America has a difficult relationship with sex. On the one hand, sexualized images are everywhere and are an important fuel for our desire-based economy; more conservative countries complain that our images and attitudes are corrupting their cultures. On the other hand, many politicians, preachers, and educators build careers on trying to convince Americans–particularly American youth–to re-embrace our Puritan past; more liberal countries find our sexual attitudes and policies to be unscientific and even dangerous.

Personally and as citizens, we all make decisions about sex: who should have it, when, how, with whom, under what circumstances. Ethical decisions need to be conscious and informed; therefore we need to start with some fundamental questions: What is sex for? What is “good” and “bad” sex in an ethical sense? Where do people’s assumptions about sex come from? To what extent is the issue of sex in America not really about sex at all, but about other things: power; idealizations of childhood; assumptions about women’s and men’s roles, about sexuality and orientation, about families? What are the hidden beliefs and agendas behind much of today’s “sexuality police”?

“When authorities warn you of the sinfulness of sex, there is an important lesson to be learned. Do not have sex with the authorities.” – Matt Groening