Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Unitarian Universalism and sex.

Lucy, your question about sex and Unitarian Universalism is appreciated. As you mentioned, other religions and Christians denominations have many teachings and rules about sexual behavior that sometimes seems way out of proportion to other moral issues.

Unitarian Universalism is neutral about sexual behavior being neither for it or against it. UU respects the person's right to conscience and the free and responsible search for truth and meaning. UU also insists on the inherent worth and dignity of every person. Having said that, UU leaves the topic of sex alone.

The main purpose of sex, of course, is procreative to assure the continuation of our species, homo sapiens. Mother Nature has also made sex enjoyable for the most part so that humans will engage in it. On the ego plane, humans have wrapped sexual behavior into a belief about special relationships which becomes called romantic love. This emphasis on special relationships when it comes to sex contributes to huge amounts of drama as evidenced in our songs, our movies, our TV shows, and literature.

When it comes to sexual attraction and behavior, the emphasis is on the body with less attention to the soul. Pornography carries this dynamic to the extreme wherein lust is stimulated by images and interactions which have nothing to do with the spirits of the people engaged in the activity. This emphasis is in violation of UUs first principle and the fourth and so may diminish the deeper awareness of the possible meaning and purpose of sexual behavior which may be to transcend the physical and enhance deeper spiritual communication. Psychologists have found that sexual satisfaction is not enhanced by mechanical actions but by the quality of friendship of the people involved. 

And so we come back again to the question behind your question which is "What is the purpose of sexual behavior?" The answer is procreative and recreative and it is in the procreative aspect that unconsciously we experience the most guilt because we believe that we have usurped the creative power of God. God is the creative energy of the universe who uses us to extend God's creation and we should realize that this creative power is not ours, but comes from the Godhead working through us. Do we understand ourselves to be the extension of God's creative energy in the world when we engage in sex or do we think we have stolen this power to ourselves alone? It is this unconscious guilt that we have stolen the fire of creation from God that leads to the myriad rules that religions make about sex without being fully aware of what they are doing.

Unitarian Universalism is not a guilt inducing religion. It does not teach the belief about Original sin but of Original blessing. UU does not believe in sin, guilt, and fear as other religions do and so it is neutral when it comes to sexual behavior. Unitarian Universalism is one religion which is not into the guilting business. If UUs teach anything about sexual behavior, it is that  sex should always be loving, and respectfully engaged in with an awareness of our contributing with the Godhead to the interdependent web of all existence.


Uncle David


  1. It is amazing the complexity of the ideas you are dealing with in the Uncle David letters. Thank you for your efforts.

  2. Jesus says very little or nothing about sex and a great deal about how to treat the poor. Christians don't seem to understand the teachings of Jesus very well. He tells the adulterous woman to go on her way and straighten up when the people who wanted to stone her walked away.

    Sex is great but I think, upon reflection, most people would agree, highly over rated when it comes to life's biggest joys and satisfactions.

  3. What about sexual behavior between same sex couples? There is no procreative element in this behavior and so perhaps there is not any unconscious guilt as you put it for stealing the creative power from the Universe to create new life. Perhaps UU being a guilt free religion led to it being one of the first to welcome same sex couples because the procreative element of their sexual orientation has been removed.

  4. The other guiltless religion is Buddhism. Buddhism teaches that we create our own hell by our attachments that create suffering. Becoming attached can lead to possessiveness, controlling behavior, manipulation, jealousy. Engaging in a sexual relationship often makes this attachment, especially for women, even more intense and increases suffering for both partners.

  5. I was taught growing up that pre-marital sex, extra-marital sex, masturbation, birth control, abortion, homosexual sex, were mortal sins and are punishable in hell for all eternity. As I got older, I wondered what kind of god is this that would eternal damn people to hell for such behavior. It made no sense. The UU "neutral" position on these behaviors and God's universal unconditional love has been such a miracle in my life that I am extremely grateful. This is a good article.

  6. For the most part I have enjoyed my sex life more with some people than with others. I have enjoyed it most with the father of my three children and the man I married. As I have gotten older, our sex life has slowed down but we enjoy our time together in so many other ways that it makes less difference to me than it does to him. I have been to UU churches and I like the more open minded less judgmental attitudes towards people with multiple life styles. Different strokes for different folks as they say along with live and let live.

  7. Sex for some people is a compulsion. Hormones aside, the person thinks they can't live without it, and if there is no partner, self gratification becomes the strategy. Sex can be, no doubt, mood altering and it can become addicting. This of course can become a problem and sublimation is to be encouraged. I am not sure what UU has to teach us to help us with these situations other than the encouragement to spiritual growth involves the management of these compulsions. Sin, guilt, and fear should have nothing to do with it. Learning how to control and manage one's emotions to develop more fulfilling activities is probably the path to a higher quality life.

  8. As an Irish Catholic I was made to feel guilty about sex and then when my 15 year old sister got pregnant out of wedlock in high school she was disowned by my father although my father continued to see her without my father's knowledge. The irony is that I knew about my father's affairs and my mother did too although she would never acknowledge them to anyone because I think she felt so ashamed. After 40 years my sister and I are good friends and I love my nephew who is only 5 years younger than me and we have become good buddies. Now we can laugh at the judgment, shame, and suffering brought on our family by the Catholic Church's teachings about sex. My conversion to Unitarian Universalism has been one of the best things I have ever done in my life. My friends and I refer to ourselves as "recovering Catholics."

  9. One of the things that gets overlooked in the religious discussion of sex is that it is often for sale as in prostitution and other forms of seduction and manipulation. Priests and clergy have sold the promise of divine blessings and heavenly benefits for enraging in sexual behavior with them the representatives her on earth of God. The priest abuse scandal and sexual misconduct of Protestant pastors is often hushed up by leaders of religious institutions less they give scandal to laity. This disingenuous maneuvering by perpetrators and their managers alike has been blamed for the declining enrollments in churches in the 21st century. Sex has been used by churches to manipulate people even as the representatives of these institutions condemn this behavior. The UU denomination has been no exception to these scandals and cover-ups according to some critics. The problem, of course, with sex in the church, is not the sex itself, but the abuse of power and this abuse of power violates UU principles and values. The denominational problem is the lack of centralized oversight and recourse since every congregation has a right to its own governance.

  10. Any discussion of Unitarian Universalism and sexuality should also mention their lifespan sexuality education program "Our Whole Lives" or "OWL."

    OWL is a series of age-appropriate comprehensive curricula for the following age/grade levels:

    ** Grades K-1
    ** Grades 4-6
    ** Grades 7-9
    ** Grades 10-12
    ** Young Adult (ages 18-35)
    ** Adult
    ** Older Adult (age 50 and older)

    More information can be found here:

    1. Thank you Steve for this information. What is the overall purpose of the program and what is its overall philosophy?

    2. Robert -- the overall purpose of the OWL program is to provide a ministry for parents, children, youth, and adults in our congregations and beyond.

      I have said in OWL training workshops that OWL provides an example of what UU salvation looks like -- OWL offers salvation from those things that deny life or make life less whole.

      OWL is designed to be a comprehensive, age-appropriate, and medically accurate program. OWL is based on 4 values:

      ** Self Worth
      ** Sexual Health
      ** Responsibility
      ** Justice and Inclusivity

      I can't find the OWL 7-9 2nd edition revision of these values online but the OWL 7-9 1st edition version is available online here:

      The values in OWL fit very well with our UU Principles. For the United Church of Christ, they fit with the UCC understanding of the Bible.


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