By Cornelius Ndubuisi
Writers are advised to, as much as they can, stay away from the controversies surrounding such themes as sex, politics, and religion. It is an unwritten code. With sex, politics, and religion, one is sure to start a fight somewhere, ideological or physical. But here am I doing otherwise, because a friend asked me to. She thinks someone has got to talk about sex. And she believes I could do a fine job. I leave you to disagree or agree with her at the end. As for the fight that usually ensues from discourses on sex, politics, and religion, I hope to leave you with no need for one.
Who is the primary beneficiary of moral rectitude? I mean, who gets to benefit the most when one decides to order one’s life strictly by a certain moral code? As in, if one were to profess Christianity, for instance, who gets to gain the most when one faithfully toes the path of godliness, having to ensure that not even one word of the many ‘thou shall nots’ is taken for granted? Would you say the primary beneficiary is the law giver, God in the case of religious people, or would you say the primary beneficiary of such a code is the law keeper? Put differently, who is the primary beneficiary of the law and order command that every state is sworn to taking seriously? The state itself or the citizens?
In my thinking, the starting point of our current moral and legal crises leans against the backdrop of our having supplied the wrong answer to the above question. To say the least, the primary beneficiary of any moral code is the moral agent, the one abiding by them. The primary beneficiary of the law and order command is the citizen, not the state. Look closely at the Ten Commandments, for instance, and say who gets to benefit more, God or its keeper. Take God out of the equation and go ahead to steal, kill, covet another’s goods or wife, or bear false witness against another, and see what comes to you. Take the law out of the equation, reverting back to the Hobbesian state of nature, and see what happens when people get to pay you in your own coin, exactly the reason why life in the state of nature was short, brutish, nasty and poor.
Even such items on the Decalogue as reverence for God, resting from severe work on the Sabbath, and dishing a treat of honor to one’s parents, really get to serve its keep right – with internal harmony. Small wonder one of the Catholic Eucharistic prayers admitted that our prayers and praises add nothing to God’s greatness but only serve to profit us unto salvation. And so, the view of morally sound living as only a duty to God and not particularly efforts at advancing one’s own good is both misleading and self-sabotaging. It is this view that emboldens Christians to go ahead and soil their hands in the miry clay of sin with the hope of washing clean in God’s ocean of mercy. To not know that goodness in whatever guises is some sort of selfishness is one way to be blind.
There’s been more incidences of social revolution in the 21st Century than the political ones that marked earlier centuries. Without mincing words, the war being waged now is more cultural, an attempt to upturn what has been the case in our modes of existence and the exercise of our different faculties, than has been about firing missiles and beheading kings. Such themes as human rights, racism, women’s right, inclusion, especially as it pertains to the LGBTQ+ community, are the burning issues of the moment. The better way to describe the state of affairs is that the human race is frantically reinventing itself.
And then, as part of the reinvention effort, one that kick-started over 50 years ago, is sexual liberation. The idea of sexual liberation is fueled by the understanding that the earlier codes of ethics, call it religious canons or moral suppositions, especially those patronized by the Church of Rome, had been repressive and stifling. Described briefly, to be sexually liberated would mean that one gets to shamelessly satisfy one’s sexual needs without the burden of guilt or pricking of morally correct social or religious norms. It is in the light of this, for instance, that one who is horny goes ahead, without qualms of conscience, to do whatever it takes to reach sexual climax – whether the patronage of pornography, the resort to masturbation, or getting entangled with someone.
It is sexual liberation that have legitimized sex work, arguing that one can employ his or her body to serve any need, including means of livelihood. It is sexual liberation that has led to the legalization of abortion in different climes, arguing that the woman has the right to do whatever she wishes with her body, including the choice of whether to remain pregnant or not. At the heart of sexual liberation is the LGBTQ+ movement. That is, Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer. The argument here is that one is free to adapt any gender identity: man on man (gay), girl on girl (lesbian), attracted to either of both (bisexual), complete switch from one to the other (transgender), not particular (queer), and the endless possibilities (+).
By the way, this piece is not some sex education. And so, I should get to the point already. It is important for the youth to know that what is going on in the sexual space is a war that was declared by an earlier generation. And, as much as one may wish to admit that they could be one or two justifiable reasons for staging the fight in the first place, it is not at all easy to draw the line between what is healthy and what is insane, plus the truth that there must be casualties of war. This piece is about helping you refuse to be a casualty of the sexual liberation war.
Back to the commandments, the sixth one: “Thou shall not commit adultery.” Who gets to gain? And since that is the only commandment that speaks to sexual activity, and caters to fidelity to one’s ‘married’ partner, I like to extend it to such other sexual expressions like fornication, masturbation, pornography, and the likes. Who gets to gain when one steers clear of them? God? Nope!
Let me tell you what they likely won’t tell you. A simple Google search on “masturbation” will return with millions of results, most of which detail and elaborate how much of a healthy practice it is, and then go on to advise that one indulges in it often. Then the average youth runs with it, getting to spend a great deal of one’s dawn to dusk jerking off. The more he or she does it, the better it appears to get. And then he or she keeps going for it, and soon finds that it is almost impossible to stop, having become an addict. Same with pornography; you just never get enough of it, and the Google search results don’t really tell you that. Funnily, the Christian porn patron or masturbation addict deludes him or herself into thinking that only God is being offended.
Now, here’s the catch… Nobody really tells you that it is the very same energy, called libido, dissipated during sexual release that is needed for productivity at whatever work you do. Literally, our sexual drive drives us to various accomplishments, both spiritual and temporal. Guess what, some professionals know enough to completely abstain from sexual activity long before the time, knowing that they need all the ‘sexual’ energy they can get in order to bring their A game to the table. I don’t know about entertainers, but athletes are high on this discipline, as certain evidences suggest that sexual activity can have negative impact on performance – at least for men.
Here’s how it all squares into our ongoing conversation on the new normal … The new normal, as we’ve considered in earlier pieces published in this space, will need all the fitness one can muster in order to survive. We’d mentioned that the way forward is reinvention, and that the first rule of reinvention is wholeness. Today, the case being made is that sexual purity, whatever that means to you, especially as it bears on such addictive practices as masturbation and pornography, even fornication itself, is the way to go. Not just to please one God out there in heaven deriving pleasure at your sexual expense, but to protect your very own productive focus and energy. Guess what? It is your ability to produce, to dominate the earth with your God-given potentials, as commanded in Genesis, that gives God pleasure.
One word: Protect your focus. Don’t lose it to sex addiction.