BY DAVID QUINNWe like to think we live in an age of honest talk about sex, but it isn’t true.
Jude Law and Cameron Diaz in The
What has not been discussed in any of this is the all-important, decisive topic of what sex is about. What is it directed towards? Why does it exist at all? If we don’t answer these questions correctly then we cannot hope to come up with a theory of what true sexual fulfilment is. If we don’t even ask these questions, then we can’t even hope to begin the debate.
Before proceeding, however, let’s remind ourselves of the promises made by the sexual revolution. The theorists of the sex revolution began with an extremely reductive and naïve view of human nature, namely that sex is our fundamental and most basic impulse, and that this impulse is directed chiefly towards pleasure.
The sex revolutionists said the only answer to this was to allow the sex drive run its natural course by not seeking to thwart it in any way.
Theories of ‘free love’ grew out of this. Love was conflated with sex, and the supposed freedom of ‘free love’ lay in the belief that sex could be consequence-free. The Pill added tremendous impetus to this belief. For the first time in history you could have sex and be almost 100pc sure that no pregnancy would result. And if it did, there would always be the fall-back option of abortion. Furthermore, there would be no need to commit to your sexual partner. You would only stay with him or her until such time as your sex drive took you somewhere else.
In fact, ‘free-love’ wasn’t free at all. So-called free love can only come by suppressing other parts of human nature, parts that are in fact intimately and inextricably linked with sex itself. Free love is only ‘free’ if we suppress our desire for children and, in the ultimate irony, if we suppress our desire for love.
Just ask Robert Hughes. Hughes is one of the best respected art critics writing today. Back in the 1960s he ‘swung’ with the best of them. He thoroughly believed in free love. Like his fellow believers he thought he had found the secret of human happiness. He now admits he found only misery.
Hughes decided that love, and free love, are not compatible. Danne appears never to have come to this fundamental realisation. Her life led her deeper and deeper into drugs. She died in 2003, aged 60, almost certainly a victim of ‘free love’.
What happens if we ignore the emotional signals sex sends us? What happens if we insist on pretending that sex is only about the sex act itself? Eventually one of two things happens. Either we become hardened and sex loses all ability to incline us towards love and commitment, or else we become embittered. We become embittered because we expected more from our sexual partners than they are willing to give. We thought sex meant something more than sex. But for our sexual partners, it was only about sex. Therefore one person’s emotional hardness causes another person’s emotional bitterness. That is what happens when sex and commitment are separated.
The latest romantic-comedy showing in cinemas is The Holiday.
In it we meet two characters, Amanda and Graham, played by Cameron Diaz and Jude Law. Both are good looking, in their thirties, and single. They both have successful careers.
However, the sex revolution has taught them that sex often doesn’t signal commitment, or even emotional warmth. Therefore, Amanda and Graham aren’t sure at first where to take their relationship, such as it is. If, on the other hand, they lived in a world which teaches that commitment should come before sex, then there would be no confusion. Amanda and Graham would know that having sex signifies commitment. For a Christian, of course, marriage is the ultimate commitment, the ultimate context for sex.
Speaking of which, children are why sex exists in the first place. Amazingly, we have forgotten this. The only reason human beings consist of a male and a female is because we reproduce sexually, not asexually. Sex directly us towards love and commitment. More radically, it directs us towards children, and most people are not complete (insofar as we can be complete this side of Heaven) without children.
It is a curious, not to mention tragic thing that the sex revolution which promised to free us from repression did so by ushering in new forms of repression. It said we would be free if we believed that sex is simply about sex but it forgot that sex is even more about commitment and about children. The result is that we have repressed these parts of what sex is about instead and the further result is untold misery for untold numbers of people.
David Quinn. “The meaning of sex.” The Irish Catholic (January
David Quinn is one of Ireland's best known religious and social affairs commentators. For over six years he was editor of The Irish Catholic, Ireland's main Catholic weekly newspaper. He has written weekly opinion columns for The Sunday Times and The Sunday Business Post. He has contributed to publications such as First Things, the Human Life Review and the Wall Street Journal ( Europe edition). Currently he is working freelance and contributes weekly columns to The Irish Independent, Ireland's biggest selling daily paper, and the Irish Catholic. He appears regularly on Irish radio and television current affairs programmes.
Copyright © 2006 The Irish Catholic
# 43 CUL - El sentido de la vida - Categoría: Naturaleza o cultura (The Meaning of life - Nature and culture)