SUMMARY: The statement “Sex is sacred” can have two meanings and thus two very different answers, depending on which meaning you go with.
(About a 5 minute read)
I was recently shocked and delighted when an attractive young woman I talk with about once every week or two at the local coffee shop suggested to me I’d be “fun to get in bed with”.
That is, I was shocked because Amanda is nearly 35 years my junior, and I was delighted because not many attractive 20 somethings have in recent years professed any such interest in me, despite that I typically spend some time each week standing beside the interstate exit ramp with a cardboard sign reading, “Experienced Sex Tutor. Free Lessons!”.
By the way, sex tutoring is a hectic occupation that leaves me each day with very little time left over than what’s necessary for me to churn out six or eight blog posts, feed myself, shower, sleep, visit friends, read blogs, scratch myself, etc, etc.
Or rather, I was shocked and delighted by her offer until she explained that she thought I’d be a natural companion for her to jump up and down on her mattress and box springs with. Then I was left only delighted; delighted because, yes, that is my style. I do indeed go with that flow.
Ok. Ok. I confess I was dressing that up a little bit. Actually, she didn’t surprise me at all with her suggestion because we’d been entertaining ourselves talking about “fun things people can do in bed other than have sex”. So I wasn’t exactly shocked and delighted, but I was amused!
I can’t remember what she or maybe I said that turned the conversation serious for a moment, but soon enough our conversation morphed into whether or not sex is sacred.
Amanda is of the opinion that sex is indeed sacred. When I asked her what she meant by “sacred” she told me of her belief that God — she’s a Christian, although she seldom goes to church these days — created sex in order to give us humans a taste of what it will be like to be with him in heaven. I rather like that idea, by the way, although I don’t share it.
At any rate, she seems to me to be following one of the popular definitions of “sacred” — having to do with divinity. That contrasts with my own definition of sacred which is “inspiring awe and reverence”. This morning, I’ve been thinking about our conversation and how those two definitions have very different consequences.
If you think about sex in Amanda’s terms
as bouncing up and down in bed as something that is associated with God, then I don’t think too many serious questions are raised by the notion that it’s sacred. Of course, you can’t actually prove it is, anymore than you can prove God exists, but you’re free to take it on faith that it is sacred.
But what if you think about sex is sacred in my terms — as something that inspires awe and reverence?
Well, it seems to me more than one thing happens. First off, Amanda’s notion implies sex is always sacred since it always has something to do with God. My notion does not imply that. Sex is only sacred if and when it inspires awe and reverence. On the other hand, Amanda’s notion requires you to believe in God, but my notion does not.
But there’s a much more subtle implication going on here. If, like me, you think of sex as inspiring awe and reverence, then you are logically in the very same position as saying “My lace panties are comfortable” (Note: That’s an inside joke between loyal blog reader Carla and I — she rightfully pointed out I should have used that example to illustrate a point I made in a post on this blog yesterday). That is, you are stating a subjective opinion when you state, “Sex inspires awe and reverence in me” — just as subjective as stating, “My lace panties are comfortable”.
Now, that would seem to mean that sex itself was not actually sacred, but that only there was something about it that inspired awe and reverence. Contrast that with Amanda’s view that sex is intrinsically sacred — that “sacred” is an actual property of sex. In my view, sacred is a response to something about sex, but not an actual property of it.
Mind boggling, I know. I mean the lace panties. They always mind boggle me whenever I see any — which is all to infrequently these days, if you ask me. I mean, how often does any porn-film director think of dressing a Balinese donkey in lace panties? Right! Too few! And I myself certainly don’t mind being a bit disappointed and cranky about it.
Here’s the point. If the sacredness of sex is actually a mere response to something about sex, do we have any logical right to claim sex is sacred — apart from the fact that’s how the English language requires us to express the idea?
Put differently, can sex be genuinely sacred without God — or at least a god?
I think that — if we get very technical about it — the notion sex is sacred must either be rooted in the faith that some god has made it sacred or it cannot be properly said to be sacred. Which would imply an answer to our original question, “Is sex sacred?” We would logically need to answer that question with, “Yes, but only as a matter of faith, and not as a matter of experience. As a matter of experience, sex is not sacred, but only our response to sex is sacred.”
Admittedly, in the grand scheme of things, if does not matter a whole lot whether you think sex is sacred for one reason or another. All that really matters is whether or not you do. But then, in the grand scheme of things, bouncing on beds with a fun friend doesn’t matter either. Yet, we all of us must admit — it sure beats the lace panties off most things.