Sex and Sexuality (2)

Many people seem unaware that there is a crucial difference between sex and sexuality.  The distinction is largely ignored in our society and, indeed, we are obsessed with sex while being uncomfortable, evasive and disapproving about sexuality.  As a result millions lead impoverished marital lives and unwittingly prepare their children for the same fate.  What then is the difference between sex and sexuality?  Sex is physiology, what happens to the body as a result of sexual activity.  The concept of sexuality is harder to pinpoint.  Perhaps we can say that it is the dimension of personality that gains its impetus from the reproductive drive.

It is our maleness or femaleness from infancy onward, that stamps our whole being.  Of all our characteristics – nationality, colour, age, temperament, intelligence or income, nothing defines us more than our sex.  This concept, which ought to be basic, has become so complex and so significant that it is precisely what we need to understand and must in some way, transmit to our children.  Sexuality does not suddenly emerge at puberty.  The infant ‘learns’ it at his mother’s breast, from the touch of her hand, the warmth of her body and the sound of her voice; from the different way his father holds him, the different sound of his voice.  He learns, by touching and being touched, the pleasures of sensual stimulation, sounds, smells, warmth and embrace.  It is from this knowledge, from these beginnings of sexuality, that his capacity for tenderness, warmth, love and sex is nurtured.  A striking corroboration of this process was the famous Harlow experiment with monkeys, at the University of Wisconsin.  Two doctors reared a group of monkeys without any real mothering.  In place of mothers they used wire or cotton figures and instead of being allowed to grow up together, the baby monkeys were separated.  When fully grown these monkeys did not show normal sexual behavior.  They rarely mated because they had never ‘learned’ sexuality.

Most parents are dimly aware of sexuality in their children, but they often try to avoid the issue, feeling that the less said about it the better.  In practice ‘sex education’ consists of a few minimal facts about how babies grow inside their mothers, plus, in the case of girls, a few facts to prepare them for menstruation and for warding off pregnancy.  This method of dealing with sexuality by pretending it does not exist has been around for centuries, with rather poor results.  It does not fool anybody, least of all children, but adults are happy with it.

A minority of parents, in recent years, have held the contrary theory that the more said about sex the better.  If children are bombarded at an early age with forthright information about reproduction, sex and birth control, they will grow up so familiar with sex that they will accept it as a matter of course.  This method has not had the large scale testing that the older one has had, but evidence suggests that it gets the same results.  It seems to us that neither is very successful in producing warm, responsible, loving human beings, because both fail to nurture sexuality.

The traditional method of avoiding the whole matter produces ignorant young people who do not know any better than to get into trouble.  The child’s real curiosity about his feelings is not satisfied, his eager questions about sex and about love, and how they may be related, are not only unanswered, they are not even acknowledged.

People who play the big sex game in the home are not dealing with sexuality either.  They get everything so much out in the open that they do not allow their children to explore their own feelings.  The children may know a great deal about the mechanics of reproduction and they may have an impressive vocabulary, but they remain confused.  There is probably not an obstetrician or gynecologist who has not encountered the bright, well informed, well educated girl – pregnant.  Such a concept of sex is no substitute for knowledge and a sense of the power of sexuality.

Surprisingly enough there are children who do manage to survive their defective education about sex and who miraculously grow up to become adults capable of giving and receiving love.  The child who grows up in an atmosphere which conveys not so much by word as by a kind of aura, that his parents have a truly sexually enhanced union, is a fortunate child.  His parents may not talk to him about sex because they may not find the right words, but they somehow convey the impression that sexuality is there and that it is good.  This is the first and most important thing to establish:  sexuality is there and it is good.  We accept our interest in it and we want to try and understand it.  Once parents have acknowledged this to their children, verbally or in the context of their lives, or both, then and only then can they talk effectively about the obligation to use this gift of sexuality with intelligence and responsibility.

We have no special blueprint for teaching young people sexual responsibility, but we do feel that boys need to be better educated.  The concept, bolstered by ancient laws, that sex is a husband’s right and a wife’s duty continues to make for marriages in which sexuality is exploited and dishonoured.  The same double standard, as it applies to young people, is destructive to the integrity of both sexes.  The boy is allowed to ‘go as far as he can’, the entire responsibility for the limitation of sexual experiment resting with the girl.  The implication is that the girl, being non-sexual or less sexual, is better able to control her behavior.  Today’s so-called sexual revolution is an understandable revolt of young women against this idea, but it has left a complete vacuum in responsibility.  The girls are now asking, “If sex, just plain sex, is all right for boys, why not for girls?”  We must make it quite clear to our young people and to boys in particular, that the mishandling of sexuality is a violation of a boy’s integrity as well as a girl’s.  The concept of sex without the wider dimensions of emotional readiness, tenderness and warmth, does not turn boys and girls into adults, but into under-privileged people who will never know the glorious meaning of mature adult sexuality.

