Sex is a religious issue because it is deeply human
From the outset of Planned Parenthood of Hawaii, the First Unitarian Church has been an enthusiastic supporter.
One of our basic principles has been the free and responsible search for truth and meaning. From the earliest days of the Protestant Reformation, those who came to be called Unitarians and Universalists have resisted every form of coercion. People have a right to the best possible information about their lives and the choices that they must make.
From the early days of the past century when effective contraception began to become available, Unitarians and Universalists have supported the full availability of reproductive information and the techniques to make it effective.
In the 1960s the Unitarian Universalist Association and the United Church of Christ jointly developed a full information sex education curriculum. The box that contained the books, tapes and visuals could not be mailed because it was held to be pornographic material. That is how controversial the issue of sex education was in the mid-1960s.
I would love to be able to say that this is long past, that we have now as a nation decided that this is the kind of information that our young people ought to have to make intelligent, good, moral, healthy, constructive decisions about their own sexuality. Unfortunately, the truth is we are still scared to death over the issue.
There are those who insist that the only kind of sexuality education that kids need is to have somebody stand before them and yell, "No!" There are those who insist that this is something that must happen only at the hands of one's parents.
Others say this is not a religious issue. Churches should not touch it.
Sexuality is a religious issue. It is the most powerful human motivator after air and water for the human species. The dynamics of sexuality touch every aspect of the life we share together. For that reason, priests have been trying to forbid it, control it or co-opt it from as early as there were priests.
Our culture has inherited the full ambiguity of that history. One reason to attempt to separate sexuality from religion is that religion has so muddied it up. The attitudes historically too often taught by religion have yielded both bad sex and bad religion. It is time, many have argued, to kick the priests out of our bedrooms in the name of both sexuality and religion.
To insist that sex is religious is to insist that it is at the core of who we are as embodied consciousness. The fact that we are sexual is a part of the major shaping of our relationships, of our civilization, of what we see as beautiful, what we appreciate as of value, and the judgments that we make about the breaching of human relationships.
If sex is not religious, then nothing else is. Nothing reaches so deeply into every corner of what it feels like to be a human being.
So it is appropriate that Planned Parenthood of Hawaii should honor a church for working to make reproductive freedom effectively available in our community, as we have honored and supported Planned Parenthood in what we consider to be a joint endeavor.
May we delight in our differences and use them in ways that build and enhance joyous persons and joyous relationships. And may we continue to try to find the ways to share that knowledge, that wisdom, that joyousness as widely as possible in our society.
The Rev. Mike Young is minister of the First Unitarian Church of Honolulu, which was presented the Bette Takahashi Service Award on Jan. 25 by Planned Parenthood of Hawaii.