I remember a guy I knew in college (in the mid ’80s) saying very cavalierly that the last thing he thought about when he was having sex was love. At this time, the sexual revolution was in full swing: The Pill was more common than a multi-vitamin and virginity was becoming a derogatory term. Women were encouraged to be assertive and open with their sexuality. And men were enjoying readily available sexual encounters.
What happened to the love and sex connection?
My thought is that the connection between love and sex was more frequently present before the sexual revolution (and the increased availability of contraception) mostly because there was vulnerability and risk involved in having sex with someone. Birth control minimized this risk, and enabled men and women to hook up without the worry of getting pregnant – or without the openness to it. But, did the vulnerability really disappear? Isn’t being naked in the presence of another a vulnerable experience? Doesn’t working out the awkwardness of sexual intimacy involve being vulnerable? What about communicating about fears, desires, and anxieties? Sadly, these feelings have been dismissed in the name of “free sex”. Often couples enter into sexual relations without ever communicating about these feelings and concerns – and without feeling love – because they CAN. By that, I mean that they can because they don’t have to worry about getting pregnant (even if they do still have to worry about other things such as STDs and simple awkwardness.). What happens then is that all those feelings go untended, and the sex can be more alienating than unifying.
Sacramental marriage reconnects sex and love. It reserves sexual intercourse to marriage, and calls couples to be open, vulnerable, and submissive to one another and to God. This kind of trust in God’s plan involves an intimacy that requires deep, open love. These couples who are open to God’s plan for their marriage don’t fret about risks and vulnerability because they trust God. While love for another can exist outside of marriage, the fullness of marital love can only be realized when husbands and wives consummate their marriage with openness to life.
As the sexual revolution devolves into commonplace, we need a counter-revolution to restore the relationship between sex and love. I say we start one marriage at a time. Are you with me?
Posted by Christine Burrows