How Not To Have Sex

There are times when I look and survey the modern world and understand the appeal. I understand why the preachings of wealth, materialism, modernism, relativism, secularism and all the doctrines and dogmas of Today hold the congregation sway. It’s attractive – at a shallow glance – and I get it, because it’s all about our selves, and that’s fun. No rules, live for yourself, nobody is more right than anyone else – all fine and dandy drugs for the taking.

But what I simply cannot fathom, what stretches my mind beyond it’s limits and puts me in a state of shaken awe is the current modern policy of having really terrible, boring, divorce-worthy sex. I hope – though I am not entirely sure – that there was no single individual responsible, no persuasive, bookish man – probably with a small mustache - who stood on a podium and said, “You know what I think would be really great? If sex sucked. If sex was so lame that it couldn’t hold marriages together. If sex became so commonplace and biological that it would be paired with watching a movie on ’20 Things To Do on a First Date’ lists.”

Actually, I know there was no such man, because the common sense and justice of humanity would have hung him long before he finished speaking. No, it has been a matter of degrees, a steady worsening of a good thing, like slowly adding preservatives and chemicals to a food until, over the course of 70 years, you have a poison that nobody wants.

But it was the general attitude of “let’s get rid of taboos” that started the whole thing, that much seems apparent. Might I take the moment to ask anyone reading this to be skeptical of a man advocating the eradication of a taboo, for the very word implies that human beings have been doing it forever, and it’s a certain ugly pride to think yourself better and more brilliant than your hundreds of forefathers. If a thing is really old-fashioned – as in thousands of years of use – then it is not decrepit, not limping with a cane; it is a rugged survivor, probably wearing flannel. Abortion is decrepit. Wine is old. So when the common consensus of all of humanity is that sex is beautiful, doubt and feel free to mock the porno industry that says it’s ugly.

Let’s give it the run down, shall we? Call it The Unofficial Timeline and List of Stupid Ideas Propagated by all Manners of Millionaires, Horny Individuals, Pseudo-Intellectuals and Eugenicists Concerning and Leading to the Crapifying of Sex. First was the idea that sex is just a biological act, and should thus be freed of all the morals and virtues that surrounded it. From what I can understand this came about when people thought they were the first people to realize the scientific concept that sex leads to children. But vomiting is a biological act and now – in the new and improved morality of the modern world –  the two are on par. In steps birth control, and with some big shoes to fill. It sought to make sex safe, because S.T.D’s and babies are caused by the lack of condoms, doncha know? (Actually, it first sought to get rid of those dirty Blacks, Jews and Irishmen, but shhhhh…)  But safety – especially false safety – is never what makes a thing fun, rather, safety is the mom who put out your campfire and made you microwave marshmallows. Safety – which really only means the lack of responsibility – is the death of adventure. And if that weren’t enough, the same pills that make sex unexciting make women unexcited. Genius.  Pornography followed up on this “no-virtue” sex and did the world the massive favor of showing other, unrealistically better-looking individuals having sex, which had the marvelous effect of making realistic sex – that is to say, the only kind anyone has – disappointing, addicting men and women not to the flesh of their flesh, but to digital re-runs of actors whose once attractive bodies are now corpses, dead from AIDS years ago. (Oh snap.) This is all so pleasant.

Then – and if the rest was amusing, this is dark – then there is the attitude that, if all else fails, we can get an abortion. That’s an attitude that can only ever darken the recesses of the mind, for if it were ever spoken aloud, if it were ever whispered “if all our attempts to avoid responsibility fail, we can kill a child for it.” then the very foundations of the universe would tremble, and I fear no prayer or fasting could hold back the wrath of God.

So to recap, the world is currently in the business of promoting unattractive, unfulfilled, unexciting, unrealistic, meaningless safe sex. To which I say “What the hell is going on with you people? I’m a seventeen year-old virgin and - on the merits of being Catholic alone - I could have better sex than you!” Run that one up the flag pole, see if the porn industry’s cool with it. The Church, in the face of all this nonsense, makes the radical statement that sex should be awesome. Which is really a little like making the bold statement that food should taste good. But in this with-it world, who knows what we’ll be called to witness too – the very blueness of the sky may soon be at stake.

