Friday, May 24, 2019



            JUST A REMINDER:

                "FRANKLY SPEAKING"

                 IS POSTED EACH FRIDAY

                 BY MIDDAY

                 EAST COAST USA TIME.




              SOULFUL SEX V


          THIS IS THE FIFTH 



                WELCOME !








              ALL THE BEST.

               JOHN FRANK


Hi There !

So, at the actual moment of birth

things go pretty fast,

vital things.

Once it's obvious

that the baby is alive,

it is immediately labelled

as to how it will live that life.

It is not at all an "it."


          "It's a boy !"

          "It's a girl !"

How wonderful.

How challenging.

Even before the Apgar Test,

the baby is assessed as

male or female.

It's just that primary.

That primal and

sexual assessment

is based solely on

one of two

specific body parts.

The baby is to be raised

in terms of

that sexual specific

according to

the values and manner

of its society.

Sex specific rearing

is determined

by place, time in history,

tradition, religion -

in short, its culture.

That varies from

time to time,

place to place,

people to people.

It does so a lot more

than most of us know,

or want to know.

             Cultural construction of gender
             emphasizes that different cultures
             have distinctive ideas
             about males and females
             and use those ideas to define
             manhood/masculinity and

               Humanity: An Introduction to
               Cultural Anthropology,
               Peoples and Bailey

Vavenda and Schultz in
Anthropology What Does
It Mean to Be Human?
reference "sex"
as genital capacity for procreation and
"gender" they say

           ...refers to a way of talking about
              all those expectations and beliefs
              we load onto people with certain
              physical (genital) characteristics.

Sex is physical - genitals.

Gender is cultural,

how a sexed person 

is raised and expected 

to live out that sexed life.

The former does not necessarily translate 

to binary absolutes for the latter, though.

Of course, cultures do 

very much factor 

physical, sexual capacities 

into their constructs of

masculinity and femininity.

Most cultures will only permit 

opposite sex intimacy.

There are obviously people 

whose nature and manner do not fit 

the gender expectations and demands 

of their cultures.

the vast majority of people

are drawn to sexual love and union

with people of the opposite sex.

There are, however, those people

whose nature and make up  

is such that they can only enter into 

intimate union with another of the same sex.

There are yet other people who are 

by nature and make up 

drawn to both sexes.

Across history and globe various cultures 

have and do respond to the above 

all sorts of tones and touches.

By the way, it is important 

to remember that

what a culture publicly requires 

and  privately accepts 

are often not the same, 

yet both are culturally condoned.

Leonardo Di Vinci and his young male lover 

are a clear example.

It was a Renaissance version of 

"Don't ask, don't tell."

So we have 

    - physical make up- 

      male/female (sex),

    - cultural patterns/norms 

      assigned for each sex (gender), 

    - individual nature and make up

      ( an actual and unique person).

It's not as simple and singular

as Archie Bunker had it:

"When a man was a man 

and a woman was a woman"!!

For example
, some cultures 

have openly accepted 

same sex intimacy.

The Greek warriors

and their youthful lovers 

are yet another example

as are the relaxed  

same/opposite  sex relations 

in many of the South Sea Islands

that Margaret Mead canvassed.

In the spirituality of

the Original Americans,

this was recognized,

accepted and experienced.

They named it

The Two Spirits.

That meant that

over a lifetime

people might love

and make love

with people of

the opposite sex

and with people

of the same sex, 

or with both.

It is an example

of gender fluidity

and a recognition of

individual make up.

It is an example 

of what is understood, 

described and lived out 

as gendered,

as masculine or feminine,

is culturally based,

with more than 

a nod to physicality 

and one's unique nature 

and manner for sure.

In the current cultures of

North America and Europe, 

and to a lesser degree 

in other lands and ways,

we are now experiencing changes

in the understanding

and expression

of masculine and feminine.

That certainly impacts

our spiritual lives,

our way of living 

centered in God's Love.

Hormones and genetics

enter into play here as well.

Physically based, 

they determine

secondary, physical,

sexual characteristics,

things such as: body mass,

strength, hirsute, voice,

ambulation, skin texture.

These vary person to person

and span a wide spectrum

as do gender characteristics.

They are sexually based.

Popular culture recognizes them

as proper to one or other 

sex and gender.

There are variants here 

in how life is lived out, though.

