health:

  • There is no life, truth, intelligence, nor substance in matter. All is infinite Mind and its infinite manifestation, for God is All-in-all. Spirit is immortal Truth; matter is mortal error. Spirit is the real and eternal; matter is the unreal and temporal. Spirit is God, and man is His image and likeness. Therefore man is not material; he is spiritual.

This material body? It isn’t real. It is part of the Adam dream, and one day we will awake and know God and our true selves. Sensuality must be counteracted by God’s Angel messages passing to man (along with evil), because it distracts from man aspiring to his higher nature.

In Mary Baker Eddy’s view, marriage is something that that must be tolerated until the Apocalypse and hopefully that happens soon because I’m not sure how much more Ms. Eddy could take of things like propagating mortals and the “problem” of husbands. I get the impression MBE feels we would all be better off unmarried, except that it seems like she feels we are not complete on our own:

  • Union of the masculine and feminine qualities constitutes completeness. The masculine mind reaches a higher tone through certain elements of the feminine, while the feminine mind gains courage and strength through masculine qualities. (S&H p. 57)

On p. 60 she continues:

  • Marriage should improve the human species, becoming a barrier against vice, a protection to woman, strength to man, and a centre for the affections.

If you’re going to have “affections” and raise children, then yes, you should be married. “Chastity is the cement of civilization and progress” and all that good stuff.

Ms. Eddy reticently accepts the notion of hetero-normative intercourse within the confines of marriage as a necessary to continue to the human race, however, she would most likely prefer if people held off on anything sexy all together. In MBE-Land, “affections” are one thing, and intercourse is quite another. On pages 19-20 of Notes on Metaphysical Obstetrics used to teach Class of 1900 (1), Ms. Eddy has a few choice things to say about the act of procreation, attempting to bring a unique “spiritual” perspective to what sounds like an unhappy bedroom situation (2).

  • We have belief of connection with nerves instead of with God. Belief of material bodies attracting material bodies untrue. Only one attraction – God.
  • No sexual desire or genital sense. It is founded on matter; no age, no climactic period and supposed change of function, no beginning or ending, no tomb, no gloom, no doom.
  • Sensuality and intercourse in belief, wiped out by reflection, as explained in Science & Health, 301 (3). The capacity to reflect the eternal intercourse. That is Love. Knowledge of this will leaven the whole lump. God’s thoughts passing to man, man’s to God, is intercourse.

In Christian Science there is no room for the unreality of sensuality (it is mortal mind/error trying to “distract” us), much less “Victoria Secret dancing” in the bedroom (or on your own), we need to be constantly listening for God’s Angel Messages, not what our unreal material bodies are saying. Sometimes our material bodies say sensuality is fun, so how do we reconcile that with what Christian Science says about them not being real and sensuality getting in the way of our relationship with God?

I’ve sat through talks where Good Christian Scientists have attempted to justify physical intimacy within a marriage, they talk about “doing it” for “the right reasons” the “natural expression of love” and “not with lustful thoughts.” As long as everyone is having fun and it is mutually consented to, does it really matter why you’re having sex within the confines of marriage? Marriage aside, if you mention the idea of physical intimacy (or recreational sex) outside a marriage, you get slammed with sensuality is evil, and adultery is wrong (4).

Ms. Eddy is quite clear on the issue of sex and dating: there is no chapter on “Dating and Relationships” either you are married or you are not. In conversations with my Christian Science friends over the years most dating debacles come down to two points:

  1. the “it feels good, but it feels wrong” / “it feels really good, but it feels like too much” / “I love you but I don’t want to do more” discussion, which is often countered the “if you love me than you’ll do such-and-such”
  2. “I love them and I want to do more but we’re not married”

No one should do more than they feel comfortable with, and no one should feel pressured or coerced into doing more than they feel comfortable with. Only you can make the decisions about whether or not you want to have sex. What you choose to do is up to you, how you feel about it is also your decision. Intimacy should be based on mutual consent, and an enthusiastic “yes” as opposed to “not saying no.” It is okay to say no, stop or I’ve had enough (even within the confines of marriage), it is also okay to say YES!! These feelings are valid on their own, and do not need to be dictated by Ms. Eddy’s über-Puritan standards.