  • Tim

    You know, this is better than several "talks" I have heard in "sex ed" courses.Thankfully, my education was wonderful. It consisted of ridiculous 80's-style videos, understanding sex is for marriage and that we are to therefore remain abstinent, and then spending the rest of the class period having massive paper-airplane fights (which the teacher participated in). I feel I learned everything I needed to know :D

  • petrus

    I try to comment ( so you can see that i read and greatly value what you share with us here) tho i often struggle to put to words what i feel. And i did feel this article as if it was pointed to me. Like there is a plague of the body, the pornography for me is like the plague of the mind. Back in the day when world was younger i had hard time with it – it has a way of grabbing a hold of ones' mind. And today it is so available and common, hard to dodge- like a minefield. Sometimes i feel that at confessions i always say the same things to the priest :) regardless the fact that i fight against this pest with my nails and teeth. Pornography – the bane of men.

  • Marc

    @petrusTrust me, you and me both.

  • Isaac

    Marc and Petrus: Me too, brothers. However, After about a couple years of upping the ante I believe the demon's finally lost it's hold. Only time will truly tell, but if your prayer increases, the temptations will eventually decrease. After the fact when you regret what you've done, be sure to pray for the poor girls, and for everyone who has been sucked in. And if you ever see a beautiful girl, be sure to thank God for her beauty, and to pray for her. The evil one will realize that he's only pushing you closer to God, and will be extremely angry, but he will grudgingly ease up on the temptations. Look up a guy named Brendan Case, and see if you can talk your respective priests to bring him to your church for a parish mission sometime. He was here last week, and he helped me SO MUCH! The Holy Spirit works through that man like you wouldn't believe. I saw healings happen, two people were freed from demons, I was released from bondage. Powerful stuff.God Bless, guys, I'll keep you in my prayers! Please remember me in yours, I'm still most definitely human, and I do still struggle with temptations as much as any other man.

  • Jonah Arc

    Holey Socks! Thank-you thank-you thank-you for posting this. I'm totally sharing this with my friends.

  • Jeni

    love it

  • lmttc

    Awesome post.For those struggling with porn addictions, a great website to check out is http://www.theporneffect.comGod bless!

  • mary

    Wow….OK…mom of three boys and biology teacher/scientist here. I am amazed a male your age can speak of this topic in this way. Thanks so much. I think the deluge of pornography that has resulted from the media explosion in even just the last ten years is unparalleled. It is totally unreal. I have NO IDEA how to raise virtuous sons in this environment. But…I do think that it is not abnormal to have intense lust at your age. Remember…people evolved in very harsh conditions on the savannah. The minute you were able, you were to be producing offspring. Death was a constant threat…male horniness is a result of that. Without its intensity, we would never have survived. Every time you feel lustful for a picture or an actual woman, it is your body trying desperately to get you to make a baby ASAP. But…of course…it is best in a loving relationship where you can enjoy the product of that sexual relationship (the children).Kudos to those guys who talked about thinking about the poor girls in the pictures. You don't have kids yet (I assume) but think every time… would you want your daughter to ever be in that place?Then again…I am not a Catholic anymore…trying to be Lutheran…but I do not think masturbation is such an evil. Nor do I think lusting after someone is the same thing as committing adultery at all. I just cannot get my head around these teachings. Mary

  • Marc

    I think it needs to be clear what lust actually is. It is not 'male horniness' which is a good, healthy, human thing and is in no way a sin. Like you said, it is a natural response. But lust is not. It is a disordered desire that objectifies another human being as a means to an end, the end of sexual pleasure. So the reason masturbation is a great evil is because it basically objectifies the self, as a form of self-hate. And the reason lusting after someone and committing adultery with them amount to the same thing in the eyes of Jesus Christ is because, in each case, we strip the other of their dignity, of love, objectifying them either physically or mentally, in favor of our own sexual desire.

