Wednesday, 21 November 2012

How important is sex?

Before beginning our discussion on the morality of sexual behaviour, the real significance of sexuality must be understood and admitted. Man is much more than a biological creature like the animals. He has many dimensions to his being. He can choose the object of his affections, and he can use his sexuality, not blindly but freely, as an expression of adult love.

            To achieve happiness, as distinct from passing pleasure, in the expression of this love, a person must know how to consider his own pleasure as secondary, and he must know how to control his natural desires in the interest of the person loved. In other words, for true effectiveness, the sexual urge must be combined with an unselfish love.

            Marriage is a sharing of lives – of joys, of sorrows, of problems. One no longer walks alone. One has a partner, a companion, to comfort, encourage and inspire along life’s road. Problems of adjustment are inevitable, but the final result is a fulfilment and a happiness that makes all the efforts worthwhile. Monogamy, the norm of our society, is the only form of marriage which truly satisfies the needs of human beings, and the relationship between man and wife brings out all that is best in each. The constant maturing of their love through sharing life’s experience, particularly in rearing of their children, is not the least of the blessings that come from their love.

            This understanding of the place of sex in the marriage of lovers should be understood by all couples who love each other. Their love means much more than: “I want pleasure through you.” It means: “I want to be united to you, not only physically, but in every possible way.” In the right circumstances, the quality of this experience is deep and enriching.

            Where the true value of sexuality is recognized, the possibility of good and evil attached to it is also recognized. It is because sex is regarded as something insignificant and unimportant and as being separate from and unaffected by our ordinary lives, that the moral sense of guilt is fast disappearing from society in connection with its misuse. No-one feels guilty about anything that is unimportant. If sex is regarded as something to be indulged in solely for pleasure or entertainment or recreation, then naturally its value is not high enough to associate sin with it.

            The sexual act is of tremendous importance. Human life, the most precious thing on earth, cannot be generated in any other natural way. Furthermore, as children can only be reared to perfection by loving parents, sexual intercourse helps to make two people into one. It is an act of total self-giving. It is a part of conjugal love, that love by means of which husband and wife become one only heart and one only soul and together attain their human perfection.

            And so it is precisely because of the importance of sex that we dare associate it with guilt and sin. Anyone who sees no guilt in breaking the laws of God and the established rules of society in sex matters is confessing that, for him, sex is without significance. For where value disappears, so do good and evil, right and wrong. The traditional prohibitions against fornication and adultery were based on a proper understanding of the rights and needs of children and of the value of sex in people’s lives. This understanding needs to be recaptured in our own times.

Monday, 12 November 2012

Sex pleasure is not sex

Sex pleasure is an important part of sex, but it is not sex. It is not sex any more than the pleasure attached to eating is eating. Both are important part of the whole, but they are not the whole. The purpose of the pleasure in both cases is to lead to something more important than pleasure. In the case of eating, the pleasure is meant to make eating attractive, so that a greater good may be effected, namely, that the whole body may be nourished and that life may go on. In the case of sex, the pleasure is meant to make sexual intercourse attractive, so that an infinitely greater good may be effected, namely, that the human family may be nourished by the provision of new members, and that human life as a whole may go on. Because this particular good is so important, God made sexual pleasure correspondingly great. This pleasure is, in fact, meant to lead to an involvement of the whole person, so that couples who accept the possibility of procreation actually become “two in one flesh” themselves.

            Teen-agers may be meeting these facts about sex for the first time in their gradually maturing lives. Some teen-agers may not accept them very readily. Anxious to please and to be acceptable to each other, they may allow themselves to be adversely influenced by the behaviour patterns they see all around them.

            These patterns are often dominated by an undue and, what is worse, an unreal emphasis on sex (an emphasis which creates, rather than solves, problems for youth). Even without such emphasis, the propose of sexual urge is not, in adolescence, immediately apparent. The truth is that sex is not to be regarded as an end in itself, but as part of many other significant aspects of life, interacting with these aspects, influencing them and being influenced by them.

            The first step in the study of sex should be to find out what its full significance is, and particularly what it has to do with love. For if love is one of the ultimate goals of youth, then an early preparation for love must be undertaken. This preparation must not be confused with sex experimentation. It is rather by learning to respect themselves and others that young people prepare, so that when the right person comes, they are able to undertake a lifelong commitment (offering themselves unselfishly and with an understanding of what love means).

            Sex cannot be separated from the total personality. Just as we control ourselves in other spheres of life because we understand the purpose of control (in eating, in drinking, in our social relationships), so, in sex matters, we control ourselves for the purpose, namely, to be able to use sex meaningfully when the proper time comes.

            The word “meaningfully” conveys a thousand things that make illicit sex sound cheap, shallow, and a waste of time. It conveys, for example, a growth of personality, a sharing of values, and a capacity for happiness. These come, not only from the procreative aspect of sex, but also from the sharing of ideals, of joy and sorrows. These are benefits which can be the by-products of sex-in-marriage carried to happy conclusion.

            Finally, the goal of all our striving is happiness. But what is happiness? Certainly it is not the same as pleasure. And still more certainly, it is not casual sex experience. We know that we are forever striving, and that, as we reach each goal, its attainment is but a stepping-stone to the next. And so it is important that each step of the way should be meaningful. The only way sex can be meaningful is when it is an expression of love in marriage, when man and woman are truly fulfilled in a union which enriches their whole personalities.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Part two



Formerly, it was sufficient for young Christian people to know and believe that lack of control in sex matters was wrong because the bible tells us this, because Christ confirmed it, and because Christianity has always taught it. Today they are confronted with questions from a godless society which wants different answers and, moreover easy answers. The traditional ones are unacceptable to them. They feel confident that, in these enlightened times, complications like venereal disease and unwanted pregnancies only happen to the stupid and the ignorant. They also dismiss lightly, and as something belonging to the past mentality, the sense of guilt that has traditionally been attached to unchaste actions. And having disposed of these and other reasons for practising chastity, they find no other to replace them convincingly. For such young people, and for those who come in contact with them, a study of the whole problem, based on a proper understanding of what sex is, will repay serious consideration.

            Since the clock cannot be put back, we must face the fact that those who want to be chaste have an uphill fight. Only too often the physical side of sex is being falsely presented to them, outside its total context, as being the “real thing,” and, consequently, it is easy for youth to confuse sex pleasure with sex. The purpose of sex education should be to cultivate a proper understanding of sex and all the enriching values it can bring to life.