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Sex Sense


Opinions, experiences, customs, and beliefs about sex differ so much that almost nothing can be said dogmatically on the subject. Yet this is an area where dogmas abound... from restrictive religious dogmas to permissive liberal dogmas (e.g. "Nothing is wrong if it makes you feel good").

Even individuals fluctuate with regard to what we feel right about. We look back with embarrassment at things we did when extremely aroused; yet we know that under similar conditions we will probably do it all again.

Nevertheless, we will share here some observations that may help to bridge the gap between these two extreme approaches to sexual matters:

1. Times have changed. Morality should not be affected by changing fashion; but much that passes for morality is, itself, just tradition. Those who say people were just as promiscuous during the Victorian era (albeit secretly) are as wrong as those who argue that people can be as sexually restrained today as they were in the 19th Century.

The two big changes are in birth control and the mass media. These two factors work together to promote greater sexual activity: The media gives non-stop stimulation; while birth control removes the threat of unwanted pregnancy. Rejecting birth control without rejecting the mass media has put impossible demands on millions of people.

Sex is used in advertising, music, movies, TV, and novels. If we could escape direct contact with all of these, we still could not escape the influence of a society that also has been indoctrinated by the media. When everyone we meet assumes that sexual promiscuity is the norm, it is difficult to maintain a conviction and life-style that differs from this. Sexual performance is so much a part of Western values that even the wives of church leaders compete for the attention of the opposite sex through clothing, makeup, jewellery, etc. (contrary to 1 Peter 3:3-4).

One could go crazy trying to turn away from all such temptations. Or one could recognise birth control as part of God's 'way of escape'. (1 Corinthians 10:13) In other words, in a situation (i.e. marriage) where a little sexual activity is not regarded as sinful (Hebrews 13:4), then a lot of sexual activity should not be regarded as sinful either. One way or the other, there is going to be more sexual activity as a result of all the sexual stimulation coming at us from every direction these days. And all that is necessary for couples to be able to engage in sex more freely, is for them to use birth control. (The problems faced by singles is addressed in the next point.)

2. Curiosity and arousal are not lust. It is almost impossible to stop one's biological urges; but it is not all that difficult to control one's commitment to chastity. A misunderstanding of Christ's reference to adultery in one's heart (Matthew 5:27-28) has led many people into a lifetime of guilt feelings about being interested in or aroused by thoughts about sex. Add to this the suggestion that even within marriage it is sinful to want sex for pleasure (while at the same time seeking to avoid pregnancy) and you have a society of people who are preaching something that very few of them can practice.

Rarely do the strictest puritans condemn wet dreams; yet many are quick to condemn wet daydreams (i.e. masturbation) as being lustful and spiritually adulterous. But masturbation and/or frequent intercourse in marriage are often the best ways to avoid committing adultery; i.e. by dealing with arousal in such a way as to remove the biological pressure to commit adultery.

Jesus was not condemning the Pharisees for being sexually aroused when he said they were guilty of committing adultery in their hearts; instead, he knew they wanted to be unfaithful to their wives, but restrained themselves only out of fear of being caught.

Condemning birth control and masturbation (two areas where the Bible is notably silent) creates unfair guilt feelings in people who are being constantly pushed by the media into some form of sexual relief. This unnatural form of condemnation has actually fostered homosexuality, prostitution, and infidelity (subjects on which the Bible is not silent!)

If you are sexually frustrated, but do not want to commit adultery, then masturbation or increased marital sex are the obvious solutions. Of course, if you want to commit adultery, then whether or not you ever get up enough courage to do it, you are still guilty of lusting after something you should not have. That is the point Jesus was making in Matthew 5:27-28.

3. There is a place for double standards. The way a couple behaves in the bedroom is obviously not the way they behave in public. Blatant sexuality, as stated earlier, is a source of constant sexual frustration for others. So a married couple should be considerate of the effect their actions will have on others before they flaunt their liberties. What is taken for granted by one person may be extremely embarrassing to others; we need to respect the feelings of others.

Much of the adventure in marriage comes from sexual exploration and discovery. While young people need to feel free about discussing sex issues, the ideal place for them to find the answers to much that is only idle curiosity is in the company of the one they marry. It is a shame that the media has robbed young people of many of the joys of such discovery.

4. Finally, the real problem (once again) is GREED. The church has, for too long, laid the blame for sexual immorality on the backs of the sexually active masses, with only rare swipes at the merchants who have exploited sex to sell their products. Until and unless the real culprits are exposed, the confusion and the false condemnation will continue.

(See also Birth Control, and Wanking...The Last Taboo)

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