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.