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Sex: More Than a Feeling?

Is sex for the single purpose of pleasure truly wrong?

It’s funny. Growing up, I told myself I’d wait until marriage to have sex. But that was until I discovered how great sex is. Now, I think that statement probably makes me sound a lot more whorish than I actually am. I am not declaring any amount of promiscuity in the least. I've only had two sexual partners in my lifetime, and I don't expect that number to grow. I am merely stating a simple truth: Sex… is good.

However, when the time did come for me to lose my virginity, I did not lose it for the sole benefit of pleasure. I gave it away because I knew how much I loved him, and I truly believed he would end up being the man I was to marry. So… We had sex—knowing it was something special.

But it seems nowadays the act of sex has lost its sanctity, and, now more than anything, it is merely an act of pleasure and not of love. I guess the real question is, Has sex ever been sacred? Perhaps it had been… It is stated in the bible somewhere that the union of two bodies is an act that should only be shared between two people joined in holy matrimony. (OK, you can just tell by my clumsy phrasing that I lack any biblical literacy whatsoever.) Perhaps, in the biblical sense, sex is sacred. But what about the rest of the sensible world?

If you date it back to, say, the Greeks, sex has been an act of pleasure for many many centuries now. Think of the Romans or of John Wilmot, the 2nd Earl of Rochester, who during the reign of Charles II, drunk himself silly in sexual relations with countless mistresses, a deed re-enacted by Johnny Depp in The Libertine.

I wonder… is sex for the purpose of pleasure really right or wrong? And I wonder who writes the rules. Perhaps we should write our own rules and not be swayed so much by those around us and those who came before us. But how can we not be?

Media has such a stronghold on American society these days, and the movies and television will tell you it’s OK to have sex simply because it’s pleasurable—if you’re feelin’ it, then go for it… Go in there with no inhibitions, no apprehensions, nothing. They tell us sex doesn’t really have to mean anything.

And what I really want to know is, Do some of us abstain from sex for the sake of pleasure because we actually believe it’s wrong (and feel that sex should have a higher purpose), or do we abstain from it because we believe it can be thought of as wrong? And if it is merely the latter, then surely it is others who write the rules for us.

And if someone else writes the rules for us, then what is our own judgment worth when it is based on a scale weighed entirely by someone else’s hands, by someone else’s view of the world?

What good is saying “sex for the sole benefit of pleasure is wrong” when that opinion does not even come from our own gut, but rather from the lips of another?

However, surely, the media does not write such rules, or else they’d be breaking the rules on an hourly basis. Because characters on TV and in cinema “do” each other frequently without any emotional attachment whatsoever, and I wonder if I scoff at them because I am genuinely offended or if I scoff at them because I’ve been taught to scoff at people like that. Do you see what I’m getting at? I don’t condone promiscuity or trading sex for favors, but in a world where marriage is about as unadulterated as the backseat of a gigolo's smokin’ sedan, where the value of a relationship is constantly being undermined by the deteriorating worth of love, how can one say, one way or another, sex needs to be more than just sex? Unless, of course, for you, sex = love.

In which case, my childlike self would applaud you for saying that—as well as the romantic in me.

Yes, sex, to me, for a very long time, was something so special, so sacred… a pure act between two consenting individuals who care so deeply for one another, but I see now that was only an idealistic POV of mine… a child’s eye view… a view of a world where everything is black and white, and you either love someone or you don’t. In truth, I guess sex can mean nothing, and it could mean absolutely everything, depending on who it is with.

I think it was the character Carrie from Sex and the City who posed the question, “When did we start having sex and stop making love?” And I guess if we ignore history, that would be a very valid question. When did we stop making love? But then we’d have to pair that question with, “Where the hell did the worth of love go?” (when it comes to relationships). For some reason, I feel like love sometimes gets lost in the balance. And a relationship becomes more about keeping track of the number of fights you’ve had and about a competition for who gave more unselfishly to whom how many more times than the other. And if sex is a reserved privilege for the married, it seems the “married” lost their privilege long ago.

But I am not here to judge, especially with the knowledge that the world, for me, seems to grow more complicated every day… The more aware I become, the less I feel I know…

For many, sex reinforces love, it affirms love, and it “seals in the deal,” if you will. And I respect that position for I feel that for many, many people that holds true. It still holds true for me. Babies, for example, can be a product of love. And other times, they’re a product of carelessness which in turn was, most likely, a product of hormone-induced passion or even a drunken night. Uh-oh.

Things like that… just make me very confused. It might be instinctive to say, “Shame on you. You should’ve been careful. This is why you shouldn’t be having sex whenever and however you like!” But at the same time, how do we separate the love-makers from the hedonists?

Well, when it all comes down to it, we are a society of hedonists. Always have been, probably always will be… a group of people propelled by bodily desires, not by minds or hearts. Not to say our minds and hearts are inactive, but it is the human nature in us to seek pleasure. And, quaintly enough, pleasure has more heads than one.

And as crude as it may seem to the parents of young viewers out there, Hollywood producers are actually showing society in its true light… in its hedonistic venturing. I’m not saying it’s wrong or right, but I am saying it’s displaying reality.

So, when deciphering the pleasure altitude of another, the question is simple: Just how human are you?

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