On Thursday of this week, my organization is co-sponsoring a Congressional panel on religious support for sexuality education. It seems somewhat ironic to be telling members of Congress why they should support teaching sexuality education to young people in the midst of the latest revelations of sexual misconduct by yet another high profile politician.
It's time for sex education for politicians.
Eliot Spitzer joins the long line of exposes of public figures sex lives. There have been many have been heterosexual men who have potentially risked everything for a sexual encounter or thrill. Think Gary Hart, Marv Alpert, Bill Clinton, Jim Bakker, Jimmy Swaggert, Bill Cosby, and Bill O'Reilly. Mr. O'Reilly and Mr. Cosby continue on with their work; others have not been so lucky. It remains to be seen what will happen to Mr. Spitzer, although one has to wonder whether violating a law from 1910 is really grounds for resignation or prosecution.
But these men have either forgotten or never learned some basic rules for sexually healthy adults. So here they are:
Honor your commitments to your partner. A sexually healthy marriage is based on honesty and trust; only you and your spouse know what you have agreed to, but don't put her in the position of having to stand by you at a microphone while you confess to the entire world. Keep that picture in your head as you are considering your behaviors.
Understand that you can have a sexual feeling without acting on it -- without even telling anyone about it. Think about it -- if Bill Clinton had thought to himself, "Cute Intern. Too Young, Too Risky" and moved on, he would not have been impeached. If your partner isn't interested in exploring a particular part of your eroticism with you, the safest thing is to explore it only in the confines of your mind.
Nothing, really nothing, is ever private between two people. Someone always tells someone. And the less the other person has to lose, the more likely they are to tell more people. In fact, unless it's your life partner, only have sex with someone who has as much to lose as you do. Sex workers don't. Neither do women or men in their twenties.
Sexually healthy adults discriminate between sexual behaviors that are life enhancing -- for themselves and their partners - with those that could be destructive (of themselves or their partner(s). If there's a chance that the behavior could cost you your partner, career, reputation, just say no. Visiting a sex club, a sex worker, having sex with an employee, soliciting someone in a public bathroom or park: chances are it's going to land you on the front page and you'll lose your job. It's even worse if you've campaigned or worked against other people doing the same things.
Remember that a moral sexual relationship is consensual, nonexploitative, honest, mutually pleasurable and protected. Does the relationship meet those criteria? Mr. Spitzer's and Kristin's seems to fall on at least three. If you can't answer yes to these, say no.
Always ask if the behavior consistent with your values, expressed and internal. If you're found out, will you be accused of hypocrisy? More importantly, can you live with yourself?
Of course, this ethic applies to all of us, not just people in political power. Remember that Scripture counsels us to be careful about throwing the first stone.