Sex in our culture is an antagonist to spirituality, it is a source of stress, it comes between people as much as it binds them together. Why?
Sex is a function critical to the survival of almost all species of life on Earth. With the exception of man, evolution has developed the function of sex to be discreet in its purpose and limited and particular as to its timing. It’s purpose is procreation and survival of the fittest; Whether one looks at plants, fish, or even man’s closest animal relative - the apes - this is the limited function of sex. And it can only occur during finite periods of time.
For man, however, sex has become something very different. How did that come to be? While women have been found to be more “lusty” during their fertile days, women, contrary to females of all other species, are “available” for sex throughout the year.
And since males of most mammal species are horny beasts (we’ve all experienced a dog arousing himself on someone’s leg), the human male certainly takes advantage of that, even when procreation is unlikely. Why? Because we derive pleasure and other satisfaction from the sex act.
That males and even females derive pleasure from sex is hardly a new phenomenon. But in our contemporary culture, pleasure has become the primary purpose of sex … consistent with the pleasure syndrome which predominates our culture. It also serves various psychological needs. Procreation is now only a tangential function since through the use of various means of contraception, sex typically only results in pregnancy when you want it to, which is rarely.
The result is that sex is now one of the leading problems in relationships. Basically said, if men especially aren’t finding sex pleasurable anymore, they either look elsewhere for that satisfaction and/or it becomes one of several factors that leads to a failed relationship and divorce.
A related problem is that if a couple does have good sex, that gets confused, especially in the early stages of a relationship, with feeling they are in love or loved. And that just isn’t the case. It just means they have good sex. Lust does not equal love. But nevertheless couples get married based to a large extent on whether they have a good sex life because modern man does not know what love really is. Feeling loved is thus dependent on having good sex. When that’s gone, we want to move on.
The other ways in which sex is used in relationships are also not conducive to a healthy attitude towards sex and relationships. For men especially, but also for women, the use or withholding of sex is an expression of power in a relationship where otherwise one may feel inadequate or weak. When there are problems in a relationship, using sex to patch things up puts a burden on sex and rarely works for more than a limited time. And for people who are unhappy with their work or other aspects of their life, the pleasure or release of sex is a respite. For all these reasons, the general attitude is that good sex is an essential part of a healthy relationship.
Using sex primarily as a source of gratification, power, or bonding makes sex a source of major stress for man and is harmful to relationships. Sex is used in the search for something which is essentially a fleeting illusion. At the same time, its role in the procreation process is mostly negative, in that most of the time people want to make sure that pregnancy does not result from sex.
How to improve the stability and nourishing nature of marriage and other committed relationships? The answer is to base relationships on true love (more on that below), return sex to its primary purpose of procreation, and realize that there are other, more stable ways to establish a loving, intimate bond with a spouse/partner that do not involve the sex act. “What?!” the reader will undoubtedly exclaim. How absurd.
That is the ego-mind reacting. Bear with me while I explain. There is great comfort, satisfaction, and intimacy to be had within a loving relationship from hugging and various types of non-sexual touching … not as foreplay to sex, but just for the warmth and intimacy it engenders.
I speak from experience. I am in a deeply-loving, long-term relationship with my partner who is my best friend. We are family. We do not have sex. But we do have a very physical relationship. I feel more loved and more secure than in any relationship I have ever had. I should note that we are totally committed to our relationship and are not looking for sex elsewhere because we have all the love we need and understand that to be happy sex cannot be used as a source of pleasure.
I know this will sound crazy to most readers, whether straight or gay, but that is the truth. Sex has become so deeply engrained in our ego-drives, our self-image, that we cannot imagine life or a relationship without it; it is a craving. But as with all other cravings, that is just a product of the ego-mind. Yes, sex has a biological function. But what man has turned sex into has little to do with that function.
NOTE: The often-held belief that ejaculation is essential for a man’s health is just not true. There is no clear evidence of a health benefit to ejaculating or risk from not ejaculating. There is some very weak evidence that frequent ejaculation may help prevent prostate cancer, but that’s all it is. Arousal, however, does release certain chemicals which increase feelings of wellbeing. But those same chemicals are released by hugging and other types of touching connected with sincere affection.
For gays and lesbians, this would mean that while their relationships would be very physical and loving, sex would not be part of the relationship. To be blunt, orgasm would not be part of their relationship or their lives. As for raising a family, having a sex-less relationship will obviously not impact that since sex was never part of that for them anyway; gays and lesbians have found methods to have biologically-related children without engaging in procreative sex,.
What about teenagers and older uncommitted individuals? For them, sex would no longer be part of the right of passage into adulthood or a means of satisfying oneself or coarsely expressing oneself or having the pleasure of someone’s company by hooking up.
I am not underestimating the huge change this would entail for most people. The initial gap in their lives. Again people would have to be taught that there are other forms of physical interaction which are very satisfying and far less problematic.
With sex returned to its biologically-intended purpose … procreation, sex will then regain real meaning and be a source of growth and maturity. Both male and female will be making a statement, a real commitment to the future, when they have procreative sex.
But there is another real kicker in my proposal … most people have no clue as to what true love is. Yet this must form the basis of the new relationship.
This is unfortunately not something we typically learn through our experience … not from our parents, movies, or any aspect of our culture. Since love not sex will be the cornerstone of a relationship, this means that couples will need to learn what love really means and how to develop it between two people.
Simply said, love develops from mutual feelings of trust, respect, caring, and thoughtfulness. One will have to be taught this or learn it from a book since it is not part of our culture. Shedding the cultural connection between sex and love would be very difficult. But these mutual feelings I listed are the sine qua non of a loving, lasting, relationship. Of course issues of character and interest compatibility also play an important role in a relationship’s longevity.
I should say that I do not mean to imply that there are no lasting relationships based on true love that have sex as an integral part of the relationship, not just used for procreation. What I’m saying is that our current attitude towards sex is for the most part destructive both to the individual and to relationships. And so the dynamic needs to change.
The benefits of this change to both the individual and society would be significant. For couples and their children it would bring an increased feeling of security and peace, which would in turn substantially change the dynamics within a typical family, benefiting the psyches of all. For society it would mean a decrease in both illegitimate and unwanted pregnancies/births, a substantial decrease in the divorce rate, a decrease in all forms of spousal and child abuse, both physical and psychological, and a substantial decrease if not elimination of sex addiction. Just for starters.
While my proposal will sound absurd and futuristic to many, the argument that a marriage or other committed relationship should be based on true love rather than sex/lust, and that sex is actually detrimental to a relationship is not a new thought. To my surprise, although I shouldn’t have been since Montaigne is always wise and amazingly pertinent, I discovered that the French 16th century philosopher/essayist had the following to say after I began writing this post:
“I see no marriages that sooner are troubled and fail than those that progress by means of beauty and amorous desires. It needs more solid and stable foundations, and we need to go at it more circumspectly; this ebullient ardor is no good for it.”
“A good marriage rejects the company and conditions of sex. It tries to reproduce those of friendship. It is a sweet association of life, full of constancy, trust, and an infinite number of useful and solid services and mutual obligations.”
It is unfortunately impossible to imagine such a change happening on a society-wide basis. It would require a major change in the way many aspects of our culture operate, the experiences people have as they are growing up.
But we as individuals have the ability to make these changes on our own, to listen to a different drummer, regardless what is going on around us. It “just” requires making a commitment first to oneself and then finding another compatible soul to enter this journey. This is something that is within your power to do. Think about it!
This post is dedicated to my partner to whom this concept of sex was revealed recently and who shared it with me.