Something I don’t see much in our culture and would like to change: respect for sexuality. Besides being the gift of creativity itself, no small feat, sex is a natural and free source of pleasure that, oh by the way, keeps us healthy, fit, and glowing.
So much about sex is awesome and wonderful, and yet our culture as a whole has trivialized it, demonized it, ridiculed it, dogmatized it, pornified it, and uglified it.
I have often wondered what the world would look and feel like if we truly respected sexuality. What if we beheld it as sacred from the get-go? What if we looked at sex as many of us look at a moonrise or sunrise or sunset or moonset? What if we looked at it with the reverence we hold for the natural world around us — the magnificent ocean vistas, the towering waterfalls, the beauteous alpine meadows? What if we honored sex as a spiritual interlude with our loved ones … and the divine?
I strongly believe that we should go back to the drawing board on this one and give it a re-think.
THE MEDIA CULTURE
When it comes to disrespecting sex, pornography is just a start, but a huge start. Supposedly porn shows us state-of-the-art sex — what we should aspire to. Yet it’s as if they never heard of or even imagined intimacy. Porn sex is usually not fun, loving, friendly, intelligent. It is grueling, mechanical, and often hard-hearted. It’s beyond what most people look like and what they are capable of doing. The platter of antics that porn serves up is not respectful of the natural magnificence of real-life sex. It’s a cheap imitation pandered as the sizzling best.
Porn, meanwhile, mirrors in a sexually graphic way what the other media suggest or allude to. Sex in mainstream Hollywood movies is usually depicted as a recreational conquest that often leads to problems or tragedies. It’s just for kicks or to prove someone’s coolness factor. Often someone seduces and then humiliates and abandons the victim. We see a bumper crop of horndog creeps in movies and plenty of acts of humanity against humanity. Rarely in movies do we see a depiction of sex as awesome, beautiful, empowering, and happily life-changing.
TV shows being even less explicit than movies often use dialogue to cheapen sex, to show it has no respect for sexual attraction. Sometimes the less explicit that sex is, the more harm it can do. Popular entertainment often reinforces stereotypes that keep many of us feeling ugly, ashamed, and unworthy. Look at all the people who become the butt of jokes about their various forms of “ugliness.” In drama sex is often tossed into the gutter, slime for crime. So-called factual TV has a field day with sexual deviancy and malice without presenting counterpoints of healthy sex. Think Jerry Springer’s ilk. When do you ever see sweet programs about the wonders of orgasm? Just sayin’.
Media turn sex into a cheap knock-off of what I came to know as its potential. Media turn sex into formulated physical interludes that have little mental, emotional, or spiritual impact — unless it’s painful or tragic. This usually translates into the message that the sex urge creates bullies and victims. Great message. Thanks, guys,
Most religions do not encourage us to respect and adore sexuality. We’re taught more to fear the devils who tempt our lustful desires. Outside of attempting to control behavior with fear, religions from what I can tell don’t do much Lord-praising and God-thanking for this wonderful gift. They portray sex as about flesh and weakness, not about holy merging and love.
In a similar vein, marriage is usually presented to the world as sanctifying a relationship after which sex is permitted, yet this institution does not portray sex itself as being sacred. Sex becomes a benefit of marriage; now it is legal and even God blesses it. Yet sex is not often held in reverence as a special bonding ritual. It devolves into “Not tonight Honey” and auto-pilot calisthenics.
As a condition of a committed relationship, monogamy means avoiding temptation from all others. Yet relationships often practice sex as an activity, not as a deep, special bond. It does not seem to occur to people that despite appearances. a sexual relationship is 24/7. Even when you’re not acting sexual, intimacy-building (or its opposite) happens with every interaction. The communicating, the shows of affection, the support in both sickness and in health, even the arguing and dealing with problems and disappointments affect all future interludes.
Non-monogamous lifestyles might appear to hold sex in higher regard — or maybe it’s just pretend. When people trash a lover’s feelings and avoid deep intimacy to feast on multiple partners, that isn’t respecting sex. I’ve seen it work ethically and happily, but it’s rare.
What does sexual respect look like?
Sex itself is sometimes goofy, wild, gritty, wicked, intense, slobbery, ooey-gooey — anything but dignified. The fun of it is relishing the whirling, swirling mess. Offering each other a sacred space within which to be wild and free is a fabulous gift. It is like saying, “This is recess. Play all you want.” Protecting that playground with all your honor shows respect for it.
We seem to have made a cultural imperative to diminish the value of sex. To respect sex would be to participate in it with gratitude. It would mean honoring your partner who chose to share this experience with you. The play might get dirty and edgy. It may seem anything but sacred. Yet having had the thrill ride brings us back to the thankfulness for such play.
Respecting sex is also understanding that you make love to more than bodies. You make love to souls, to personalities with feeling, to people with emotional histories. When sex is about making love to souls, the intimacy goes deeper. The feelings penetrate farther. Even the pleasure is more intense.
There is a further layer of gratitude for me. It is to the deity that created this magnificent system — God, nature, the universe. Making love lets me love a mate and my deity at the same time. The more I love my mate with an open and free heart, the more pleasure flows through me from the design that the great infinite provided.
This is sex beyond ego. We’re taught to adore a person, conditioned to think someone is hot, sexy, and responsible for arousing our hunger. What we don’t often consider is that the very sex appeal we are driven by is an expression of God! The very energy of attraction that makes someone hot to you — and you hot to that person — is the force of nature or the force of God.
Respecting sex is like respecting the force that shaped Yosemite Valley or the Grand Canyon or that makes the mighty oceans. It’s the same force that makes flowers and trees bloom in the spring and dance magically during the harvest days of autumn. It’s the force that takes our breath away in all the ways it does.
LOST AND FOUND
As many people will attest, we don’t often appreciate what we have until we lose it. To make matters worse, often when we have something, we soon want more or we want different. If something may be lacking in our vision of perfection, we tend to forget the blessings of what we have. In my opinion, big mistake.
These days I memorialize gifts given to me long ago from people who have gone on. I lament how I took some gifts for granted, the times I didn’t try harder, the times I didn’t see farther than my immediate desires or limited perspective. In my current life, I have no partner, a situation which inspires much thought and perspective about the meaning and worth of happy sex.
If it were held as more sacred, perhaps we would not treat sex as an after-thought, a recreational diversion for when we get bored. Perhaps our lives would have more meaning if we conceived of sex in a more creative light.