Yup, your worst fears are realized. The “it” I am talking about is SEX!
Obviously, we do it because it is pleasurable, right?
But hold on, if that were the only reason, we would have sex with anybody and everybody. There must be other reasons we choose our sex partners.
Billy Crystal crystallized one view of it when he said:
“Women need a reason to have sex — men just need a place.”
This suggests that while men are pretty much “on the make” all the time, women tend to be a little more discriminating, choosing their partners carefully.
Christians would view Crystal’s remark with horror. God made it clear in the Old Testament when he admonished us in Genesis I to:
“Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
The Bible makes it clear that the reason to have sex is procreation, and the more “fruitful” we are, the better…at least until we “fill the earth and subdue it.”
What the Bible doesn’t tell us is: What then? What are we supposed to do when the earth IS filled with people and it is “subdued” to the point that we are driving many species to extinction? When we are doing great damage to the air that we breathe and the water that we drink? Should we continue to be “fruitful” until, like fruit flies in a Bell Jar, we exterminate ourselves through the merciless and inexorable process of exponential growth?
It would be nice if we could ask God for new instructions, but he doesn’t seem to be updating the Bible to reflect the changing conditions of the modern world. So, it looks like we are going to have to figure this out for ourselves.
I won’t burden you with dismal Malthusian statistics. It’s pretty obvious that the present population of the planet is depleting and polluting our tiny speck of dust at a rate that bodes ill for future generations. If you don’t believe that, you haven’t been reading much, or you are in denial.
Assuming that you are aware of the state of the planet, I will ask you a rhetorical question: Should we obey God, and continue to be fruitful and multiply, increasing the human population beyond the present seven billion? If you answer yes, I ask: How much longer before we must do something to limit population growth?
If you believe, as I do, that we have already far exceeded a sustainable population for the planet, then what can we say about the Biblical admonition?
It seems clear that, like much of the Bible, we must “interpret” it to apply to the modern world. If God would just give us regular revisions, we wouldn’t have this problem.
One thing seems clear: We cannot continue to view the sex act as primarily a means for procreation. That has never been its only function. In fact, I will go out on a limb and claim that for as long as humans have walked the earth, men and women have enjoyed sex, demonstrated their love for each other and strengthened the bonds of their relationship through sex. Oh, and they also made babies occasionally.
To put it another way, if people should only have sex when they are trying to make a baby, then I suggest that twice in a lifetime would be the limit. But believe it or not there are people who are actually advocating that people should make as many babies as possible! Check out an organization called Quiverfull. If everyone on the planet followed their ideas, the human species would be extinct in about a hundred years. Or life would be truly miserable for those who were still alive.
Let me be perfectly clear (as Nixon said). I am NOT advocating any restriction on sexual activity. Sex is one of the great joys in life…a profoundly HUMAN activity that distinguishes us from the birds, bees and other animals, because we do it for pleasure, not just for procreation. I believe firmly that everybody should have sex as often as they like! What we need to do, though, is to restrict the procreation function so that the earth’s population can be maintained at sustainable levels. Contraception, family planning and early term abortion should be actively promoted and encouraged by all governments.
Furthermore, I can see absolutely no reason why ANY sexual activity between consenting adults should be proscribed. Hetero or homo, oral, anal, vaginal or whatever. If it gives pleasure, what’s the problem? And here, I recognize that I differ from those who view the Bible as the final authority on how people should conduct sexual intercourse. Once again, I wish we had a modern revision of those ancient texts. The only BAD outcome from a consensual sexual encounter that I can think of would be an unwanted pregnancy…but that can be easily and quickly corrected with an early-term abortion.
And speaking of unwanted pregnancies, I have this final word: To those who oppose contraception and abortion because (among other reasons) they “encourage sexual promiscuity,” I say: “What people do in the privacy of their homes is none of your business. Get a life. Stop trying to inflict your beliefs on everyone else. Enjoy your own life, and stop trying to run everyone else’s.”