Wednesday, September 08, 2010

The Purpose of Sex

The primary purpose of sex is procreation, not recreation!

That statement will undoubtedly be maligned, criticized, and considered incredibly naive by a great many (if not most) of the people in our permissive contemporary society. But, it is true nonetheless. There is definitely a pleasurable, recreational aspect to sex that was expressly put there by God for the enjoyment and delight of His creatures. But, the fact remains that its primary purpose is to create life.

I write this because our society has focused for far too long on promoting sex outside of marriage as normative behavior to be engaged in casually by anyone older than about twelve.

We look at teen pregnancies, sexual abuse, Sexually Transmitted Diseases, pornography, and abhorrent sexual behaviors as grave societal problems, which they certainly are. But these problems have not arisen because we don't use condoms, or aren't careful when engaging in sex, or don't have the right filters on our computers, or don't properly enforce the laws that are already on the books.

They have grown to overwhelming proportions because we have totally missed the point that sex is NOT primarily a recreational activity. Sex produces babies. It was designed to do just that.

Several cultures in the ancient world practiced infant sacrifice. This occurred in part because their rampantly immoral lifestyles and worship practices resulted in unwanted babies. What do you do to get rid of unwanted babies? Offer them to your "gods!" We do something similar with the unwanted babies that have resulted from lifestyle choices in our culture. We call it abortion.

Do you know the real difference between infanticide and abortion? In abortion, you don't hear them scream.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is an excellent posting, full of good points!

Rather than "recreational", I'd like to suggest another word to help us better understand the nature of the marital act and the pleasure derived from it. For human beings, who are created in God's image, sexual intercourse has a "unitive" purpose - as well as a procreative "end" or goal. This unitive aspect of human sexual relations is what distinguishes human procreation from that of animals, and it is the source of the yearning we feel for sexual union. This union yields different manners of pleasure, results of the uniting of ourselves with another - physically, emotionally and hopefully spiritually.

On a mere biological level, we are driven to unite ourselves physically. The focus on the pleasure derived from this leads to the perception that sex has a "recreational" aspect.

However, if we look at sex as a "recreational" activity, even in part, we instrumentalize the other person, reducing him or her to an object we use for our own pleasure, even if this is not our intention. We also instrumentalize our own sexuality, making of it a source for our own selfish pleasure.

Sex is designed rather as a mutual giving of self - even disordered sex can mimic this self-gift, though only in part, by producing in feelings of emotional closeness and intimacy. (So great is God's love for us that even in sin He provides an intimation of salvation!) The lovers GIVE of themselves, even if it is only their bodies that are being given.

God tells us that the proper place for this self-gift is Christian marriage, because it is the only place where the gift can be whole, indissoluble and a true reflection of His love for us.

So, sex has two equally important ends: the procreative and the unitive. Ordered acts of intercourse need to be "open" to both ends.

Two great books on this subject are:

Love and Responsibility, by John Paul II - a philosophical exploration of love and sexuality.

Three to Get Married, by Fulton Sheen - a theological account of marriage with God at the center of the union.

Both offer sound, Biblically-based accounts of sexuality that address the misunderstandings and errors of our age.

JPII is especially good about the errors of "sensuality" and "sentimentality" - how our desire for feelings of pleasure can lead into an objectification of the other, even in marriage.