Sexual Ethics

I had put off my garment; how could I put it on again? I had bathed my feet; how could I soil them? My beloved thrust his hand into the opening, and my inmost being yearned for him. I arose to open to my beloved, and my hands dripped with myrrh, my fingers with liquid myrrh, upon the handles of the bolt.

My beloved is all radiant and ruddy, distinguished among ten thousand. His head is the finest gold; his locks are wavy, black as a raven. His eyes are like doves beside springs of water, bathed in milk, fitly set. His cheeks are like beds of spices, yielding fragrance. His lips are lilies, distilling liquid myrrh. His arms are rounded gold, set with jewels. His body is ivory work, encrusted with sapphires. His legs are alabaster columns, set upon bases of gold. His appearance is like Lebanon, choice as the cedars. His speech is most sweet, and he is altogether desirable. This is my beloved and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem.

Scripture Reading 1
Song of Solomon 5:3-5; 10-16 (NRSV)

How graceful are your feet in sandals, O queenly maiden! Your rounded thighs are like jewels, the work of a master hand. Your navel is a rounded bowl that never lacks mixed wine. Your belly is a heap of wheat, encircled with lilies. Your two breasts are like two fawns, twins of a gazelle. Your neck is like an ivory tower. Your eyes are pools in Heshbon, by the gate of Bath-rabbim. Your nose is like a tower of Lebanon, overlooking Damascus. Your head crowns you like Carmel, and your flowing locks are like purple; a king is held captive in the tresses.

How fair and pleasant you are, O loved one, delectable maiden! You are stately as a palm tree, and your breasts are like its clusters. I say I will climb the palm tree and lay hold of its branches. O may your breasts be like clusters of the vine, and the scent of your breath like apples, and your kisses like the best wine that goes down smoothly, gliding over lips and teeth.

I am my beloved’s, and his desire is for me. Come, my beloved, let us go forth into the fields, and lodge in the villages; let us go out early to the vineyards, and see whether the vines have budded, whether the grape blossoms have opened and the pomegranates are in bloom. There I will give you my love. The mandrakes give forth fragrance, and over our doors are all choice fruits, new as well as old, which I have laid up for you, O my beloved.

Scripture Reading 2
Song of Solomon 7:1-13 (NRSV)

An ethic centered in the value of erotic power and relational fidelity embraces sexual pleasure as intrinsically good. The value of sexual pleasure testifies to the more encompassing value of erotic power as sacred. Because this is so, the fact that sex is pleasurable can never be the basis for judging it wrong.

In the context of mutuality and our fidelity to our commitments, it is wonderful to make love, good to touch and rub and lick and sick each other silly; but we are learning we have to be careful. We are learning to protect ourselves and one another.

Two values seem to me very basic to an ethic of erotic friendship. The first is the sacred value of our sensuality, our erotic power, and our unalienated sexuality. We are embodied bearers of the erotic or God with one another, as she crosses over among us.

Thus we are obligated to respect our own and other’s bodily integrity, especially, the bodily integrity of children, women and sexually vulnerable men.

Contemporary Reading
Touching Our Strength: The Erotic Power and the Love of God
by Carter Heyward

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