taking sex seriously


I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

Christians take sex very seriously.  It’s only to be done within the sacred confines of a marriage between a woman and a man. And no divorcing and remarrying while your first spouse is still alive. You are committing a sin if you look at a member of the opposite sex and think, for a second, what would it be like? And let’s not even discuss what forbidden activities two men or two women could get up to (although the fact that Jesus didn’t have much to say about this doesn’t stop the damning ‘rules’ spilling out of third-time married pastors’ mouths).

Thankfully, I’m free from all this utter nonsense. The random words of men from 2000 years ago don’t determine the nature of my sexual activities. Atheists, throw off the shackles of sexual repression and get out there and have some fun!

However, there are at least two reasons I think it’s wise to take sex seriously.

The first one is the little matter of some potential consequences: unwanted pregnancies and the spread of disease. And for those reasons, I am going to controversially declare that the principle of marriage was a useful one in earlier centuries, before we had reliable birth and disease control in the handy form of The Condom. The pressure to keep sex within a committed relationship ensured that women alone weren’t always left to deal with the consequences of sex, and that children were more likely to be raised in a stable environment. But even today, with our condom friend to protect us, I think people need to be clear before they dive in, that the hormonal urges they are about to fulfill can still result in pregnancy or the acquisition of disease. That’s why I’m always banging on about the need for good sex education.

The second area I’m serious about relates to how we view sex, and the industries surrounding it, as a result of our emancipation from prescriptive religious sexual regulations. It’s great to make light of the sex industry – little giggles at strippers, prostitutes and semi-naked pictures of (mostly) women. We all appreciate sex, nothing dirty about it, so it’s all fun, right?  To be honest, I’m don’t really know.

I don’t know where the acceptability of paying for pictures of naked women becomes the acceptability of paying for live dancing women, and then becomes the acceptability of paying to have sex with women. Perhaps if in all these cases the women are making fully informed choices as consenting adults, it wouldn’t make a difference.  But unfortunately when I read studies that street-based sex workers suffer “multiple traumas that typically began in early childhood … Child sexual abuse, adult sexual assault and work related violence were commonly reported.” or newspaper articles about “50,000 Iraqi refugees’ forced into prostitution” or studies that demonstrate that “legalised prostitution increases human trafficking” – I can’t help thinking that if sex were taken more seriously, we might not have these problems.

However, I don’t want to get carried away.  This isn’t clearly an issue about ‘sex’ as such. It’s about taking other human beings seriously and treating everyone with the respect you think that you are entitled to.  Do you want to get your kit off, spread your legs for the camera and have it circulated to all your nearest and dearest?  As a wise man once said:

“Never impose on others what you would not choose for yourself.”