  • The Outsider

    "So the reason masturbation is a great evil is because it basically objectifies the self, as a form of self-hate"@ Marc, your comment is very insightful. I am going to borrow it if you don't mind.

  • Jay Egan

    I finally figured out how to comment on these (I've been reading this blog avidly for several months now)!This is such a fabulous article, and strikes me as very Chestertonian in it's way – because it takes the words right out of your mouth, and it's filled with amusing paradoxes. But anyway, this point is put beautifully! Alas, mankind is bored with sex! Yeah, and I can see the Lost in the Cosmos inspiration here as well – in fact, it's all over this blog!! Good for you :D "America does not know the difference between money and sex. It treats sex like money because it treats sex as a medium of exchange, and it treats money like sex because it expects its money to get pregnant and reproduce."- Peter Kreeft

  • Anonymous

    "Safety – which really only means the lack of responsibility – is the death of adventure." How does this make sense? Skydiving is a safe activity (on average ~32 people die a year whereas tens of thousands participate) and no one would argue that skydivers are not being adventurous. Being safe does not mean a lack of responsibility at all; this is incredibly counterintuitive. Safety requires foresight into the dangers of an activity and a level of awareness as to how to prevent these dangers. Preparing the consequences of one's actions seems very close to the definition of responsibility.

  • Marc

    I understand that that is a confusing statement. I meant "safety" in the sense of "safe"-sex. That is to say the attempt to eradicate the responsibilities that come with sex, i.e children, chemical bonding between partners. In this case, yes, it's the safety that takes out the whole excitement of sex, the whole adventure of sex, because it divorces it from the radical ideas of commitment, love and family.

  • Anonymous

    I am still confused. Perhaps I am dense. It seems that you are saying that your generalization about safety being the death of adventure is only true sometimes, when it benefits your argument. This seems very selective. Furthermore, if you were to speak to someone who has had protected sex, they would probably not say the joy they derived from the act stemmed from a lack of risk. Conversely, married people who have sex without using condoms would probably agree that sex is not fun or fulfilling because there is a risk of pregnancy. To believe otherwise requires skewed perspective. If I had polls to cite, I would in a heartbeat. Inherent in all this is your belief that the ideals of commitment, love, and family are radical and exclusive to your idea of familial structure. Rarely a person would shy away from that trinity if offered it. Read Maslow, once a human being is capable of experiencing a higher level of fulfillment they would almost always choose it. However, those definitions are not nearly as rigid as you seem to think they are. Love, commitment, and family are associated with marriage, yes, but not mutually exclusive. Perhaps in your eyes they are, but again, that would be unrealistic.

  • Anonymous

    "What the hell is going on with you people? I'm a seventeen year-old virgin and – on the merits of being Catholic alone – I could have better sex than you!" Run that one up the flag pole, see if the porn industry's cool with it. The Church, in the face of all this nonsense, makes the radical statement that sex should be awesome.I am an 18 year old virgin. To speak so arrogantly about your sexuality contradicts your own message. You seem to imply that you could have more fulfilling sex than the people you are criticizing for having sex in the first place. Certainly, if you were in the same situation, sex would never be bad! This seems to imply that you are incapable of error or irrational behavior, a fallacious way to look at a very human issue. It seems that we both agree sex is very human. But you, speaking without experience, present a simple cure for all that ails people's relationships. Again, this is unrealistic. People are human. They may love God and God may love them, but as you realize they aren't perfect. When you let your argument fall apart into ad hominem attacks, you sound self righteous and immature.

  • Anonymous

    Lastly, these tenants may be swell for a 17 year old middle class white kid. But for an adult barely earning a living or an impoverished adult in a foreign country, your argument no longer stands up. You treat this as a global issue and refuse to speak to a global audience. P.S. Slamming Margaret Sanger by posting a photo of her with the KKK and thus implying all advocates of birth control are KKK lovers. Does this not strike you as immature?

