Thursday, October 18, 2012

Dirty Sex (Matthew 15:10-11, 16-20)

                Jesus called the crowd together and said to them, “Hear this and understand: it’s not what enters your mouth that defiles you – it’s what comes out of your mouth that defiles you.”
                Jesus replied, “Do you still not understand? Don’t you realize that everything that goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and eventually finds its way into the sewer and is gone? But what comes out of the mouth comes from the heart. This what makes a person ‘unclean.’ For from the heart come all sorts of evil intentions – murder, sexual infidelity, promiscuity, stealing, lying, even foul language. These things make a person unclean – not eating with unwashed hands!”
Mathew 15:10-11, 16-20

Cuban Dancers ll by Zunayme Romero
Oh the picture which pops into my little brain: “it’s not what enters your mouth…” Half the trouble queer people get into is for what enters our mouths. The slurs “cocksucker,” and “carpet muncher” attest to the fact that straight people are extremely concerned about what passes our lips.

Mind you the same body bits pass the lips of straight people as well. Cunnilingus, fellatio, nipple play, foot fetish and other sexual stimulus know no particular orientation and are enjoyed across the sexual continuum. So why is it then, that when heterosexuals engage in such sex play it is celebrated, but when queers engage in such sex play it is an abomination? Or, to use the vocabulary of the parable, why is sex between opposite genders “clean,” while sex between same genders, or sex that transgenderizes is “unclean”?

Through this parable the concept of purity is turned on its head. It is not what enters the mouth, that is, it is not what is external or outside of us that makes us unclean. What makes us an abomination is what comes out of us – our motivations, our compass toward compassion or hate, our being closed-off or opened-up. This internal moral orientation for or against life is what deems us clean or unclean, pure or impure. 

We who self-identify as lesbians, bisexual, transgender, intersexed, asexual, or gay are quite familiar with the label “unclean.” People both in and outside the church, have called us dirty. Yet, in light of this parable we understand the application of the label is itself an act of impurity.

While rejecting the label we must not lose sight that our own attitudes and actions must also be examined. It is one thing to resist hatred and prejudice, working to dismantle the heteroarchy complex. It is another thing to become the oppressor working out of our own matrix of prejudice and hate. Often the two are blurred and undefined. 

I am reminded of the quote from justice Oliver Wendell Holmes. “The right to swing my fist ends where the other man’s nose begins.” I am also aware that Holmes worked hard as a US Supreme Court justice to buttress segregation and racism in America. Lines blurred by what comes out of our hearts.

The Cuban dancers above lead us to ponder: Are they impure and is there sex "dirty" because it is a gay act? Or, is their loving pure because the affection that comes out of them is pure? Jesus it seems would affirm the latter.


  1. David, you're quite right to focus on "what comes out of our mouths" - that's the obvuious point of the passage, and your observations are sound.

    But when I read the passage,I was struck by some words I was not conscious of previously, indicating the nature of sexual sin:

    "For from the heart come all sorts of evil intentions – murder, sexual infidelity, promiscuity, stealing, lying, even foul language".

    The "evil" here is in sexual infidelity and promiscuity. That is, in the quality of our relationships - not in their orientation.

    1. Terence - excellent insight! I think what Jesus was wrestling with was how to move people beyond the mere "practice" of spirituality - like what enters us can make us unclean. And move people toward the embodiment of sprituality - it's in our hearts, it infuses all we're about. And your absolutely correct - the quality of our relationships is a benchmark for such embodiment.