How ironic that in a year where religious, and especially priestly, celibacy has been put under a microscope, debated and often excoriated, the secular hipsters in New York City are discovering the power that comes with celibacy:
“I had man whiplash,” [Julia Allison] says. “I needed to put my neck in a brace.”
She issued a proclamation, writing on her Web site last week, “I decided to codify my unofficial gut reaction of ‘I really don’t feel like dating’ into an official ‘No Dating, No Sex’ stance, at least for the next month, and perhaps beyond that.”
She’s at the point, she says, where she doesn’t want to seek intimacy without the potential for a serious relationship. “I’ve always been against the New York version of fast-food sex. Believe me, come on, please, I’ve slept with guys I don’t love before, but I’ve frankly reached the age where I don’t want to do that anymore. I’ve dipped my toes in those waters, and it’s cold.”
I have heard of artists whose policy it is to forego sexual activity of any kind while they are in the middle of a project; they feel their work is stronger for having sublimated their sexual energy into it. Some Buddhists and Taoists I have studied and worked with have spoken of the need to keep sexual energy focused and restrained–reined in, if you like and not allowed to wreck havoc on one’s own being–if its power is to be respected and perfectly utilized in life.
In our society, people who have decided to put sex in perspective in their lives have been looked at as walking freak shows. Tim Tebow is a case in point:
Get accused twice of rape (Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh), repeatedly abuse your wife (Michael Pittman, Tampa Bay), regularly strangle and drown hapless dogs (Michael Vick, Atlanta)? Ah, well, boys will be boys, it is society’s fault — and besides, women and dogs don’t wear Super Bowl rings. But pray, work with the poor, and refuse to engage in casual sex — there’s something seriously wrong with you. Or, as one Sports Illustrated writer put it, you are a certified “wackdo.”
Of course, I’ve been sounding this cry for a while:
. . .the Orgasm is the new Idol. It is the Alpha and Omega of their human experience.
This is not simply the reactionary rant of a conservative. Way back when I was a liberal, I thought way too much emphasis was being placed on sex, sexuality and the almighty O. I remember nursing my elder son and flipping on the tv , only to find a women’s talk show carrying on about how orgasms brought meaning to their lives, raised their consciousness, made them the equal of men, yadda yaddda . . . Sex is great. It is also sacred. And holy. We’re not taught that, anymore.
Now, clearly, some are wondering if maybe this a lesson they want to learn, after all. Perhaps the people who most vociferously denigrate others who attempt limited (or lifelong) celibacy are people who are too afraid to try it for themselves. As one woman in the Post article says: “I considered celibacy . . . But I think it’s harder to not have sex than to have sex.”
Yes, it is altogether easier to go with the flow. Chesterton said, “A dead thing can go with the stream, but only a living thing can go against it.”
Increasingly, the popular culture seems a dead thing. Perhaps that is why some are going counter-cultural. Let’s listen to what these young women have to say about reclaiming sexuality, and what that does to the ability to focus, and to love.