Lifestyle

Let's celebrate sexuality in 2009 | Sex in the Suburbs

As we begin a new year, I wanted to write about celebrating sexuality.

Sexual activity can be among the most pleasurable of human behaviors. In my view, it is a sacred gift from God, entrusted to us to take care of and celebrate and enjoy.

Unfortunately, a number of people misuse it, and it becomes a source of great pain and shame for some. If this applies to you, please get help. There are therapists who can help you heal and reclaim your healthy sexuality. To find a certified sexuality therapist in the area, go to www.aasect.org, Web site of the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists.

In order to develop and celebrate sexuality in a healthy way, I believe strongly in the four core values that are the focus of the Our Whole Lives curriculum: Self-worth, responsibility, sexual health, and justice and inclusivity. When making decisions about sexual activity, consider if the potential action meets the test of these four values. Doing so yourself and teaching young people to do the same creates a healthy framework through which to view sexuality.

Is the activity you are considering one that will keep your self-worth and that of your partner intact? Giving this some thought can help discern whether a sexual decision is right for you — whether you are in a relatively new relationship, or have been married or with the same partner for years.

Is the activity responsible, and are you and your partner acting responsibly? Sexuality can be an avenue for expressing feelings of love and passion and pleasure and loyalty — and acting in responsible ways helps ensure that. There is more to responsibility than condoms and birth control. Think about emotional responsibility and social responsibility, to name a few. Are both people emotionally ready for this step in the relationship? What are the social and emotional consequences if the activity is intercourse and a pregnancy or disease results? Think of these things ahead of time.

Is the activity sexually healthy? Do you have accurate information, and have all your questions been answered? Healthy relationships are consensual, non-exploitative, mutually pleasurable, safe, developmentally appropriate, based on mutual expectations and caring, and respectful. That’s quite a list. Consider how the world might be different if everyone had a healthy relationship.

Is your relationship free from double standards? Justice and inclusivity not only encompass equal rights for people of all ages, genders, ethnicities and sexual orientations, but also include the right to safe, non-coercive and non-exploitative sexual relationships for everyone.

Remember, sexual intercourse is only one of many activities that can be used to express sexual feelings and pleasure with a partner. Hugging, holding hands and kissing are only a few of the other ways to express caring and sexual feelings for a person. These values apply to any sexual relationship, and adhering to them can help ensure that you and your partner are safe to explore and celebrate your sexuality for a long time to come.

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