Monday, 31 December 2012

Is sexual control Injurious?

We often hear it said that sexual control is injurious mentally and physically. Nothing is more contrary to the truth. It is true that the sexual instinct is powerful and recurrent. It is also true that many things in our modern environment are sexually exciting and make restraint difficult. Indeed, living conditions themselves are often such that any easily-grasped pleasure seems desirable and attractive. Consequently, a whole host of reasons are put forward to rationalize and justify sexual licence.
            Among these is the claim that it is unnatural to suppress such a strong desire and that such suppression leads to neuroses and personality problems and even worse.
            These ideas which are put forward by various people, and even by some psychiatrists, are contrary to science and experience. Research has revealed the fact that it is not suppression but irregular sex relations, whether inside or outside the married state, that do damage physically, mentally and socially. There is, indeed no evidence either from physiology, from psychology or from experience, that sexual intercourse for the unmarried is necessary to maintain physical or mental health. In other words, chastity is possible for all.
            It is not difficult for anyone to cite numerous examples from among his acquaintance of those who have controlled their sexual impulses and have still been happy and able to contribute their share to the welfare of the community, without any suggestion of damaged personalities.
            In fact, it is well known that many people deliberately undertake a life of continence to dedicate their lives to some cause which they have at heart. This kind of sacrifice, which is the result of a whole-hearted commitment and which is a free and deliberate act of the will, is not detrimental to the personality, but rather a satisfying and enriching experience. It is often necessary, in various spheres of life, to sacrifice one set of cherished interests for the achievement of others, even more valued. It is by no means rare for the sexual mode of life to be deliberately sacrificed in this way. Those who make this sacrifice may still value and appreciate the sexual power that they possess, but without any harm to their health or personalities, they may choose not to use them.
            No-one has to yield in sexual matters. We choose freely. But it is important to note that a right choice is made only when pros and cons have been carefully pondered and understood. Once a decision is made, based on a firm conviction of what we really know is best, then we have a reasonable chance of controlling our desires.
            There is a vast difference between wrong attitudes towards sex and control or suppression of sex. Wrong attitude can certainly be harmful. They may consist in not acknowledging the sexual side of our natural and of building up unnatural barriers. This often springs from a faulty training or education in sex matters which has engendered a false sense of guilt where none should exist, or from a lack of basic and essential knowledge. Such attitudes can also be the result of some shocking experience encountered earlier in life. Those who feel they have a wrong attitude towards sex should seek advice from some competent person – a doctor, a clergyman, or some older person whom they respect. In serious cases, where there is real disturbance, a reputable psychiatrist should be consulted.
            Young people should think well ahead to other goals they wish to achieve during the years to come. These goals may actually depend for their success on the self-control exercised before marriage, and impulsiveness during youth may have far-reaching effect in putting the fulfilment of the most cherished needs and desires out of reach. Such needs and desires do not make themselves felt as urgently in youth as does sex, but they ultimately matter much more to the mind and heart. When they are not fulfilled, regret and even bitterness may often result.
            A lack of self-mastery, indeed, inspires no confidence in self or in others, and, since partners in life are expected to give support by sharing problems and helping to solve them, this lack of responsibility is a serious obstacle to happiness in marriage. A lax and selfish attitude towards sex should show a red right to anyone who can read the signs.
            Modern society makes great demands on the young, but the rewards of winning through are also great. Those who can control their sexual desire are preparing for a life of which the quality will be high. They will enjoy a family life lived in peace and understanding, because they will have learned how to make the necessary sacrifices intelligently and generously.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Sex out of marriage

Can sex out of marriage ever bring the best values to human love?

This kind of love desires above all the good of the beloved, and therefore it has its fulfilment only in the security of marriage.

            In a successful marriage, each partner needs to have complete confidence in the other. Sex conduct before marriage has an important bearing on the degree of this confidence. If each was able to control his or her sexual impulses before marriage and, by doing so, was able to show consideration for the security of the other, then the effects will last throughout a lifetime. On the many occasions when abstinence within marriage is found necessary, each can feel sure of the other’s capacity for faithfulness. Such self-control in matters of sex, if won early in life, is a great stand-by in times of crisis, and, besides being a source of comfort, it tends to influence other spheres of life also. For in married life people soon find that other readjustments requiring discipline are frequently needed to achieve happiness. The person whose past sex experience has been dominated by sheer animal pleasure finds it difficult to adjust to a situation in which the good of a loved one is now the main object.

