One of the “steps” on the Buddha’s eight fold path (the set of suggestions on how to lead a life more conducive to awakening) deals with how we approach sexuality. For Monks, Nuns, and Priest, the admonition is to lead a life of celibacy. For the laity however, this step is often interpreted as not engaging in abusive sexual relations, or participate in sexual “misconduct.”
As an aside here, the eight fold path is not a thing you do one step at a time, but is rather a group of guidelines for conduct to be tackled contemporaneously within one’s life.
When looking at the eight fold path, and applying it’s suggestions to our own life, I think one of the things we need to take into account is the cultural context in which it developed. The trick then is to find a way to adapt it to your own cultural context. As an example, one of the steps deals with “right livelihood”. This has to do with making sure that the way you make your living doesn’t generate any entanglements to trip you up. Or, at least as few as possible. The thing is, a whole lot of the jobs available now were no where to be seen in the Buddha’s time.
Unfortunately, there was a whole lot of baggage around sexuality in the time of the Buddha. Well, hell, there is now as well, but I’d like to think we’ve grown up some. In that light I’d like to propose a wrinkle of possibly useful modern interpretation for the “step” that has to do with sexual misconduct. This wrinkle directly deals with any cultural and habitual hangups we might be carrying in ourselves. In terms of keeping our process clean in the way that the Buddha proposed so that we have less hang ups to deal with in pursuit of awakening. What I am suggesting is that we also carry this step into our dealing with others. Two of the other steps are right speech, and right thought. Those steps expressly with our conduct with others. So why not the step about sex?
Part of our hang ups with sexuality have to do with judgments about others and how they should be living their lives. So, for me, the admonition to use sex “correctly” includes not having anything to say about other people’s orientation, or expression of gender. As far as I can see butting into other people’s affairs causes just as much blockage in our path, as when we misuse our own sexuality.