It can be very hard to reconcile the “feels good” with the underlying misogynistic, slut-shaming conservative Christian analogies of the licked cupcake, chewed gum, and “why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?” Combine this with Ms. Eddy’s clear views on sensuality being evil, and that giving power to the material undermines our spiritual nature opening us up to aggressive mental suggestions – for example, a young woman’s sensuality is undoubtedly the cause of her debilitating menstrual cramps, once she re-aligns her thoughts with God things will flow smoothly.

My overly cynical take on the second problem is then get married, or visit Planned Parenthood and get some condoms, although that does not help the devout Christian Scientist in their struggle with the mind over matter. There is more to marriage than physical intimacy, and being married will NOT automatically make the sex amazing — and if you’ve got all of the CS-induced right reason, sensuality is evil, and no pleasure in matter baggage, I’ll point you in the direction of Our Bodies Ourselves.

In Christian Science there is no need for a Madonna/whore complex, the only choice is to be Madonna and if you can manage an immaculate conception (within the confines of marriage) that’s even better. To give in to anything other than Ms. Eddy’s God-ideals of purity, chastity and virginity, triumphing over evil and sensuality, until the apocalypse (at which point it all becomes moot anyway), is to set yourself up for a lifetime of self-induced misery.

  1. This link seems to be broken, I need to go back and fix it
  2. p. 17 of Notes on Metaphysical Obstetrics used to teach Class of 1900 – Ms. Eddy views husbands as “Husband, obstructing thought. Jesus healed the Samaritan woman of five husbands (five personal senses). Afterward she gave birth to a spiritual child – that is she saw herself as Jesus did, as a child of God (Luke 26:28-31, Galatians 4:27, Matthew 22:30, 24:19-38).
  3. S&H p. 301  Spirit is God, Soul; therefore Soul is not in matter. If Spirit were in matter, God would have no representative, and matter would be identical with God. The theory that soul, spirit, intelligence, inhabits matter is taught by the schools. This theory is unscientific. The universe reflects and expresses the divine substance or Mind; therefore God is seen only in the spiritual universe and spiritual man, as the sun is seen in the ray of light which goes out from it. God is revealed only in that which reflects Life, Truth, Love, — yea, which manifests God’s attributes and power, even as the human likeness thrown upon the mirror, repeats the color, form, and action of the person in front of the mirror.    Few persons comprehend what Christian Science means by the word reflection. To himself, mortal and material man seems to be substance, but his sense of substance involves error and therefore is material, temporal.    On the other hand, the immortal, spiritual man is really substantial, and reflects the eternal substance, or Spirit, which mortals hope for. He reflects the divine, which constitutes the only real and eternal entity. This reflection seems to mortal sense transcendental, because the spiritual man’s substantiality transcends mortal vision and is revealed only through divine Science.
  4. Adultery in this case seems to refer to any sort of premarital or extra-marital relationships

Further reading – links in full:

Further reading 2 – interesting commentary

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Mary Baker Eddy and Christian Science Perspectives on Sex, Homosexuality & Marriage

The following is a list of resources for those who wish to further explore the topics of Sex, Homosexuality, and Marriage within the context of Christian Science and Ms. Eddy’s views. It is by no means an extensive list of resources, merely a starting point for further reading.

All links shared below worked at the time of posting. More information can also be found on the “Resources” page as listed in the header, and in the category “resources” in the right hand column.

Open Letters to the Board of Directors of the Mother Church regarding their stance on homosexuality

LGBTQ-Friendly CS movements

Emergence International Articles of Interest

Articles, Blog Posts, Pamphlets & Books

Rolf Wizsche

MKHuggins’ Understanding Mortal Mind An unauthorized examination of Mary Baker Eddy, Christian Science, and the “New Thought” movement

Discussion boards & Forums

Christian Way Forum discussions

TMC-Sanctioned Forums & Statements

Principia College’s perspectives & Policy on Homosexuality