I have counseled and

heard the confessions

of many, many

beautiful, soft women

and big, burly men

who have been in love with,

and made love to,

often partnering with,

persons of the same sex.

Predominance is just that,

but not exclusive.

Sex, culture, 

personal nature and 

make up are not 

always in sync.

That's a critical distinction.

It factors into our self sense

and our shared, social sense

and the living out of those

in our spiritual lives.

I hope all this isn't

getting to be

too much like a term paper.

But, quite  frankly and really,

much of our living out 

of who and how we are

comes from our culture.

My simple, home grown

definition is that

        Culture is how

        a given group of people

        understand and do life.

Culture is communal consciousness.

It's how a society sizes up 

life and meaning .

Society puts that consciousness

into play and practice.

Values, morals, clothing, hygiene,

work ethic, art and music, family,

eating practices, governance,

science, architecture, religion,

treatment of children and the elderly -

literally every attitude, custom,

arrangement, activity are

culturally based and conditioned.

           Culture is how

          a given group of people

          understand and do life.

That varies from people to people,

from time to time.

It's doing that right now and here,

just as it has over the eons

and everywhere always

and variously.

That variation is certainly 

the case with the conjunction of

sex/gender and spirituality.

An example or more.

Polygamy was practiced by

the people of the Old Testament,

and most likely

by some in the early days of

the New Testament

   "...let a bishop be
    a man of one wife."

     I Timothy 3: 1-2

Divorce was allowed among

the Chosen People of Israel.

Jesus and Paul, however, 

allowed for it in only 

a very, very limited way.

( Matthew19:9 and I Corinthians 7: 10-16)

Today polygamy is not allowed

among Jewish people or

in Christian churches at all.

Divorce and remarriage, however,

are widely accepted  

among many Jewish communities 

and in Christian churches,

way more than Jesus and Paul allowed.

In fact, the strictures

on divorce and remarriage

that Jesus required ( Matthew 19 )

are over ridden in most

Protestant churches today.

As a pastor I had 

to work through that.

I came to understand that 

sometimes marriages die 

before the parties do.

Death frees for remarriage.

In other cases,

the marriage didn't die, 

but one or both the parties 

abandoned the marriage

and killed it.

Death frees for remarriage.

Understandings and

consequent practices

are indeed culturally conditioned

and both change -

gender and spirituality included.

We are living in the midst of

a seismic cultural change.

One sector of us

is working with that.

Another is vigorously

digging in its heals

in opposition to it.

Check out politics and governance,

family life, education, athletics,

finance, social justice, religion,

environmental matters,

politeness and civility,

treatment of the needy,

social media, fake news...

Be sure to add to the list

all sorts of sex/gender

understandings and practices.

It is in the midst of these

changes in understandings

and the practices

that come from such changes 

that we live our spiritual lives

on the street of everyday experience.

These changes call for

rethinking, reevaluating

as we seek to authentically live out

our spiritual lives.

Some of the questions

before us in today's

changing cultural setting are :

   - casual, recreational sex

   - co-habitation

   - same sex love and marriage

   - "sexually explicit" content

      in mainstream media

   - the role of women in business, military,

     church and government -

     formerly the exclusive domains of men

   - the role of men in child rearing,

     house holding, nursing -

     formerly the exclusive domains of women  

   - transgender matters

   - #Me Too

   - what is sexual abuse

     and what is consensual sex

   - divorce and remarriage

    - these and ever so many more.


A particularly telling

sexual/gender/cultural shift 

that calls for careful evaluation is

a largely silent,

but extremely pervasive one.

It certainly effects

the spiritual living

of way many more

than we care to see and say:


There's always been pornography,

although I'm admittedly not clear

as to whether Cain and Abel

had copes of Playboy,

or was it Playgirl,

hidden under their mattresses?

I am sure, though,

that pornography is

a whole lot more pervasive

now than ever before in history. 

Today it is estimated to be a

 $ 97 billion dollar business.

 That's enough to feed

 4.8 billion people a day.

 Hollywood produces

 about 600 movies

 a year at a profit of

$11 billion dollars.

 By comparison,

 the Porn Industry produces

13,000 movies (videos) a year

at a profit of $15 billion annually.

In 2017 Pornhub had

28.5 billion visits.

The Porn Industry makes more than

Major League Baseball, the NFL,

and the NBA combined.