  • Marc

    Well, there's really not much I could do to not slam Magaret Sanger. I could try, but the whole "breed out negroes" thing keeps coming up. I didn't mean to make the statement that all proponents of birth-control love the KKK, that would be ridiculous. Merely to show that the foundations of the birth-control movement are rooted in the eugenics movement, the desire to perfect a master race. I generally distrust any movement that comes from such evil roots.

  • Marc

    I would love to have this discussion over email with you, but, on the chance that you'd rather hear me here I'll briefly address your points.You're right that my "safety is the death of adventure" is a generalization. I apologize for that. it should read, "when it comes to sex, safety is the death of adventure…" I could correct if you'd like, but I always wonder whether that's dishonest, to go back and straighten out "what i really meant to say." What do you think?I believe that married couple using a method of NFP like the Creighton Fertilitycare system have no worry of having a child at the wrong time, certainly less worry than a couple using condoms, if we're going by use effectiveness. Is that what you mean by skewed perspective? Believe or not, the catholic teaching of NFP – which in Creighton is crazy effective now – leads to both fulfilled sex – no barriers or chemicals – and sex without the fear of a pregnancy the couple cannot afford.I do believe that marriage is the ultimate expression of love and commitment, and the ideal situation for raising a family. Not exclusively, just the very best humanity has to offer. Unrealistic? The vast history of humanity would disagree with you. it seems only now are we frightened of it. As far as me being arrogant, yes it's true. I am. And often. But there is a sad truth to my arrogance, that when i look at couples with "experience", who have had lots of sex before marriage, are efficient users of artificial contraception etc. etc., I truly believe that there is a better way. There is a way that does not involve putting barriers between husband and wife, there is a way that doesn't involve putting chemicals in a woman's body, suppressing her fertility, making her less attracted to her spouse and her spouse less attracted to her. And i believe I, bu virtue of being Catholic, know that better way, and indeed have seen it being lived out in the lives of my friends and family, and it is awesome. Sorry for any ad hominems, shit happens.And as far as your last point. I believe that truth is true for all. It is a great injustice done to the poor that we say: but you wouldn't understand. You wouldn't be able to live up to a life of virtue. You're poor, you need these condoms. You're poor, you need to sterilize your women. I would never, never be so uncharitable as to say that anything I write doesn't apply to those with less money, or those who live in a different country. If anything I find it is the rich that find these ideas so very hard to comprehend, so taxing on the will. But we can do it. I truly believe that the hearts of men can turn back.

  • Anonymous

    I would not like this to take place over email. You made public statements that people will read; you should defend them publicly. I think it is perfectly acceptable to amend a mistake. Does Catholicism not teach that? It is not dishonest at all to clarify. "Sorry for any ad hominems, shit happens." Okay. Because God made marijuana he is a pot smoking good for nothing loser. Sorry, shit happens! But believe me, I am making a good point! This argument falls straight over. This is the reason it is so easy for me to argue with you! You express no remorse for attacking the characters of people. Your own moral code (unless its an aberration from Catholic doctrine) says that attacking a person's character is wrong. I am not saying the poor cannot live a life of virtue or whatever other hackneyed phrase you want to use. Am I saying your message is not geared toward a global audience. This post (and all your others) read to white, American, middle class, frequent Mass attendees. As a call for the general public to change, they are focused extremely narrowly and limited by your own experience or lackthereof. Before you began to proclaim the truth, recognize your own limitations. You admit to arrogance as if it is a virtue, but it is keeping you from realizing that your arguments could be weak, that you haven't truly thought out every issue. It is a block keeping you from perhaps doing a greater good. Instead of posting on the internet mildly inaccurate catechetical regurgitations or slippery slope and ad hominem fallacies, perhaps you could be reading Teilhard or Heidegger and making a bolder effort to truly understanding the world before you, the self proclaimed arrogant Catholic, attempt to change it with your ideas.

