Tuesday, November 14, 2006

O.K., I suspect you are wondering what's up with this particular blog entry. To be honest, and I want to be honest on this all important topic, I currently feel the need to let off a bit of steam on the topic of sex...because...over the years I have become increasingly frustrated about both the lack of quality discussions on sex and the never ending negative context in which sex is discussed in public. I can count the number of satisfying/fruitful sexual discussions on one finger. Homosexuality,abstinence,pornography,rape, and sexual promiscuity seem to be the only aspects of sex discussed in the public square these days. Doesn't anybody have anything else to say or contribute to the discussion of sex?...Is there anybody out there who has something to add to this most sacred of human experiences?...or... are we only left to talk to ourselves or a shrink about our sexual desires, questions, passions or interest in sex?...and...I find it telling that we can create some interesting and provactive discussions about politics, religion, and a host of other human related topics but when it comes to sex we, more often than not, come up with a big fat zero, which is ironic considering the interest and passions the vast majority of us have about the topic...getting off my soapbox for a minute...I concede that sex is an extremely personal matter that we have all been socialized to approach with great care...and...I concede there is much wisdom in being cautious about the personal details of this aspect of our lives...and...I confess that I may not have anything profound to add or contribute to this all important conversation...but... I have actually spent a sigificant amount of time thinking about sex and following are some questions and observations I have regarding sex. I would like to begin with some questions in part I. These are questions I, most often, do not have answers for, but these are some questions that have passed through my brain at one time or another over the years....and....I hope these questions do contribute, in some small way, to a fruitful discussion about sex, if not here, at least somewhere, sometime, in the future....


1. Why do we prefer to use scientific terms like penis and vagina when we talk about sex, both in public and in private...and...why is the vernacular sexual vocabularly considered dirty or obscene?....at least with a significant number of people in the middle class?

2. What are the sexual options, if any, for the reported 77 million adults who are not currently not married?

3. Why is masturbation such a hush, hush topic,especially, especially when one considers that everyone does it or has done it?

4. What do we make of a husband or wife who continues to masturbate even though they are married?

5. What is erotic sex and why do so few married couples experience erotic passionate sex?

6. If sex is such a private matter to discuss than in what context is it appropiate to talk about sex?

7. Why is it so hard for so many couples to talk about sex?

8. Why is it so hard for so many couples to express their sexual preferences/passions and desires, with each other?

9. Why does the average married couple only have sex about one and a half times a week...especially, when one considers it is one of the most pleasurable of all human experiences....and it's free!...

10. Why do so many churches, generally, give lip service, to the beauty of sex...and spend so much time mentioning the negative aspects of sex....

11. Why does the Catholic church continue to "insist" that their priests be celibate and expect abstinence?

12. Why doesn't repressing our sexual desires work, for most people?

13. Is sex between consenting non-married adults always wrong?...no matter what the age and circumstances?

14. Why are a significant number of hereterosexual adults more offended and repulsed by homosexual behavior between two men than two women?

15. How realistic is it to expect engaged couples, in our day and age, to remain abstinent until the day they get married?

16. What does God "really" think and feel about people who struggle with their sexual identity or sexuality in general?

17. Why do so many Christian women seem repressed regarding their sexuality?...this question is based on my antidotal evidence taken from various discussions with many of my Christian friends over the years...

18. And finally....Why is so much shame and guilt associated with something so pleasurable?


Anonymous said...

Eighteen good questions and I don't have answers for any of them!

julieunplugged said...

9. Why does the average married couple only have sex about one and a half times a week...especially, when one considers it is one of the most pleasurable of all human experiences....and it's free!...

I'll take this one on! :)

Anything that is easy and available eventually becomes routine.

I think sex is often about stimulation and newness. That's why for some people there is an endless quest for a new source of stimulation.

Married sex is comfortable but not new. It can be more intimate and safe, but somehow sex seems to thrive on the edges - that feeling of discovery or being chosen...

