Even a cursory glance at the Bible shows us that sex is not recommended as part of spiritual growth and yet one of the goals of a good spiritual life is to be happy. We live in a world where without question sex is viewed by the majority of people as one of the keys to a happy life. But at some point, over-reliance on sex brings only misery. So how did something which was originally intended as a means of procreation become the prime mover in a society driven by flirtatious images and consumed by pornography?
Sex has always been important to men and women, but it is only in the last fifty years or so, since the liberating social revolution of the sixties, that people’s interest in it has become open and undisguised. Pornography has flourished, sex is always on our TV screens and homosexuality is widely portrayed. Whether any of these things are good or bad in themselves must be left up to the individual to decide. One of the great benefits of an open society is its honesty in dealing with these matters, which is better than brushing them under the carpet. I compare it to having an off licence on every corner. Prohibiting the sale of alcohol will do nothing to prevent alcoholism, and there are many sensible drinkers who never let their habit get out of control. But how do we accept that we must live in a free and open society, while at the same time making sure that our habits do not get out of control?
When our habits get out of control people get hurt. Despite the free and open society we live in, the interesting thing is that deep down, our morality has not changed all that much. People are still shocked by adulterous behaviour and society on the whole condemns the “love cheat”. Anyone who is seen to date too many people is labelled a “tart” or a “bastard”. So what we have found is that our personal judgement, even in the absence of any scriptural dogma, matches precisely with the things that Jesus taught two thousand years ago. Our secular society, in other words, has come to the same conclusion that the son of God did, that sex is only a good thing when it is kept under control.
Unfortunately, like alchohol or drugs, sex becomes a substitute for being happy and the brief, ecstatic experience of sex is a good alternative to the joy of religious ecstacy. If, instead of over-indulging our habit, we fall on our knees and pray, we study the good word, we worship regularly at the altar of the Lord, the peace and joy which fills us more than conquers any other instinct. This is harder today than ever, because sex is the currency of commercialism. Greed and lasciviousness go hand in hand. It takes discipline and courage to choose the narrow path, but always at the end, the reward is greater.