The facts about human reproduction should be known by every eleven year old, but somewhere between the ages of twelve and sixteen a youngster needs to know more.  He should be told the purpose of sex, apart from procreation;  that it can be used as an expression of love and that to devalue it is to degrade the supreme emotion; that there are ways in which men and women exploit one another’s sexuality and ways in which they honour it.  He should learn that despite the image presented by the mass media and entertainment industry, sex is not love but one of love’s adjuncts, a means of expressing it.

At every stage a child needs the acknowledgement of his interest, his impulses, his perplexity, at the same time that he needs his parents’ guidance as to the behavior that is socially acceptable for his age.  This is very different from the authoritarian do’s and don’ts that so many parents hurl at their children.  The way in which we communicate with our children is immaterial.  What matters is our understanding of their sexuality and their understanding of why it should be used responsibly.  Perhaps if we ourselves honour sexuality, the children will sense its promise: the incredible warmth, tenderness and love that are embodied in mature sexual expression and which cannot be expressed in fullness where there has been a debasement.

Basically there are three expressions of the sexual union.  Firstly, the animalistic approach on the purely physical level, requiring no foreplay and no mental or emotional stimulation of any kind, the only instinct satisfied being that of the urge to copulate.  The sexual organs, through mechanical action, perform their physical function; when it is over there is no residue of affection, no desire, at this low level, to view the sexual union as more than a means for relieving pent-up tensions.  It would be impossible for any marriage built upon a foundation of this sort, to last long.  The familiarity of the partners must eventually weaken the effects.

Secondly, sexual intercourse on a dual level, physical and emotional, as practiced by the great majority of people.  If partners in marriage they will express their love and desire for each other through the physical act.  The mechanical interplay between their bodies is considerably enhanced by self-suggestions and visualization in which the concept of marriage itself plays a prime part.  In this case the emotions and feelings add another dimension to the sex act.  However, here, too, increasing familiarity can diminish the excitement and pleasure of the physical side of the act and unless emotions predominate, as they should if love is present, there is a gradual fading away.  Where the emotional side prevails the validity of the marriage is not threatened.  This kind of relationship has the best chance of being deepened and broadened by mutual consent and understanding, by better knowledge of the physical performance and by consideration of the deeper implications and meanings of the act itself.

However, none of this can happen unless there is complete harmonic compatibility, a blending of compatible frequencies, which is brought about only through the pre-marital foundations laid down by outlook and lifestyle.  Apart from this the partners should share mutual interests and philosophical beliefs.  There is no question whatsoever that the quality of the act suffers if there is tension between them.  Such tensions are not necessarily physical, they may be emotional, even spiritual and must be lessened or eradicated before union can take place with a reasonable expectancy of fulfillment.

The third and highest form of sexual union is where there is complete commitment and here the balances are weighed in favour of the emotional love aspect, the sexual union being more of an expression of a total union, of a blending together.  Such a union produces children who will fulfill themselves in life, for they will have the greatest heritage a human being can hope to have.  From time to time the couple will express their union by coming together, but the bulk of their feelings will be expressed in complete compatibility.  Such marriages are stable and satisfying and will outlast those built mostly upon physical attraction alone.  This does, however, require great compatibility and frequency harmonisation and it is better if both partners have similar needs for physical fulfillment.  Of course, under desirable circumstances prior to marriage this is not easy to ascertain.

A great many marriages are wrecked, or seriously damaged, in the first fortnight.  That is, in that dangerous period called ‘the honeymoon’ and the rock on which they splinter is sex.  Many people have conjured up false ideas in their minds, expecting their first taste of sex to be a wonderful experience.  They are often disappointed because the sex relationship, like any other relationship, has to be worked upon to be successful.  These people get deeply hurt and may carry that hurt through the rest of their lives.  It affects their attitude towards their partner in marriage, towards society and life as a whole.

Some years ago when counseling in England, we talked to a young couple of our acquaintance who are singularly well adjusted and happy together and have a satisfying sex relationship.  The formula has been displayed in many enduring marriages where the couples have reached ripe old age together.  It was interesting to talk with these young people and we will use them to illustrate the circumstances surrounding most lasting and satisfying marriages.  We will then see just how clearly a solution was worked out through a mist of doubts and fears such as surround many young people getting married.

