A reader sent me this sermon (PDF) excerpted below, delivered by Gene Robinson in 1992 at St. Paul’s School in Concord NH. St. Paul’s is a coeducational boarding school for students in grades 9-12. A memo (PDF) attributed to “Paula A. Bibber, Executive Assistant to the Bishop” of the Diocese of New Hampshire was received by our reader along with the sermon. The memo reads:
“Enclosed is a copy of the sermon you have requested. As you will notice when you begin to read it, this sermon was given in conjunction with a month-long focus at St. Paul’s School in Concord on AIDS.
Unfortunately, over the years the context and focus of this sermon has been has been verbally misinterpreted. I hope reading his sermon is helpful.
The focus of the sermon was, indeed, on the danger of AIDS and the context of the sermon was a discussion of how to avoid contracting the same. Robinson, rightly, told the congregation of high school students that total abstinence is the only sure-fire way not to contract the disease.
...choosing not to have intercourse is an honorable, positive and life-ensuring option in this age of AIDS. It’s a choice which allows you to relax and enjoy your safety—not just safety from AIDS and pregnancy. but safety from the kind of emotional hurt that can so easily happen in a sexually intimate relationship. Even if you have already been sexually active, you can honorably return to this choice of abstinence. It’s the only way to be absolutely safe.
But he did not stop there.
...if you are physically. sexually active with someone. whether with a person of the opposite or the same sex, you can remember or discover for the first time all the wonderful ways of being sexual with another person, without having intercourse, without risking your life. We parents and we in the church have been so busy preaching “just say no,” that we have forgotten to celebrate this God-given gift of sexuality and to rejoice in this incredible means of communicating with a beloved. But there are many ways of communicating physically and sexually with another person short of intercourse…
This is not mere pragmatism. I’ve heard health-workers suggest that if adolescents simply cannot hold back that they should engage in oral sex and/or mutual stimulation rather than intercourse for safety’s sake. I think it is horrible advice and, of course, sinful. Teenagers are not animals. But Robinson’s suggestion seems to go beyond a mere concern for health and safety. Oral sex and/or mutual stimulation is, according to Robinson, something for high school students to “celebrate”. The Church, according to Robinson, has just said no far too much, forgetting to “rejoice” in this (referring to oral sex and/or mutual stimulation) “incredible means of communicating with a beloved”.
It is difficult to come to any other conclusion than that Gene Robinson went beyond suggesting that high school kids resort to oral sex/mutual stimulation as a means of avoiding AIDS. He encouraged high school kids to celebrate their sexuality by physically communicating with their “beloved” through the use of oral sex/mutual stimulation.