Yesterday, with the kind of mild incongruity that I really appreciate, a Roman Catholic priest chum passed along in email an article entitled, "Why Sex Before Marriage is the Moral Thing to Do."
Appearing in The Guardian and written by a woman (could a man have gotten away with a similar argument?), the piece was a pleasant tweak ... especially here in a prurient America that can find a blessing in babies but a blasphemy in the mechanics of their creation.
Is there any topic in the world -- any topic at all -- that, upon finding its audience yawning in the balcony, does not benefit from the injection of that simple, three-letter word,
SEXGlobal warming ... and sex; war in the Middle East ... and sex; starvation in Africa ... and sex; drought in the Midwest ... and sex; presidential candidates ... and sex; economic downturns... and sex; blog posts ... and sex; even a second-period class in statistics ... and sex. Like an early-morning jolt of caffeine, "sex" seems capable of enlivening what threatens to become a really boring topic ... a universal solvent, so to speak. Five'll get you ten that this blog post gets a wider-than-usual audience because I intend to title it "sex."
My Roman Catholic priest chum, who seems to be dipping his toe in the waters of what life might be like outside the box of a profession he has catered to for decades, is as good an example as any of how and why "sex" might spiff up the sometimes stiff collars of religion or spiritual life. Believe in any god you'd care to, set up moral and moralistic borders galore ... still "sex" is a reality check that brooks no bullshit: It is powerful, pleasurable, universal ... swimming shallow or deep, it can be mean as a wet cat and soft as a sunset ... it reaches into dark corners and rises to brilliant heights ... like anything else it can be boring, but it's the kind of boring that can probably benefit from a little "sex."
In book publishing, there used to be a half-tongue-in-cheek rule that a novelist needed to introduce the first sex scene no later than page 34.
For once ... honesty! Ahhhh.
Sex takes people to a place where there are no hand-holds and somehow everyone knows that a place without hand-holds is somehow ineffably correct ... and more than that, quite pleasant. It is like discovering that the blue sky is blue. In a place without hand-holds, everything is set aside or left behind and ... and ... wow! Wow and yum. Morals and morality play no role ... it's purely human and has a deliciousness that is truly convincing.
For those inclined towards spiritual endeavor (or any other for that matter), I think sex is a wonderful adviser and reminder. If no-hand-holds is so clearly-clear in this realm, why is it so fuzzy and confused in other aspects of life? Would a wow be wow if everything were wow? Is the truth true when the best it can do is to rely on falsehoods or comparisons? In its moments, sex has no comparisons ... so maybe a life full of comparisons is a little cockeyed.
Whatever the rivulets of thought or emotion, I like the fact that sex has the capacity to get anyone's head out of the spiritual clouds ... or out of their own ass, if you prefer. The initial reaction to the wonders of sex may be to think that spending a lifetime doing nothing but screwing is the best of all possible worlds. But since that doesn't work very well, subtler questions may assert themselves: If I am capable of a no-hand-holds delight here, what's stopping me from enjoying it there?
Plenty of spiritual persuasions can be positively orgasmic in their attempt to corner the market of wow. Follow our way and you'll get to heaven. Follow our strictures and life will come up roses. God, heaven, hell, enlightenment, compassion, emptiness, souped-up altruism ... all of this and more like it is like the discoverer of the sex treasure who decides to spend his life in bed.
But the honesty of sex -- even in its dishonesties -- calls the aspirant to heel. No-hand-holds is simply no-hand-holds ... and anyone knows that from first-hand experience, without any intermediaries, including themselves. It is intimate before anyone starts bloviating about "intimacy."
In northern climes, the Eskimos sometimes call sex "laughing together."
Good ole sex.