Sex should have meaning

By By Spencer Merrick

By Spencer Merrick

After listening to an intensely awkward two-hour maturation program in elementary school, a friend of mine referred to sex as the “horizontal no-pants dance,” a term he found easier to use, despite it having three more syllables. To most, sex is a curiosity, a subject that perks interest regardless of how much it has or hasn’t been indulged. (It was, after all, probably that word that led you to read this article.)

Sex is a touchy issue, especially on a predominantly Christian campus such as the U. There is a delicate balancing act to perform when addressing sex. How much exposure to sex and sexual themes in the media is too much? In schools, do we teach safe sex or do we teach abstinence before marriage? I don’t believe that trying to impose my views on (or even apply them to) others will do any more than result in an influx of hateful responses or obnoxiously blind support.

That said, however, I write this column in support of fidelity, though that support spits in the face of perceived social trends. I support fidelity for obvious safety reasons, but mostly on the basis that I firmly believe that sex is more than sex.

Science tends to reduce things to the ugly basics. One could examine a symphony by Beethoven and reduce the emotion-evoking harmonies and blissful melodies to nothing more than a series of sound waves penetrating the ear drum. In that same sense, science has reduced having sex to an act much like drinking a glass of water8212;we’re thirsty, so we take a drink of water. We’re tired, so we get some sleep. The body has hormones that create certain urges necessary for the procreation of the human species, so we have sex.

The latter approach is true in the same way that music is indeed a series of sound waves. But it doesn’t allow sex to become what it is8212;something more. Science and our modern society have turned sex into an act that is vital, yet in and of itself, meaningless8212;something we worship, not for any emotional, spiritual or even reproductive reasons, but for self-satisfaction and entertainment value. The media alone is proof that we obsess over sex8212;we’re continually bombarded with hundreds of reasons to have it and hundreds of ways to get it. But I can’t help but wonder if all of this isn’t really just evidence of a society that craves for sex to be something more than a purely biological act.

Christian theologian Philip Yancey spoke of this same paradigm when he said, “The problem isn’t that people are getting naked, but that they aren’t getting naked enough; we stop at the skin instead of going deeper into the soul.”

The scholar J.D. Unwin did a study testing the very idea of Freud’s “repressed sexuality”8212;chemically-induced sexual urges that govern our thoughts and actions from infancy, shaping our lives and our civilization. He had no religious stance or outstanding moral conviction. Unwin studied 86 different societies, from Rome to Babylon, and the tie between absolute monogamy and that civilization’s “expansive energy.” He found without exception that these societies flourished, culturally and geographically, during eras that valued sexual fidelity. Fidelity, it seems, has a greater effect on an individual or group than we’d like to admit.

Regardless of the reaction the topic of sex incites, it should never become taboo. I say that, not despite religious beliefs, but because of them. As Yancey argues, rather than being a rival to spirituality, sex is a pointer to it, if we are able to delve deeper into the meaning of it. But, for that same reason, it should never become a simple glass of water. The danger in reducing sex to such is that it disregards fidelity and its importance, and demeans those involved.

Now is the time when we build habits that shape the rest of our lives8212;if fidelity is not a priority now, it is unlikely to be in the future. Regardless of political or religious stances, let us always seek to respect sex by finding meaning within it. Fidelity, I’m sure, is a by-product of that understanding.

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