And men and women couldn't be more different when it comes to sex, so...

Great questions and few answers.


Scott said...

Oh, Bilbo, if we only had the "antidotal evidence"!

I'll take a shot at 15. I don't know how realistic it is to expect engaged couples to abstain from sex until marriage. Ideally, if engaged couples have their sexuality in perspective, they know why they should wait. Knowing why doesn't make abstaining easier necessarily and I don't think it is something for Christians to freak out about, or beat themselves up over should they do it.

Writing from my own experience, which I have go back 15 years to do, my wife and I managed to wait to until we were married, not that I wear that as a badge of moral courage, or a point of pride. It was very difficult and a struggle for both of us, but probably more for me. We were also engaged for a long time, longer than I would recommend- 2 years. Abstaining did cause some tension at times, but it wasn't like we didn't do anything during that time! Nonetheless, in retrospect I am glad we waited for a variety reasons both relational and personal.

I do have to say that if a couple is engaged, at least there is a commitment, an intent to marry and to enter into a life-long commitment. I do not think engagements should be entered into lightly nor should they should they last that long. In the Catholic Church we still have betrothal. As a deacon, when I meet with couples I am preparing for marriage, one of the first things we do is a betrothal. Even as Catholics we tend to ovelook the significance of couples moving from engagement, an informal agreement in our culture, and betrothal, a signed commitment before the Church to enter into matrimony, which binds the parties to go forward with the marriage.

I just wrote several long posts on my blog about sexuality from a Catholic/natural law perspective.

Bilbo said...

Hi Julie,

I used to think that men and women were radically different when it comes to sex, but, I am not so sure anymore... I think any assertions need to at least be qualified. I am not sure what you mean but I currently believe women can be just as passionate about sex as men, just as willing to initiate, just as willing to desire sex, and just as turned on by passionate lovemaking....

Bilbo said...

Hi Scott,

I like and agree with much of what you say....especially the parts about short engagements and not freaking out and beating oneself up if one can't live up to one's ideals...I raised the question because the circumstances and situations people face today regarding sexual temptations and our courtship practices are radically different than the past... and... couples today are getting married much later than the past...which...makes living up to the "ideal" of waiting until one is married much more difficult, imho...I am not suggesting we abandon the ideal "completely" but I do think both Catholics and Protestants need to address this challenge more seriously because I think to just exhort couples to just say no is not enough...just my take on things...

Scott said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Scott said...


I agree with your comment. I guess it goes back to having one's sexuality in perspective. This is no easy thing. I am opposed to white-knuckle obediance. Another name for that is setting oneself up for failure, guilt, and shame. In addition to the factors you mention, there is the issue that we live in a culture that hardly helps us keep our sexuality in perspective, regardless of what parents teach or what is learned at Church, or even regardless of what our own values and ideals are.

I can only write from a male perspective and I think, as males in our society, to borrow a quote from a critique of a Spinal Tap album, we swim in a sea of retarded sexuality. In other words, we are encouraged to remain sexual adolescents. If Mark Driscoll's comments are any indication, this faulty understanding of male sexuality is creeping into the Church.

I think engaged couples, particularly those who older, should ask themselves, Why can't we wait? Perhaps if waiting is difficult and the commitment and intention to marry is already there, you can bump up the date.

julieunplugged said...

I was speaking about women more in the context of marriage than outside it. I think most people are passionate about sex when they go without it, when they are in the courtship period.

The women I know who are still hot for sex are the ones who have husbands who seem apathetic or distracted or not interested. In marriages where the husband is the initiator and shows that unrelenting need for sex, women tend to be less able to muster the energy for sex.

Just my observations from lots and lots of conversations over the years.

For women, timing, space to build up need, romantic setting and so on go a long way in encouraging the frequency. But routine sex (which is what married sex often becomes after years together) is just not interesting to many many women. Whereas for men, it's often enough.

So that was the distinction I was making.