The husband told us that before his marriage he had some very valuable talks about the sex relationship, with close friends of his and had learnt much from their experience and mistakes.  He had also discussed it with his fiancé, but without any thought of experimentation because both felt this would degrade the quality of their love.  The young man had come to see how a man and woman, however much they may love each other, may have quite a different response, speed of response and reaction to sex and how important it is that each should understand the other and know what he or she is thinking and feeling.

He went on to tell us that on the morning of his wedding he had the clear-cut thought, “No intercourse tonight”.  This dispelled a lot of doubts that had been hanging around in his mind.  In his mental dilemma he had been wondering how his wife-to-be felt towards sex and how she would respond; his own feeling had been, “we must have sexual intercourse or we are not properly married.”  Their relationship, during the engagement, had been one of increasing affection, but intimacy had been ruled out as they knew from other people how damaging it can be to have sexual relations before marriage.

With this point cleared in the husband’s mind, he went to the wedding happily, or, as he said, as happily as can be expected for a man being married for the first time.  It was a joyful event and he told us how his heart was filled with the deepest love for his beautiful bride and a real sense of awe at being joined to her before so many friends.  He felt that he had got love and sex into their proper relationship and perspective.  He had indeed solved the problem of priority between love and sex, which confuses so many people.

They drove away and as the car neared the hotel where they were to spend their first night, he told her of his past dilemma about sexual intercourse and his thought that it should not come into the picture this first night.  She was much moved, much relieved and told him that his thoughtfulness meant a lot to her.  He then realized the tremendous emotional strain a girl can experience on the day of her wedding.  To have to cope with a further major adventure in the realm of sex, an unknown field to girls whose major concern is love and marriage, is just one strain too many.

He also realized that they needed to make an understanding approach to sex together.  It had to be a mental and spiritual experience before it could work out happily on the physical level.  It was only after several days that they felt ready and happy in spirit to move on to the physical relationship and when they did they saw just how valuable had been their prudent approach, discussing the whole thing together very thoroughly beforehand.  Nothing was lost by the slow approach, on the contrary everything was gained.  Of course, every couple set their own course and conform to their own mutual pattern.  However, we run across so many people for whom sex has gone wrong one way or another that we wonder if a lot of the trouble did not start right at the beginning of their sex experience; if they were adequately prepared for it in every way, mentally, spiritually and physically.

The couple in question told us that the one principle they had arrived at, during some years of marriage, was drastic honesty with each other about their feelings on sex.  They found time and again that to talk feelings over, always a difficult thing to do, is to prevent the power of feelings driving them on, that is feelings towards each other, sometimes against each other and perhaps towards other people.  Every married person at times develops feelings of affection for someone other than his or her marriage partner and it is how these feelings are dealt with in their early stages that decides where they will lead.

Many a broken marriage, with all the misery that comes in its train, starts innocently enough with one of the partners becoming attracted by a third person.  Thinking it disloyal, they keep the feelings secret, so that these grow in intensity and eventually there is a breaking point, generally in the wrong direction.  It happens every day.  “If we are really one, we must tell each other everything” is their angle; and they have found that if one admits to the other the beginnings of an interest in another person, often just that piece of honesty is enough to prick the balloon of emotion that is growing towards that third person.

Counselors see many facets of the sexual approach in relationships and we should mention Mary and John who stated, “We feel that sex is all right as we love each other and, after all, plan to get married this year and would marry now if we had the money.”  They were an attractive couple, obviously very much in love and taking the whole thing seriously and earnestly, yet challenging the conventional attitudes towards pre-marital relations.  As John said, “When a man and woman really love each other, should they not have the right to enjoy their relationship to the fullest?”  counselors worthy of the confidence of young people should always be prepared to answer such questions, they must not be evasive, nor merely admonish.  The person who is unaware of the power of sex for Good or Evil, either in marriage or out of it, is certainly not fitted to counsel.

Most young people, we find, approach marriage with a faith, “Love can do anything”, they affirm.  Yet these same people are confused about the function of sex in their lives and well they might be, for many adults would seem to be equally confused.  Too many parents, teachers and others who advise, are reluctant to talk seriously about sex, except as they may refer to it when marriage is under discussion.  Even then they evade the responsibility of discussing it intelligently and helpfully.  It is no wonder that so many mistake sexual attraction for personal love.  In fact it is becoming increasingly apparent that love is being interpreted as sexual attraction and vice versa, to the detriment of relationships.  Only when the two can be clearly defined and differentiated can there be a true understanding.

