Is sex a sacred sharing that should only happen between two people who love each other? Is it a conduit for pleasure, or solely for reproduction? Is it a tool that the devil uses to bait people into going against God’s wishes?
I recently enjoyed a conversation with a friend’s mother about sex. When I mentioned a blog I wrote about “It’s Not Your Relationship; It’s Not Your Business – Or Is It?,” she said that these types of unions are about physical gratification, and little else. Then, she insisted that sex was for procreation. This is where it got juicy.
It is worth noting that I am talking about a woman who has five children. It is safe to say that she knows something about the matter at hand, and I respect that. But I challenged her assertion anyway. I asked, “If sex is simply for procreation, why can people who have passed child-bearing years still have and, from what I understand, enjoy it?” From a purely biological standpoint, once the body is no longer able to create children was over, there would be no reason for it to have stimulated genitals.
I countered, “The purpose of sex is intimacy.”
“So, is all sex intimate?” she retorted.
“Yes,” I said. “There is a level of intimacy occurring when there is sex – all of the time.”
In fact, with any human interaction, there is some level of intimacy. Sex, I believe, is given to us as a way to connect with one another and to satiate a hunger – not a baseless, animalistic hunger for pleasure (though sex can certainly be pleasurable … and animalistic), but a hunger for intimacy. If sex was purely about physical stimulation and gratification, we wouldn’t even need other human beings. At the risk of being crude, I point out that most of us know how to fly solo. Yet, that isn’t enough for most people. We want to connect with another person – to be touched, held, kissed, spoken to, noticed, appreciated, liked or loved, depending on what level of intimacy we want to feel.
Sex is also intimate in that it requires some level of vulnerability … and some level of risk. When we have sex, we risk unwanted pregnancy or contracting sexually-transmitted diseases, some of which can kill us. Depending on the situation, we may also risk our hearts, or risk getting caught. But knowing all of this, we still have sex.
Just as there is always some level of intimacy in all human interaction, there is also always some level of risk. When we talk to and exchange money with the cashier at the grocery store, we risk exposure to whatever airborne germs he might have. And when we make eye contact with strangers, we may be making ourselves vulnerable to an attack. But we still talk to people, interact with them and make eye contact, because as human beings, we feel some need to connect with others, so the risk is worth it.
I suspect there can be no intimacy if there is no risk. Sure, talking to cashiers and making eye contact with strangers are not as risky as having sex, but they also aren’t as intimate. The more you could get hurt by an interaction – the more vulnerable you’re willing to make yourself to another person, even if only subconsciously – the more intimate it is.
What do you believe the purpose of sex to be, and why? This may be the beginning of a fascinating dialogue. I look forward to it.
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