            Some couples who claim to be sure of their love for each other have no qualms about the morality of intercourse before marriage. This certainty may not last if another attraction is experienced some years after marriage. The thought of the pre-marital conduct will make it easier for the tempted part to yield, and it will also cause grave alarm to the other partner.

            The temptation that many lovers have to satisfy the other sexually before marriage is based on the idea that this is in the interests of the other person. This notion is mistaken for many reasons. One obvious reason is that intercourse before marriage makes marriage itself almost second-hand - at least, in one important aspect. But, more important still, couples find that once sexual intercourse is experienced, it is almost impossible to discontinue it. Peace of mind is often destroyed, in spite of the lax moral standards of the times. Apart from the danger of pregnancy, such experiences affect the girl in spite of herself – often morally and emotionally, such a hurt is deeper when marriage does not follow, and when she later meets someone whom she loves and respects and wishes to marry.

            Per-marital sex often, of itself, breaks up an association. It does this for physiological and psychological reasons, since, outside marriage, nether sex nor love is given a fair chance; and an association often breaks up that would, in the state of marriage, have worked out quite normally.

            Another point of view is that those who rush prematurely into sex relations risk spoiling their chances of getting to know and appreciate one another as persons, and, consequently, their love will not develop in the way it should. This development follows from a gradual discovery of each other’s qualities of mind and heart. It is this progressive discovery, rather than sex relations, that leads more surely to happiness, for sex alone is not a true bond. We see this clearly in those boys who consort with “easy” girls, then move on without a qualm.

            When a boy urges a girl to “prove” her love, he often forgets that she can scarcely, if ever, be as uninhibited as he can; for she has the ever-present possibility of pregnancy and accompanying anxiety that goes on for month after month. If he really loves her, he cannot afford to ignore this, no matter how willing he himself is to take the risk.

            Because of pregnancies through “mistakes”, many marriages have to be hastened and responsibilities undertaken before the couple are ready. The problems attached to pregnancy, both social and personal, are there before the wedding-day, and because of this, the young couple feel a resentment. This state of affairs naturally takes the edge off the joy of marriage.

            When a marriage in these circumstances does not take place, there is always heartbreak for the pregnant girl. She has to face many problems both before and after the birth of her child, and she finds, to her dismay, that society is far from being as “permissive” as she had imagined. In fact, one of the ironies of modern life is that society just does not approve of pregnancies outside marriage. Yet this is the very same society that bombard its youth with, or allows its youth to be bombarded with, every kind of erotic stimulant, through the media of sexy advertisements, sexy fashions, sexy entertainments and the like.

            Young people who are deeply in love but unable to marry for some time, for educational or economic reason, have a special problem. They cannot help feeling that the act of union here and now has the same spiritual meaning that it will have for them when they are married. They discount the fears of unwanted pregnancy and other social consequences, and they require other reason for abstaining from expressing their love. Such a reason can only be found in an understanding of what marriage means. They should realize that to be biologically ready for marriage does not necessarily imply that a couple are culturally and morally prepared. Marriage is the greatest adventure they will encounter in life, and it requires for its success all sorts of qualities that have barely begun to develop during adolescence.

            Nevertheless, the necessity of having to wait before marriage can create a conflict which requires skill and courage to resolve. It can only be resolved, in fact, by honest discussion and by coming to a right decision. Then it is up to the couple to support each other in keeping to the decision. Life, they should realize, will be full of conflicts, and many more serious decisions will lie ahead of them than those concerning sex control.

            Marriage at an earlier date is an alternative, though this solution may have other effects, educationally or vocationally. Otherwise, the young couple must learn together how to forgo an immediate pleasure for a greater future good, and to respect the values of those who love them and also the values of their future children.

            Since marriage calls for a constant, self-sacrificing love, and since this is the only kind of love upon which happiness can be based, the self-sacrifice must begin before marriage, not only financially and socially, but also emotionally.

            These considerations take us back to the meaning of love as the driving force of life. They stress the big gulf between pleasure and the happiness of the beloved at heart, but also the welfare of all those responsible for or dependent on the beloved. This latter truth is often selfishly overlooked.

            Admittedly, continence is difficult for young people nowadays. But it is by no means impossible; and those who desire to maintain or achieve it can do so by keeping the meaning of sexual love clearly before their minds and by avoiding all situations which might be a temptation to them – drinking too much, being alone together in a secluded place for too long, being in the lounge or the car with the light out and with nothing else to do but want each other, and similar dangerous situations. If a couple are really in love, they can be a strong support and help to each other in controlling themselves for something which they value more than immediate and passing pleasure.