Young people and adults too, need to accept sex as a part of life and to understand its purpose.  We must realize that sexual experience (here we should make it clear that ‘sexual experience’ does not mean ‘sexual intercourse’) is primary, universal and has meaning in itself, apart from love or marriage.  Even babies have erotic feelings; children feel sexual attraction and respond variously to their sexual curiosity; adolescents undergo physiological changes that drive them to sexual experimentation.  All this is Nature’s preparation for sexual life, for love and marriage, but we often fail to help children because we overlook the fact and meaning of their sex development and experience, during the many years when marriage is only a remote possibility.

We suggest that one of the causes of our difficulties is that we have tried to find the meaning of sex through a limited conception of its nature and purpose.  We have commonly thought of sex as a function among other functions, one that we could accept or reject, use or misuse, with only ethical, legal or social consequences.  We believe there are other consequences.  Sex is a function, certainly, but it is a function that cannot be separated from the person without destructive results.

The power of sex lies in the sexual division in virtually all of creation.  Male and female were not created to exist separately.  Woman was meant to complement man and, likewise, man complements woman, biologically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.  The power of the sex drive springs from the longings of an incomplete being for completion.  A divided creation consequently suffers, longing for union and fulfillment, as witnessed by Mary and John.  The union sought is more than sexual, it is a longing for a personal union of which the sexual is but a part and not the whole.

Sex without marriage has meaning, but its meaning, without the structure and discipline that marriage can provide, is apt to be transient.  This is the point at which Mary and John needed help, for they were rightly sure that their relationship called for sexual expression, but had not seen that their sex relationship required the dependability and continuity of marriage if its meanings were to be preserved and grow.  When human love seeks to achieve its own fulfillment, there is aspiration, hope and determination on the part of the lovers.  The desire to be at one with each other, to express that oneness in the sex act, is the attempt on the part of each to break-out of separation and to achieve union.  The act seems to move the lovers in the direction of rapture, an awareness of an all-embracing unity with something Divine.

Everyone experiences the ecstasy of sex in varying degrees and to the limits of their own sensitivity and sensuality.  Therefore, although most will conclude that theirs is the supreme experience this may be very far from being the case.  What we want to emphasize here is that sex which is promiscuous, premature, or without total commitment, is never experienced to the same degree of ecstatic response as is the overwhelming rapture of the complete merging of two complementary beings.  Some have called it a ‘new creation’.  One poet and theologian speaks of the “mystery of a sudden merging and union into a single indivisible being of flesh and spirit, of heaven and earth, of human and divine love”.  The body is a means of communication, the handclasp of a friend, the caress between mother and child, the kiss of lovers and, ultimately, the deepest and most complete relationship between man and woman.

Exploitation of the flesh in violation of the spirit does not fulfill the participants, it is usually followed, instead, by feelings of uncleanliness, incompleteness and guilt.  Love is as important as air, yet all are doomed to experience deprivation of love because, being finite creatures, our capacity to love is limited by our self-centredness.  One of the questions often asked is, “Why are we unable to love perfectly those whom we do love?”  Here the difficulty arises from the fact that all of us need love most when we are most unlovable.  The unlovableness of one partner sets off the unlovableness of the other, which plunges the couple from the occasional heights of union to the depths of separation and despair.  No matter how fulfilling our moments of union are, there is always the unexpressed love for which our innermost being longs, but which it cannot receive or bestow.  Thus it is that the truest love story tells of both, ecstasy and tragedy.

Human love, including the sexual expression of it, needs an additional factor which we will call the ‘enabling power’.  The latter will make it possible to love the unlovable, it will liberate our self-saturated love and bring into being an expansion of our finite love.  The quality referred to here as the ‘enabling power’ is something which can be developed.

We have dwelt at some length on sex and sexuality because an understanding of these matters is important when considering the subject of relationships.  It may be thought that sex is something which could enhance relationships, as indeed it should if used properly, but the fact is that under the prevailing social climate it is often divisor rather than unifying.  It could be said that in some instances sex is a perversion of what it is meant to be.  Sex energies can cause dissonance when they unite bodies which are not on a compatible harmonic, so a proper relationship, conducive to harmonious sexual union, should be established first.

A question almost invariably asked when discussing frequency compatibility, is “What has to be done to bring about a situation where my personal frequencies will attract someone who is truly compatible with me, how can I avoid the pitfall of paradoxical incompatibility?”  What should be made clear at this point is that there is no text book dealing with frequencies alone and anyway what we are considering is the very personal matter of relationships, not impersonal science.  Therefore, it is to the eternal veracities of ancient wisdom that we should turn.  From time to time this ancient wisdom is presented in an updated form better suited to modern thinking and one book we can recommend is ‘The Book of Gwineva”, particulars of which can be obtained from the publishers of this booklet.

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