Sexuality, intimacy and attachment

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In my Christian tradition there is an interesting story about Jesus/Issa (John 8,2-11). Men brought a woman to him, who had been caught that she committed adultery. They said that according to the law of Moses (Deuteronomy 22,13-28) like in the Hadith, not in the Quran, (see: https://www.thereligionofpeace.com/pages/quran/adultery-stoning.aspx) the woman had to be stoned. They tried to trap Jesus/Issa. But he understood their plan. He said in a polite way: who of you never committed adultery, throw the first stone. Then all the men left the scene, the eldest first. They all had committed adultery.

Then Jesus/Issa said: also I don’t condemn you, but don’t do it again.

In a nutshell you see the problem. First, for adultery you need two persons. Where was the male partner? Then Jesus/Issa prove that all the men, who came to him, had also committed adultery.

Here we see the real problem: some men like to blame women, but don’t look to themselves, they tried to hide their own bad behavior behind a woman. They are hypocrite. They deny how they in reality deal with women.
Sexuality is a tricky subject. Everyone knows about it, but who dares to talk about it in a decent way? It affects everyone and too many people are subjected to abuse. It is necessary to write about it in a decent way.

A decent way of dealing with each other sexually is generally understood that it occurs between an adult man and an adult woman with mutual consent and with tenderness after they married in a respectful way. This is seen as normal. But we are not all the same. There are differences.

We know that there are men who feel themselves attracted to men and women to women. It sounds as if these men want to have sex with any other man or boy like a heterosexual man wants to have sex with any other woman or girl.

Though I can understand this fear, it is not true. But it shows the big role that sex plays in society nowadays, also by pornography, even with children.

The reactions show a big sensitivity. The sensitivity is logic. It is about respect for everyone’s personal and physical integrity. No one want to be attacked and abused.

Here there is a struggle between longing for intimacy and maintaining personal integrity. Sexuality is all about feelings and emotions, which is not easy to control. This problem of control is not an excuse for any misbehaviour. To be an adult means among other things to have the power to control yourself in relation to other people. It is to take responsibility for what you do. You can’t deny feelings, but you can steer them as long it is not opposite to who you are.

There is another group of people, which is for some people difficult to understand: transsexuals. These are people, who are born superficially as a boy, but feel themselves a girl and who are born as a girl, but feel themselves as a boy. I got the chance to deal with these people, born as a boy, but feeling to be a girl. They have the feeling to be born in the wrong body. I respected them.

There is also a group of people with male and female genital characteristics, hermaphrodites. See Wikipedia.

These minorities groups can have a harsh time, when they become a teenager and discover to be different. They can feel isolated and excluded. The consequences can be difficult for them.

We have to respect these groups of people as they present themselves like we have to respect every human being. It is like pope Francis had written in his encyclical Laudato si nr. 81: every human being is a subject, not an object.


There is also a group of adults, who feel them sexually attract to minors and we call them paedophiles. About them there has been written nothing in our Bible in contrast to homosexuals. How to understand this?

I think it can be explained in the following way: in many cultures are teenagers, who can be sexually active, are seen as adults. Then it can be understood why Sodom and Gomorra provokes such emotional reactions. Also Paul wrote about this in the first chapter of his letter to the Romans. Factually, it is about paedophiles.


We live in a time that too many people are treated as an object for personal lust, who are for sale. Finally, these people remain lonesome and unhappy: perpetrator and victim. Both have a secret, they can’t talk about.

The perpetration can make abusing people violent, filled with shame and lacking trust. They fear that their secret will be discovered.

Who has been abused, can store anger against the perpetrator for a long time and then it explodes. On 24 September 2016 a 49 year old woman killed her 98 year old neighbour, because he abused her sexually, when she was 7 years old. The killing happened in Trooz near Liège, Belgium.


Above I wrote: A decent way of dealing with each other is generally understood that it occurs between an adult man and an adult woman with mutual consent. Mutual consent is a difficult point. What does it mean? Sometimes it is used as a justification for what happened. First of all: is the position of both partners equal? Secondly: do both sides oversee the impact of making love? Is their mind clear, not disturbed by alcohol and/or drugs? Is –especially a woman – not afraid of violence and agrees for this reason? Do teenagers agree, because it is the norm in the peer group?


Another point is sexual education. Do young teenagers get information about what happens with themselves on the way to adulthood with all aspects? It is all about preparation for adulthood, inclusive emotional aspects.

But there is another aspect. Do young teenagers live in a safe situation, where they feel comfort? Or is their situation inconvenient and insecure. In such circumstances they are vulnerable and are looking for support. Their position can be abused by people who see this. They give presents and compliments only to get a girl in their web. The girl don’t know how to alarm in order to be freed. She blames herself. But the other, who doesn’t respect her, is to blame.

How to understand such a development?

Furthermore about the very sensitive age of the early teenage time and even before, when children become aware of the development of their body and its sexual possibilities. To get some understanding of what can happen, I introduce the notion of attachment. Every human being shows attachment, when he or she is 70 days old. The way she or he looks at especially to the mother differs from before. Before the baby looks around like an exploration of the world around him or her.

Being aware of her or his sexuality opens the way for another form of attachment, the sexual one.

There are three forms of attachment, a child develops: secure, anxious and avoidant attachment. A happy child has secure attachment. A child with secure attachment has the opportunity to develop also a healthy sexuality.

The other two forms can develop a problematic sexuality. A boy runs the risk to want to prove to be a man, for which a girl or a woman pays the price. But also the boy can be vulnerable for being abused. For him it is even more difficult to talk about.

A girl can search for an alternative attachment instead of the experienced negative situation at home. She runs the risk to fall in the hands of men or boys, who wants to abuse her vulnerability. She doesn’t oversee the consequences.

To avoid these problems it is of immense importance that children feel at home secure in their own situation from the beginning of their life. See the notion above about attachment, when they are 70 days old.

For every teenager it is a challenge to integrate his or her sexuality in his or her

personality based on self-respect and dignity. It is a matter of trial and error.

A recent problem for young teenagers is the so-called cybersex. There are older man, who present themselves as a teenage boy in a chatroom. They ask young teenage girls to do all kind of sexual acts. Every time they ask more, threatening that the previous acts will put on internet. In the Netherlands there are already many men put in jail for this kind of crime.

A young teenager finds it important how her/his body looks like. It seems to me important that young people are encouraged to look at the strong sides of their character before to attend them – with love – on their shadow sides as everyone has. This what matters.

Finally: once an addicted street prostitute told me in the middle of the night that she was still dreaming to marry as a virgin. Imagine what had happened in her life against her will, against the woman she is.

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Louis Bohte ofm

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