February 26, 1993

Is Sex Necessary?

Sex has become the most discussed subject of modern times. The Victorians pretended that it did not exist; the moderns pretend that nothing else exists.

Fulton J. Sheen

The answer to the question "is sex necessary?" depends on who you ask. For most people in their nineties, the answer is "no". For many clergymen, particularly celibate clergyman, the answer is also "no". They contend that if a person sets his/her mind to it, he/she can do without sex. I agree; people can do without sex.

The next question is whether a person, given a free choice, would choose to do without sex. For most people, doing without sex would be a very unsatisfactory way of living. For most people the hunger for sex is as innate and powerful as hunger for food. There are exceptions, and for these people it is incomprehensible that so many people make such a fuss over it. A number of people have opted for a sexless life after living a life in which sex played an important part. For some it just was no longer worth the trouble --and it can be lots of trouble.

For most young people, sex is a major driving force in their lives. Some sublimate the desire, but most do not. It is less common than it used to be for a couple to be virgins at marriage and to stay faithful to their partner for life. This old-fashioned life style has much to recommend it. For one thing, it's a lot safer than any of the alternatives.

There are a variety of cultural ways of dealing with sex. Many cultures allow men to do as they please and to later marry virgins and sire families. Many an innocent young female was introduced to sex, pregnancy and syphilis at the same time.

Along with the thrill of sex are some serious hazards. The mildest of these is pregnancy. Next are curable Venereal diseases. ( I prefer that phrase to Sexually Transmitted Diseases(STD) because I consider Venus a deity worthy of a bit of respect.) Among these are syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia and a few others. The usually mild disease herpes is incurable, but rarely has serious side effects. Unfortunately, it can be transmitted to a newborn baby and it can be very serious to the infant.

In a class by itself is AIDS, which is a sure-fire killer. To date, no one has lived for a really long time with the HIV virus. Making matters worse, AIDS is a terrible way to die. In my youth, AIDS didn't exist, but there were few effective cures for the other venereal diseases. The cures came during WWII with the sulfonamides and penicillin.

The fact is that, unlike colds and flu, it is possible to protect one's self and others from AIDS and other diseases, as well as from pregnancy. The surest way to do it is to abstain from sex, or restrict your sexual activity to kissing, fondling and masturbation. There are a number of ways to prevent pregnancy, but only the condom will protect from diseases as well.There is something to be said for fear as a deterrent to sexual activity:

There was a young lady of Wylde,

Who kept herself quite undefiled,

By thinking of Jesus,

Contagious diseases,

And having an unwanted child.

I believe that society has to deal with reality. Reality is not pre-marital chastity. Regardless of how desirable it may be, it is not the way that most people do things. There are some who believe that those who don't believe in pre-marital chastity deserve what they get --which may be an early and painful death. It is, in a way, the old Muslim battle cry "death to the infidel!"

I am quite a bit more tolerant of the folly of youth and believe that an early death is much too severe a punishment for indulging in sex in one's youth.

Will making sex safe encourage more young people to try it? It probably will. This has to be weighed against the alternative, that not making sex safe will not discourage too many and will result in many deaths among our young people, plus the spread of diseases to all segments of society. It will also spread to the moral, church-going segment because some people do not practice what they preach.

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