Money talks in our culture.

Hear what it says

about sex/gender/spirituality 

as it is today

in the world where

we must walk and work

our way to wholeness (holiness).

I am not making a moral call 

one way or another at the moment,

but simply putting a spot light 

on a current cultural condition 

that is both somewhat 

in the shade of popular notice/admission 

and yet involves large numbers of us

and effects our spiritual lives more than a little.

Why is pornography so prevalent?

Is it a symptom or substitute, 

and if so, of what?? 

What effect does it have 

on the spiritual lives of so many millions?

Discounting predatory, violent pornography

are there enhancing or stunting elements, or both,

coming to cultural awareness and acceptance?


        - "Fight the New Drug," April 2,1018
        - "How Big is the Porn Industry?"

           Strange But True - Medium, Feb. 19, 2017

        - "Porn industry's billion dollar new frontier,"

           Market Watch

Lutheran Pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber, in an interview with

Johnny Walsh, does offer a moral evaluation,

one that certainly bears on Soulful Sex:

       Noting and rejecting exploitation

       in some forms of pornography, she sees

       a natural goodness at play in yet other forms.

       "People have viewed erotic imagery since

        we could scratch it on the inside of caves...

        Our bodies are wired to have

        empathic responses to others,

        and it includes erotic ones. To say you should

        have shame for that is problematic. If we took

        shame out of the fact that people like to view

        erotic imagery, the compulsive behavior around

        consuming pornography would decrease. We have

        a perverted relationship to pleasure."

How does what she says correlate with erotic/nude art

considered classical and on display

in museums, art books and such, 

and our experience of it, our pleasure in it?

The interview is in the November/December 2018 issue of

Out In Jersey, "Nadia Bolz-Weber", written by Johnny Walsh.

For sure what it means to be a

sexual/gendered person,

and one of integrity,

is very, very much,

part of the cultural flux

referenced in all of the above.

Our spirituality is

certainly in play here.

Given the tremendous shift

in break through understandings,

and I would say sometimes


and consequent behaviors

in the realm of sex/gender,

both openness and caution

are the order of the day.

As we conclude here,

let's take time and honesty

to assess just where

we personally are

in this mix.

Shutting down and out

is not the answer.

Being indiscriminately open

to any and all new understandings

and practices is not the answer.

Honesty, study, prayerful reflection,

and often good solid counsel

are essential to a healthy

sexual/gendered  spiritual life, to 


Does the old bromide factor here:

   "Be not the first by whom 
    the new is tried,
    nor yet the last by whom
    the old is laid aside"?

What does factor here for sure 

are the simple norms of 

of honesty and love.

Am I growing in 

realness and expansiveness

or am I taking a step into 

dishonest self indulgence?

Am I living and growing in 

the Love that is God?

Is what I am doing centered in

and animated by love of 

God, neighbor and self

as we really, honestly are?

Am I ready for sex sinner Augustine

become loving Saint Augustine's 

radical honesty on divine love:

     "Love God and do what you will"?

There's a lot of sexual/gender energy

loose and active in our culture right now.

What energy is destructive?

What energy is creative?

Yes, our spiritual living requires 

honesty and love.

PHEW!!! We sure got a work out

here this week!!!

Thanks for hanging on!!!

As noted at the beginning of this series,

there is no claim that 

what is presented here

is without limit and flaw.

It comes from a man 

limited and flawed

offering the best I know

for the best possible spiritual living.

If this material helps, let it.

If it fails you, leave it.

But in either or both cases,

let's be sure to ask why.

See you next week.

By the way.

Given the length and intensity 

of this series, I just want 

to let you know that a lighter,

even a bit playful posting 

will follow this series.

It is scheduled to go online

Friday, June 7th. through 

Friday, June 14th.

It's entitled "Kidding Around."

Time to lighten up a bit,

for sure!!.

In God's Dear Love,

    John Frank


A grateful welcome to all

newly joining us.

This past week we had 

first time participation 

from Cameroon. 

That is wonderful!

Over the weeks and months

as we gather here 

we now come from

seventy countries 

plus my homeland here 

in the USA.

In our own way we are

overcoming separation,

working to a unity 

of inmost to inmost.

It's a wonderful

Holy Communion.

Let's continue to invite others 

to join in here at

       "frankly speaking"

-It is posted online 

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