  • Marc

    The reason I like to have conversations over email is simply to avoid the great Stage. It seems – for myself personally – that arguments in this format are all about winning the argument and never about finding the truth, because they are on a stage. But understand if you'd rather have em here. I think you misunderstand the "shit happens." My fault, of course. I meant that what I've done, I've done: it has nothing whatsoever to do with the argument at hand. Which I notice has been dropped. We were talking about safety, whether a couple using NFP would be having bad sex for fear of a child, whether committed life-giving marriage is unrealistic, whether the Margaret Sanger picture is fair, and whether NFP is a better way of life. I can't really find this stuff in your comment, just the fact that you don't like the part of my character that attacks others folk's characters. It's a valid point, and i apologize for any offense I've caused, but it seems odd that this is a "I don't like you as a person" issue.I guess there's the 'global audience' thing left. Are you asking me to clarify the demographic group I get my experience from before each post? Are you saying that truth changes if you are a black, lower-class, infrequent Mass attendee? I guess I really don't know exactly what you want me to do…Looking forward to your response.

  • Anonymous

    It shouldn't surprise you this turns into a battle of character; all your arguments and claims ultimately serve as evidence for your judgment or valuations of others' characters. If you prefer conversations over email, then why post blogs to begin with? They are an initial argument. You started on the great Stage, why take your argument of it? Clearly this blog is not diary for you; it is a soapbox. If you want to stand on your soapbox unchallenged, just recognize that is what you are calling for. You are entirely right, I dropped those points. I chose to focus on the theme I seem to notice trickling through your blog: changing people's behavior to make them better people. You seem to think I am attacking you, but I am not. I am observing why I think your current method of thought and preaching is failing to win me and others who I have shown your blog over.However, at your request, I will now address those points: I never made a claim about the quality of sex couples using NFP were having. My attempt was to draw your conclusions about couples using contraceptives to their logical conclusions. You seem to believe that the use of condoms and birth control pills are the cause of divorce and bad sex; I am saying that logically does not follow. This is especially true if the reason the sex is bad is fear. I tried to show how the element of fear is not the crucial thing that makes sex interesting. Marriage is not unrealistic. I say that your reaction to the ills of married couples is unrealistic in its simplicity and flippancy. I also say your belief that love, commitment, and family cannot be had without marriage is unrealistic. Certainly marriage is ideal, but commitment, love, and family can exist without it. It is unrealistic to pretend that the marriage in itself is the thing embodying these values; it is these values that embody marriage.

  • Anonymous

    I am not saying the truth changes depending on social group. I am not expecting you to point out details about yourself. I do, however, expect you to realize the limitations of your experience. What serves as the truth for you may not be the universal truth. I don't mean that generally, I mean that specifically the things that are true to you could be out of sync with universal truths. Certainly, your experience is different than mine, the point of view of an impoverished Hispanic teen. When you speak as if the problems of life can be solved so easily, with such a flippant tone and summary arguments, it becomes clear that your experience has not prepared to adequately address a global audience with vastly different experience than you. I don't think I know the universal truth and I do not profess to know it. I recognize my limitations in the social order and even moreso as a human being. Certain things in your 'truths' probably align with mine and certain things in both our truths probably align with whatever the universal truth is. That said, to be arrogant enough to say that what you speak is universal truth shows a lack of understanding about your own limitations. I can read your blog and pin down these details about you, in a few readings I can see the limits of your experience. God may be the universal truth. But your arguments are not universal. They are geared towards a white, middle class audience. Your intentions may be universal but the execution of your ideas is not. "I didn't mean to make the statement that all proponents of birth-control love the KKK, that would be ridiculous." The Margaret Sanger picture is not so much unfair as it is distasteful. It makes the reader think your opinion lies in the ridiculous realm you obviously know is, well, ridiculous. You seem a bit misinformed about eugenics and are likening it to Nazism. Nazis are the ones who desired a master race. The ideas behind eugenics (optimizing traits and genes to eliminate flaws) have been useful. Those ideas have helped develop cures to slow the advance of Alzheimer's and numerous other diseases, as well as developing pre natal testing to help decrease the risk of miscarriage. That said, I am in full agreement that the implementation of eugenics was evil, I am however not ready to totally discredit the ideas of eugenics. Just as the implementation of socialism is almost always evil, the ideas behind equal work and total welfare are good and almost Christian.

