Birth of Venus, the goddess of sex and love, by Botticelli, circa 1482.

In Mala Fide has a interesting article today on the rise of oral cancer among men. Apparently the research is increasingly showing a link between HPV and oral sex over the past forty years. The results are a rise in head and throat cancer. Not pleasant stuff.

When I hear things like this I wonder about the whole “all sex is nothing but good and pleasurable” mantra that our world, including myself, have bought into. Unbridled sex does have its consequences, like everything. Those consequences can be not only be emotional and societal, but physical too, and those physical consequences can be quite nasty.

I think we have lost an old balance, the balance between sex and love, or seeing sex in its deeper human context, rather than as merely a fun past time to engage in. Eroticism devoid of the deeper mysteries of sexuality and love becomes banal rather quickly. Nature has a cold and cruel way of letting us know when we are engaging in destructive behavior. If you overeat, you get fat and die of diabetes. If you engage in lots of promiscuous sex, sharing all those bodily fluids with strangers, sharing all those bacteria and viruses that lurk within each and every one of us, you are most likely to come down with some sort of nasty disease. Humans really aren’t designed to have unlimited, multiple sex partners.

Someone described me recently as being obsessed with sex and religion. I think that is the best description of myself I have heard in years. Yes, I am obsessed with these two things, or with finding a balance between these two basic elements of human life.

I think it is possible to enjoy the eroticism of life, to enjoy sex, to enjoy the beauty of the opposite sex, the beauties of love and romance and intense feelings, without spiraling into the societal and physical destruction that our unbridled hook up culture has produced. How, I am not sure yet, nor do I offer answers. For me, religion is one way of helping me keep a lid on my more explosive passions, desires and actions. Faith helps me channel my passions into something that is, at least for me, tinged with hope, beauty, happiness. I agree with the Catholic Church on the basic nature of sex as being something sacred. It is. I just have questions about the degrees of sinfulness involved in certain habits, such as masturbation, etc.

Think about that. Sex as something sacred. How far off are we from that idea in today’s world? It is an interesting idea once you start thinking about it. In today’s world sex is anything but sacred. As I mentioned in my last post, even the ancients viewed sex as something sacred, although in a different way than Christians did. Still, there was that element of sanctity to sexuality. Temples were erected (no pun intended) to the great fertility goddesses, both agricultural and sexual. The most famous of these would be the Greek goddess of sex and love, Aphrodite, whose Roman version was Venus. Sex was linked with divinity in people’s minds. I once read somewhere how we are actually more pagan than the pagans were, because even the pagans understood and revered some of the more basic elements of life as sacred, and divine, such as sex. They had some sense of the divine, while we have none. We have totally lost that in today’s completely secular, technological world. Sex is often reduced to little more than “Game” (not that the erotic, mating dance of intrigue and attraction between two people cannot be thought of as a sort of playful game, but that is in many ways different from the brutal and Darwinian notions of Game as practiced by the PUA world); people “hook-up” rather than fall in love. Even the glorious art of seduction, once so beautifully written about by such poets as Ovid and Byron, is all but a lost artifact of the past. It has been replaced by the PUA afficionados. We all want instant gratification today. So we get that, and the rewards that go along with that.

Venus de Milo, a Greek sculpture of the goddess Aphrodite (Roman Venus) circa 130 B.C. One of the more famous statues to survive antiquity.

Anyway, after reading that article, and this is something I have heard now for over a year, celibacy is becomng an increasingly attractive option in life. And since I am obsessed with both sex and religion, I have realized one difference between religion and sex. No one ever got cancer from praying.