Most people in our modern era can be accused of not doing much thinking about sex.
That is a funny assertion to make, I realize.
Our culture is saturated in sex, isn’t it?
You can’t watch a sporting event without scantily-clad women featured everywhere. I don’t think a single razor blade company has aired a commercial without the implication being that their blade will help you get the woman of your dreams.
Billboards, magazine covers, TV shows, and movies feature sex at a dizzying rate. So, how can I claim people haven’t done much thinking about sex?
WITH NOT TOO MUCH THINKING, YOU’LL SEE SEX HAS MEANING
The frequency at which people think about sex remains high, no doubt. Still, I would argue very few have done much thinking about it in depth.
Hey, if it feels good, it must be good, right? That’s the mentality out there. Not too many people in modern culture analyze the purpose or meaning of sex.
I will turn to philosopher and author, J. Budziszewski for some insights. The following observations he makes in his book, On the Meaning of Sex.
He looks to different parts of the human body to see if we can come to understand the purpose for which they exist. He spends awhile on the lungs and the heart. The former clearly serves to oxygenate the body’s blood supply. The latter’s purpose remains to pump blood through the body. This seems fairly straight forward. He goes on.
“If we can ascertain the meanings and purposes of all those other powers [of the human body], there is no reason to think that we cannot ascertain the meanings and purposes of the sexual powers. Natural function and personal meaning are not alien to each other. They are connected. In a rightly ordered way of thinking, they turn out to be different angles of vision on the same thing” (pg. 22, emphasis added).
Budziszewski states the purposes for the sexual powers as procreation and union. “These two meanings are so tightly stitched that we can start with either one and follow the threads to the other” (p 24).
That sex’s primary purpose is procreation should be obvious to everyone. Yet, sadly, it is not. Not much thinking is required to arrive at that conclusion. It’s just likely that not many have bothered to do much thinking about it.
The male reproductive organs and the female reproductive organs complement each other perfectly. The male has the ability to transmit the gamete from his body to the female’s. The female has the organs necessary to receive that gamete, combine it with her own, and to form a new human life. Beyond that, she has an organ (the uterus) capable of sustaining this new human life for nine months until the baby can be born. And what’s more, she has the ability to provide the child with nourishment upon birth (by nursing).
Not exactly rocket science.
ANTICIPATING AN OBJECTION
I have heard this objection many times: “Yes, sex can be used to make babies, but that’s not its only purpose. It’s also fun. Can’t the purpose of sex be to enjoy each other physically?”
Budziszewski does a good job handling this objection to the obvious fact that the primary purpose of sex remains to procreate. He draws an analogy between sex and eating.
What is the purpose of eating? Primarily it is to obtain nutrition to keep our bodies functioning.
Yet, just like having sex, eating brings us pleasure. Therefore, can we conclude the purpose of eating is pleasure instead?
This would be a poor conclusion to draw. Why? Well, if the purpose of eating was merely for pleasure, then what’s to stop someone from binging on feasts and purging themselves between courses? Budziszewski points to the ancient Romans who would do this, as they enjoyed the pleasure of eating too much (pgs. 24-25).
We might add that eating ice cream, candies, and sweets bring us, perhaps, the more pleasure while eating. Does this mean that our diets ought to consist only in desserts? Obviously, not.
For, to eat for pleasure, rather than for nutrition, leads to physical problems for us. Sure, eating a sweet occasionally is fine. But eating them all day, every day will make us sick.
The Natural Law professor observes we should not treat our bodies as mere machines meant to register “agreeable sensations” to our minds and nothing more (pg. 25). Rather, we need to treat our bodies with respect and use each other of abilities for the purpose for which they were created.
Budziszewski points out that all our natural human abilities are self-sufficient (breathing, walking, hearing, etc.), save for one (pgs. 28-29). The ability to procreate and prolong the human species requires two people to come together to form new human life.
The act of sex has the awe-inspiring capacity to create an immortal soul. This fact is worth contemplating.
To treat sex as merely a recreational sport for pleasure misses its purpose. What the body does in the act and how such a mentality approaches it are misaligned. As a result, the conjugal act remains unfulfilled and a shell of what it was created for. Fornication, contraceptive sex, promiscuity, adultery, and homosexuality are all perversions of the conjugal act.
Are you in agreement not much thinking is actually required to draw the proper conclusion at to the meaning of sex?
Please leave your thoughts below.