What's Love Got To Do With It?
The selling of sex used to be an industry for back alley operators with slicked-down hair and sleazy minds. Now the marketing of sex has gone mainstream, it's big business, and it's found its way into otherwise family-oriented magazines.
We've got university educated 'sexperts' who have their own talk shows on TV and radio, with names like Dr. Feelgood and Pillowtalk. Advertisements in newspapers feature beautifully proportioned super-hunks and super-babes from some mythical, pimple-free planet - and the product might be something as definitely un-sexy as garden mulch!
Even prostitutes have a new found respectability. Some of them prefer now to be called 'sex workers' or 'therapists'.
So how is all this 'sexationalism' helping us in our quest for a better life? Basically, while we're preoccupied with sex, we're also starved of intimacy. In an age where we have every conceivable form of communications tool to help us relate to each other, loneliness is in epidemic proportions.
Do these song lyrics sound familiar: 'I love you so much baby, that I want to sit down and have a good long talk?' No? That's because no such song exists - or if it does, nobody's giving it airtime!
Sex is confused with intimacy all the time. In a thousand songs and advertisements, in scores of TV shows and movies every week, we're led to believe that it's hard to be really intimate with someone unless, at some time or other, you're in the sack with them.
According to much of our pop media, all the most rewarding and profound relationships are sexual in nature. That does three things to human relationships.
First of all, it places too much emphasis in a relationship on the physical. Relationships are all about communication, or, taking that word right back to its roots, 'communing' - sharing on a deep level our innermost thoughts, dreams, hurts and hopes.
Studies have shown that when couples engage in sexual activity too early in a relationship - and especially outside the commitment of marriage - they have much less chance of making that relationship last. This is because they've given the major part of their interaction over to their mutual sexual attraction. The sex drive is such a powerful one that it can take over the relationship and prevent them from exploring and growing in other areas of the relationship.
Real intimacy does not happen 'overnight' - really knowing someone can take years, even a lifetime - and there's more to it than physical nakedness. Just because you've been in someone's bed, doesn't mean you've made it inside their head!
Secondly, the heavy emphasis on the sexual part of relationships places intolerable pressures on our emotions. One of our problems with sex today is that we expect it to satisfy our deepest emotional longings and needs. When we take our inner quest for love and meaning and expect any other human being to fill that need, we are placing a burden on them that they cannot possibly live up to. And we are setting ourselves up for deep disappointment and frustration.
The sad fact is that, the more we sleep around in the search for our 'perfect mate', the less truly 'naked' we become, the more prone we are to cover up in an attempt to defend ourselves against hurt and failure.
Thirdly, all the talk about 'free' sex overshadows the fact that we are at our deepest core spiritual beings. Whether we admit it or not we are all on a personal spiritual quest. Like moths drawn toward a flame, we are searching for the one love that will never let us down. Most of us have never tasted it but we intuitively know that it's out there somewhere.
Sex is a wonderful thing. That's beyond debate. But we've put sex on such a high pedestal that it can't live up to our expectations!
Sigmund Freud taught that our character and behaviour are shaped by powerful, repressed influences from our past. Of all these influences he said the sexual ones are the most potent. Freud made sex seem the most important drive in our lives.
Infected with Freudian thinking, we expect too much from sex most of the time. We build up hopes of finding just the right guy or the right girl to do 'it' with. We go out hunting for the perfect mate, the one who will ring all our chimes and make the earth move for us.
Yet whenever we 'try it on' with someone new, we find ourselves becoming a little more jaded and disappointed - or a little more careless about the other person's needs. Our experience never seems to match our dreams.
Sex can never fill the spiritual void within us. It can never really define who we are or where we came from or why we are here. These are the deepest questions of the human psyche. Sleeping with someone, even in marriage, will never give us answers to what troubles us most.
God is a Tri-Une Being - three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, who exist eternally in an unbroken, harmonious and loving relationship. That's what the Bible means when it says 'God is love'. God doesn't just feel love - his very nature is one of relationship.
As human beings we were made in God's image. We were fashioned with desires and needs that reflect his awesome nature. That's why no relationship on earth can be all it should be unless it's a three-way relationship: me, my partner, and God!
Putting sex at the centre of a relationship means we are doomed to fail in the quest for intimacy. Putting love for God and the pleasure of serving him at the centre, will unlock the power of real closeness and real fulfilment.