  • Marc

    Thanks for addressing the points. The numbers would disagree with you, i'm afraid. The widespread use of birth control has lead to an increase in divorce. This is true amongst any religious group. For instance, within Catholicism, those using contraception are more likely to get divorced then those not using contraception, so the argument that it's just the worldview that prevents divorce is silly. Or, if you'd prefer to look at in a macro-level, the rate of divorce has increased RIGHT alongside the rate of contraceptive use. But I suppose correlation doesn't always imply causation, though I believe it does in this case, so one could look at countries instead. Countries with greater access to contraceptives have higher divorce rates then those with less access. I guess you could just deny all the above, but then I'd have to ask, what evidence are you waiting for? What more could be supplied? Personal stories of how chemical contraceptives and barriers have harmed marriages? Because I have plenty of those…As for your statement that it does not logically follow that contraceptives worsen sex. Again: then what does? if not a pill that lowers a woman's libido, and makes men less aroused by the said woman, then what? If not a physical barrier between husband and wife…I guess what I'm asking is HOW does it not logically follow? I really am curious. I do understand that this is felt – or not felt – more keenly by women.Are condoms and birth control pills the only cause of bad sex and divorce? Of course not. Are they a big part of the picture? Yes."I mean that specifically the things that are true to you could be out of sync with universal truths." Honestly, that just seems like a very polite way to say that you disagree with me. Then it just seems like you are wishing that I'd be morally relativistic, to say that there is more than One Truth, which is something I cannot do, for the obvious reason that there is only One Truth. Are you a moral relativist? That would explain what you're getting at. But if you just want my execution to be universal, I have to ask, what specifically, does that mean. Again, it just seems like a polite way to disagree with me. Would you call out an individual in support of contraception for not being relevant to Hispanic Catholics? Obviously not, so I must be missing something. Do me a favor: could you show me a phrase from the above post that made you feel this way, just so I get an idea of what you're talking about? Peace

  • Anonymous

    Sex is not what holds a relationship together ultimately. That's shallow and self-serving. Sex is a wonderful experience, but it's not something you need to do routinely otherwise you're just enforcing the myth that sex and love are the same. They're not, and to think they are will DESTROY a relationship. Sex should be done out of love in the fullness of it, but it is not itself love. You're just encouraging contraception this way. Why? Because there comes a time when couples will cease to be able to support more children. And then, if love is sex, then without sex, what do you get? A couple worrying that they're no longer a loving family without it! So they resort to contraception. It's stupid. Why make a big deal out of sex? Because YOU DON'T KNOW TRUE LOVE. So while yes, sex as proscribed by the Church is more fulfilling, it's not the foundation of marriage ultimately. And porn stars are often hideous and gaudy. They make a mockery of beauty. A crime. And if any more attractive women land in those roles, it's generally out of despair. They need our help. Don't demean beauty, and don't call it unrealistic. That's your closet nihilism talking.

  • Anonymous

    everyone has closet nihilism, that why people even need religion, even need to believe that sex has intrinsic meaning. don't act above the nihilist, don't try to define beauty, or despair. it's patronizing.religious rhetoric will always insist on these values that we as a western institution have pushed upon every other worldly moral system. gueesss whattt – bad sex is part of life experience. it can come with the most holy of matchmaking, or the least committed. but don't blame it on moral relativism.

  • Marc

    I don't, I blame it on The Pill, pornography, a contraceptive mentality and Use.

  • Anonymous

    your blog is so awesome that it is keeping me from my homework. and just saying, I'm 18 and my boyfriend and I have been together almost a year and i'm a virgin!!!! :D

  • Anita

    Bad sex is part of life experience? EGAD. That is the saddest thing I've ever read. Honestly.To borrow some LOLCATS wisdom: UR DOING IT WRONG.By the way – I love your blog, Marc. Keep posting.

  • G London

    We need a “Better Sex” movement. :)

  • Michael Yost

    I have been doing nothing but reading your articles for the better part of two hours. Dang, you’re smart!